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This vegan enchiladas verdes recipe highlights fresh corn tortillas wrapped around creamy refried bayo beans and melty cheese.
If that’s not enough to make you drool, they’re smothered in a tangy green salsa and garnished with crumbly cotija cheese, Mexican crema, and more!
Table of Contents
One of the most authentic Mexican foods you can make — enchiladas.
Enchiladas verdes (green enchiladas) are made with lightly fried corn tortillas that surround fillings like beans, cheese, or veggies.
What makes them green though?
A homemade green enchilada sauce! It’s made from tangy tomatillos, spicy green chiles, and flavorful seasonings.
What you end up with is a hearty, creamy, and fresh Mexican dish made easy, vegan, and gluten-free.
What are enchiladas verdes?
If you ask 10 people what enchiladas are to them, you’ll get 10 different answers. Put in the simplest terms, enchiladas are corn tortillas wrapped around a filling and topped with a savoury sauce.
Most North Americans are familiar with Tex-Mex enchiladas (flour tortillas topped with melted cheddar and baked in the oven). Although a tasty version, we wanted to highlight the enchiladas we enjoy here in Mexico.
The two most common types of enchiladas are red or green. But, you can also find them topped with mole or creamy sauces.
Sometimes the filling is stacked between tortillas (like a casserole), rolled up in the tortilla, or folded over like a taco.
Whatever presentation they come in, you must start out with corn tortillas!
Evidence suggests that different forms of enchiladas date back to thousands of years ago.
Mayans of the Yucatán peninsula would dip corn tortillas in a sauce of pumpkin seeds, epazote, and broth, then fill them with hard-boiled eggs and sometimes add a spicy tomato sauce (AKA papadzules).
The Aztecs called their version “chillapizzali” (meaning chile-flute), alluding to the main ingredient — chile peppers.
Following the Spanish conquests, enchiladas eventually morphed into modern-day recipes found in both Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.
You can now find a wide range of ingredients like cheese, chicken, beans, squash, and a variety of spicy sauces utilized.
Are enchiladas verdes vegan?
Enchiladas can be vegan-friendly, but we wouldn’t say they’re traditionally plant-based. You’ll find cheese and meat added to most enchilada recipes in Mexico.
That being said, it’s actually really easy to make vegan enchiladas by substituting the meat for jackfruit, tofu, or beans, and the cheese for a dairy-free substitute.
After trying these bean enchiladas, you won’t feel the need to use animal-based products any longer!
These vegan enchiladas verdes are best eaten immediately after cooking to ensure everything is warm and melty.
The most traditional toppings include crumbly cotija cheese, Mexican crema, queso fresco, fresh white onion, and cilantro.
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
To make authentic enchiladas verdes, you really need to make corn tortillas from scratch.
Not only do they make your recipe gluten-free, but they also add a traditional corn element that gives this dish a more authentic Mexican taste.
You can definitely buy corn tortillas from the store, but making them yourself is super easy and the taste is so much better!
Beans & Cheese
It’s best to keep the fillings easy, so we’ve opted for refried bayo beans and vegan cheese!
Bayo beans: swap out black beans for bayo beans in our refried bean recipe and you’ll end up with a sweet, creamy, and slightly spicy filling!
Shredded cheese: we used a store-bought vegan mozzarella for this recipe, but you can use whatever you have on hand to create an ultra-creamy filling to pair with the beans. Another great option you can try is vegan queso fresco!
Green enchilada sauce
You can’t have enchiladas verdes without green enchilada sauce.
Tangy tomatillos, spicy green chiles, zesty garlic and onion, and fresh cilantro and lime juice make up the base of this enchilada sauce.
Just don’t miss the most crucial step — seasoning your salsa.
We boiled our vegetables for this recipe, but if you want a more complex smoky flavor, try out our pan-roasted green enchilada sauce.
You can also try using spicy salsa verde if you prefer more of a kick.
Garnishes are one of the most important aspects of Mexican cuisine and crucial to a perfect vegan enchilada recipe.
Cotija cheese: rather than the cheddar cheese used in Tex-Mex enchiladas, we used almond cotija cheese to provide a salty element with a touch of creaminess.
Mexican crema: often used in traditional recipes, our vegan enchiladas needed a dairy-free Mexican crema drizzled on top to balance out the spice and tang of the green enchilada sauce.
Onion: fresh onion often accompanies Mexican dishes, and it can’t be missed. It provides a fresh, zesty bite to this recipe.
If you have questions about this green enchiladas recipe, don’t forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: shred some cheese and prepare a recipe of refried beans (we used bayo beans in this recipe, but pinto or black work too). Prep some fresh corn tortillas, or use a pack of store-bought tortillas.
Step 2: remove any husks on your tomatillos and give them a good rinse. De-stem and seed the chiles, then bring the tomatillos, chiles, onions, and garlic to boil in a large pot. Reduce the heat to simmer until they are all nice and soft.
Step 3: roughly chop the cilantro and add this along with the vegetable broth, lime juice, drained tomatillos, onions, chiles, and garlic to a blender. Mix on medium-high until you have a smooth enchilada sauce.
Step 4: season your sauce in a pan with a bit of olive oil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Step 5: preheat your oven to 350°F and heat 5-6 tbsp oil in a pan over medium-high. Fry each tortilla for about 10-15 seconds per side (they shouldn’t be too crispy since you still have to roll them).
