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This Black Bean Enchiladas recipe is a family favorite! Fried corn tortillas are stuffed with spicy black beans, sweet yellow corn kernels, and wholesome spinach, then smothered in cheese and homemade enchilada sauce.
There are plenty of ways to make enchiladas, but this one just may be my favorite. The hearty filling satisfies both the meat eaters and vegetarians in my household, which let me tell you is a miracle itself. Each lightly fried corn tortilla is filled with black beans, yellow corn, spinach and cheese, then everything is smothered with homemade enchilada sauce and topped with cheese. It’s so good!
Why You’ll Love These Black Bean Enchiladas
- Easy. You’ll be amazed by how easy it is to make your own enchilada sauce so I highly recommend including that step in this recipe. However, if you’re in a rush you can also use canned enchilada sauce, which makes this recipe even easier.
- Hearty. Thanks to all the black beans and veggies, these black bean enchiladas are a satisfying vegetarian dinner idea with plenty of protein and nutrients.
- Flavorful. This is especially true if you make the enchilada sauce! It so seriously good and transforms basic enchiladas into gourmet Mexican fare.
Why Make Enchilada Sauce from Scratch?
I know what you’re thinking. Why make homemade enchilada sauce when you can just buy a jar at the store? Well, you could go that route and just skip making the sauce from scratch. But in my opinion making your own sauce is so worth it. It’s also not that complicated.
In fact, the homemade enchilada sauce is one of the things that makes this recipe shine. I learned how to make it years ago. My grandmother was from Mexico and made everything the old fashioned way: mole, arroz, nopales. True, authentic, not in a hurry food. Isn’t that the best kind?
The idea of buying store bought enchilada sauce when you could just throw all the ingredients in a pot and blend it up made no sense to my grandmother. So what can I say, it doesn’t really make sense to me.
Making Enchilada Sauce in Advance
I often make a double batch of this enchilada sauce and then freeze half for later so that I can make enchiladas in half the time whenever I want. This sauce can be made in advance and stored up to 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. Store sauce in an airtight container and defrost before using if stored in the freezer.
How to Make Black Bean Enchiladas
Ok so are you ready to make the best enchiladas ever? Here’s how to do it:
Make the Enchilada Sauce
Making the homemade enchilada sauce is a bit like making soup: first you saute the aromatic ingredients, then you add your liquids, and then you simmer and eventually puree.
- Saute the Onions, Garlic, Sugar, and Spices. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until the onion is soft, about 4 to 5 minutes. Then add the garlic, brown sugar, cumin, and oregano, cooking for about one minute longer.
- Add the Liquid Ingredients. To the sauteed ingredients, add the sherry, chipotle chili, adobo sauce, tomatoes and vegetable broth.
- Simmer Until Thickened, and Puree. Bring to a slow boil, and then simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Puree with an immersion blender and set aside to cool.
Make the Enchiladas
To make the enchiladas, it’s great to set up a kind of assembly line. At one end of the line you’ll have your freshly fried corn tortillas, then you’ll have a cutting board where you can assemble each enchilada, and finally your baking dish. I usually place the enchilada sauce in a pot right above my cutting board, then the filling and cheese in bowls off to the side.
I use a 9×13 Pyrex baking dish to make enchiladas.
- Fry the tortillas. In a large frying pan, heat the ½ cup of canola oil over medium high heat. You’ll know that it’s hot enough when a small bit of tortilla sizzles immediately when added to the pan. Fry each corn tortilla for about 5-8 seconds per side, turning with tongs; then place the fried tortillas on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Make the filling. In a medium bowl, combine the black beans, spinach, corn, cumin, salt, and pepper. Stir well to thoroughly combine.
- Add a layer of sauce. Spoon half of your enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking dish.
- Fill and roll tortillas, then place in baking dish. Divide the filling among the tortillas, placing two or three tablespoons of the bean mixture and one or two tablespoons of Monterey Jack cheese down the center of each one. Roll them up, and place them in your baking dish, seam-side down.
- Top with sauce and cheese, then bake. Ladle the rest of the enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas, and sprinkle with the double cheddar cheese. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees F.
There are so many things you can serve with enchiladas. A simple Mexican rice would be perfect, or if you’re feeling a bit fancier this Vegetarian Dirty Rice goes really well with enchiladas. I’m also a big fan of serving pretty much every dinner with a big salad or a bowl of fresh fruit.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To refrigerate: Cover the enchiladas with aluminum foil and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.
- To freeze: Cool the enchiladas completely, and then wrap tightly in two layers of foil. Mark with the date, and store in the freezer for up to three months.
More Mexican Recipes to Try
Black Bean Enchiladas
For the Sauce
- ½ chipotle chili, diced + 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (if not serving to kids or for a spicer sauce use 1 chili and 2 tsp adobo sauce)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium vidalia onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, diced
- 1 tablespoon light-brown sugar
- 2½ tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 cup sherry
- 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup vegetable broth
For the Enchiladas
- 1 batch of homemade enchilada sauce, see above
- 12 corn tortillas
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 can black beans, 15-oz, rinsed and drained
- 1 package frozen spinach, 10-oz, heated, drained and roughly chopped
- 1 package frozen corn kernels, 12-oz, I use the Green Giant Steamers
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1½ cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- ⅓ cup shredded double cheddar cheese
For the Sauce
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a deep pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until the onion is soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic, brown sugar, cumin, and oregano and cook 1 minute more. Add the sherry, chipotle chili, adobo sauce, tomatoes and vegetable broth. Bring to a slow boil then simmer for about 20 minutes, until the sauce has thickened to stew consistency. Puree with an immersion blender and set aside to cool.
- This sauce can be made in advance and stored up to 3 days in the fridge and 3 months in the freezer. Store sauce in an airtight container and defrost before using if stored in the freezer. I often double the recipe above and freeze half of the resulting sauce for later use.
For the Enchiladas
- In a large frying pan heat the ½ cup olive oil over medium high heat. It’s ready for frying when a small bit of tortilla sizzles immediately when added to the pan. Fry each corn tortilla for about 5-8 seconds per side, turning with tongs. Place the fried tortillas on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a medium bowl combine the black beans, spinach, corn, cumin, salt and black pepper. Mix to combine well.
- Spoon half of your enchilada sauce on the bottom of your baking dish. Divide the filling among the tortillas, spooning about 2-3 tablespoons worth of the bean mixture down the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle with about 1-2 tablespoons of Monterey Jack cheese, then roll up and place in your baking dish, seam-side down. Press each filled and rolled tortilla snuggly up against the others.
- Ladle the rest of the enchilada sauce on top of them and sprinkle with the double cheddar cheese.
- Spray a sheet of aluminum foil lightly with PAM or olive oil, then loosely cover the enchiladas sprayed side down. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the sauce, is bubbly and the enchiladas are heated through. Remove the foil and bake another 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately.