Spicy Chicken Enchilada Pasta
This Spicy Chicken Enchilada Pasta is an easy one-pan meal that has all the flavors you love in chicken enchiladas but in pasta form. It’s exploding with spicy and smoky tomato flavors, wonderfully cheesy, and made with mostly everyday and pantry ingredients! Ready in just 30 minutes, it’s the ultimate weeknight winner dinner!
Spicy, smoky, full of robust tomato flavors, subtly creamy, and brilliantly cheesy! Everything you love about chicken enchiladas is right here in this easy one skillet Spicy Chicken Enchilada Pasta!
- Ground chicken seasoned with taco seasoning.
- Red enchilada sauce, fire roasted tomatoes and regular canned chopped tomatoes for our smoky tomato sauce base.
- A few everyday spices and seasonings.
- Pops of sweet corn and black beans.
- Sour cream to add cooling creamy notes to the spicy sauce.
- Perfectly cooked tortiglioni pasta (you can use and small pasta shape you love!).
- Plenty of sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack cheese in the sauce and for the delicious melty cheesy topping.
- Toppings! Serve up this showstopping meal with any of your favorite Mexican food toppings! Think sour cream, spring onion, coriander, avocado, olives, pickled or fresh jalapeños to top off your plate of this fiesta pasta dish!
This dish comes together in just 30 minutes and is super simple and easy to make with mostly canned and everyday pantry and fridge/freezer ingredients.
It’s also incredibly flexible and customizable! Swap the ground chicken for your favorite ground meat (beef, turkey, pork) etc. Make it vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free if needed. You can also spice it up or tone it down as desired to make it kid-friendly. 👌
This is the ultimate hearty and filling Mexican and Italian inspired meal that’s perfect for any night of the week. I think you and your family are going to love it!
Why This Recipe Works
- Quick and easy. It’s ready in just 30 minutes and feeds a small crowd or a hungry family!
- Convenience. It’s made with mostly store-bought canned products and everyday spices and seasonings. You may even have most of the ingredients on hand in your fridge and pantry already!
- DELICIOUS flavors! We have all the glorious smoky, spicy, and cheesy flavors that we love in chicken enchiladas but in the form of a pasta dish.
- Satisfying and filling. Loaded with corn, black beans, pasta, chicken, tomatoes, and plenty of cheese, this enchilada pasta is a hearty and satisfying meal that’s guaranteed to please!
- Make ahead and freezer-friendly. You can make it ahead and freeze to enjoy an easy dinner at a later date.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutes
- Ground Chicken: Using ground chicken makes this dish super quick and simple to prepare because you don’t have to clean or cut the meat. That said, you’re welcome to use any leftover cooked diced or shredded chicken you have on hand (see ‘Variations’ section below for other protein options).
- Taco Seasoning Mix: To flavor the chicken. Use store-bought or homemade taco seasoning and a mild or spicy one based on your preference.
- Pasta: I used tortiglioni, which is a tube shaped pasta similar to rigatoni. It has with deep ridges for the sauce to cling onto. But you can use any short-cut pasta shape you like! Some great options are penne, small shells (conchiglie), cavatappi, fusilli, farfalle, ziti, etc.
- Aromatics: Red onion (or yellow or white onion), garlic, and fresh red chilies such as Thai Bird’s Eye. You can use fresh green chilies instead of red chilies, a can of diced green chilies, or 1-2 jalapeños depending on your spice level preference.
- Red Enchilada Sauce: Again, homemade or store-bought red enchilada sauce can be used. Select a spicy, medium or mild one based on your preference.
- Canned Tomatoes: I used a combination of Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Medium Green Chilies for some extra smoky tomato flavors and Waitrose’s Italian Chopped Tomatoes with Olive Oil & Garlic. Although the fire roasted tomatoes add an extra kick of flavor, you’re welcome to use any canned diced/chopped or crushed tomatoes you love.
- Canned Corn: For pops of sweet corn flavor. Fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels works too.
- Canned Black Beans: Or you could use a can of pinto beans.
- Spices and Seasonings: Season the sauce with kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper, ground cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, and smoked paprika. Feel free to adjust the quantities of these ingredients to taste. You can use either a hot or sweet smoked paprika.
- Cheeses: I used freshly grated sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack cheese. You can use Monterey Jack or Colby Jack cheese or any other melty Mexican cheeses of your choice. I highly recommend buying blocks of cheese and grating it at home yourself. It’ll melt much better and blend more easily into the sauce than the pre-shredded bagged cheese from the supermarket.
- Light (or regular) Sour Cream: To add subtle cooling creamy notes to balance out the spicy flavors in the sauce. You can use plain Greek yogurt or single or heavy cream instead if you prefer.
- Optional toppings: Feel free to serve with any of your favorite Mexican food toppings! Some suggestions are chopped coriander (cilantro), spring onion (scallion/green onion), sour cream, avocado, pickled or fresh jalapeños, black olives, and lime wedges for squeezing.
Full ingredient list and amounts are in the recipe card below.