Step 6: transfer the fried tortillas to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of the excess oil. Then, add a scoop of refried beans and a handful of shredded cheese to the middle of your tortilla. Tightly roll each one and transfer them to a casserole dish.
Step 7: we like to bake our enchiladas for 5-10 minutes at 350°F to melt the shredded cheese inside (this step is optional).
Step 8: serve your bean enchiladas while warm with a generous dollop of sauce, crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese, Mexican crema, fresh onions, cilantro, and/or shredded lettuce. Enjoy!
These vegan enchiladas are best when eaten fresh. But if you choose to make a big batch, they also store well.
You can keep this recipe in your fridge in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days. This should go without saying, but don’t store the enchiladas with sauce on top as it will cause the tortillas to become soggy.
If you want to reheat your enchiladas verdes, place them in a casserole dish covered with aluminum foil. Bake them for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees F.
💭 Pro tips
We’d like to share some tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this bean and cheese enchilada recipe:
- Fry the tortillas. Frying for about 10-15 seconds per side creates a better texture and adds a layer of protection against the sauce.
- Change up the fillings. If you don’t have beans, try potatoes, corn, squash, or sweet potatoes.
- Serve them immediately. If you let them sit with the sauce on too long, enchiladas tend to get soggy.
- Make the sauce in advance. Green enchilada sauce is fridge and freezer-friendly, so make it in advance to save time.
- Add more spice. If you want your enchiladas spicy, add serrano peppers to the sauce.
🍴 Tasting notes
After you make these vegan enchiladas, you won’t miss the meat versions one bit! They’re:
If you try this recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Vegan Enchiladas Verdes
- Casserole dish
- Cast iron pan
- Sauce pan
- 1 recipe refried beans ($0.78)
- ½ – 1 cup shredded vegan cheese ($1.87)
- 16 corn tortillas ($0.32)
- 1 lb tomatillos ($0.45)
- 3 poblano chiles ($0.36)
- 2 jalapeño chiles ($0.06)
- 2 cloves garlic ($0.08)
- ½ medium white onion ($0.12)
- ⅓ cup cilantro ($0.09)
- ⅓ cup vegetable broth ($0.03)
- ½ tbsp lime juice ($0.03)
- Salt to taste ($0.01)
- 6-7 tbsp neutral vegetable oil ($0.66)
For serving optional
- Mexican crema
- Vegan cotija cheese
- Vegan queso fresco
- Diced white onions
- Shredded lettuce
- Shred the vegan cheese and prepare a recipe of refried beans. Alternatively, you can use a can of store-bought refried beans to save time. Note: we used bayo beans for this recipe, but both black and pinto work too.
- Make your own fresh corn tortillas, or use a pack of store-bought tortillas. Set aside for later.
- If your tomatillos still have the husk on them, remove those first and give them a good rinse. De-stem and seed the chiles, then bring the tomatillos, chiles, onions, and garlic to boil in a large pot. Once boiling, reduce the heat to simmer for 10-12 minutes or until the veggies are soft.
- In the meantime, roughly chop the cilantro and add this along with the vegetable broth and lime juice to a food processor or blender. Once the tomatillos, onions, chiles, and garlic are cooked, drain and add them to your blender as well.
- Blend on medium-high until all ingredients are mixed together to your preference, about 1 minute (more time for a smoother consistency, and less for a chunkier texture).
- Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high. Slowly pour the salsa in and bring it to a low boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
- Preheat your oven to 350°F and heat 5-6 tbsp oil in a pan over medium-high. Once hot, fry each tortilla for about 10-15 seconds per side. the tortillas shouldn't be too crispy since you still want to be able to roll them.
- Transfer the fried tortillas to a paper towel-lined plate to get rid of the excess oil. On a flat surface, add a scoop of refried beans and a handful of shredded cheese to the middle of your tortilla. Using your hands, tightly roll it and transfer it to a casserole dish. Continue this process with the rest of the tortillas.
- The enchiladas can be served at this point, but we like to bake them for 5-10 minutes at 350°F to melt the shredded cheese inside. Serve your enchiladas while warm with a generous dollop of sauce, crumbled queso fresco or cotija cheese, Mexican crema, fresh onions, cilantro, and/or shredded lettuce. Enjoy!
- Baking your enchiladas is optional if you skip the shredded vegan cheese or don’t mind it unmelted.
- If you prefer a spicier green enchilada sauce, use more jalapeños or serrano chiles.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- Nutritional information is a rough estimate.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty Mexican recipes, check out our:
- Bean and cheese sopes for a crispy and authentic antojito you’ll want to make on repeat.
- Vegan empanadas if you want to try fried corn dough empanadas that are easy to customize.
- Sweet potato and black bean quesadillas for a hearty, healthy, and easy weeknight meal that’s great for leftovers.
- Easy tamales if you want a step-by-step guide on making perfect tamales (even if it’s your first time).
We think vegan enchiladas are healthy, but it all depends on your definition of health. We believe in eating a mostly whole-food plant-based diet and not over-consuming calories to be the healthiest, most sustainable way of eating.
Enchiladas are usually served by themselves. However, some other excellent toppings include guacamole, pico de gallo, or queso fresco.
Most enchilada recipes are gluten-free, especially if they use corn tortillas. This vegan enchiladas verdes recipe is 100% gluten-free.
Since enchilada sauce is a fairly basic salsa, we enjoy using our leftover sauce for tacos, empanadas, burritos, quesadillas, sopes, or as a side to beans and rice.