Do You Have To Boil Chicken For Enchiladas? (And Why)

As the most commonly consumed poultry worldwide, chicken is versatile both in its role across recipes and how it can be cooked. For enchiladas, then, you may wonder which means of cooking chicken is the most ideal.

What to prepare and what needs to be done, plus a section on how to enhance the flavor of your enchiladas – this article will address everything you need to know about preparing the perfect chicken for your enchiladas.

Do You Boil Chicken For Enchiladas?

If you prefer a convenient and healthy cooking method, boiling chicken for enchiladas is definitely your go-to option! To be exact, it not only causes no harm but also brings a whole host of benefits, such as preventing certain diseases and enhancing the nutrient value.

Why Should You Do So?

Enchilada is a Mexican dish that goes with various accompaniments such as salads, sauces, or rice. So what is it about boiled chicken that makes it a fit for the dish?

As mentioned, enchilada is typically served with side dishes. For harmony purposes, there is no need for any component to dominate over the others. Boiling is the surest way to bring out the richness of the protein without imposing strong seasons on the palate.

High-temperature cooking methods such as grilling or broiling correlate with increased risks for diabetes. However, boiling poses no such risks.

If you cook with broth, you can save it for future cooking purposes. Chicken broth is utilized for many soup-based dishes. It also contains many health benefits, such as alleviating sickness. Nostalgic of motherly love, it is no wonder (chicken) soup for the soul is an endearing dish born from chicken broth.

What Are The Steps?

Method #1: Using a stockpot

Using a regular stockpot is the most common method to boil chicken for enchiladas. There are several steps, but you will see that they are not tricky at all. Let’s go!

What you need: A stockpot/regular pot, a chicken, a thermometer, salt & pepper, vegetables, or herbs (optional).

Step 1: Decide your liquid base

Either water or broth is welcome. The primary purpose is to retain the juiciness and tenderness of the protein, and both can accomplish this.

You can go for water since it does not require additions other than basic seasoning. For a broth, additions primarily come in the form of vegetables or herbs. Protein will absorb the liquid enriched by vegetables or herbs, which adds to its flavor.

Step 2: Break down your chicken

Unless you already bought separate pieces, you will have to butcher a whole one. Any parts of the chicken can be used for enchiladas, as long as it is protein. However, thighs and breasts are usually the healthier and more preferable options. You can remove the skin before cooking your chicken to reduce fat intake.

Watch this video to visualize how to break down a chicken. Then, once you’re done butchering, collect the pieces you want to go into the pot.

Step 3: Season your chicken

If you decide on water, add salt and pepper as you see fit. If you plan for a broth, continue to add any herbs or vegetables available – carrots, lemon slices, thyme, rosemary, celery, … – anything will do!

Step 4: Boil and simmer

Fill your pot with water until the contents are fully submerged. Bring your pot to the stove and cover it with a lid. Turn on the stove to high heat and wait until the water boils.

As the liquid is boiling, lower the heat to medium and let it simmer until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Step 5: Check the temperature

Use a thermometer to check the temperature regularly as you go into simmering. If you are cooking different parts of the chicken, make sure to check their respective temperature carefully. The ideal internal temperature at the thickest part of the protein should be around 160-165°F. If you overcook, your chicken will be tender no more!

You can also slice through the middle of your pieces and check if the center is fully cooked. Since the protein will be broken down eventually for enchiladas, there is no need to maintain its shape.

Step 6: Rest and shred

Once the cooking is done, bring your chicken out to rest on a cutting board or a plate for at least 7-10 minutes. This will allow enough time for the protein to cool off before you shred it.

Use hands or 2 forks to shred your chicken, and you finally have your protein ready for enchiladas.

Method #2: Using a slow cooker

Boiling chicken using a slow cooker does not require much on your part. A significant advantage of using a slow cooker is that it saves time and effort – if you plan ahead. You can set a timer and attend to other errands in the meantime. Let’s jump in!

What you need: A slow cooker, a chicken, a thermometer, salt & pepper, vegetables or herbs (optional).

How to do it:

Step 1: Choose your liquid. The broth is preferable, but it’s up to you.

Step 2: Break down your chicken and enter the pieces into the slow cooker.

Step 3: Season your chicken and add herbs or vegetables as you prefer.

Step 4: Fill the cooker with water and close the lid. Set the slow cooker at the low setting for 4-6 hours.

Step 5: Take out your protein and let it rest for 10 minutes. Shred your chicken using your hands or 2 forks.

What Type of Cookware Should You Use?

As you boil, you have to make up your mind twice – the first time to pick your liquid and the second the appropriate cookware.

Generally, any type of pot – whether regular pot, stockpot, or slow cooker – is fine if you go with water. However, it is best to use a stockpot or a slow cooker if you opt for a broth.

To differentiate, a regular pot and a stockpot operate similarly when it comes to boiling chicken – both require more manual effort as you have to adjust the heat while cooking. Unlike the former two, a slow cooker is an electric appliance that cooks automatically upon set-up but calls for a much longer cooking time.

To compare, the biggest downside of a regular pot is that it demands constant attention post boiling. If the temperature goes over 165°F, the protein flavor goes ruined. A slow cooker preserves the tenderness of the protein exceptionally well, but to use it means some prior planning and no tampering during the process.

With that said, think about which one you are more comfortable with, and choose accordingly.

What To Do With The Leftovers?

Now that you have finished boiling and preparing your chicken for enchiladas, what about the rest of it? Ideally, you can store it for future use. Put the remains in a ziplock bag, or airtight containers refrigerate them – they can last for up to 4 days.

If the remains are stored in a freezer, the expiry date won’t arrive until 4 months later. As chicken is versatile poultry, the possibilities are endless for your next use of this protein!

Sandwich, pizza, chicken soup, chicken spaghetti, noodle soup, chicken salad, tacos, stew, served with rice, or even enchiladas with a brand new filling mix – ideas never run out!

How To Make Your Enchiladas Even More Tasty?

Enchiladas are rarely complete without side dishes. There are many options to choose from, among which are some of the most common compliments, such as guacamole, coleslaw, chips, salsa, and salads.

As for the sauces, if you aim for a healthier diet, get started with these healthy alternatives.

The final tip: experiment! Enchiladas come with a flavorful mix of fillings, so don’t shy away from new elements. It is continuous work, and you are in for surprises, but you will discover tastier ones on the way.


There you have it – how to boil the perfect chicken for enchiladas. Whether you use a regular pot, a stockpot, or a slow cooker, stick to the guidelines, and the protein will come out tasting amazing.

Chicken is a common protein, and thus, the choice of boiled chicken may feel basic at times. However, when combined with countless ways to make up an enchilada, it will become a personal journey bursting with your unique flavors. So why don’t you try it out?

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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