El Chico Cheese Enchiladas

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.

Tex Mex Cheese Enchiladas on a plate

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-purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil
  • Salt
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Water
  • Corn tortillas
  • Oil for heating corn tortillas
  • American cheese, shredded
  • White onions (optional topping)
El Chico cheese enchiladas ingredients

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.
A pot of enchilada sauce

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.
    Rolled enchiladas in a pan
  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 πŸ˜‰.

Cheese enchiladas on plate

Do you love enchiladas? Try these recipes!

Favorite Mexican Recipes

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

Tex Mex Cheese Enchiladas on a plate

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.
3.8 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Cheese Enchiladas, El Chico Cheese Enchiladas
Servings: 6
Calories: 291kcal


  • 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.Β 
  • 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.


Recipe Tips for the Cook

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


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
Tried this recipe?Mention @CopyKatRecipes or tag #CopyKatRecipes!

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. Rebecca Duckworth

    Stephanie, I just found this recipe and would like to know what size of dish to put the enchiladas in to bake. This sounds so good I want to make as soon as possible. Thanks in advance, Rebecca Duckworth

  2. suzieq

    Oh Stephanie, how I miss El Chico, or for that matter any good texmex. I was 30 when I was transplanted from my hometown of Houston to Atlanta. That was 36 years ago. OOPS, did I just give away my age, oh well. Trust me, in MY opinion Atlanta doesn’t know good mexican/texmex .Thank you for all your leg work in finding & trying out all these recipes.

  3. Pat Dickens

    I would love to have the recipe for El Chico’s white cheese sauce. Do you have that or can you figure it out?

    • Javier G.


      You need to fry the corn tortillas for a bit in oil just till they are pliable then set them aside on a paper towel to cool and soak up the oil. Then go ahead and wrap them up with the ingredients you would like.

      Javier G.

    • GeriGreene

      You can also wrap them in moist paper towels and micro them perhaps 20 seconds but softening them in oil, as Javier said is easy. Just watch them and drain them on paper towels ~ or you will be making chips ~ not a bad idea either πŸ™‚

    • Gail

      Put corn tortillas in plate and cover with another plate and microwave them for 1 minute and they are ready for you. It makes no difference in how many you have just so long as the plates areclosed. It works every time. I just found this out last year. I’m 78 and still learning. I also want their queso sauce recipe. They make the best sour cream chicken enchiladas too and I wish I had the recipe for that sauce too.

  4. corntrader19

    This is not the original El Chico chicken enchilada recipe. This is what my husband and I call “El Cheapo” because it is not authentic.

    • Stephanie Manley

      I am very sorry you were disappointed in this recipe for cheese enchiladas. I hope you find the recipe you are looking for. if there is anything else I can do for you, please let me know.

      • Michele Wood

        Don’t let the naysayers get you down, Stephanie. I am sure you put a lot of time doing this. I am a native Texan born in San Antonio. Keep up the great work!

      • Just Ask Me

        These are awesome recipes! You use your time to give to us..I cant believe some people!

    • Laura29

      Judging by your comments here and on other websites, you seem to be a very angry person. I hope you are able to find some joy in your life today.

  5. Laura Vickers

    I make a sauce very similar to this. I got the recipe from home-sick texan. When I get a craving for cheese enchiladas there is no stopping me, they must be made and eaten. My recipe doesn’t have paprika however. And it has chopped onion inside the enchiladas. They are wonderful!

    • Stephanie Manley

      Homesick Texan has a wonderful website. I know what you mean about these enchiladas. I lived outside of Houston for a couple of months, and I wanted these more than anything else in the whole world.

  6. Melissa

    I lived in Shreveport many years ago and El Chico was my favorite restaurant. They made a sauce for their chips that I have not been able to find since I moved. It was pinkish in color. Do you know what it was/is?

    • Angie Murry

      1/2 – 3/4 cup of Miracle Whip Salad Dressing (do not use real mayo)

      1/2 teaspoon paprika

      1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

      1/2 teaspoon white pepper

      1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

      1/2 cup of milk

      Mix all together and chill at least 2 hours. The mixture will thicken when chilled.

      I use this on Taco Salads too!! Taste just like it πŸ™‚

  7. Joydee Mccorkle

    TO DEANNA…….Please do NOT bitch a recipe because it doesn’t seem like one you would enjoy. JUST LEAVE IT ALONE. Stephanie….you are doing such a wonderful job recreating favorite restaurant recipes for us.

  8. chris

    How do you make the cheese sauce that you can put over the enchiladas. I adore el chico’s cheese enchiladas with cheese sauce over the top.

  9. Judy

    Agree with Deanna … had made this recipe and it was way too SPICY!! I ended up throwing the rest of enchiladas in the garbage can.

    • Jason

      I did too. It was the worst enchiladas I ever ate. There is no way it calls for that much spices after tasting it. I will not be recommending this recipe to anyone.

  10. Amy S

    I would halve the paprika. . . was way too bitter with 1/2 cup, I had to add sugar to be able to even use it. With Sugar, a little creole salt, and some onion powder we managed to use the sauce. Maybe I haven’t had El Chico Enchiladas in a while! Thanks for the stepping off point.

  11. Mary Gresham

    Wow, 8:30 in the morning and I’m ready for some enchiladas!!!!!!! This looks scrumptious..can’t wait to make. Thanks for the video…love cooking videos!

  12. Deanna

    HALF a cup of chili powder and HALF a cup of paprika??? Those are not cheese enchiladas but chili powder/paprika enchiladas. :O) Makes my stomach ache to even think about eating one.

    • stephaniemanley

      Wow, I appreciate your comment. This does make a quart of sauce. Thanks for dropping by and sharing your thoughts.

    • slackjaw

      Then do not make it. Or, understand that is the portion of the recipe that encompasses the preparation of the sauce, not the filling.

    • Jason

      Yes, waaaaaaay too much paprika and chili. I just waisted 1lbs of cheese. I threw the whole dish out. You couldn’t taste anything else. Yuck. I would recommend just buying a can of enchilada sauce.

  13. Sushi Cue

    Brought me right back to my days of waitressing at El Chico! And yes, their Fried Ice Cream was so good. We froze it until super hard then rolled it in sugar, cinnamon and crushed corn flakes. Flash fried for a couple of seconds so it wouldn’t melt. Can’t wait to try out your enchilada recipe! Thanks for sharing Ü

    • stephaniemanley

      That fried ice cream was the best. A lot of places claim they make fried ice cream, but they just drizzle some topping on the ice cream.

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