Shredded Enchilada Chicken

One of my favorite recipes to cook up before I started eating mostly paleo was the Lighter Chicken Enchiladas recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I’d tell you all about it but then I’d just leave you wanting enchiladas, which is not the point of this blog!

I’m happy to report that since the sauce was pretty much paleo as-written, the best part of the dish (the chicken! Duh!) is still something I can cook up and enjoy without feeling gross from the corn tortillas, cheese, and sugar (2 teaspoons) in the original. It’s spicy and flavorful on its own, but also delicious atop some salad greens or half an avocado for a light lunch. I promise to post a photo next time I make it!

Shredded Enchilada Chicken, adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Lighter Chicken Enchiladas


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil or fat of choice
  • Salt
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (4-ounce) can pickled jalapenos, drained and chopped
  • 3/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves (add more if you love cilantro)
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges (for serving)


  1. Combine the onion, oil, and ½ teaspoon salt in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onion has softened, eight to ten minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce and water, bring to a simmer, and cook until the sauce has thickened slightly, about five minutes.
  3. Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is no longer pink in the center and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on the instant read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate to cool. Strain the sauce through a mesh strainer into a medium bowl, pressing on the cooked onions to release their juice (you could skip this step if you want the onions in your sauce). Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred into bite sized pieces. Toss together the shredded chicken, 1 cup of the enchilada sauce, jalapenos, and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Serve with avocado, lime wedges, and hot sauce. This is tasty on its own, on a halved avocado, or over salad greens. (I’ve also turned it into enchilada nachos, but that’s not exactly—ok, remotely—paleo! Maybe you could try it with homemade sweet potato or plantain chips?)

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