What to Serve with Enchiladas: 13 Sides to Honor Mexican Tradition
There’s so much you can make with tortillas, and yes, there’s more than tacos.
Enchiladas, for example, are a tremendous tortilla-based dish with key differences from other Mexican foods you eat with a shell.
Enchiladas are rolled tortillas with a savory filling that are bathed in sauce and often baked.
They’re so finger-licking messy to eat that you must dig in with a fork and knife.
In a way, enchiladas are Mexico’s response to casseroles.
Enchilada is an umbrella name for many types of dishes and means “something spiced with chili.”
There are as many styles of enchilada as there are pizzas, which makes them a fun project to cook for your family.
After reading this guide, you’ll not only know the most popular enchilada styles around, but you’ll also know what to serve with them to create a complete experience.
We’ll show you side dishes that won’t steal the spotlight from your saucy enchiladas, but complement them in flavor, texture and color.
Enchiladas are not only healthy but utterly satisfying but again, you want to serve them with the right side dishes.
What to serve with enchiladas is as essential to consider as the enchiladas themselves.
Mexico’s most famous breakfast (and sometimes lunch and dinner too!), Enchiladas are a great addition to your repertoire and a great way to celebrate Mexican tradition.
What you pair up with your enchiladas depends entirely on the type of enchiladas you’re making.
What to serve with chicken enchiladas might be different from what you would pair up with beef enchiladas.
Having said that, rules are meant to be broken, and creativity is your best tool to create a complete, satisfying meal.
Side Dishes for Enchiladas: Ideas to Satisfy Your Every Craving
Here’s a list of exciting side dishes to serve with your Mexican dinner.
Some are traditional, others are edgy, so read on and get inspired; you’ll have your full menu planned in no time.
1. Kale Guacamole, As Good as Always, but Healthier
Guacamole is a quintessential Mexican side dish; it turns every meal into a joyful chip-dipping party.
Guacamole is fabulous on its own too, and more often than not, it will make your evenings with friends, movie nights or Sunday football mornings twice as fun.
It comes as no surprise that the green, silky dip goes exceptionally well with enchiladas, it adds color to the plate and a new layer of flavor to your composition.
Although avocados are already healthy, you can boost the health benefits of your favorite dip by mixing it with natural, bright-green kale.
What Kate from Cookie+Kate make a fresh Kale Guacamole here
2. Prickly Pear Salad, a Crisp Salad Made with Desert Fruit.
You might be wondering what salad goes with enchiladas, well, here’s the answer: Prickly pear salad.
Prickly pears are extremely juicy and refreshing, which will balance the heat of spicy enchiladas.
There’s no wrong way to make this salad. Colorful fruit like mango or berries, vinaigrette or your favorite dressing and you’ve created your own prickly pear salad.
Remember to add some texture with chopped nuts, sliced cucumbers, or golden croutons.
You’ll fall in love with prickly pears, the sweet, gritty desert fruit you didn’t know you were missing.
Get inspired by Jane-Ann from Scrumption and her Salad of Prickly Pears, Feta and Watercress here
3. Cole Slaw, A Well-Rounded, Fresh Salad.
A colorful, crunchy, and refreshing slaw is all you need to balance the weight of the hearty enchiladas.
Start with a finely chopped traditional base of cabbage and carrots and go crazy from there.
Diced pineapple or apples, and even a few sliced jalapeno peppers can make your slaw stand out.
Remember, we’re looking for freshness, so use farmer’s market produce and prepare your salad a few minutes before serving.
Here’s a tip:
Squeeze a few limes to your slaw to make it extra tangy and a better match Mexican flavors.
4. Grilled Corn Salad, A Smoky and Colorful Treat.
Who doesn’t love a warm corn salad?
Sweet, golden kernels, kissed by the fire, mingling with bell peppers, tomato, cilantro and everything else you’re craving for.
The secret of a good grilled corn salad is chopping all ingredients and cooking them together in a skillet, except for corn, char the corn first over an open flame.
Bring out this side dish to complement hearty enchiladas with dark, rich sauces, the ones that need a smoky dish by its side.
5. Say Cheese! Everything Tastes Better with Cheese.
Enchiladas are cheese enough, but there are more types of cheese than you can imagine.
