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:

Comments

  1. says

    This is awesome tip, Julie. Thanks for sharing your experiment. I’ve never tried freezing enchiladas, but I was always curious. Very helpful tutorial.

  2. says

    Awesome post. One of my goals this year is to prepare more dinners in advance and freeze them. With my new job I have been getting home late and have had cereal for dinner more nights than I will ever admit! Thanks!

  3. Hazel says

    I just found your blog on Pintrest. I’m retired and don’t cook much anymore; but I’m always sharing new ideas with my daughters (especially ideas to make weeknight meals easier).
    After I season & cook my chicken breasts, I then place on small baking sheet in single layer. Place in freezer for few minutes (just to firm them up) and then place in a freezer bag (the freezing prevents them from sticking together). I think I’ll also apply this method with the enchiladas. Allows you the option of cooking a lesser amount when necessary. Thaw out for a bit and then place your sauce and toppings on before baking.

  4. Emma says

    Just a hint. I have been freezing enchiladas for over 40 years, I put cheese on my enchiladas with no sauce. I freeze my chili sauce separately. The trick of not having your cheese separate when cooking is to thaw your enchiladas completely before warming. You can also freeze pinto beans. Hope this helps

  5. Jessie says

    Hi Julie,

    This was a really helpful post, as I get ready to prepare my frozen enchiladas, a couple questions have come up:

    Should the enchiladas be thawed before cooking? Or should they be put in the oven frozen (I assume the time to add enchilada sauce and cheese while the oven pre-heats isn’t enough time to thaw)?

    Also, the cooking instructions say “remove the foil AND plastic wrap . . . ” but the instructions for lining a glass or ceramic pan with aluminum foil don’t mention plastic wrap. Should I have also put plastic wrap on the enchiladas before freezing, or should the cooking instructions say “remove the foil OR plastic wrap . . . “?

    Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Jessie,

      You can cook them right from frozen – no need to defrost!

      The plastic wrap comes in after the enchiladas are prepped. You press a piece on top of the enchiladas before you cover with foil.

      Enjoy!

  6. Willi says

    “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.”
    Do you mean to tell me that if my pan is already full of enchiladas and in the freezer, I somehow won’t be able to use that pan to make anything else?

  7. Anna says

    If you use a foil dish tomfeeze, line you dish with parchment paper and there will be no ‘tin ‘ taste after they are cooked.

Trackbacks

  1. […] How to Freeze Enchiladas – Savvy Eats.  Julie has tons of great content on freezing a variety of dishes, plus preserving and canning any number of ingredients and recipes.  Her blog is the place to visit for answers on how to best store ANYTHING from backing ingredients to homemade muffins, and tips on freezing granola, stock and so much more.  Savvy Eats is a great resource for writing out your Freezer Fill Up Plan. […]

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