Can we all agree that Thanksgiving dinner is the most beloved meal of the year? There's nothing better than gathering around the table with your favorite people over a dinner filled with cozy, classic holiday recipes. Given my love for Thanksgiving, I created these Thanksgiving enchiladas as another way to enjoy those favorite holiday flavors but with a Tex-Mex twist.
You might assume these Thanksgiving enchiladas use our delicious leftovers. While that's not a bad idea, I actually took a different approach and first made these enchiladas last year before Thanksgiving. I was entirely too excited for the holiday and craving those Thanksgiving flavors, which means I obviously didn't have any leftovers to use.
Instead, I had to get creative and decided my maple-braised turkey legs and thighs would be perfect. I love the way the sweet maple plays against the spicy red enchilada sauce. Sweet and spicy is one of my favorite flavor combinations, so I knew it'd be delicious approach to these enchiladas.
Now, if you're wondering why make these enchiladas before Thanksgiving when you're about to have an abundance of turkey. Well, why not? Think of it as a pre-Thanksgiving celebration that will get you into the spirit. Or if you're throwing a Friendsgiving and looking for something different from your typical holiday meal but still within that Thanksgiving vibe, these enchiladas are perfect for the occasion. Plus, they're delicious. And that's good enough for me.
That said, if you'd like to use your leftovers for these Thanksgiving enchiladas, have at it. Your enchiladas may differ a bit from this recipe, but they'll still be tasty. Promise.
Before making these Thanksgiving enchiladas, you'll need this 20-minute red enchilada sauce and these maple-braised turkey legs and thighs. Once you prepare those, we're ready to dig into the rest of the recipe.
We start by roasting cubed butternut squash. When cubing, make sure to keep them small. The butternut squash cubes are going into corn tortillas, which are also on the small side, so we don't want them to be too large. I usually cut the cubes so that they're about ½ inch tall. If it helps, we can prepare the squash in advance and store in the refrigerator.
Now we're ready to put together our enchiladas. When it comes to tortillas, corn is the way to go. I love flour tortillas, but they turn gummy under the sauce. Save your flour tortillas for another time.
Before we fill our enchiladas, we need to lightly fry the corn tortillas. While some people skip this step, I absolutely insist on frying the tortillas. Not only does frying make our tortillas more pliable but it improves the texture and greatly enhances the flavor. I usually believe in a you-do-you attitude but not when it comes to frying tortillas. This step makes all the difference.
After frying, we fill the tortillas with the maple-braised turkey, roasted butternut squash and shredded cheese. Gently roll up the enchiladas and line in a baking pan. I like to squeeze in as many enchiladas as I can, but I also find serving is easier when I leave a little space in between the enchiladas. Top with the red enchilada sauce and cheese and pop into the oven.
Once the enchiladas finish baking, cover them with foil and let them sit for five to 10 minutes. I know --- you're hungry and ready to dig in, but this gives the enchiladas a chance to set. Otherwise, our enchiladas are more likely to fall apart when serving, and we didn't put in all that work just to have our enchiladas turn into a huge mess.
What to Serve on the Side?
To keep with the holiday vibe, I like to serve these enchiladas with a side of pomegranate guacamole. Simply mash up ripe avocados with lime juice, cayenne pepper, salt and cilantro and sprinkle with pomegranate arils. I love adding pomegranate arils to guacamole because it adds a pretty hue as well as a little crunch.
Usually, I serve my enchiladas with fresh cilantro, but I opt for fresh sage with this recipe. Again, it's about keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, and it turns out sage is delicious on enchiladas.
Oh, and make sure you have plenty of Mexican crema or sour cream. As far as I'm concerned, enchiladas are never fully garnished without a healthy dose of one of the two. And now you may dig in.
I love a doppelbock with these Thanksgiving enchiladas. The Doppelbock is a malt-forward beer with caramel-like notes, which pairs well with the maple-braised turkey and counters the spicy red enchilada sauce. You also get a touch of chocolate and toasty undertones that are both great with these enchiladas.
On the wine side, grab a glass of zinfandel. The tannins are low enough that they won't mess with the spice, and plenty of fruity notes offer some contrast. I also love how the peppery flavor in the zinfandel plays with the red enchilada sauce.
As you get into the holiday spirit, I hope you give these Thanksgiving enchiladas a try. I'm sure you'll love them as much as I do.
Looking for Other Thanksgiving Recipes?
- Bourbon-pumpkin ice cream
- Gruyere-pumpkin ale risotto
- Homemade apple cider
- Chorizo and pumpkin baked ziti
- Buttermilk-pumpkin pound cake
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- 2 avocados
- ½ lime juiced
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro chopped
- Arils from half a pomegranate
- 2 cups butternut squash diced in ½-inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Cooking spray
- 1 ¼ cups homemade 20-minute red enchilada sauce divided
- Canola oil for frying
- 8 corn tortillas
- 3 cups Monterey Jack cheese shredded, divided
- 1 ½ cups maple-braised turkey or leftover Thanksgiving turkey
- Fresh sage for garnish
- Mexican crema or sour cream for garnish
- For pomegranate guacamole, mash the avocado with lime juice, cayenne pepper and salt. Stir in cilantro and half of the arils. Sprinkle the top of the guacamole with the remaining arils. If making ahead of time, store in an airtight container in the refrigerator with one of the avocado seeds to prevent browning.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees. In a baking dish, toss butternut squash with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 20-30 minutes. Stir halfway through roasting. You can take care of this step ahead of time and store in the refrigerator.
- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray and spread ¼ cup of enchilada sauce on the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.
- In a skillet, pour in enough canola oil to coat the pan and heat until shimmering. Place a corn tortilla in the oil and cook for 30 seconds. Flip and cook for another 30 seconds. While the corn tortilla is still warm, spoon in cheese, turkey and roasted butternut squash. Roll and place seam-side down in the baking pan. Repeat with all tortillas. If necessary, add more oil to the skillet.
- Top the enchiladas with the remaining cup of enchilada sauce and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil and let sit for five to 10 minutes to set and prevent the enchiladas from falling apart when serving. Garnish with pomegranate guacamole, fresh sage, and Mexican crema or sour cream. Enjoy!
- You can prepare the enchiladas ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Take the pan out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before heating to prevent the pan from cracking, and don't top with sauce and cheese until the pan is ready to go into the oven.
- If you're using leftover turkey but want to incorporate the maple flavor, toss the turkey with real maple syrup. Start with a little at a time and add to suit your taste.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.