El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (2024)

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by Stephanie Manley, Last Updated 72 Comments

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El Chico Cheese Enchiladas have long been a favorite of mine, these Tex-Mex enchiladas have a vegetarian sauce that is so easy to make. Armed with this recipe, you may not have to go out for Cheese Enchiladas again.

El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (1)

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El Chico – A popular Tex Mex Restaurant

El Chico Cheese Enchiladas are some of the best Tex-Mex enchiladas out there, and they have long been a favorite of mine. These Tex-Mex enchiladas come with a vegetarian sauce that is so easy to make. Armed with this recipe, you can make homemade enchiladas and never go out for cheese enchiladas again.

I live in Houston, Texas, and I went to high school and college nearby. El Chico is where we went for Mexican food when there was a special occasion. I actually went there with my prom date years ago.

El Chico is also known for their fried ice cream – click to get my copycat fried ice cream recipe.

El Chico is not about authentic Mexican enchiladas, but it does serve up some of the best Tex-Mex, which is something my wonderful state is known for.

Tex Mex Cheese Enchiladas

I love this style of an enchilada. The sauce is mild, and it could also be used for a ground beef filling. I personally prefer cheese enchiladas over all others.

For this cheese enchilada recipe, I am using American cheese which you can purchase from the deli section of your local grocery store. American cheese melts very well. You could use Cheddar if you want.

Easy to Make Enchiladas

Enchilada sauce can be purchased in a can from your grocery store, there are many brands available in most grocery stores, but you can make your own sauce at home.


Here’s a list of what you need:

  • All-purposeflour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Water
  • Corntortillas
  • Oilforheating corn tortillas
  • American cheese, shredded
  • Whiteonions (optional topping)
El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (2)

How to Make Enchilada Sauce

If you have never tried making enchilada sauce, you are going to find it is super easy to make.

Enchilada sauce is made with: vegetable oil, water, chili powder, paprika, and water. You could use chicken stock instead of water if you want a richer flavor.

  1. In a medium-sized pot, combine vegetable oil and flour. Stir and cook for about 1 minute, or until this begins to become fragrant like pie crust.
  2. Add salt, chili powder, and paprika, and stir to combine.
  3. Add a cup of water. When the sauce becomes thick, add the next cup of water, and repeat with the remaining 2 cups of water, until the sauce is complete.
El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (3)

Cheese Enchilada Filling

The real secret to these enchiladas is using American cheese. Go to the deli and buy some American cheese in a large chunk and shred it yourself. It melts beautifully.

You could use another type of cheese, but pick one that melts nicely, like a Colby or a Colby-Jack blend.

How to Make Cheese Enchiladas

  1. Heat up corn tortillas in the microwave just until they become pliable.
  2. Then roll them up with a good sprinkle of cheese.
  3. Place a bit of the enchilada sauce in the pan and add the filled tortillas.
    El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (4)
  4. Top with additional sauce.
  5. Sprinkle on additional cheese and some chopped white onion if desired.
  6. Bake until bubbly.

In no time at all, you will have some delicious cheese enchiladas that everyone will love.

Some people like to top these homemade enchiladas with chopped onion, but this is completely optional. I did not add the chopped onion in the video.

I personally love them with a fried egg on top. But I thought that might be bringing too much of the local flavor to you 😉.

El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (5)

Do you love enchiladas? Try these recipes!

  • Easy Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
  • Chicken Enchiladas with Cream Cheese and Sour Cream
  • Turkey Enchiladas with Sour Cream
  • Taco Bell Enchilada
  • Chilis Enchilada Soup

Favorite Mexican Recipes

  • Carne Guisada with Potatoes
  • Cheeseburger Quesadilla
  • Chili Verde
  • Chipotle Mexican Grill Carnitas
  • Mexican Cornbread Recipe with Jiffy Mix
  • Potato Taco
  • Taco Bell Tacos
  • Taco Sauce

Be sure to check out more of my easy Mexican recipes and the best restaurant copycat recipes here on CopyKat.com!

El Chico Cheese Enchiladas

Don’t be alarmed at the amount of chili powder and paprika in this recipe. You want plenty of sauce on your enchilada, and this cheese enchilada recipe will make a good quart of sauce.

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Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Mexican

Keyword: Cheese Enchiladas, El Chico Cheese Enchiladas

Prep Time: 15 minutes minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes minutes

Servings: 6

Calories: 291kcal

Author: Stephanie Manley


  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chili powder
  • 1/2 cup paprika
  • 1 quart water
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • oil for heating tortillas in a skillet
  • 3/4 pound shredded American cheese
  • 1/3 cup chopped white onions optional topping


  • In a medium-sized pot combine vegetable oil and flour. Stir and cook for about 1 minute, or until this begins to become fragrant like pie crust.

