Green Enchilada Casserole with Chicken (AIP, Paleo, Whole30, GF)
If you’re looking for a good AIP green enchilada recipe, this is it! I didn’t think it was really possible to make a green “chili” tasting enchilada sauce without nightshades but this stuff is awesome. I got the seal of approval from my husband and kids as they polished off nearly the whole casserole when they tried it. It takes a little time to pull together but prep is pretty simple.
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What Ingredients are Needed for AIP Green Enchiladas?
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs- I like to use chicken thighs in recipes because they are more tender than chicken breasts. However, you can use chicken breasts if you want. Just keep in mind that you will probably need to cook them a little bit longer as they are usually thicker than chicken thighs.
- White Sweet Potatoes- I decided to use thinly sliced white sweet potatoes as the tortilla layer for these enchiladas. I did this simply because it's time-consuming to have to stop and make AIP tortillas to put in your AIP enchiladas. It's also, not always easy to find store-bought tortillas that are compliant.
If you can't find white sweet potatoes, you can also use yucca root, Malanga Blanca, or regular sweet potatoes (keep in mind regular sweet potatoes are sweeter than white sweet potatoes).
If you prefer to use tortillas in this recipe, this is of course an option. You can always make them ahead of time so that they are ready to go when you make the enchiladas. Here's a recipe you can use. You can also check out some AIP compliant store-bought tortillas below.
- Fresh Spinach- Spinach gives an easy veggie boost to these enchiladas. I usually cut the spinach leaves with kitchen shears so they are in tiny pieces. This way huge spinach leaves aren't overtaking your enchiladas.
Ingredients For the Nightshade-Free Green Enchilada Sauce:
Melted Coconut Oil or oil of choice- This is for coating the veggies for the sauce. I prefer to use coconut oil or another saturated fat oil like lard or tallow simply because they stand up to high temperatures better. Any oil you choose will work fine though
Yellow Onion- You can use white or yellow onion for the sauce. Even red onion would probably work fine.
Green Onion- Green onions roast really nicely and get a really full-bodied almost pepper-like flavor going.
Cucumber- I've never thought of cucumbers as something to eat warm but they work perfectly in this sauce.
Garlic Cloves- These give a full-body flavor to the sauce.
Lime juice- Lime juice provides just the right amount of tang.
Sea salt- I generally use pink Himalayan sea salts but any sea salt is fine
Water- Water helps to thin out the sauce slightly. You can also use broth.
How to Make AIP Green Enchiladas
The salsa verde is made by roasting white onion, green onion, cucumber, and garlic in the oven for about 40 minutes. Once they're done cooking, they can be added to a blender and blended with a little lime juice, salt, and water.
- The chicken thighs will be cooked in the oven at the same time as the veggies for the salsa verde.
- While the veggies and chicken are cooking, boil a pot of water on the stove and thinly slice the white sweet potatoes for the "tortilla" layers (see picture below). You can remove the skin or leave it on. Boil the sweet potatoes for about 5 minutes or until tender.
- Shred the chicken using 2 forks.
- Assemble the enchiladas by layering sauce, sweet potatoes, chicken, spinach, etc.
- Bake the casserole in the oven at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.
- Make the avocado topping and add to the top of the casserole once it cools a little bit.
- Garnish with cilantro.
Tortilla Options for AIP Enchiladas
As mentioned above, you can use other root vegetables for the tortilla layers but if you want to save time and use store-bought tortillas, there are a few AIP-friendly options. Note- I think these would all probably work well in the casserole but I haven't tested any of them in this particular recipe.
Siete Burrito Size Tortillas- These are the only Siete brand tortillas I've seen that are AIP compliant. This particular product isn't really available on Amazon but you can get them on the Siete website and may be able to find them in some stores.
The avocado mixture for this recipe is an optional topping. I love it because it makes the enchiladas taste very fresh and light. This being said, while my family loved the enchiladas with the topping, they said it tasted more “enchilada-y” without the topping. So, I think this will just come down to personal preference.
The avocado topping includes:
- Avocados- Avocados add a cool creamy rich flavor to the enchiladas.
- Red Onion- Onion adds a little bit of crunch and flavor.
- Cucumbers- Just a little bit of cucumbers added to the avocado mixture makes for a cool refreshing topping.
- Cilantro- Cilantro is used as a garnish. It adds yet another flavor dynamic and It just looks nice.
- Lime Juice- Add just the right amount of tang.
- Sea Salt- Add just a dash to taste.
If you feel this topping isn't for you, you can try other toppings like:
- Shredded Lettuce
- Black Olives
- Sliced Radishes
- Sliced Red Onions
- Green Onions
- Bacon Pieces
- Be sure to blend the sauce really well. The green onions can be a little bit tough on the blender so just be sure to blend the mixture long enough to incorporate them thoroughly.