Find a lovely young, crumbly cheese like Mexican Queso Fresco, Ricotta Salata or Greek Feta.
Place a large piece on your table and let everyone have a slice.
Countering the heavy enchiladas with a fresh bite of briny cheese is the best way to cleanse your palate and savoring every bite.
There’s a bonus:
Sprinkle some cheese to your enchiladas to give them a salty, exciting lift.
6. Jalapeno Poppers, Spice Up Your Life.
What to serve with chicken enchiladas depends entirely on your preferences, and if you want a little spiciness, make a bowl of homemade, cheese-filled, battered, and fried jalapeno poppers.
There’s nothing like that pop in your mouth in an explosion of flavors and heat, making them an outstanding side dish for all types of enchilada, especially if covered with jalapeno-based green sauce.
Make sure you remove all the seeds from the jalapenos before stuffing them to make them hot, yes, but bearable.
See how Holly from Spend with Pennies makes delicious Jalapeno Poppers here
7. Red Rice, The Taste of Home.
Few things are as heartwarming as the traditional red Mexican rice to compliment your enchiladas.
You can use the rice to soak up all the salsa left in the plate, leaving nothing behind.
A starchy side dish like red rice is also ideal for making sure your meal is balanced.
Add diced carrots and corn kernels to your rice while it cooks to make it special.
Topped with a few avocado slices, your rice will compete for the spotlight against your main course.
8. Chorizo, the fiery Mexican sausage.
Chorizo, the spicy, red-hued Mexican sausage, is not only peppery and aromatic but downright weighty.
Use it to add depth to your menu.
Grill your chorizo until charred and serve it in large chunks for your friends and family to grab and alternate between enchilada bites.
Look for chorizo at a Mexican specialty store, and if you can’t find the fiery beast, use your local sausages; as long as they’re juicy, greasy, and succulent, they’ll match beautifully with your enchiladas.
Try chorizo alongside bean enchiladas and experience a match made in heaven.
9. Watermelon Slices to Tame the Heat.
Enchiladas come in all spiciness levels; they can brutal or mild.
Keep in mind they’re named after chilis after all, so expect at least some heat.
This is where the juicy, sweet watermelon slices come into play. They’ll bring down the heat and lots of color to your table.
When was the last time you offered fruit with dinner? Fruits are fantastic side dishes, especially watermelon.
The next time you make spicy food, whether it’s Thai or Indian, and especially Mexican, slice a big watermelon and make it the centerpiece.
10. Drunken beans, Good Old Beans with a Twist.
If you’re planning to serve a traditional Mexican dinner, you know you have to have beans; they’re the universal answer to the question, “What goes with enchiladas?”.
Now, some beans are more fun than others, and the most flavorful of them are drunken beans.
Beans simmered in dark Mexican lager beer.
That’s the base of this side dish right there, do we have to say more?
Because there’s more! Add bacon, sausage and your favorite veggies to this tipsy stew and watch it turn into the king of bean concoctions.
Follow AnotherHouseWife on Youtube for a Frijoles Borrachos Recipe here
11. Mole de Olla, Not Your Average Mole.
Mole is a catch-all term for a variety of complex sauces made with chili peppers, nuts, fruits, and even chocolate.
But this particular one, the mole de olla, is something completely different.
Think of a vibrant, thin soup made by simmering beef, carrots, green beans and potatoes, everything coarsely chopped and slow cooked to perfection.
You know it’s ready when you can shred the meat with a fork.
Serve a few bowls, top them with freshly chopped onion and cilantro, and serve them as a starter or side dish with your enchiladas.
Talk about an authentic meal!
Watch Mely Martinez make a Mole de Olla for Mexico in my Kitchen here
12. Vegetarian Fajitas, Guilt-Free, Intense Flavors.
Cater to your vegetarian friends with vegetarian enchiladas and vegetable fajitas.
Enchiladas are already mostly vegetarian; just substitute the filling: cheese, or soy meat instead of chicken, and you’re good to go.
Vegetarian fajitas are as enticing, colorful, and delicious as regular ones.
Julienned bell peppers, onions and mushrooms sautéed in a cast iron pan or cooked directly on the grill.
