Lightened Up Honey BBQ Chicken Enchiladas
Today we’re having a wonderfully easy weeknight dinner.
Because doesn’t life need more of these?
This right here is for those Tuesday nights when you’re craving something indulgent but want to keep your diet game tight. It’s for the miserable Mondays when you need something tasty but are totally short on time. It’s the Wednesday night dinner that makes you feel like it’s Friday, the Thursday night leftovers that still taste damn good, the Friday night feast that you pair with loads of beer.
It’s enchis, and they’re great, and let’s eat them.
Enchiladas are far and away my favorite Mexican dish, but I definitely don’t make them enough. I always think that they’ll be too much effort, take too much time, be far too fattening, etc. etc. And yes, some enchis are all of these things. But when I step into the game? Things change, and for the enchi-loving better.
In the midst of trying to shed the 37.2lbs I gained over the holidays (rough estimate) I am desperately trying to up my healthy eating. I’m doing all the right things, like eating lots of quinoa, doubling down on my veggies, and crying into my cookie-less cabinets. But healthy eating (like the super strict kind) is SO boring, I’d honestly rather not eat at all. Do you ever get that way, when you’re on a trailblazing diet to nowhere? You decide you’re going to be sooo strict, life’s gonna be all boiled chicken and steamed broccoli and spoonfuls of air, and you’re gonna love it! And it goes well, for like a day, and then slowly you start to crack. First you skip a meal, because why bother, then you skip another meal, because you’re depressed, THEN you eat an entire bag of Stacy’s pita chips because ohmygod you are starrrving and now your only good pair of black stretchy pants are covered in cinnamon sugar dust.
So to avoid that terrifically disastrous cycle I’m trying to eat some diet-friendly splurges, and that’s where these enchiladas come into play.
What’s great about this dish is you can easily prepare it a day in advance, do mini-prep in stages, or slop it together all at once- It’s flexible, and that’s what your weekdays need most. I’ve used this honey bbq sauce before with my oven- baked chicken wings, and ughhh I could just die over those old photos, yikes! Hideous photography aside, this bbq sauce is incredible, and I’ve made it countless times. It’s a little high maintenance in that it has a lot of ingredients, but once you’ve got everything out and measured, just stir it all together and you’re set.
To keep these light I enlisted a trio of extra lean ground chicken, light cheddar cheese, and low-carb tortillas, and to amp up the texture I threw in some sliced red pepper and red onion to the filling too. My little veggie addition added a subtle crispness and definite crunch to these enchis, and for a texture freak like me, that is perfection. Plus, the combo of bbq sauce + cheddar cheese? It’s one of my all-time American favorites, so these enchis really had me swooning. The sweet & savory elements are SO well-balanced in this recipe, and the honey bbq sauce gets such a wonderfully smokey flavor after baking, it smells and tastes incredible.
And all that gooey cheese? Speaks for itself.
Lightened Up Honey BBQ Chicken Enchiladas
- 12 oz Extra Lean Ground Chicken
- 1/2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/4 tsp Sea Salt & Coarse Black Peppercorn – approx.
- 1/2 cup Sliced Red Peppers
- 1/2 cup Sliced Red Onion
- 1 1/4 cups Shredded Light Cheddar Cheese (I used Cabot)
- 5 Low Carb Tortillas (6″ each – I used La Tortilla Factory)
- HONEY BBQ SAUCE:
- 1 1/2 cans Tomato Paste (6 oz each)
- 3/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 1/3 cup Molasses
- 1/3 cup Honey
- 3 tbsps Worcestershire Sauce
- 2 tbsps Dry Mustard
- 1 1/2 tsps Hot Sauce
- 3/4 tsp Chili Powder
- 1/2 tsp Minced Garlic
- 1/2 tsp Paprika
- 1/4 tsp Cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp Onion Powder
- Sea Salt & Coarse Black Peppercorn to taste
- In large mixing bowl prepare the barbecue sauce. Begin by first combining the tomato paste, dark brown sugar, molasses, and honey, stirring vigorously until well combined and smooth. Next stir in the remaining ingredients, adding salt & pepper last and only as much as you think is needed (1/4 tsp each is a good base line). Set aside.*
- Pre-heat oven to 375F.
- Next, prepare the enchiladas. In large skillet heat EVOO over medium flame before adding in chicken and salt & pepper. Cook chicken until no pink parts remain, turning as needed, ~8 minutes.
- While chicken cooks, slice the red onion and red pepper and shred the cheese.
- When ready, line bottom of baking dish with a thin layer of honey bbq sauce. Next, combine 80% of remaining bbq sauce with chicken, stirring until all pieces are evenly coated (the last of the honey bbq sauce will be poured on top shortly). Lay tortillas out on flat surface and build enchiladas with several tablespoons of chicken, a few sliced peppers and onion, and a sprinkling of cheddar cheese per tortilla. Roll up each tortilla tightly and place into baking dish seam-side down. Once all tortillas are rolled, pour over with last of sauce, then top with remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 minutes until hot and bubbly, then immediately plate and serve.
*This makes a LOT of bbq sauce, so use your best judgment when working with it in step 5 – You need just a thin layer to coat the bottom of the baking dish, just enough sauce to coat the chicken without overdoing it, and as much or as little sauce as you like smothered on top! So if you don’t like your enchis super saucy, you’ll probably have leftovers – just store in the fridge!
>> My baking dish was 8″ x 10″.