How to Make Spicy Chicken Enchilada Pasta
1. Cook the pasta. In boiling salted water for 2 minutes less than the time indicated on the package for al-dente pasta. (It will finish off cooking later so we don’t want to cook it fully now or it will become mushy.) Drain and set aside.
2. Sauté the aromatics. The red onion, garlic, and fresh red chilies (or jalapeños) in a little butter and olive oil in a large deep sauté pan until softened and fragrant.
3. Add the ground chicken. Sprinkle the taco seasoning on top and cook for a few minutes, breaking up the clumps with your spatula, until the chicken is just cooked.
4. Build the sauce. Add the enchilada sauce, fire roasted diced tomatoes, chopped tomatoes, corn and black beans. Mix well to combine.
5. Stir in spices and seasonings until combined well.
6. Mix in the cheeses. Just half of each the sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheese for now. Mix until fully melted.
7. Stir in the sour cream until evenly combined. Remove the pan from the heat.
8. Stir in the pasta until combined well.
9. Assemble casserole. Transfer to a 9×13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining half of sharp cheddar and pepper jack cheeses evenly on top.
10. Broil. Just for a few minutes until the cheese has melted and is bubbling.
Serve! Garnish with chopped spring onion and coriander. Serve immediately with any of your favorite toppings!
Full detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.
- Use a large ovenproof pan. This way you can place it directly in the oven and don’t need to transfer to an ovenproof dish to broil and melt the cheese topping.
- Melt the cheese topping directly in the pan. If you’re not up for turning on the broiler, simply sprinkle the cheese over that pasta in the pan and cover. The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese in 2-3 minutes.
- Adjust spice level to your taste. Feel free to add more fresh red chilies (or jalapeños or other green chilies) ground cayenne, and crushed red pepper flakes to make this spicier. If dining with kids and wanting to make this spicy chicken enchilada pasta milder, omit or use less of the aforementioned spicy ingredients.
Certainly! It would still taste delicious! The main difference between red and green enchilada sauce is the type of chilies used to make it. Green enchilada sauce is made with green chilies and tomatillos. It boasts savory and spicy green chili flavors, and sometimes a hint of tang depending on if lime juice is added.
Yes! Use an aluminum baking dish and make it all the way up to the point that you sprinkle the cheeses on top. Cover tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C and remove the foil. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the center of the dish has heated through. Turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese has fully melted and is bubbling.
Old El Paso’s Enchilada Sauce is 100% gluten-free. Some other store-bought enchilada sauces have wheat in the form of flour or malt as the thickening agent and are not gluten-free. It’s always best to check the ingredient list if you are cooking for someone with gluten sensitivities.
- Use a different protein. Lean ground beef, turkey, pork, etc.
- Use leftover or rotisserie chicken. Leftover boneless and skinless cooked shredded or diced chicken breasts or thighs can be used if you have it on hand. For a shortcut, buy a rotisserie chicken on your way back home from work and shred the meat to use in this dish instead. You’ll need about 3 cups (1 pound / 454 grams) of shredded or diced chicken.
- Make it vegetarian. Use a plant-based ground meat substitute such as OmniPork, Beyond Beef, Impossible Meat, etc.
- Make it vegan. Same as for making it vegetarian, but also use dairy-free/vegan unsalted butter, sour cream, and cheeses.
- Add chipotles peppers in adobo sauce. Feel free to add 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for some extra spicy and smoky notes.
- Make it gluten-free. Use gluten-free pasta and make sure that the enchilada sauce and canned chopped tomatoes you’re using are GF certified.
More Delicious Pastas
- Pizza Pasta Bake
- Butter Chicken Pasta Bake
- Caesar Pasta Bake
- XO Sauce Mac and Cheese
- Or browse the entire Pasta and Pasta Bakes recipe collections.
MADE THIS RECIPE? If you make this recipe, leave a comment and review it below with a STAR rating! I always appreciate your feedback. Take a photo and be sure to tag it with @thatspicychick on Instagram and hashtag it #thatspicychick and I’ll be sure to share.Print
Spicy Chicken Enchilada Pasta
Spicy, smoky, full of robust tomato flavors, subtly creamy, and brilliantly cheesy! Everything you love about chicken enchiladas is in this easy one skillet Spicy Chicken Enchilada Pasta! It’s ready in just 30 minutes and perfect for any night of the week!