Trust us; you want a few smoky, charred bits.
Add your preferred greens and make this healthy side dish your own.
To get more ideas, check out our list of fajita side dishes.
13. Beans and Rice, Fast and Easy.
One of the easiest, but most satisfying side dishes for enchiladas are whole beans and rice.
Stirred together they become a filling bowl of proteins and carbs, they’re ready in just minutes, and deliver every time.
Separate, both beans and rice as great enchilada partners, together they’re even better.
Find your perfect bean-to-rice ratio and stick to it — Beans and rice or rice and beans, your kitchen, your rules.
This side dish will save your neck when you have little time; they’re crowd-pleasers, so don’t fret.
What to Serve with Enchiladas: Enchilada Styles Explained
Enchiladas are a simple dish, stuffed, gently fried tortillas covered with sauce.
But their simplicity is also their most significant trait. Unlike say a fish taco meal with sides, they can be incredibly varied.
Stuffed them with everything from scrambled eggs to shredded chicken and top them with any sauce you desire; it’s the sauce that gives every enchilada sauce its name.
Here are the most popular.
The secret for red enchiladas is obviously in the red sauce.
Made by blending onion, garlic, cilantro, tomatoes and red peppers, it ends up with a bright red hue and a sweet, and spicy flavor.
Red enchiladas are not only pretty but well-rounded; tomatoes give the sauce a beautiful texture reminiscent of Italian tomato purée.
Pair your red enchiladas with heat-taming sides like watermelon or fresh cheese.
There’s an essential difference between red enchiladas and tomato enchiladas (called Entomatadas in Spanish); they’re both red.
But…tomato enchiladas have no hot peppers.
This makes them the perfect dish for kids or people with sensitive stomachs.
Cook it with the same ingredients that you use for red enchilada sauce but skip the peppers.
This non-spicy enchiladas could use a lift from intensely flavored side dishes like jalapeno poppers or chorizo.
The special ingredient in a Mexican green sauce is charred green tomatoes.
The tangy fruit might look like regular (although smaller) tomatoes, but the flavor profile is entirely different, they’re savory and tangy.
Add onion, cilantro, garlic and avocado to make your green enchiladas creamy, and flavorful.
The green, vegetable flavors of this enchilada style is better complemented with salads, guacamole, or fresh coleslaw.
This is another non-spicy style of enchilada and a trendy option for breakfast.
Cover your enchiladas with a silky, coating bean sauce.
Enfrijoladas is the name you’re looking for in menus and topped with crumbled fresh cheese and chorizo; they’re delightful.
Make your bean enchiladas vegan by filling them with tofu.
With a predominating beans sauce flavor, these enchiladas pair incredibly well with rice or cheese.
You can always add some heart with spicy sides!
Mole is one of the most complex sauces on earth, and there are dozens of variations.
With no less than ten ingredients, from nuts and chili peppers to chocolate, it’s a relief that you can buy it ready to serve in specialty Mexican convenience stores.
Enchiladas topped with mole are a cherished dish in Mexican cuisine.
Go for authentic side dishes like mole de olla, beans and rice or red rice for this one.
Swiss enchiladas are covered with red or green sauce and are baked with a hefty amount of cheese.
The grated cheese adds a coating flavor and texture, making this style, at least for many, the monarch of the enchilada realm.
The most flavorful of enchiladas, this one needs weighty side dishes like a fabulous grilled corn salad, sausages, or fajitas.
Everything tastes grade along this cheesy dish.
A little history:
The first rendition of the swiss enchiladas was topped with red sauce and had cheese slices arranged in a cross, making the dish look like the Swiss flag.
Mexican Flag Enchiladas
Talking about flags, one of the most picturesque enchilada styles is the Mexican flag enchilada.
Three rolled tortillas, each covered with red, white or green sauce resembling the Mexican flag.
What’s the deal with making dishes look like flags, anyway?
With the combination of three different sauces, Mexican flag enchiladas pair best with subtle side dishes like red rice, a refreshing salad or a classic guacamole.
Now you know all there is about this delicious dish, you know what goes with enchiladas, the best side dishes for enchiladas and how to make them your own, what are you waiting for?
Let’s get cookin’!