What Are the Best Tips for Making Ground Beef Enchiladas?

Judith Smith Sullivan

Ground beef enchiladas are a simple Mexican dish with only four basic ingredients: tortillas, sauce, cheese, and ground beef filling. They can also be prepared in advance and frozen for a quick and easy dinner later. Knowing a few tips about each of these ingredients helps the process go quickly and smoothly, from choosing the right beef to properly preparing the tortillas.

Enchiladas topped with salsa verde.
Enchiladas topped with salsa verde.

Pre-made enchilada sauce is the simplest choice for making ground beef enchiladas. There are multiple brands and flavors available, and many are less expensive than the cost of the ingredients of a home-made sauce. Even though making enchilada sauce is fairly simple and can take as little as ten minutes, the fastest recipes for ground beef enchiladas call for a pre-made sauce.

A bowl of sour cream, which is often used to top beef enchiladas.
A bowl of sour cream, which is often used to top beef enchiladas.

A lean ground beef with a small percentage of fat is best for the filling. Choosing extremely lean ground beef can adversely affect the flavor, but a healthy balance of fat and meat will enhance the flavor of the enchilada dish. It should be browned in a skillet and drained of excess fat. This is accomplished by tilting the skillet to the side and spooning the fat out or absorbing it with a paper towel. Frying the ground beef with onions and garlic is one way to add flavor to the meat, although there are many other tasty recipes available in cookbooks and online as well.

Corn tortillas are traditionally used in ground beef enchiladas. Unfortunately, corn enchiladas are somewhat stiff, so they must be softened before filling and rolling. There are basically two ways to do this. Either lightly fry the tortillas in oil or dredge them in warm enchilada sauce. Frying with corn oil enhances the flavor of the tortillas but adds fat to the recipe.

When filling the enchiladas, place the cooked ground beef across the tortilla's diameter. Fold one edge over and turn the tortilla over. This way, the seam of the roll is placed on the bottom, keeping the enchilada closed. The filled tortillas are placed in a glass baking dish which has a shallow layer of enchilada sauce on the bottom that keeps the enchiladas from drying out while baking. Sauce is also poured over the enchiladas even if they have already been dredged in sauce to warm the tortillas for rolling.

Adding cheese during the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking will allow time for the cheese to melt but not to harden. When the cheese is golden brown, or just slightly crispy at the edges, the enchiladas are ready. Although cheddar is a popular option for enchiladas, many types of cheese can be used. Other toppings include sour cream, cilantro, lettuce, and green onions.

Using corn oil to fry ground beef enchiladas enhances the taste.
Using corn oil to fry ground beef enchiladas enhances the taste.

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