Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas ~ a simple, warming, 30 minute meal that proves delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated. This authentic Mexican classic is easy enough for a weeknight dinner.

Sprinkling cheese on cheese and onion enchiladas

I’m in awe of people who have razor sharp long term memory. You know the types, they can recount exactly what they were doing and thinking at age 5, they can tell you the color of the sheets in their crib, or describe in detail the scent of their first grade teacher’s perfume. I often wonder if they’re faking it. But anyway, I don’t have that kind of memory. I remember things in broad brush strokes and great swaths of blurry impressions. That’s the way it is with these cheese and onion enchiladas. I remember them vividly, but not in great detail.

A pan of cheese and onion enchiladas

After my husband and I were married my parents helped us buy our first small house. It was right along an elbow bend on the coastal road in southernmost Maine. We were next door to a stark white Congregational church, which overlooked a ragged little 18th century graveyard, which itself faced the open ocean. Scattered among the other small houses like ours were a couple of historic Revolutionary era mansions that were slowly but surely succumbing to salty wind and icy winters.


We lived there only a short time before the realities of life and career nudged us along and we picked up and moved on to a more practical spot. And truthfully I can’t recount very many of the intimate details of life from that brief period, but I do remember cheese and onion enchiladas. They’re tangled up in my mind with the intense cold and wet of those New England years.


In that kind of weather you don’t go far for anything. But if you haven’t managed to keep the kitchen stocked and you’re hungry enough, it can be exhilarating to venture out for dinner. One of our favorite places was a tiny little restaurant with just a couple of tables and close enough by that if the snow got too deep we could walk home if necessary. All I remember is that the woman was from Guatemala…or  Guadalupe? Guadalajara? I’m not sure, but she served authentic Mexican food out of a tiny kitchen, and somehow we discovered her and it became our winter hang out. The windows were perpetually steamed as we ate her cheese and onion enchiladas, always accompanied by a mug of  thick Mexican hot chocolate. I’m guessing it must have been the cheapest thing on the menu. We kept our overcoats on and our boots dripped rivers of melting snow. It was magical.


These enchiladas taste exactly the same. That’s not a huge surprise,  since they’re so utterly simple. They were of course the first thing I thought of after I made the Red Chile Sauce the other day. The homemade sauce took these to a new level, since I have always made them with canned. You can grate your own sharp cheddar, or use a mix of authentic cheeses, but the truth is I usually grab a bag of the pre-grated stuff, the Mexican blend works perfectly. My husband, who clearly isn’t as attached to the memory as I am, usually asks for chicken in his…and occasionally I’ll break with tradition and add black olives.

Isn’t it interesting how some of the most enduring food memories trace back to the most ridiculously simple dishes. There’s nothing complicated about these enchiladas… corn tortillas fuse with the cheese and the smokey sauce into an almost pudding like consistency, with the slight crunch of the onions in the very center. It’s comfort food  of the quick and easy variety, with or without the memory.

Reader Rave ~

“Found your recipe following a search. Simple and delicious, just what I was looking for. Thank you. I will be watching your site for more recipes like this.”  ~ Deeann

Sprinkling cheese on cheese and onion enchiladas
3.26 from 50 votes

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas

Cheese and Onion Enchiladas ~ a simple, warming, 30 minute meal that proves delicious food doesn't have to be complicated.  This authentic Mexican classic is easy enough for a weeknight dinner.
Course dinner, main course salad
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Yield 2 servings
Calories 678kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 1 medium large yellow onion
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 1/4 cups Red Chile Sauce recipe here (or use canned sauce)
  • 8 oz (2 cups) shredded cheese (either cheddar, Monterey Jack, or a Mexican cheese blend)
  • 5 corn tortillas

for garnish

  • several green onions, thinly sliced
  • fresh cilantro, chopped


  • Set the oven to 350F
  • Peel and cut the onion into a small dice.
  • Heat the oil in a saute pan and saute the onion for about 5 minutes until softened. Add 2 Tbsp of the sauce to the onions and set aside.
  • Cover the tortillas with a damp cloth and microwave for 45 seconds to soften.
  • Spread a little of the sauce on the bottom of an 8×8 square baking pan.
  • Assemble the enchiladas: first coat the tortilla with a little of the sauce, and then lay some of the onions down the center. Top with some of the cheese, and then carefully roll the tortilla and place it in the pan, seam side down. Continue with all the tortillas, fitting the last one in along the bottom of the row. If you have any leftover onions, spoon them into the rolled tortillas from one end.
  • Spread more sauce over the tortillas, to cover all the exposed surfaces.
  • Sprinkle all the remaining cheese evenly over the top and cover loosely with a tent of foil, trying not to let the foil touch the cheese or it may stick as it bakes.
  • Bake for about 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly.
  • Serve right away, garnished with green onions and chopped fresh cilantro leaves.

Cook’s notes

This recipe make one pan of enchiladas, enough for dinner for two, with one leftover for breakfast. Double or triple the recipe as you like, and you can certainly assemble the pan ahead of time and bake it off when you are ready.


Calories: 678kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 18g | Cholesterol: 90mg | Sodium: 743mg | Potassium: 288mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 769IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 638mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.

Make these cheese and onion enchiladas your own ~

  • Add shredded chicken to the filling. You could also add black olives.

Thanks for pinning!

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  • Reply
    March 26, 2020 at 1:44 pm

    5 stars
    Thank you so much for this recipe! I enjoyed making it as much as I enjoyed reading your memories of why you love it! As a native Texan we have plenty of Mexican food around with delicious enchiladas but now I’m at home and wanting to cook more this was the perfect find to satisfy our comfort food needs. Serving with fresh guacamole and a salad with just a bit of vinegar and oil. Thank you so much for sharing, you have a new follower!

    • Reply
      March 26, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      So glad to meet you Missy ~ welcome in!

  • Reply
    March 24, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Found your recipe following a search. Simple and delicious, just what I was looking for. Thank you. I will be watching your site for more recipes like this.

    • Reply
      March 24, 2019 at 6:23 pm

      Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know Deeann, this is an older recipe and I’m happy to know it’s getting some love 🙂

  • Reply
    November 1, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    90% of the time I’m of the more-is-more school. But this looks utterly perfect for those less-is-more cravings I get sometimes.

  • Reply
    Laura (Tutti Dolci)
    November 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    Enchiladas are one of my favorite comfort foods, these look so tasty!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2013 at 11:57 am

    While I can, and do, make more complicated dishes, I truly love recipes that take us back to the basic. This one is simplicity at its finest and tastiest! More please…

    • Reply
      November 1, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      I know what you mean, Jeanie, I have to remind myself to share more simple recipes that reflect the way people actually cook for themselves day to day.

  • Reply
    [email protected] is How I Cook
    November 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

    This is my favorite kind of enchilada. And I would live in that home you described, I think, quite happily. Sounds like you remember much more than you think you do. And what a picturesque place you described. Manservant would also want chicken or at least a fried egg on top!

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