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Thanksgiving Turkey Enchiladas

Turkey Enchiladas
Yield: 7-10 Enchiladas

Turkey Enchiladas

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Leftover Thanksgiving turkey never tasted so good!


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cups pre-cooked turkey meat (white or dark meat), chopped in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup diced peppers (bell, hungarian, or banana pepper)
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 7-10 flour tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican blend or cheddar cheese
  • Enchilada sauce


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare enchilada sauce if making it homemade.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Add diced onion and saute for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add diced peppers and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the chopped turkey meat and cook until heated through. Remove from heat.
  5. Form an assembly line in this order to build the enchiladas: tortillas, enchilada sauce, meat and onion mixture, black beans, and cheese.
  6. On each tortilla, spread about 2 Tablespoons of enchilada sauce, add a line of turkey mixture down the middle, add a spoonful of beans on top, and lastly, sprinkle with 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.
  7. Roll up the tortilla and place, edge-side down, in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.
  8. Repeat until you have used up all of your turkey and onion filling. I usually get 7-8 filled tortillas, but it depends on how full you fill each one.
  9. Spread another 1/3 cup of enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas in the baking dish and sprinkle with an additional 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
  10. Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese is gooey and the tortillas are starting to look a little bit crisp and golden around the edges.
  11. Serve immediately, garnished with fresh chopped cilantro if desired.


Enchilada sauce: Use this recipe for easy, delicious homemade enchilada sauce. It makes enough for 2 batches of enchiladas, so you can use half and freeze the rest to use next time. Or you can use a can of pre-made enchilada sauce.

Meat alternatives: This is actually a variation of my classic chicken enchilada recipe. It's equally delicious with chicken! I've even made it with leftover steak or beef roast sliced thin.

Peppers: I prefer to use a thin-walled pepper such as banana peppers so that they tenderize quickly while cooking. For a bit more spice, use something like a Hungarian wax pepper. You can even use a small (4 oz.) can of chiles.

Beans: You can substitute pre-cooked lentils or brown rice if you want to avoid the black beans. Black-eyed peas are also a good choice. I wouldn't recommend kidney beans or chickpeas, as the larger size would take over texture-wise.

Gluten-free adaptations: You can make this a gluten-free option by substituting gluten-free soft corn tortillas (or another gluten-free variety), and using a gluten-free enchilada sauce.

Did you make this recipe?

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Leftover Thanksgiving turkey never tasted so good!

The best thing about the Thanksgiving turkey is all the yummy dishes that I get to make with the leftovers.

One of my newly discovered ways to use leftover turkey is in enchiladas. These chicken enchiladas have been a family favorite for years, but I just discovered that they’re just as good, if not better, when made with turkey!

Grocery budget tip: Thanksgiving turkeys are often deeply discounted right before Thanksgiving. It can be much cheaper per pound than chicken! Consider buying an extra turkey to cook up and store the extra meat in the freezer for use in other meals throughout the year.

Let’s Talk Ingredients

Olive oil: The oil is necessary for sauteing the onions and peppers. Any vegetable oil would do here, but I like olive oil for the health benefits. Any other healthy vegetable oils such as avocado oil or sunflower seed oil would be great here.

Onion: Most typical here would be a small white onion. I happened to use a red onion in this recipe (see pictures) because that’s what I grew in my garden. If you only have large onions, I’d use half of it, as you don’t want the enchiladas too oniony (unless you do, in which case, go for it).

Saute Peppers and Onions

Peppers: You can really use any type of pepper you like in this recipe. Most of my family (the five and under set) doesn’t like things too spicy, so I go with sweet peppers. Plus that’s what I have in the garden. Green or red bell peppers will work fine, but I like to use thin-walled peppers such as banana peppers or Hungarian peppers, as they soften quicker and yet maintain texture better. And they have a little bit more of a complex flavor.

Tip: Chop garden peppers, or peppers you buy on sale, and freeze to use in recipes like this one, our favorite chili, or tortilla soup. You can throw them straight in the saute pan or pot from the freezer, already cut.

You can also use canned green chilies, and this will give you a nice little kick of heat in the recipe, as would using a jalapeno or other hot pepper. Experiment to find what you like best. You really can’t go wrong here.

Turkey meat: This is the beauty of this recipe. Using precooked, leftover turkey meat makes these enchiladas taste super rich, as turkey meat is a good bit more oily than chicken. But it doesn’t take over flavor-wise because of the spice from the enchilada sauce.

If I’ve cooked a large turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas and have a lot of meat left over, more than I want to eat up or use in other recipes right away, I’ll put some of it in the freezer. Pre-chopping it before freezing would make this step an even easier breeze, but I’m not necessarily that organized.

Add Turkey Meat

If using frozen, pre-cooked meat, be sure to defrost before adding to the enchiladas. The best way to defrost is to get it out of the freezer the day before you want to use it and leave it in the refrigerator overnight.

