Enchiladas can be really easy to cook for a quick weeknight dinner, and you can even use leftover chicken or turkey to make them up as well.
So can you freeze cooked enchiladas? Yes, you can freeze leftover enchiladas. Enchiladas are a popular meal to make ahead and freeze to use as an easy dinner or lunch, and the same applies for freezing leftover enchiladas as well.
Freezing enchiladas is pretty simple to do, especially since you have already done the hard work of cooking them.
How To Freeze Enchiladas
Once everyone has finished dishing up their portion of enchiladas, and come back for seconds, you should place the dish to one side to cool down.
It is better to allow the enchiladas to cool down before you freeze them, as the temperature in the freezer can increase if you place hot enchiladas in the freezer, which could ruin some of the other foods stored in there.
- Once cooled, scoop the enchiladas out into a freezer-safe plastic container, or into a disposable foil container. Make sure there is enough room for the enchiladas to expand a bit in the freezer.
- When all of the enchiladas have been placed in the freezer container, either cover them with a suitable lid or cover with plastic wrap and aluminum foil.
- Once the enchiladas are covered completely, you can place them into the freezer.
If you are wanting to freeze smaller portions of enchiladas to have for quick lunches:
- Individually wrap them in plastic wrap, making sure to do so tightly so no sauce spills out or air is left in the wrapping.
- Then cover the enchiladas wrapped in plastic with a layer of aluminum foil, which will help protect the enchiladas in the freezer.
- These can be placed in the drawers of the freezer much the same as enchiladas frozen in containers.
Tips For Freezing Enchiladas
As the enchiladas are made wrapped up in a tortilla, they have a tendency to become soggy when frozen and thawed.
This and a few other issues can ruin the taste and/or texture of the enchiladas when you defrost them to eat again. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to get your enchiladas to be as delicious as possible after freezing and thawing:
- Make sure to remove as much as air as possible when freezing your enchiladas in plastic wrap. This could cause freezer crystals which can definitely ruin the taste and texture of the meal.
- Try and drain out any excess liquid from the enchiladas. This will help to prevent freezer burn and crystals when the enchiladas are frozen. This can either mean pouring excess watery sauce from the container or even cooking down the sauce thicker during the cooking process to ensure that there isn’t too much moisture when it is frozen.
- Try adding some fresh cheese to the top of the enchilada before placing it in the freezer if you have any left. The cheese would have been melted in the oven and may have spread unevenly. By adding some extra fresh cheese, you can be sure to get that melted, gooey goodness once you thaw and reheat the leftover enchilada.
- To avoid having soggy enchiladas, you should quickly fry the tortillas before cooking or before placing them in a container to freeze. Frying them in a small amount of hot oil allows the tortillas to have a barrier so that they do not soak up too much sauce or liquid which could cause them to break down and become soggy. Frying the tortillas is a perfect way to avoid sogginess, and to protect the contents of the enchilada.
- Make some extra sauce to freeze separately from the enchiladas, even if it means scooping some out to an extra bowl before filling the enchiladas. Freeze some of the extra sauce in a separate freezer bag to have ready when you warm up your enchiladas. This both saves you from having to place too much sauce in the enchiladas before freezing, which could cause the tortilla to become soggy, and it is always better to have too much sauce than too little!
- It is also better to freeze enchiladas with sauce in a plastic container, as the sauce might take on a more metallic taste if frozen in an aluminum wrap along with the rest of the enchilada.
- Try not to leave your enchiladas in the freezer for too long. Ice crystals will begin to form on the tortillas or in the sauce after a while, and while these will disappear with reheating, after an extended period of time they could destroy the texture of the meal altogether.
How To Reheat Frozen Enchiladas
Once the time has come for you to reheat your enchiladas, you need to make sure you do it right to keep the enchiladas tasting fresh and moist.
The best way to thaw the enchiladas is to leave them in the fridge overnight. They will not warm up too much and this prevents the growth of any bacteria, while still defrosting the dish.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove any plastic wrap or aluminum foil that is covering the enchiladas, and place the meal in an oven-safe dish. If you have any spare sauce or cheese, top the enchilada with them.
Bake the enchiladas in the oven for 25 minutes before checking. If they need to be heated for longer, heat them for further 5 minute increments until ready.
You can also try out a microwave crisping tray, which is perfect for quickly reheating enchiladas when you feel like you just can’t wait 25 minutes.
The quality of your enchiladas will depend on the materials you use to freeze them. They need to be kept protected in the freezer. Here are some of the options you can choose from for freezing:
Disposable Aluminum Pans
Disposable aluminum pans are great to use because there is no washing needed afterward, and they hold their shape well in the freezer and can be used to warm the enchiladas up in the oven as well.
However, if you are planning to freeze quite a few meals using aluminum containers, it can become quite expensive.
You can use glass, ceramic or metal baking pans to freeze enchiladas, but check to make sure they are freezer safe. They are also cost-effective, as you can use them over and over again.
Just do not freeze the enchiladas in pans that you use often, as they will obviously be in use in the freezer, limiting how often you can use them.
Aluminum Foil Lining
One of the better options to use is to line a ceramic or glass baking pan with aluminum foil. It does not cost as much as using aluminum disposable pans, and it keeps other dishes free for cooking.
You can also place these lined pans straight into the oven when it comes time to reheat the enchiladas, making it super easy. Once the foil is removed from the pan, there will be very little cleaning up to do as well, so it is a win-win.
How long can enchiladas stay in the freezer?
Enchiladas can hold their taste and texture well in the freezer for up to 3 months if stored correctly. If left longer than this, they will still be fine to be eaten, but freezer burn and ice crystals can ruin the quality of the enchiladas quite a bit.
If you are planning to have smaller meals from one large pan of leftovers, separate the enchiladas and freeze them separately and label them with the date cooked and frozen, so you can keep track of when you should eat them by.
Should I cover the enchiladas while warming?
If you want to keep the enchiladas as moist as possible, you could cover the dish with aluminum foil while baking for 20 to 30 minutes.
For the last 5 minutes, remove the foil to allow the cheese to crisp up and for the enchiladas to bake more evenly.
What can I serve with enchiladas?
Enchiladas taste great on their own but can be taken to the next level served with some sides. The best sides to serve with enchiladas are often found in the fridge already.
Serve your enchiladas with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa. These fresh flavors pair very well with the enchiladas baked taste and melted cheese. Jalapenos can also be served to add an extra kick.
Enchiladas are a great meal to freeze when you have cooked too much. You might even want to cook a bit extra to freeze to make for an easy meal during the week.
If stored and frozen right, enchiladas can last in the freezer for up to 3 months, and still, taste delicious when thawed and baked again to be eaten.
Freeze your enchiladas in one big batch to feed the family, or portioning them out for smaller meals during the week. Keep some fresh cheese on hand to sprinkle over the enchiladas before baking and you will have a quick and delicious meal sorted in no time!