Shredded Beef Enchiladas

Plate of beef, tortillas, and red sauce, topped with cheese and diced onion, on a stone

The first time I had shredded beef enchiladas, I was surprised. I was very young, and the shredded beef tucked into the corn tortillas was a shock to me. Until then, the only beef enchiladas I’d seen were stuffed with ground beef. The long strands of beef in this particular plate of enchiladas presented itself as a challenge, as the meat definitely had more chew than pebbly ground beef. Yet it was still tender, and because the beef had more body, it carried more flavor. While at first I was wary, as I ate my enchiladas, I decided that these were beef enchiladas for grown-ups. Since I was eight years old at the time, it made me feel more grown-up, too.–Lisa Fain

LC Not Only For Grown-Ups Note

Based on what author—and Homesick Texan—Lisa Fain just said, we’re thinking this shredded beef enchiladas recipe is not only for grown-ups. So while there’s nothing at all wrong with ground beef tacos, there’s also nothing wrong with expecting your kids to ask for seconds of these shredded beef enchiladas. Because when it comes to kids and food, we subscribe to a nondiscriminatory approach in terms of age appeal. It’ll do you—as well as any kids at the table—well. Who knows? You may surprise one another.

Shredded Beef Enchiladas

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • 5 H
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 1 reviews
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  • For the shredded beef
  • For the sauce
  • For the enchiladas


Make the shredded beef

Preheat the oven to 275°F (135°C).

Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. In a large ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the bacon drippings, lard, or vegetable oil over medium heat, add the meat, and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per side.

Transfer the roast to a plate and keep the pot over medium-low heat. Toss the onion in the pot and cook, occasionally stirring, until the onion begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.

Return the roast to the pot along with the coffee, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, chipotle chiles, cumin, cinnamon, and water. (The meat will not be completely covered, but don’t worry; the roast will produce plenty of liquid as it cooks.)

Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and place it in the oven. Cook the roast, covered, for 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until the roast practically falls apart when you prod it with a fork. (Be careful of escaping steam when removing the lid.)

Remove the roast beef from the pot, leaving the cooking liquid in the pot to cool, and plonk it on a cutting board. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into long strands. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the sauce

Pour the cooking liquid and the onions, garlic, and chipotle chiles in the pot into a blender or food processor. Add the water and the rehydrated pasilla and ancho chiles and blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

In a medium pot, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the masa harina or flour, whisking constantly, until it’s well incorporated and fragrant, about 30 seconds. Pour the mixture from the blender into the pot, stirring until it’s well combined. Stir in the cumin, oregano, and allspice, and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is smooth and the flavors are balanced. Taste and adjust the seasonings if desired.

Make the enchiladas

Preheat the oven to 350°F (177°C). Lightly butter a large baking dish (a 9-by-13-inch baking dish works well).

Heat a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add the lard or oil, if desired. One at a time, heat the tortillas, flipping once, until soft and pliant. Keep the tortillas wrapped in a clean cloth until all the tortillas are heated.

Toss the shredded beef with 2 tablespoons sauce. Place a tortilla on a plate and add about 1/4 cup shredded beef. Roll the tortilla and place in the buttered baking dish, seam side down. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and shredded beef. (You may have some shredded beef left over. It’s ridiculously awesome with eggs in the morning.)

Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and top with the grated cheese and diced onion. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is lightly browned and bubbling. Dig in immediately.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

