In this Low-Carb Leftover Chicken (or Turkey) Enchiladas recipe, I use sliced deli meat to roll up a savory cheesy chicken filling for a delicious low-carb take on enchiladas. This recipe yields two casserole dishes (about 8 servings) so in the same amount of time it takes to whip up dinner for one night, you’ll have it ready for a second night as well; or stash it in the freezer for later!
Like Indian food, I could eat Mexican or Tex-Mex at least a couple times a week and probably never get sick of it. There’s something about the combination of a slow-cooked complex-flavored sauces paired with the fresh bright flavors of cilantro or salsa fresca and a crumbly, salty cheese that I find irresistible.
As I play with global flavors, I find that I try to make things a little healthier. Now, I realize healthy is a very subjective word when it comes to what we eat; what one person considers healthy enough for breakfast might seem absolutely ludicrous to someone else. I think a large part of this comes from the fact that food affects people differently; for me, I noticed my body does better when I limit my carb intake and mostly avoid gluten (I feel more energetic and less bloated/lethargic). Personally, I’ll even go as far as to say that I do best on a low-carb/ketogenic eating plan, so that’s what I try focus on the majority of the time.
About these enchiladas. Instead of soft tortillas, I used deli meat to roll up this ridiculously flavorful filling. I started off by sautéing poblano pepper, onion, and garlic, and then I add fresh cilantro and scallion to kick up the flavor. A combination of cream cheese and sharp cheddar are a perfect balance of creamy texture and sharp cheesy deliciousness.
But the real magic here is in that sauce. A while ago, I whipped up a batch of Kevin is Cooking’s Molé Negro and I haven’t looked back since. (Actually, I want to thank Kevin properly because he was kind enough to send me the dried chilies, Mexican chocolate, and piloncillo needed to make his recipe!) The recipe is a slow-cooking thing of beauty (some things can’t be rushed, lol), and it makes a huge batch, which is perfect because I froze the sauce in one-cup portions so I can defrost a bag anytime I want authentic Mexican flavor. Now, if you’ve never had a real molé, you’re in for a treat. The best thing I can compare it to is a slow-simmered Indian curry, but that’s just in the way the flavors are married so beautifully; it’s a completely different flavor profile! A little sweet, a little spicy, with complex layers and depth of flavor. This sauce is addictive in the best way possible.
I’ve also made this recipe before using store-bought enchilada sauce (I always look for a gluten-free enchilada sauce when I buy it at the store). It was still a great meal, it just didn’t quite have that wow factor that this dish has when you use the homemade molé. Or if you don’t quite have the time to make that molé, but you have a little bit of extra time and want to do something a step above store-bought enchilada sauce, you could go with my Easy Roasted Tomato Chili Sauce!
No one who has tried this recipe has missed the carbs! ;)
- 1 (20 oz) can store-bought enchilada sauce or about 2½ cups homemade enchilada or molé sauce, divided (see Note)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 poblano pepper, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 medium-large cloves garlic, minced
- 8 oz (227 g) cream cheese
- 2 cups cooked, chopped leftover chicken or turkey
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
- 2 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
- 6 oz (170 g) sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded, divided
- 18 oz/510 g deli-sliced (medium thickness) turkey or chicken (I used 3 (6 oz/170 g) packages Applegate Farms Organic Smoked Turkey Breast slices)
- Preheat oven to 375F; spread ½ cup enchilada sauce out in the bottom of each of two 2-quart casserole dishes.
- Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat; add the poblano pepper, onion, and garlic, and cook until softened, but not browned, about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ½ cup enchilada sauce and cream cheese and whisk until smooth.
- Pour the creamy onion/poblano mixture into a large bowl and stir in the chicken or turkey, black pepper, cilantro, scallion, and ⅓ of the shredded white cheddar.
- Place about 3 tablespoons of the filling onto the center of a slice of deli turkey or chicken and roll it up. Place it seam-side-down into the prepared casserole dish and repeat this process until you run out of filling or sliced turkey (you should have enough to fill up the 2 casserole dishes).
- Spread ½ cup enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas in each dish, and divide the remaining cheese on top.
- Bake until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are warm throughout, about 20 minutes.
- Sprinkle on additional scallion and cilantro if desired, and serve.
Enchilada Sauce: I highly recommend Kevin is Cooking’s Molé Negro for this recipe. If you’re pressed for time you could use my Easy Roasted Tomato Chili Sauce, or if you’re really short on time you could use your favorite store-bought enchilada sauce.
Make-Ahead and Freezer-Friendly: To make this ahead, complete steps 1 through 5 above; cover well and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months before baking. (If you freeze it, thaw it overnight in the fridge before baking.)
Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I believe in, which means that even though it doesn’t cost you anything extra, I will receive a small amount of money from the sale of these items, which helps me keep this site alive – thank you for helping to support An Edible Mosaic!