- Allow the casserole to cool a little bit before adding the avocado topping. Otherwise, you end up with warm avocados.
- Serve with a side salad or cauliflower rice
Can I Make These Green Enchiladas Ahead of Time?
- Yes! You can save a lot of time with this recipe by prepping some of the components ahead of time. The sauce is the component that takes the most time and it can be made in bulk and stored in the fridge or freezer for later. If the sauce is ready to go, the rest of the recipe comes together pretty quickly. Having the chicken cooked and shredded ahead of time will also speed things up. In a pinch, canned chicken could be used to save some time. Just make sure there are no added starches or other non-compliant ingredients in it.
- If you want to make the whole enchilada casserole ahead of time, that's an option as well. Just assemble the casserole (minus the avocado topping). Cover and store the casserole in the fridge for one or two days and then cook it when you’re ready.
- When it comes time to cook it in the oven, put it in the oven while the oven is still cool and allow the oven and the dish to heat up together. If you try to put a cold glass dish in a hot oven, it could cause the dish to break or even "explode" depending on what kind of dish it is and how it was made. As an extra precaution, you could place the glass dish on a baking sheet.
Can I Freeze These Enchiladas?
Yes. You can freeze the enchilada casserole either before or after you cook it. Store it in a freezer-safe casserole dish and cover it tightly. It will stay good in the freezer for 2-3 months.
When you're ready to use it, thaw it in the fridge overnight, then follow the cooking instructions above and in the recipe.
I hope you love this recipe. If you tried it, I'd love to hear what you thought! If you tried packaged AIP tortillas in it, I'd love to hear how it turned out. Please leave a comment below!
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Green Enchilada Casserole with Chicken (AIP, Paleo, Whole30, Gluten-Free)
- Blender or food processor
- 2 Sheet Pans
- Glass Baking Dish
- 1 white or yellow onion, chopped (about 2.5 cups)
- 3 bunches green onions, cut into fourths (about 5 cups)
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped (2 cups)
- 8 whole garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil or oil of choice
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1-2 tsp sea salt (to taste)
- 1/4 cup water or chicken broth
- 1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2.5-3 cups chopped)
- dash sea salt (for chicken)
- 2 medium-sized white sweet potatoes (or starchy vegetable of choice) (about 800 grams)
- 2 cups chopped fresh spinach (4 cups whole leaves)
Avocado Topping (optional)
- 2 medium avocado, chopped
- 2 tbsp red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup cucumbers, diced
- 1/2 tbsp lime juice
- dash of sea salt
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Prep the sauce vegetables and chicken for the oven (see next steps).
- For the sauce veggies (white onion, green onion, cucumber, and garlic)- Make sure they are cut into similar-sized pieces. Cut them somewhat small so they don't take a long time to cook but not so tiny that they burn. The garlic will be left whole- it'll be a little smaller than the other veggies but that's ok. The green onions will be cut in fourths. Place all the vegetables together on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Drizzle the oil over them and toss to coat. Roast for about 40 minutes or until they start to brown. Check every 15 minutes or so and stir to prevent burning.
- Add the chicken thighs to a second baking sheet (parchment paper-lined or greased) and sprinkle with sea salt. Add it to the oven with the veggies. Bake for about 30 minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the chicken and vegetables are cooking, put a large pot of water on the stove over high heat. Bring to a boil.
- Peel the sweet potatoes (optional)- I prefer to leave the skin on. Then, very thinly slice them length-wise to create sheets of sweet potato. Think about it as if you're making tortilla layers. This gets a little tricky once you've cut about half of the potato because it becomes unstable and hard to hold onto. To help with this, turn the potato onto its flat side once you've cut a few slices off- this will prevent it from rolling.
- Add the sweet potato layers to the pot of boiling water and boil for about 5 minutes or until the slices are tender but not falling apart. Watch them closely. Drain the water once done and set aside.
- Take the veggies and chicken out of the oven once cooked. Turn the oven temp down to 425 degrees (you'll bake the casserole once it's assembled). Shred the chicken using two forks. Set aside.
- Add the sauce veggies (onion, green onion, garlic, cucumbers) to a blender or food processor along with the lime juice and salt. Blend until smooth.
- Assemble the casserole: Add about 2 tbsp of the sauce to the bottom of a 9"x11" glass casserole/baking dish, then add a layer of sweet potatoes placed closely together. Next, add a layer of shredded chicken, then spinach, then a layer of sauce. Spread the sauce evenly with the back of a spoon. Repeat the process 1-2 times or until you run out of ingredients (you should have about 2 layers of potato/chicken/spinach/sauce). End the layering pattern with an additional layer of sweet potato topped with sauce. Bake at 425 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until the center is hot.
- Mix together the avocado topping. Once the casserole is done baking, allow it to cool for about 10-15 minutes, then add the toppings. Garnish with cilantro and serve.