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 15
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Sauté
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex
- ½ medium Red Onion – finely chopped
- 6 Garlic cloves – minced
- 2 – 18 fresh Red Chilies (or 1–2 fresh Jalapeños), to taste – deseeded if desired, finely chopped
- 1 (15 ounce / 425 grams) can Sweet Corn Kernels – drained, rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce / 425 grams) can Black Beans – drained, rinsed
- 1 cup / 100 grams freshly grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 1 cup / 100 grams freshly grated Pepper Jack Cheese (or Monterey Jack Cheese)
- 12 ounces / 340 grams uncooked Short-cut Pasta (I used Tortiglioni, but any short-cut pasta will work)
- 1.5 TBLS Unsalted Butter
- 1 TBLS Olive Oil
- 1.1 pounds / 480 grams Ground Chicken
- 1 x 1 ounce pack Taco Seasoning Mix (store-bought or homemade, spicy or mild)
- 1 can (10 ounces / 284 grams) Red Enchilada Sauce (spicy, medium or mild)
- 1 can (14.5 ounces / 411 grams) diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes with Medium Green Chilies (I used Muir Glen brand)
- 1 can (14 ounces / 400 grams) chopped Tomatoes (I used Waitrose’s Italian Chopped Tomatoes with Olive Oil & Garlic)
- 1 TSP Kosher Salt, to taste
- 1 TSP freshly cracked Black Pepper, to taste
- ½ – 1.5 TSP ground Cayenne, to taste
- ½ – 1.5 TSP Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, to taste
- 1 TSP Smoked Paprika (hot or sweet)
- ½ cup / 125 grams Light Sour Cream (or regular sour cream)
- To Serve (optional toppings): Chopped coriander (cilantro), chopped spring onion (scallion/green onion), sour cream, sliced avocado, sliced pickled or fresh jalapeños, pitted sliced black olives, lime wedges for squeezing, etc.
- Prepare the ingredients: Chop the red onion, garlic, and fresh red chilies (or jalapeños). Drain the cans of black beans and corn in two separate fine mesh strainers and rinse. Use a box grater to grate the sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses.
For the Spicy Chicken Enchilada Pasta:
- Cook the pasta: Cook the pasta in a pot (or use the same large deep pan you’ll use to cook the rest of the dish) of boiling salted water for 2 minutes less than the time indicated on the package for al-dente pasta. Drain and run cold water on top to halt the cooking process and prevent sticking.
- Preheat oven: Preheat broiler on high (or the oven grill setting).
- Sauté the aromatics: Heat the unsalted butter and olive oil in a large deep sauté pan or ovenproof deep skillet over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is frothing, add the red onion and garlic. Sauté for a minute until softened and fragrant. Add the red chilies (or jalapeños) and sauté for 30 seconds to combine.
- Cook the chicken: Add the ground chicken and sprinkle the taco seasoning on top. Cook for 2 minutes, breaking up the clumps with your spatula, until just cooked.
- Build the sauce: Add the enchilada sauce, canned fire roasted diced tomatoes, canned chopped tomatoes, canned corn and black beans. Mix well to combine. Season with the kosher salt, black pepper, ground cayenne, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano flakes, and smoked paprika. Stir until combined well.
- Mix in the cheeses: Add half of the sharp cheddar and half of the Pepper Jack cheese. Mix until fully melted.
- Stir in the sour cream: Add the sour cream and mix until just combined. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Stir in the pasta: Stir in the pasta until combined well. Transfer to a 9×13-inch ovenproof baking dish and sprinkle the remaining sharp cheddar and Pepper Jack cheeses evenly on top. (See note 5.)
- Broil: Place the dish in the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is bubbling. Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
- To Serve: Garnish with chopped spring onion and coriander. Serve immediately with any of your favorite toppings!
- Use a different protein. Lean ground beef, turkey, pork, etc. will work well. However, if using a fatty ground beef or pork, I recommend browning it first in the pan and removing the fat/grease released. Add the taco seasoning and stir to combine. Then transfer to a clean bowl and proceed with the recipe. Add the ground meat back into the pan in step 5 when you add the rest of the sauce ingredients.
- Use leftover or rotisserie chicken. Leftover boneless and skinless cooked shredded or diced chicken breasts or thighs can be used if you have it on hand. For a shortcut, buy a rotisserie chicken on your way back home from work and shred the meat to use in this dish instead. You’ll need 3 cups (about 1 pound/454 grams).
- Pasta type. Any short-cut pasta shape will work. Some great options are penne, small shells (conchiglie), cavatappi, fusilli, farfalle, ziti, etc.
- Adjust spice level to taste. Feel free to add more fresh red chilies (or jalapeños or other green chilies) ground cayenne, and crushed red pepper flakes to make this spicier. If dining with kids and wanting to make this spicy chicken enchilada pasta milder, omit or use less of the aforementioned spicy ingredients.
- Alternative ways for melting cheese topping. Use a large ovenproof pan so that you can place in the oven directly and don’t need to transfer to a baking dish. Alternatively, sprinkle the cheese over that pasta in the pan and cover. The heat from the pasta will melt the cheese in 2-3 minutes.
- Make ahead and freezing instructions. Use and aluminum baking dish and make it all the way up to the point that you sprinkle the cheeses on top. Cover tightly with a sheet of aluminum foil and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge for 24-48 hours. Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C and remove the foil. Bake for 25-35 minutes until the center of the dish has heated through. Turn on the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese has fully melted and is bubbling.
- See ‘Variations’ section in the post above if you’d like to customize this dish.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 751
- Sugar: 14.2g
- Sodium: 1819.6mg
- Fat: 22.4g
- Saturated Fat: 8.9g
- Unsaturated Fat: 10.8g
- Trans Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 87.1g
- Fiber: 12.8g
- Protein: 38g
- Cholesterol: 114.5mg
Keywords: spicy chicken enchilada pasta, chicken enchilada pasta, enchilada pasta
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