Where Did Enchiladas Originate And Why?

Last Updated on December 31, 2021 by

It is always great to ponder our foods and ask questions like; Where did Enchiladas originate and why? The answer to this question is fascinating! Enchiladas have been a staple in authentic Mexican dishes for thousands of years, long before the Spanish contacted the Aztecs.

Enchiladas have not changed much since their beginning. This meat or cheese-filled dish typically uses corn tortillas as an outer layer. There are many ways to make, eat, and enjoy enchiladas! The dish is versatile and a favorite in Tex-Mex restaurants as it has become popular throughout the world.

What Are Enchiladas?

Enchiladas are corn tortillas rolled and baked with stuffing’s inside. Although every person likes to eat it differently, you can add many toppings! In Tex-Mex restaurants, it is common to see Enchiladas with refried beans, shredded cheese, or red and green sauces.

Enchiladas also differ throughout Mexico. Interestingly, in Southern cities and towns, Enchiladas are common everywhere. They are easy to make, but instead of meat in the middle of the corn tortillas, Southern Mexicans fill it with an array of beans.

Although most foods have a specific purpose, Enchiladas are versatile! You can have this dish during the holidays, on a common regular day, or as a quick snack on the go. They are very messy to eat though as they have a lot of food on top and inside of the corn tortilla.

 enchiladas facts

How To Make Enchiladas

If you have ever been curious about how to make enchiladas, don’t worry, this dish is really easy to make! All you need is an oven, baking sheet, corn tortillas, and whatever stuffing and topping you want to add. The most common meats to use inside an Enchilada are pork, chicken, and sausage. However, you can also make it vegetarian and to your taste.

Once you cook the meat, you can roll it into your tortillas, like a burrito. Make sure the sides are tucked in so the filling does not pour out ahead of time. Then, add the toppings or sauce you want on top and bake it for a minimum of 15 minutes so the ingredients melt and mesh together.

Tips On How To Make Enchiladas

Some helpful tips on how to make Enchiladas are to take your time! This dish is a great one to make if you have leftovers. For example, if you cooked chicken but have some leftover, you can shred it and cut the time of cooking by at least 15 minutes. Since the chicken is cooked, you do not have to worry about any bacteria or raw parts.

When you are choosing the right corn tortilla, you should look for a smaller variety that is 10 inches or smaller. If the tortilla is too big, the tortilla can overpower the flavors on top and inside the Enchilada. You can also substitute corn tortillas for flour tortillas, but the taste changes drastically!

The sauces you add on top though are what make this dish so fascinating. Aztecs living in Tenochtitlan used spices and peppers to make a super hot sauce that the Spaniards could not stand. You do not have to make it this spicy, you can add limes, sweetness, or other peppers to your taste.

 enchiladas mexican food

Where Did Enchiladas Originate?

So, Where did Enchiladas Originate? The first form of enchiladas has been around for thousands of years! Although we all consider Enchiladas Mexican, it actually is a dish from the Aztecs. The first record we have of Enchiladas dates back to the 1500s where Spanish explorers found Mexico and interacted with the Aztecs in Tenochtitlán.

The Spanish noticed these corn tortillas, but they looked quite different from the ones we know today. Instead of chicken, pork, or beef, enchiladas were stuffed with various beans and other meats native to the area. The Aztecs ate Enchiladas every day! It was a common and easy dish to make.

Surprisingly, the Aztec nobles also highly loved and sought after Enchiladas. During meal times, other Aztecs would serve their nobles hundreds of dishes, many of which were different types of Enchiladas. The corn tortilla was versatile. Aztecs ate Enchiladas on their own without any sides and as a ‘spoon’ to scoop other types of food like beans.

So, who invented enchiladas? This is a tricky question. Although the exact origin is the Aztecs, Enchiladas have changed a lot! When Spaniards conquered Mexico, they made a lot of changes to their culture. Sadly, the Spanish burned down homes, temples, and other places of importance. The only thing that they kept were some parts of the food, but they added their own European influences.

The Spanish brought cows, pigs, chickens, and other cattle to use as a meat source. Instead of beans, suddenly, Enchiladas were made primarily with meat. This is closer to what we see today in Tex-Mex restaurants.

5 Interesting Enchiladas Facts

  • At first, Enchiladas were only corn tortillas that the Aztecs used as a spoon to scoop food with. It was edible and easy to clean up.
  • Enchiladas on average only take about 25 minutes to cook from the start, although it does change depending on the ingredients.
  • The first Spanish Explorer to find the Aztecs and write about Enchiladas was Bernal Díaz del Castillo who loved the flavors and textures of Aztec food.
  • During the late 1800s, Enchiladas made their way to the United States as the U.S took control of Texas.
  • In the U.S less expensive ingredients are used to make Enchiladas, like lettuce, tomatoes, and flour tortillas, Chili paste is rare in Tex-Mex cooking because of how expensive it is.

 who invented enchiladas


All in all, Enchiladas Mexican food is a delight to eat. Now you have an answer to the question of ‘Where did Enchiladas Originate’? Its interesting history is sure to fascinate you as three large groups of people added their own twist. The first Enchilada, for instance, did not use meat but beans and was primarily eaten by the Aztecs.

When the Spanish conquered them, they brought cattle and used cow, chicken, and pig meat for the inside of the Enchiladas. The U.S also made quite a few changes to make the dish less expensive to reproduce. Instead of chili paste, the toppings were lettuce and tomatoes. Do you like what you have read? Let us know in the comment section below!