Truckstop Enchiladas

These truckstop enchiladas are comfort food at its best.  Zesty, homemade enchilada sauce and a rich, meaty filling make this Mexican classic a delicious, hearty meal that your family will love.

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I like to make this meal feel like my family is at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  I start with Crispy Avocado Fingers and a Classic Cadillac Margarita. Then alongside the enchiladas, Mexican Grilled Corn and Spicy Mexican Rice Pilaf, and Strawberry Cheesecake Paletas make this dinner feel like a fiesta.

Baking dish of Truckstop Enchiladas, which are spicy ground beef wrapped in tortillas and baked in a zesty tomato sauce and cheese.

How gratifying is it to dig into a plate of spicy, meaty, cheesy goodness?  These enchiladas are worth the extra effort it takes to make the sauce instead of using jarred or canned.

Truckstop Enchiladas

I first had a Tex-Mex enchilada using brisket during a dinner party in Houston, TX.  I was instantly in love and asked for the recipe. Unfortunately, my host could tell me the ingredients, but not the amounts and they smoked their own brisket for a ridiculous (albeit yummy) amount of time.

My next foray into Tex-Mex enchiladas was at a diner in Austin, TX.  This enchilada was very spicy, had no cheese, and had a very dark sauce.  It was delicious but much different than anything I had tasted thus far.

**Sigh**.  I was on my own on this one.  There are so many variations on this type of enchilada.  Flour tortillas or corn? Tomatoes in the sauce or no tomatoes?  Cheese or no cheese? Well, the cheese decision was an easy one.  All things are better with cheese.

Closeup of Truckstop Enchiladas on a white plate.

How The Recipe Was Developed

I liked the brisket, but I wasn’t going to smoke one just to make enchiladas.  I thought quite a bit about what it was that makes comfort food so comforting.  Warm and gooey. Spicy-but not too spicy. And, I don’t want to chew too much.  Chewy food is too much work when I want comfort.  So, the meat should be almost a melt-in-the-mouth consistency. Yeah, I can do this.

I wanted the sauce to have a bit of tomato flavor, but just a bit.  Some spice, with a subtle sweetness.  Smoky, but just a bit.

In playing with versions of the sauce, I incorporated a few flavors of a mole.  The addition of cocoa powder and cinnamon took the sauce to another level. Trust me on this.  It is amazing. 

The cumin is a change from Mexican enchiladas but enhances the sauce in the most delicious way.

Gorgeous pan of homemade, beefy truckstop enchiladas and covered with a gooey layer of cheddar cheese. Comfort food at it's best.

Tex-Mex usually uses flour tortillas instead of the corn tortillas typical in Mexican versions.  However, flour tortillas in the Tex-Mex gravy produced a dish that was way too gooey.  The flour tortillas seemed to get soggy and almost gummy. Not an appealing texture.

Corn tortillas work well in this dish.  Go the extra step and lightly fry them in a skillet with a thin brush of vegetable oil.  Not only does it bring out the flavor of the corn, but it also allows you to roll the tortilla without it breaking.


  • Ground turkey or ground tempeh make great substitutes for ground beef.
  • No Mexican oregano?  Try an equal amount of marjoram, which has a similar citrus quality or you can use Italian oregano.
  • You can make a slurry using flour and water to thicken the sauce in place of the masa harina.   
  • Want to add more vegetables to your family’s diet?  Reduce the ground beef by a ¼ pound and add in finely chopped portabello mushrooms or toss in a few handfuls of spinach to your meat mixture.
  • Swap regular chili powder for the ancho chile powder in equal amounts.  You will lose some of the ‘smokiness’ of the ancho chile.

Now that you’re in the mood for comfort food, here are a few more ideas to try:

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Gorgeous pan of homemade, beefy truckstop enchiladas and covered with a gooey layer of cheddar cheese. Comfort food at it's best.



Mexican comfort food at it’s best, these Truckstop Enchiladas are the cheesy, beefy, dinner that you’ve been craving.



For the Tex-Mex gravy

For the enchilada filling

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ medium onion, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 (4-ounce) can roasted chopped green chiles
  • ½ cup beef stock

To assemble the enchiladas

  • ½ recipe of the Tex-Mex gravy
  • 12 to 16 corn tortillas
  • Vegetable oil for frying the tortillas
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, reserve 1 cup to sprinkle on top of enchiladas


  1. For the gravy: in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef, using a spatula to break the meat into very small pieces. Drain off excess fat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to the meat. Continue to saute until onions are translucent.
  3. Add the Ancho chile powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. Stir to combine spices into the meat mixture.
  4. Stir in the beef stock, tomato sauce, sugar, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 50 minutes until the sauce has thickened a bit.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the masa harina with 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Add to the saucepan and continue to cook for 10 minutes until the sauce is thickened. Remove from heat and set aside.
  6. For the enchilada filling: in a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with your spatula. Drain off any excess fat.
  7. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and saute with the meat until the onions are transparent.
  8. Stir in the canned chiles and beef stock.
  9. Simmer the filling until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  10. To assemble the enchiladas: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Lightly spray a deep baking dish with cooking spray.
  12. Lightly brush vegetable oil onto the bottom of a large skillet.
  13. Place a tortilla in the skillet and lightly fry just long enough for the tortilla to soften and go limp, taking care not to let the tortilla crisp. Remove from heat and allow to drain on paper towels.
  14. Repeat process by brushing the skillet with oil and toasting each tortilla, placing on paper towels to drain.
  15. Using tongs, dip each tortilla into the gravy liquid to coat it lightly. Lay the tortilla on a plate and spoon about 4 tablespoon of the filling on the tortilla. Sprinkle with a scant handful of cheese and roll up.
  16. Place the enchilada seam side down into the baking dish. Repeat the process with all of the tortillas.
  17. Pour remaining gravy over the top of the enchiladas making sure each one is completely covered in the gravy.
  18. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the enchiladas are hot, the sauce is bubbly. Remove from heat and evenly sprinkle the 1 cup of cheese over the top.
  19. Garnish, if desired, with chopped cilantro, chopped raw onion, and a dollop of sour cream.
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Bake
  • Cuisine: Mexican


  • Serving Size: 1

Keywords: Truckstop enchiladas, enchilada recipe, comfort food, restaurant recipes, beef recipes, cheese recipes, Mexican food

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