How to Freeze Enchiladas

How to Freeze Enchiladas for Easy Weeknight Dinners // SavvyEat.com

When I started brainstorming my list of dishes to freeze before the baby comes, enchiladas were one of the first new things I added. I’ve frozen lasagna and taquitos before, so those were naturally at the top of my entrees list. Enchiladas came immediately after. We love our tacos, and they are in a regular rotation on our menu, but enchiladas often have very similar flavor profiles to tacos. And while I could easily freeze some taco filling, it is going to be easier to reheat frozen enchiladas than it will be to assemble tacos when we’re taking care of a newborn (and probably less messy to eat one-handed, as well!). So I got to experimenting.

I couldn’t decide whether or not I needed to leave off the enchilada sauce before freezing. I was a little worried that the acidity of the tomato-based sauce would eat away at the aluminum foil, or that the sauce would pick up a “tinny” flavor in the freezer. So I tested two freezing methods, and froze half the enchiladas with sauce, and half without. Before I reheated the dish, I added enchilada sauce to the other half, and topped both sides with cheese.

(I definitely recommend freezing the enchiladas without any of the cheese that goes on top if you can. Cheese has a tendency to separate during freezing, so you could end up with a watery mess when you reheat them later. It only takes a few minutes to add shredded cheese before you cook up the enchiladas, and as a bonus, the cheese will brown more nicely if it wasn’t frozen first. )

Enchiladas frozen with and without sauce to see which works best // savvyeat.com

I did notice that the sauce separated a bit in the freezer, and developed some ice crystals that I didn’t see on the enchiladas that were frozen without sauce. It wasn’t a huge deal, and it wasn’t particularly noticeable after baking. However, I could see it becoming more of a problem as more ice develops if you freeze the enchiladas for a longer period of time. Plus, there was a faint metallic taste to the sauce that had been frozen, which likely has to do with the interaction between the aluminum foil and acidic enchilada sauce. In the end, I think I’d prefer to freeze any future enchiladas without sauce, and then just add it right before baking.

Which enchiladas fared better- those frozen with or without the sauce? // savvyeat.com

You have a few options for storage materials here. I’ve outlined each below.

1. Disposable aluminum pans.

These can be nice because they hold their shape well and are easy to use. However, if you are freezing a lot of meals, the cost can add up.

2. Glass, ceramic or metal baking pans.

These are great because they involve no garbage – no foil or disposable pans to get rid of after you’ve baked up your frozen dish. However, if you freeze enchiladas in your regular reusable baking pans, it means that those pans aren’t available for cooking other dishes for as long as your enchiladas are in the freezer.

3. Line a glass or ceramic baking pan with aluminum foil.

This is the method I typically use. It is far cheaper than buying a bunch of disposable pans, and keeps my glass baking dishes free for cooking other recipes. To freeze enchiladas this way, line your pan with aluminum foil before you fill it with your rolled enchiladas.

How to Freeze Enchiladas

Regardless of which storage materials you use to freeze your enchiladas, here’s how to do it:

1. Roll up your enchiladas.

Prepare the filling and assemble the enchiladas as directed, but don’t top with any cheese just yet – it will separate when it freezes, and won’t brown as well when you reheat your enchiladas. If you plan to freeze these for more than a few weeks and are using aluminum pans or foil, you may want to leave off the enchilada sauce as well, or it could take on a metallic taste over time.

Bake at 350°F for 7-10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

2. Freeze your enchiladas.

When the enchiladas are completely cooled, cover your enchiladas, pressing out as much air as possible. Be sure to label the dishes with what they are, when they were made and how to reheat them.

If you are using disposable aluminum pans or your regular baking pans without foil: Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the enchiladas, then cover with a lid or piece of foil. Freeze.

If you are lining a pan with aluminum foil: Cover the enchiladas with another piece of foil and pinch the edges of the top piece together with the edges of the bottom piece to create a packet, squeezing out the air as you go. Slide the entire pan in the freezer. When the enchiladas are frozen solid, lift the foil packet out of the pan and leave just the packet in the freezer. Now your pan is free to use again!

COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:

Preheat your oven to whatever temperature your recipe calls for. While the oven heats up, remove the foil and plastic wrap from the top of the enchiladas, and top with enchilada sauce and cheese as directed.

Bake as directed in your recipe, but add 5 minutes to the baking time.

NOTE: If you are using glass or ceramic pans, stick them in the cold oven before you turn on the heat. That way, the pans can gradually heat up and won’t crack from the shock of a big temperature change! Just add a few additional minutes to your baking time to adjust for the slow warm-up.

Looking for some great enchilada recipes? Try one of these:

How to Freeze Your Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers

How to Freeze Your Thanksgiving Turkey Leftovers // savvyeat.com

For the first time in five years, I’m not going to be the one making the Thanksgiving turkey this year.  I know I’ve gone on and on about how much I love coming up with the Thanksgiving menu and cooking for my family and friends in years past, but this year, I’m not going to have access to the majority of my pots and pans. Or my dishes. Or a fridge/freezer in which to store leftovers.

Why? Because we’re moving back to Minnesota at the very start of December. Apparently, I am completely incapable of just making one major life change at once, so we are taking on a cross-country move while I’m 6 months pregnant. For more evidence of my craziness, see May 2010, in which I graduated college, got married and moved from Wisconsin to New York. Most people would just do those things one at a time, but not us.

So my Thanksgiving serving dishes are already packed up and stashed in the basement, ready for the movers. I’ve pared down to just my most essential pots and pans, and boxed up the rest. And I’m now on a mission to use up everything in my pantry in the next two (!!) weeks so it doesn’t go to waste.

BUT I didn’t want to miss out on the holiday cooking fun. So I may or may not have cooked up some Thanksgiving turkey anyways…in early October. Yep.

Here’s the thing: I know a lot of you are going to have a TON of turkey left over after your big feast. We’ve already talked about what to do with the bones (hint: make turkey stock!), but what about all the extra meat? Unless you have a giant family that goes crazy for leftover sandwiches and wants to eat them day in and day out for the rest of November, you’re going to want to freeze some of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey. And good news: it is super easy to do. Here’s how.

Three Ways to Freeze Leftover Thanksgiving Turkey

For all three of these methods, make sure the turkey is cooled completely before you pack it up for freezing.

1. Diced.

Remove all the meat from the bones, and dice the turkey. Place in a freezer-safe container or bag, and squeeze out as much air as possible as you seal the container. You’ll only want to keep a quarter inch or so of free space at the top, as the poultry won’t expand much. Freeze. Diced turkey will do well in soups and chills later.

2. Shredded.

 Same as above, but shred the meat instead. Shredded turkey will lend itself well to tacos and pasta dishes.

3. In Gravy.

Shred your turkey, and pack into a freezer-safe container or bag. Pour gravy over the top of the poultry, and make sure you leave at least 1/2” empty space at the top to allow the gravy to expand as it freezes. Seal and freeze.

To use, defrost the sealed containers in the refrigerator overnight before using. If you are making a sauce or soup in the slow cooker, you can just toss the still-frozen turkey in the slow cooker as well.