Baked Chicken Enchiladas Cafe Tacuba-Style

Chicken enchiladas smothered in a creamy poblano sauce and topped with melted cheese. It’s a recreation by Rick Bayless of enchiladas served at Cafe Tacuba in Mexico City.

I never make recipes exactly as written.  I can’t. Not even when I’m re-making my own recipes. It’s an unwritten rule. It’s inevitable that I’ll change some a lot of things. This one was different because I didn’t change one single thing.

For the first time in I don’t know how long I followed the recipe exactly as written. To a tee. Of course I had ideas. Ideas I resisted because I decided ahead of time to trust the recipe.

The results were stunning. A rival for my original chicken enchilada recipe that everyone loves and asks for.

The sauce is a beautiful pastel green, rich, creamy and mildly spiced with poblano chile peppers, a little fresh spinach, chicken broth and milk. I could drink it. But I didn’t.

A spoon worked better.

The filling is simple and pure. Shredded chicken flavored with the sauce is rolled up in corn tortillas then lined up like little soldiers in a baking pan.

There’s a generous amount of sauce that thickens up as it bakes, a gooey cheese topping and fresh cilantro for garnish.

Rarely do I describe a savory dish this way but there’s a first time for everything.


Baked Chicken Enchiladas Cafe Tacuba-Style

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Baked Chicken Enchiladas Cafe Tacuba-Style

Chicken enchiladas smothered in a creamy poblano sauce and topped with melted cheese.


2 fresh poblano chiles
1 lightly packed cup roug chopped spinach leaves
2 cups whole milk
2 cups chicken broth
6 tablespoons butter (or vegetable oil)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
coarse salt
3 cups coarsely shredded cooked chicken (a rotisserie chicken or leftover grilled/baked chicken)
12 corn tortillas
A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
About 1 cup Mexican melting cheese (Chihuahua, quesadilla, asadero) or Monterey Jack, brick or mild cheddar
fresh chopped cilantro for garnish


  1. Make the sauce. Roast the poblanos directly over a gas flame or on a baking sheet 4 inches below a broiler. Turn them to blacken and blister them on all sides. It will take about 5 minutes over a gas flame and 10 using the broiler. Place the hot peppers in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel or in a small paper bag with the top closed.
  2. After about 10 minutes rub off the blackened skin and pull out the stem and seeds. Rinse under water to clean off the rogue seeds. Rough chop and add to a blender jar or to the bowl of a food processor with the spinach.
  3. Add the milk and broth to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat to warm.
  4. Add the butter to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute then whisk in the flour and continue whisking for a minute. Turn the heat up to medium-high and pour in the warm broth mixture whisking constantly until the sauce comes up to a boil. Reduce heat to medium or medium-low and maintain a simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Pour half the hot sauce into the blender or food processor with the chiles and spinach. Hold the lid down with a kitchen towel to prevent steam from blowing the lid off and blend or pulse until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce. Taste and season with 1 - 2 teaspoons salt.
  6. Finish the enchiladas. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lay out half of the tortillas on a large baking sheet and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil. Repeat with the remaining tortillas layering them over top. Bake about 3 minutes or until warm and softened.
  7. Grease a 9x13 inch baking sheet and cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Mix 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.
  8. Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm. Working quickly so that the tortillas stay hot and pliable, roll about a 1/4 cup of the chicken up in each tortilla placing them in a line in the baking dish.
  9. Pour the remaining sauce over them and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 25 - 30 minutes until hot and bubbly all over with lightly golden cheese.
  10. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.


Adapted from Rick Bayless inspired by Kim@Stirring the Pot

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  1. Xtine says

    Hi, have you ever tried making this ahead and refrigerating the whole tray? I am having company over and I’d like to make the night before then just pop the pan in the oven before they arrive. I may take the risk. Thanks!

    • Reeni says

      I think that would work out ok! I just worry about the sauce separating – sometimes they do that if not cooked right away.

      • Xtine says

        Hi Reeni! I served this last night for company and it was superb. I assembled the recipe up to step 8 the night before. I kept the sauce separate in a container with a lid, but before I put the lid on, I put wax paper over the sauce to prevent a skin from forming (my mom used to do this with pudding she mad us as a kid). I took the tray out of the fridge about 30 mins before I baked (as I was getting other items ready) I spooned the sauce and sprinkled some cheese over the enchiladas and baked (step 9) for about 35-40 mins. It was delicious! The only problem, I forgot to add 1-2 tsp of salt and it was definitely missed (next time).

        Another thing, I couldn’t find Poblanos but I think here in CA, according to some web posts, they are incorrectly called Pasillas. So note to others, if you can’t find Poblanos, they may instead be labeled Pasillas in your grocery store.

        Thanks for your post!

  2. Jennifer says

    Does anyone have any recommendations on another type of chicken other than Rotisserie? I was a vegetarian for years and just started eating chicken and fish again. However, I would never be able to hack away at a Rotisserie, lol. This recipe looks so good! Thanks for any info. you can share!!!

    • Reeni says

      Hi Jennifer! You can use whatever type of cooked chicken you like! Just cut it up into bite-size pieces. These enchiladas are REALLY good! Probably the best I ever made. I hope you give them a try!

  3. Rachel says

    This was my first attempt at making chicken enchiladas…and I may never try another recipe. My boyfriend said they were delicious, and the process was really quite simple. I used a rotisserie chicken from my local supermarket and that made it super easy. I think my favorite part was the roasted poblano chiles. They added a great flavor and just enough heat. So glad to have found this recipe!!!!

  4. Monica says

    Just made these…oh my…SO good! Will definitely make again and again. Thanks for sharing this delish meal!

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