While these shredded beef enchiladas are not a quick meal to put together, it's worth the time. I prepared this recipe over the course of 2 days. The first day I cooked the meat. Thinking I should go all out for this recipe, I cooked up a couple slices of bacon and browned the beef in the drippings. Measuring out my chopped onion came to 1 3/4 cups. Cooking the onions over medium heat in the same pan the beef was seared resulted in tender onions, browned by what was left in the pan. The cooking time of 3 1/2 hours was perfect. The meat was fork-tender and pulled apart quickly and with ease. Because I did this portion of the recipe the day before, I could place the cooking liquid in the refrigerator overnight, which allowed the fat to solidify, which made for easy fat removal. The sauce comes together quite well. I used all-purpose flour in place of masa harina. The blender method is a great way to get a fully mixed sauce. It took about 20 minutes total from start to finish. For the enchiladas, I began by adding one tablespoon of the oil to a pan. Once warmed, I placed a tortilla in the hot oil. The tortilla soaked up all the oil, was super greasy, and not useful. I decided to disregard trying to do all 12 tortillas in one tablespoon of oil. Instead, I sprayed each side of a tortilla with oil and warmed them on each side for about 20 to 30 seconds a side. The tortillas were warm, pliable, and absolutely no problem to fill and roll. There was about 1 cup meat left over, and I'm thinking about making a breakfast scramble with it. Baking the constructed enchiladas took 20 minutes. They were delicious. The flavor of the pepper came through but wasn't overwhelming. I completely forgot the onions on top, but the dish was still beautiful and tasted fantastic. Next time, I think I'll add the cumin, oregano, and allspice for the sauce with the rest of the ingredients before I blend it. Adding them separately seemed like a waste of time.

This shredded beef enchiladas recipe is time-consuming and requires lots of ingredients, but it's worth it! The making of it could be broken up into 2 days, I think, which would make it easier. I used bacon drippings to brown the meat. I had about 1 cup onions and would probably double that next time. 3 hours gave me perfectly cooked beef that was falling apart. For the sauce, the chiles were reluctant to soften—one of each kind remained pretty firm, even after 3 hours! I used masa harina in the sauce and didn't find the sauce gritty at all. My tortillas were about 5 inches in diameter. I used oil to soften them and needed quite a bit more. I lined them up on a paper towel-covered baking sheet, which gave me an assembly line of sorts when I filled and rolled them. I had about 1/2 cup shredded beef left over and added that to the sauce. The amount of sauce was generous, and I used all of it. I did bake the enchiladas longer than the recipe instructed— 20 minutes covered and 20 minutes uncovered—until the cheese was melted with tiny flecks of brown. Perfect! 2 enchiladas per person was a perfect portion size. We were afraid this might be too spicy for one of us, but the verdict was that it was a little spicy, but we loved it!

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  1. I cannot find dried pasilla chiles anywhere (north Idaho isn’t exactly a chef’s dream for ingredients). Would there be a good substitute or would I be better off omitting? On hand, I have De Arbol, Guajillo, Chipotle and Anchos. I also don’t have chipotles canned in adobo, but do have the dried chipotle and a jar of adobo sauce. Not knowing what the finished dish should taste like makes it a little hard for me to just improvise, so appreciate any suggestions!

    1. Megan, substitutions are completely fine here. For the pasilla chiles, you can either substitute anchos or guajillo chiles. For the chipotles, go ahead and soak the dried chipotles in boiling hot water until softened, and then you can use those in place of the canned chipotle. Do let us know how it turns out!

  2. I haven’t actually gotten to making the enchiladas. (I’m actually in Texas, but this is a damned fine recipe.) I’ve tasted the beef after it’s braised for 3 hours. I’m trying not to eat it all before I make the enchis.

  3. Wonderful recipe. Made for my husband’s birthday dinner and it may well become a tradition. A tip for simplifying the tortilla prep (by way of Rick Bayliss): brush each tortilla with a bit of vegetable oil, stack on a plate, slip the plate in a plastic bag, then microwave for a minute. Allow to steam inside the bag. They’ll be nice and pliable. Proceed with the recipe.

  4. Well, this looked good until I saw the cinnamon and allspice (which IMO does NOT belong in Enchiladas of any sort. Sorry, but I will pass on this one. I do love, love your other recipes though. Most are absolutely amazing. … like the King Ranch Chicken Casserole. It’s the BOMB!

  5. Can I use the pressure cooker for the meat with ingredients listed then blend sauce? Also what would be the cooking time? Thanks.

    1. Hi Les, I’m sure that you could use a pressure cooker. I would follow your manufacturer’s instructions but I’m thinking that it would be around 45 minutes. Any readers try this in a pressure cooker? Please chime in!

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