Beans: My favorite beans for this recipe are black beans, but you could go any number of different directions with this one. Pre-cooked lentils would be great, as would black-eyed peas – any type of bean that is slightly smaller so as not to take over texture-wise. You want them to meld in to the meat and cheese, while adding bulk and substance.

Tortillas: I use plain white flour tortillas. When I tried using whole wheat tortillas, the family rebelled. I have to agree, they’re much less satisfying. I haven’t tried using soft corn tortillas, but I imagine they’d be much more prone to crumbling. If I give it a try, I’ll keep you updated on how they turn out.

If you want to make this a gluten-free meal, you could use a gluten-free type of tortilla (cassava flour, or others). Just remember to make sure your enchilada sauce is gluten-free.

Cheese: I keep my life simple by having certain stock ingredients in my kitchen. Cheddar cheese is one of those. Venturing out to a Mexican blend of shredded cheese is just something I don’t have room in my brain for.

So we use shredded sharp cheddar, and it’s got a satisfying sharpness and beautiful melting goodness. But any type of shredded cheese would work here. The ideal for this recipe is probably a Mexican blend.

Enchilada sauce: I always make my own enchilada sauce using this recipe. It’s cheaper, tastier, and I don’t have to worry about forgetting to buy it at the store. Plus, if I’m doubling the recipe (taking a meal to a friend, for instance), the enchilada sauce recipe already includes enough for two batches of enchiladas.

If I’m just making one batch of enchiladas, the rest of the sauce can go in the freezer to get out to use next time I want to make enchiladas. So many shortcuts!

Making the enchiladas

The first thing to do is prepare the enchilada sauce if you’re making this homemade recipe. Once the enchilada sauce is simmering away, you can preheat the oven to 350°F.

Heat up your skillet with olive oil (be careful not to let the oil scorch) while you dice the onion. (I like to use a high-sided skillet, as you’re adding a good amount of volume between the veggies and meat.)

Saute the onion for 2-3 minutes until it begins to soften, then add the chopped peppers (straight from the freezer if using pre-chopped frozen peppers). Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add in the chopped pre-cooked turkey meat. This is just to warm it up to reduce baking time and ensure even heating throughout the enchiladas.

Now, the fun part – assembling the enchiladas! Line up all your elements in an assembly-line fashion. I like to do the sauce first, then the meat/onion mixture, then the beans, and last, shredded cheese.


Take a tortilla in hand, spoon on about 2 Tablespoons of enchilada sauce, and spread it around the tortilla.

Next, add a line of the turkey, onion, and pepper mixture, about 1/4 cup. I never measure it; just eyeball it! Then, a scoop of beans.

Add Peppers and Turkey

Finally, add a sprinkle of shredded cheese. About 1/4 cup, but again, just eyeball it.

The secret here is to not over-fill the tortillas making them hard to roll up, and at the same time not to under-fill them, making them all tortilla and no filling. It’s very forgiving though, so don’t stress about having a perfect amount.

Add Cheese and Beans

Roll up your filled tortilla and set it in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Set the loose edge side down in the pan to keep it from unrolling. I also find it helpful to lay them all in the same direction to make it easier to scoop them out after they’re baked.

Continue filling and rolling your enchiladas until you’ve used up all the meat filling. I often have a spoonful or so of beans left over, which just means I didn’t portion it out as well as I could have!

I usually end up with 7-8 enchiladas in my pan, and I have to squish them up tight so they all fit. Once you have them all in the pan, spread another 1/3 cup enchilada sauce on top of the enchiladas, and sprinkle with more shredded cheese. Not too thick, just enough to be melty and a bit gooey, and to keep the top from getting dried out.

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese is melting and the edges of the tortillas are starting to look a little bit crispy and golden at the edges.

Remove from oven and serve immediately. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro if desired.

Serving suggestions

We like to eat our enchiladas with salsa, guacamole, and plain yogurt (in place of sour cream).

I like to pair this with corn on the cob (in season) or sweet corn kernels. I usually also serve a pot of rice to go with it for kids who might not be huge fans of the enchiladas. Corn tortilla chips are also an excellent (and motivating) side for the picky eaters.


Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. I like to bake my enchiladas in a glass dish that has a cover so that after it has cooled, leftovers can go straight in the fridge without having to move them to another dish.

To reheat, warm in the microwave (covered) for about 1 min. 30 sec on reduced power. This will give a chewy texture to the tortillas, which I happen to like.

Or, if you prefer the tortillas crispy, as my husband does, you can reheat them in a toaster oven or a full-size oven, for about 8-10 minutes.

If you don’t plan to eat the leftovers within 3-4 days, you can also freeze the enchiladas for up to 6 months. Separate each enchilada and wrap it in aluminum foil. Then, place the foil-wrapped enchiladas in a plastic freezer bag.

To warm frozen enchiladas, place them still wrapped in foil in an oven or toaster oven and reheat for about 30 minutes. To get a bit more of a crisp on them, you can unwrap the foil for the last 10 minutes or so.

To reheat in the microwave from frozen, remove the foil and cover (with a microwave-safe cover or paper towel) and heat on 75% power for about 6-8 minutes.

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