This is the easiest Chicken Enchilada Casserole you will ever make. Just follow these step by step photo instructions. Plus it is healthy with 7 gr of fat and less than 300 calories per serving. Using fresh chicken and your own homemade sauce, you get some of the best Mexican you will ever enjoy.
I love it when my wife suggests a recipe and that happened with this recipe, but it is not even close to that inspiration recipe. I will not name that recipe due to some issues I have with it that I will cover in the recipe discussion below.
I ended up with a crock pot variation of my Healthier Chicken Enchilada Casserole in 60 Minutes which is a stovetop/oven recipe.
I do love that recipe. I use fresh chicken and make my own enchilada sauce (which I love) to braise the chicken in before shredding.
And by using lower fat cheese, corn tortillas and well-trimmed chicken that recipe had under 300 calories and 7 grams of fat per serving.
A lower five from my wife first and then I joined in. I would really say high 4 or low 5. I like my original recipe a bit more, but this one is half the work.
Pro Tips: Recipe Notes for Crock Pot Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Before my Healthier Chicken Enchilada Casserole in 60 Minutes recipe, I made enchiladas with a rolled method. It was much fussier and messier. That recipe solved that issue, but this version is half the work.
Duration of cooking for chicken breasts in a crock pot
This is the biggest issue with most of the online crock pot recipes with chicken. Those recipes typically cook the chicken for 8 hours before shredding on low and 4 hours on high.
Well, I have been around the block a few times, and I see no reason to kill the chicken a second time. Generally, chicken breast in chunks will take 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
While a whole breast may take a bit longer, it won’t be that different. Mine are generally done in 2 1/2 hours, but some pots may run a bit cooler and need 3 hours.
What chicken to use?
You can use precooked chicken. If you’re aiming for low calorie, obviously use chicken breasts. You need about 3 cups which will be about 1 1/2 pounds. The sauce needs to cook a bit (about 1 hour should do) before adding the precooked chicken.
If you want to use skinless thighs, it will work, but you need to get to the 185 internal temperature range to shred well. Probably about 3 to 3 1/2 hours before shredding.
You could also use can sauce but really do you want to do that?
You can use 1/2 of a smaller onion for the onion powder. 2 cloves of fresh crushed garlic for the garlic powder.
I used a lower fat but not fat-free cheese to stay on the lower fat theme. You can use full fat.
This is not spicy, and you could add a touch of cayenne pepper.
Some green chilis and black beans would be good additions.
Toppings of your choice but we just use sour cream and some chopped onions.
You could use some fresh onion and garlic if you want. Chicken thighs would be fine but would need 30 minutes more cooking time since they should be at about 185 to shred well.
Trim two skinless boneless chicken breast and cut into three pieces each. Aim for about 1 1/2 pound but anywhere from 1 to 2 pounds total should be fine.
In a smaller crock pot add one 15 oz. can tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Mix well.
Add the chicken pushing into the sauce to cover a little. Cook on low for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Internal temperature needs to be about 165 to shred well.
Chop 6 corn tortillas (6-inches) into bite-size pieces. Stir into crock pot when you remove the chicken for shredding. Mix well to coat all sides and break apart any that stick together.
Remove to cutting board and shred.
Return chicken to crock pot, add 1/2 cup lower fat cheese and mix well. Smooth top.
Top with 1 1/2 cup of the same cheese.
Cook one additional hour then serve with toppings of choice.
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Originally Published April 22, 2018