This Ground Turkey Enchilada Casserole is versatile to use up holiday leftovers, or just as a delicious and healthy meal. A layering of black beans, cheese, tortillas, and homemade enchilada sauce makes this flavorful dish a fan favorite for an easy weeknight meal.
You'll love this recipe because:
- It's a great way to use up extra vegetables leftover in your fridge. Feel free to edit the recipe to what you have!
- Turkey and cheese both contain tryptophan, which is an essential nutrient than can improve mood and migraine attacks!
- Have turkey leftover from Thanksgiving? Use it instead of the ground turkey!
- Easy to make gluten free and vegetarian.
- This is great for meal prep and as reheated leftovers. You can also freeze it or give it as a gift to friends with a new baby or who could use a meal.
- Ground Turkey - This recipe uses ground turkey, but you can also use leftover turkey breast. Both work well in this recipe. Look for ground turkey without solutions or broth added to it. I used Mary's Organic.
- Vegetables and Beans - For this recipe I used what I had on hand - so bell pepper, corn, shallots, green onion, black beans, and jalapeño. You can even see in the photos I added a handful of spinach to this one. Feel free to use what you have on hand! I like to use low sodium black beans.
- Cheese - I like to use a quality American cheese like Boar’s Head or Andrew & Everett for this turkey enchilada casserole. Most of these can be found in the deli area of your local grocery store. Monterey Jack is another cheese that's a little more aged, but typically well tolerated from a migraine diet perspective.
- Tortillas - I used fresh flour tortillas from Central Market/HEB, but TortillaLand also makes some great ones. For gluten free, using an all corn tortilla would work here.
For the enchilada sauce:
- Feel free to leave out the tomato paste, but the spices are essential.
- Broth - I like to either use a homemade broth or Trader Joe's Hearty Vegetable Broth.
How to Make an Enchilada Casserole
This turkey enchilada casserole is really easy to build.
- Prep the meat and vegetables, as well as the homemade enchilada sauce. Both should be easy to cook at the same time! For the enchilada sauce, start by mixing the flour and oil together, then add in the spices. Whisk in broth slowly so it doesn't clump. Simmer until it's thickened, stirring occasionally.
- In a 9x9 baking dish, start with a layer of enchilada sauce, then top that with tortillas that are cut into half moons so they can be layered sort of like lasagna noodles. Spoon your meat and vegetable mixture on top of the tortillas. You'll finish with a layer of enchilada sauce. Continue to layer, reserving some of the sauce and cheese for the topping. I usually get about 2 full layers.
- Top with cheese, cover with foil, and bake at 375 degrees F for 25 minutes. Uncover the foil and bake another 10 minutes or until light brown and bubbling on top.
- Allow the ground turkey enchilada casserole to cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
How to Freeze and Reheat
This casserole is great for freezing. I assemble everything together and put a plastic wrap over the top of my dish, flush with the top of the casserole. Then I'll wrap it in extra press and seal to store in the freezer. This will be good for up to 2 months. You can either defrost it in the fridge, or stick it directly in the oven at 375 and bake for about 20-30 minutes.
The homemade enchilada sauce does "gel" a bit when frozen. It will loosen as it bakes, but may not look the most appealing. You can spread it around a little bit after it warms to get it to mix better...or just top with more cheese!
Obviously you don’t have to use leftover Thanksgiving turkey, but pretty much any ground meat will do. You could even make this totally vegetarian if you add more vegetables you enjoy to it. Here are some ideas.
Use the same amount of vegetables to replace with:
- Zucchini, summer squash, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and tomatoes.
For recipe testing, I actually just bought a pound of fresh ground turkey.
Some other proteins that would work here are:
- ground beef
- ground pork
- more beans like black beans or pinto.
Want dairy free? Just leave out the cheese. Don't tolerate tomatoes? Leave them out from the enchilada sauce.
More Tex Mex Recipes
For more Mexican inspired recipes like this ground turkey enchilada casserole, check out these favorites.
Also don't forget this Salsa Verde recipe which is included in the pictures!
Ground Turkey Enchilada Casserole
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 pound cooked leftover turkey, chopped up or ground turkey, beef, or chicken
- 2 medium shallots, chopped
- ½ cup corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, de-seeded and minced
- 1 15oz can black beans
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 cups enchilada sauce
- corn or flour tortillas
- ½ cup American cheese (or Monterey Jack if you can tolerate it)
- kosher salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons all purpose flour (or gluten free)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste*
- 1 tablespoon chili powder*
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a small pot, combine olive oil and flour over medium heat and stir until smooth and starting to bubble, about 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste and spices, then pour in chicken broth slowly, whisking everything continuously so that it becomes smooth. Turn the heat up till I just begins to boil and then simmer over medium heat until thick, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat and add salt and pepper to taste. This sauce can be made ahead and stored in the fridge.
- In a large pan, add olive oil over medium heat (if you have uncooked meat you can add it here). Add chopped shallots, corn, red bell pepper, and jalapeno, stirring till just cooked through - about 2 minutes. Drain the canned black beans and add them to the pan along with cumin and the cooked meat. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In a 9x9 inch baking dish add a little enchilada sauce to the bottom, enough to just cover it. Cut the tortillas into halves and layer it with the straight side sticking outwards so it forms a nice square and the rounded parts will overlap on the inside. Add a little bit of cheese, meat mixture, and a layer of sauce. Continue with this pattern until you reach the top of the baking dish, finishing with the remaining sauce and extra cheese. Cover with a sheet of tin foil.
- Bake at 375° for 25 minutes then remove the foil and bake another 10 minutes uncovered, 35 minutes total. The top should be bubbling and the cheese melted nicely and lightly brown. Serve warm.
- Look for chili powder that doesn't contain onion or cocoa. Morton and Bassett is what I use.
- If you're sensitive to tomatoes, simply leave out the tomato paste.
- Use all corn tortillas and a 1:1 flour substitute for gluten free.
- Switch out the turkey for any cooked meat like beef, chicken, or even zucchini for an all veggie version.
- To cut down on the time, prep the sauce and the cooked vegetable mixture ahead of time and store in the fridge (see pic above for how I did it). Then assemble and bake when you're ready.
This post was original published November 29, 2019 and has been updated October 22, 2021 with new recipe tips, ingredient information, how to make instructions, and meal prep tips.