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A quick and easy gluten free enchilada casserole full of spices, cheese, and nutrient-rich quinoa.
I remember a time when quinoa was a food that sort of flew under the radar. In fact, when I first published this quinoa enchilada casserole on my site in 2015, quinoa was still sort of “hip” and “new.”
Can you even believe it? Now it gets all up in lots of things all the time in this house, and it’s one of my favorite sides to make with a meal.
Not only do we love the way it tastes, but it’s naturally gluten free AND is one of the few plant based foods that can be considered a complete protein (meaning it is a source of protein that contains the proper proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans).
Yay for super foods!
I have made this easy quinoa enchilada bake dozens of times over the years, and I finally gave it the facelift and added tips in the recipe that it needed. I promise if you give it a try, it’ll be one of your family’s favorites, too!
The ingredient list for this enchilada quinoa casserole may look long, but it’s a lot of canned ingredients that are quite literally just open, possibly rinse, and dump.
You can even use pre-cooked quinoa if you don’t want the extra step of cooking it. Now it’s even easier, isn’t it?
In addition to the quinoa, you will need corn (fresh, canned, or frozen), black beans, diced tomatoes with chiles, red enchilada sauce, cumin, chili powder, fresh cilantro, and some shredded cheese.
ALTER THE SPICE TO YOUR LIKING
As written, this Mexican quinoa bake is not too spicy at all. I typically use mild enchilada sauce but have, on occasion, used medium enchilada sauce. I was pleasantly surprised that the medium sauce did not kick the heat up too much.
I also typically use pepper Jack cheese for this Mexican quinoa casserole, and that, too, is typically just the right amount of spice for me.
If you’re into things being extra spicy, consider using a hot enchilada sauce, adding some red pepper flake, or using a spicier cheese.
You know what you like, you pick your favorite cheese (I prefer to use block cheese and shred it myself, but to make this even quicker, pre-shredded is absolutely fine).
HOW TO MAKE ENCHILADA QUINOA CASSEROLE
This casserole seriously comes together in a snap.
The most time consuming part is cooking the quinoa, which bears almost zero hands-on time. While it’s cooking, you can gather and prepare all of your other ingredients.
You will throw everything into one large bowl, stir it up, throw some additional shredded cheese on top, and then bake it.
This simple casserole only needs 20 minutes in the oven, which means a quick and easy peasy meal that can be ready for your family dinner with minimal cleanup and a guaranteed happy and full-bellied crowd.
HOW TO SERVE
I like to serve this enchilada quinoa bake with sliced avocado or guacamole, extra corn/beans/cilantro/tomatoes, my favorite salsa or pico, and my personal favorite… A dollop of sour cream!
This casserole also makes a really good dip for chips or filling for tortillas, if you’re feeling fancy.
HOW TO ADD MEAT
While the recipe doesn’t actually call for any sort of meat, if you’re looking to beef (ha!) it up or simply serve it with an extra protein (even tofu!), you can do that pretty easily.
While I don’t recommend adding raw meat to this casserole since the bake time is so short, I have totally made this with leftover rotisserie chicken, seasoned taco meat, and plain chicken.
Dice or chop up any large meat pieces and just throw them in with the rest of the ingredients.
You can also keep the meat separate and just serve the quinoa enchilada bake and meat on the same plate and let the eater decide which bites to take together or separate, or if you’re concerned about drying out the cooked meat in the oven.
Whenever I make this recipe, I am reminded how much I enjoy it and how quickly it goes at gatherings. I most recently took it to a gathering, keeping it warm in my Instant Pot on the “warm” setting, and it went quickly!
I served it with salsa, corn, avocado chunks, and sour cream, and those were all tapped into as people seemed to enjoy adding extra goodies to their plates.
Great for easy weeknight meals, great for sending to a neighbor or loved one in need of a meal, and a surefire way to get all the flavors of enchiladas that you love without all the work.
Enchilada Quinoa Casserole
- 1 cup (180g) dry quinoa1 any color/variety
- 1 cup (250g) corn fresh, canned, or frozen
- 1-15 ounce can (425g) black beans drained and rinsed
- 1-15 ounce can (425g) diced tomatoes with green chiles drained as best as possible
- 1-10 ounce can (283g) red enchilada sauce2
- 2 Tablespoons cilantro chopped
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon chili powder
- 8 ounces (226g) shredded cheese3 divided
- Cook the quinoa according to the directions1 on the package.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC). Spray a 2 quart casserole dish lightly with non-stick spray. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, corn, black beans, diced tomatoes, enchilada sauce, cilantro, cumin, salt, and chili powder. Stir until completely combined. Add 1 and ½ cups of the cheese and stir again until completely combined.
- Pour the quinoa mixture into a 2 quart casserole dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese bubbles. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve with avocado, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, sour cream, or as a dip with chips. Store leftovers in the refrigerator, covered, up to 5 days. Casserole can be frozen baked or unbaked. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat baked casserole at 250ºF (121ºC) until heated through (about 20 minutes) or in individual servings. Bake unbaked casserole for 25 minutes at 375ºF (191ºC).
- Quinoa: if you’re going with a pre-made quinoa, you will need 3 cups of cooked quinoa. If your package doesn’t have instructions: rinse 1 cup of quinoa in cold water, then add to a medium saucepan with 1 and ¾ cup (420mL) water. Bring to a boil, then reduce temperature and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. It is now ready to use.
- Enchilada sauce: any spice level is fine. I like mild or medium.
- Shredded cheese: I like to use block cheese and shred it myself. Pre-shredded is fine. Use any blend you prefer. I like to use pepper Jack.
- Make ahead: store assembled, unbaked casserole in the refrigerator up to 12 hours. Bake for 25 minutes.