Beef Enchilada Pasta

Have you ever had the idea in your head that you don’t like something, and then come to find out, you just don’t like the store-bought version of that something?

Well, here’s mine: enchilada sauce.  I thought I hated “red sauce” enchiladas.  As it turns out, I just hate canned red enchilada sauce. We had some friends over for Cinco de Mayo and I made two different kinds of enchiladas – one with verde salsa & chicken and one with beef.  And instead of buying sauce, though, I decided to try out Ali’s amazingly popular homemade enchilada sauce.

Aaaaannnnddd I have made it three times since.  Holy cow.  How have I been missing out on so much over the years?

Beef Enchilada Pasta

And then I decided to try to turn enchiladas into a quick weeknight meal by making enchilada pasta.  Basically some homemade enchilada sauce, some ground beef, a little seasoning, some pasta and DONE.  Not that enchiladas are terribly difficult…it’s just a little more labor intensive than I care to be during the week.  And with the pasta, there is no waiting for the cheese to get all bubbly and brown on top.  You get all of the flavors with a fraction of the work.  Total win!

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Beef Enchilada Pasta

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 30 min

All of the flavor of beef enchiladas, in pasta form. Featuring ground beef, homemade enchilada sauce, cheddar cheese and whole-wheat pasta.


for the enchilada sauce:
2 Tbs. grapeseed oil
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
4 Tbs. ancho chili powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
2 cups chicken stock
1 Tbs. tomato paste

for the pasta:
12 ounces whole-wheat pasta
1 Tbs. olive oil
1/2 cup red onion, diced
1 green onion, sliced + more for garnish
1 pound lean ground sirloin
1 can green chiles
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped + more for garnish
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 recipe (about 2 cups) enchilada sauce (see above)
4 ounces white cheddar cheese, shredded + more for garnish


for the sauce:
Heat the oil in a medium sauce pot. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes to let the flour cook out a bit. Whisk often. Add the seasonings and stir well to combine with the roux. Add the stock and stir until all of the seasonings are distributed. Whisk in the tomato paste and cook for 7-8 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.

for the pasta:
Cook the pasta according to package directions.

While the pasta cooks, heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the ground beef and cook until browned. Drain the excess grease from the beef and return to the pan. Add the green chiles, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper and stir to distribute.

Pour in the prepared enchilada sauce and stir to combine. Add the cheese and the pasta and stir. Allow the cheese to melt and then serve with additional cheese, cilantro and green onions for garnish.

Cassie's notes:
If you are a total fool for the bubbly golden brown cheese on top of enchiladas then this can still be for you! Don't cook the pasta all the way done. After you stir in the cheese & pasta, transfer the mixture to a 9x13 glass baking dish and sprinkle more shredded cheese on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes or so until brown and bubbly!

If beef isn't your thing, this dish can be made with chicken, or meatless. Replace the beef with 2 cups of shredded chicken (I use a rotisserie chicken) or 1 can of drained and rinsed black beans + 1 cup sweet corn kernels and continue to cook according to the directions above.

A note about leftovers - the sauce really thickens after it sits in the fridge overnight so if you do have leftovers, add a little stock or water while reheating to keep the leftovers from being too dry.

Enchilada sauce slightly adapted from Gimme Some Oven.

Beef Enchilada Pasta