  • Add salt, chili powder, and paprika, and stir to combine. Add one-quarter of the water. When the sauce becomes thick, add the next quarter of water, and repeat until the sauce is complete.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the corn tortillas in either the microwave or a small skillet with a little vegetable oil. Microwave: Sprinkle a little water on the tortillas and wrap them in a clean dishtowel.

  • Assembly: Spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons of cheese in the middle of each corn tortilla and roll-up. Move the rolled tortilla into the baking dish. Fill the dish with your enchiladas and then top with the sauce. Add any cheese that is left over.

  • Heat in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese melts. Remove from the oven. Some people like to add some chopped white onion on top.



Any left over sauce can be stored in a container for 7 days in the refrigerator.


Calories: 291kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 56mg | Sodium: 1362mg | Potassium: 280mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 4970IU | Calcium: 620mg | Iron: 2.4mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Suzie

    Responding to leave a request for a recipe. I would love to have the recipe for T.G.I Fridays Tostada Nachos.


  2. Kathryn

    I learned to make enchiladas from a MX. She softened the tortillas in oil for a few seconds before making the enchiladas. I did that, along with blotting the oil afterwards, for many years. Now, I use a small amount of Kerrygold Unsalted Butter, instead of oil. It’s not authentic Tex-Mex, but it’s creamy, and delicious.


  3. Sandi

    I grew up in Ft Worth Tx and had regular Sunday dinner at El Chicos. The Satlillo platter was my favorite. From there I moved to “San Antonio, Los Barrios and La Fogata were my favorite there, El Rancho was the place we took the kids. I then moved to Houston and loved Chuys. I NEVER had an enchilada made with flour tortillas. I now live in Florida where Tex-Mex is almost unheard of so I’m constantly searching for recipes to satisfy my craving for a spicy dinner. Was so thrilled to find the El Chico copy cat but really disappointed with the actual recipe.


    • Kathy

      El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (7)
      I grew up on El Chico and El Felix and I never had these enchiladas with American Cheese – what made you change the recipe? It’s cheddar cheese inside, with a chili con carne sauce on top. This recipe is nothing like what they serve.
      PS to the person in Florida looking for TexMex, we are in luck! Chuys has opened several locations in the Orlando/Kissimmee area, as well as one in North Tampa (Lutz/Wesley Chapel). Yay!!!
      Mali’s, if you’re near Brandon, there’s a place there that’s pretty good too, called Tres Amigos.
      Gotta get our Tex Mex fix, right?


  4. Ruth

    El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (8)
    do you ever add the chopped green chiles (canned) from the store. We are WAY north and have limited access to the ingredients for all the Tex Mex recipes. Thank you.


    • Stephanie

      I think it would be tasty, but this isn’t something that folks do a lot, I don’t know why.


  5. Tara

    Can you use chicken broth instead of water? Does that make the sauce richer?


    • Jennifer Abercrombie

      Yes, the chicken broth also gives more flavor. We add chicken and rice to ours also.


  6. Glenda Wallace

    I make
    Y enchilada sauce the way that I was taught in Juarez, Mexico. I use an entire bag of red chilies, cumin to taste, Mexican Oregano to taste, salt, pepper and water. I blend mine in the blender and then cook it for at least 15 minutes. This is a quicker version. If you don’t like recipes in a blog, don’t use it. Please appreciate the bloggers efforts.


  7. Bonnie

    I have their cookbook and this is their recipe for their enchilada sauce. Thanks for all the great recipes!


  8. Pam

    I grew up in Shreveport, La and ate at El Chico once a week for many years. I haven’t lived there for over 30 yrs now and miss eating there. My favorite was cheese enchiladas but I keep thinking the sauce had small chunks of meat in it like chili. Was that the old version of cheese enchiladas sauce? It was little thick too like chili.


    • CBP

      El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (9)
      All of our El Chico restaurants have closed in the Nashville area despite being having lots of business and always crowded. My favorite has always been the cheese and onion enchilada dinner. They serve a chili sauce, with meat and beans, poured over the enchiladas with shredded cheddar cheese also on top of them. I miss them and I almost hate them for closing our restaurants.


      • William Bell

        El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (10)
        Stephanie, The one thing you should know about Tex-Mex is that the chile gravy is actually chili grave. Yes the red enchilada sauce ALWAYS contains ground beef, unless you are in Far West Texas, then that’s El Paso style Mexican.

      • Stephanie

        Thank you for your insight.

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El Chico Cheese Enchiladas - CopyKat Recipes (2024)


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