What’s not to love about enchiladas? They’re piping hot tortillas stuffed with cheese, or meat of some kind then bathed in a yummy red sauce.
Now, as good as enchiladas are by themselves, having a side with it wouldn’t hurt. Naturally there’s the standard rice or beans, but what about soup? Perhaps a salad?
Here are 15 tasty sides that are perfect for your next enchilada meal! We’ve organized them into several categories. Which one do you plan on making first?
Refried beans are a staple in Mexican cuisine, the perfect partner to just about any dish. It’s only natural to serve them at home if you’re making enchiladas or some other Mexican entrée. But resist the urge to buy the canned versions and make them yourself! This recipe was from the author’s grandmother, so you just KNOW that it’ll be incredible.
Black beans are a healthier bean alternative to refried beans, without sacrificing flavor. This recipe is so simple, with just four main ingredients: black beans, bay leaves, onion, and salt. It covers three different ways to make them: Instant Pot, slow cooker, or stove. No matter which method you choose, the beans will come out amazing.
Unlike refried and black beans, charro beans are more of a soup, served in a small bowl with bits of meat (ham, bacon, chorizo, etc) added for flavor. According to the recipe, charro beans are typically served with carne asada, but can definitely be served with enchiladas and other Mexican dishes.
Anything made with dark beer and bacon has got to be good. Drunken beans are like a hearty, thick soup, full of intense flavor. Usually the recipe calls for the beans to simmer slowly for at least one and a half hours--sometimes up to three! But this recipe cuts it down severely to just 30 minutes.
5. Mexican Rice
Mexican rice is another standard side in any Mexican dish, often sitting right next to the refried beans. Although some recipes feature adding peas and carrots, in many cases the rice stands alone.
The key factor to making good Mexican rice is texture. The grains have to be fluffy, not sticky. To prevent stickiness, the rice has to be sautéed for a few minutes prior to adding the wet ingredients.
Cilantro lime rice has become very popular, in part thanks to Chipotle. It’s refreshing, subtle, and pairs well with just about any dish. This particular recipe is made with jalapeño, so it adds another level of flavor to it.
If you don’t like cilantro or think it tastes like soap, this recipe suggests alternatives like kale or baby spinach.
Instead of deciding whether you want beans or rice with your enchilada, why not combine them? This recipe uses canned black beans, which saves you time from having to soak them for hours.
FYI: We all know that beans can be an ahem, “musical” fruit. Soaking them pulls out the gas-inducing sugars, so don’t skip this step! Ideally you’d want to soak them overnight, but a few hours is better than nothing.
Salads and Other Veggies
This salad is incredibly easy to make and only takes about 10 minutes. It’s based on elote, (Mexican street corn), and includes classic street corn ingredients such as Cotija cheese, lime, cilantro, and chili powder.
Note that it’s best to use fresh corn, preferably right off the cob. The recipe notes that fresh corn is sweeter than canned and frozen corn. Additionally, canned corn can be too soggy.
This slaw takes even less time to prepare than the corn and black bean salad--just five minutes! And while the recipe name suggests that this dish is only meant to be served with tacos, there’s really no reason why it can’t be served with enchiladas as well. The brightness of the cilantro lime dressing can cut the heavy richness of the enchilada sauce.
10. Nopales Salad
Nopal is a type of edible cactus and in English is called the prickly pear. It’s packed with calcium, Vitamin C, and potassium. It has other health benefits like the ability to protect nerve cells and regulate blood sugar.
Watch out when removing the thorns! They tend to fly when you cut them off so make sure you're removing them in a contained location, such as in the sink. Or better yet, buy them with the thorns already removed.
If you want a healthier alternative to Mexican street corn (recipe near the end), consider using zucchini instead! This recipe takes the same flavors of lime juice, cilantro, and Cotija cheese but applies it to this very versatile vegetable.
Note: since zucchini tends to contain a lot of water, be careful not to overcook them or else they’ll get soggy.
When the weather is cold and you want something warm and hearty, a bowl of chicken tortilla soup hits the spot. While it’s a great side for enchiladas, you can definitely eat this as a standalone meal.
Note that this is a more traditional version of the soup, as it doesn’t contain black beans or corn.
13. Pozole Rojo
Posole is a soup made with hominy and pork, simmered in a spicy chili sauce. If you want to make a more authentic soup, use cacahuazintle corn, which can be found in Latin American supermarkets or online. Hominy is perfectly fine, though.
Many people put toppings on their posole, which include salsa, lettuce, diced onions or tomatoes, and avocado.
14. Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
Earlier we talked about two sides inspired by elote. Here’s the recipe for the real thing!
Elote combines sweet, salty, spicy, and tart flavors thanks to the corn, queso fresco, lime, and chili powder. These four very different flavors really wake up your taste buds!
The corn can be either grilled or boiled. Grilling adds a smoky flavor, but loses some moisture in the process.
You didn’t think we’d actually forget to mention guacamole, did you? While it’s not technically a side dish, you can’t eat Mexican food without it!
The problem with guacamole however, is that it turns brown when exposed to oxygen, so leftovers can be tricky. This website tested nine well-known methods to prevent browning and found that squeezing lemon juice on top worked the best.
And I'll leave you with my chicken tortilla soup recipe, it's a delicious pairing with enchiladas on a chilly day.
What to Serve With Enchiladas? (15 Delicious Sides)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ onion chopped (70 g.)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 400 g. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 400 g. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 400 g. can corn, drained
- 2 cups chicken broth 500 milliliters
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 2 cups cooked chicken shredded (400 g.)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro 20 g.
- 2 corn tortillas cut into strips (50 g.)
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, black beans, corn, chicken broth, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the shredded chicken and cilantro. Serve hot, topped with the tortilla strips.