Paleo Chicken Enchiladas – Dairy Free Cheese Sauce

Growing up in Texas, I just love Mexican food.  However, when my health problems hit a crisis mode, I went on the AIP diet.  If you have done the AIP protocol, you know how restrictive if is.  It’s kind of like Whole30 but on steroids.  In addition to eating a mostly a whole foods diet, you cannot eat any tomatoes or nightshades – so basically, no Tex Mex.

Over time, I’ve been able to reintroduce some nightshades successfully. Anyway, it had been a long time since I was able to eat enchiladas, and I was craving an enchilada casserole.  Since I’ve been slowing reintroducing tomatoes, I didn’t want to go too heavy on the tomato products, which are in so many traditional enchiladas.  Then, I had this genius ideas as I was reminded of the sunset enchiladas at Mi Cocina (one of my favorite Tex Mex restaurants).  Sunset enchiladas are slathered in queso sauce.  

That is how these paleo chicken enchiladas were born!  With a few tweaks and additions to my cashew queso recipe, I had the most decadent and crave-able green chile queso sauce to pour all of the enchiladas.  When it was time to work on the filing, I decided to use my shredded chicken as the base for the filing and then added in some veggies and spices.  My husband, who can eat pretty much anything, could not believe that this had no cheese in it.  This is one of those new recipes you’ll be having on repeat.

This enchilada dish would be perfect for Cinco de Mayo but also great for any regular weeknight dinner.  It’s so delicious and flavorful and one of those dishes that the entire family will love.  Aren’t those the best kind of meals?  This has quickly become a favorite recipe in our house, and I hope that you love it as much as we do!

Shredded Chicken

Before going any further, I just have to give a quick shout out to my shredded chicken recipe.  You can find it here, and since creating this method for shredding five pounds of chicken in under 15 seconds, it has revolutionized my meal plans.  Basically, you cook in the chicken in your instant pot or slow cooker and shred it with a hand mixer.  I store the chicken in 1 pound increments in airtight container in the freezer and take out to defrost just a few hours before needed.  Prepping several pounds of shredded chicken at once has cut my mealtime in half on nights I use chicken as protein.  So perfect for chicken salads, casseroles, tortilla soup, white chicken chili and so many more amazing recipes.

Low Carb Options

You know I love providing low carb options when possible, so I just had to provide one for this recipe too.  I have two low-carbs suggestions for enjoying these paleo enchiladas:

  • Bell Peppers – You could make stuffed enchilada bell peppers by slicing off the tops of the bell peppers and scooping out the seeds, evenly distribute the chicken filling between the bell peppers (6-10 depending on size), pour the cheese sauce all over the top and around the bell peppers.  Cook until hot and bubbly and the bell peppers are cooked to your desired consistency.
  • Zucchini – You could slice zucchini length wise very thinly.  After lining up several zucchini pieces, you could add the filling and roll up similar to a tortilla.  After pouring a cup of the cheese sauce in the bottom of the pan, add in the stuffed zucchini and then top with cheese sauce.  Bake until hot and bubbly.

Serving Suggestion

There are countless ways to serve this casserole.  A green salad or fruit salad would be nice.  Although not paleo, you could also serve these in a more traditional Tex Mex way with black beans, pinto beans or refried beans and Mexican rice.  My favorite way to serve Tex Mex beans is simply by purchasing one of the Siete products.  Their beans are free from any of the junk and filler typically found in canned beans.  You just heat up and enjoy!  Side note – I like my beans really smooth and creamy so I also add a touch of water or broth while heating to get my desired consistency.  Another paleo option would be to simply serve this with some cauliflower rice.  So many great options!

Enchilada Sauce

While the recipe does include a cashew queso recipe as the enchilada sauce, I did want to mention that if you’re short on time or just have a different taste preference, you can also use red enchilada sauce or green enchilada sauce.  So, it’s really just a matter of preference and time if you want to make the cashew cheese sauce from scratch or use a store bought jar of enchilada sauce.

Cashew Queso Sauce

  • Cashews – I would not recommend substituting any other nuts.  There’s just something about how soft cashews get after soaking in hot water.  This would be difficult to replicated with another kind of nut.  However, you could use the coconut cream only from a can of coconut milk.  If you go this route, be sure to add in another teaspoon or two of lemon juice to counteract the subtle sweetness of the coconut cream.
  • Broth – I used chicken broth, but vegetable broth would also work.  Just be sure to read the ingredients so that your broth does not contain any added sugar.
  • Nutritional Yeast – There’s no substitute here.  This is that truly special ingredient that will give your enchiladas their cheesy flavor without any dairy.
  • Lemon Juice – The lemon juice helps brighten up the nutritional yeast and really makes the cheesy flavor pop.  Lime juice is a great substitute.
  • Arrowroot – You could use tapioca starch instead.
  • Paprika – For some added spice, you can add in a teaspoon or two of chili powder or chipotle powder.
  • Salt – Although a small ingredient, this is truly what will highlight all of the beautiful flavors of your cheese sauce.
  • Green Chiles – I personally prefer the taste of green chiles, but you can substitute salsa verde.

Filling Tortillas

  • Avocado Oil – I personally prefer using almost tasteless avocado oil, but olive oil and coconut oil could also work.
  • Bell Peppers, Zucchini and White Onions – These are two of my favorite veggies.  Also, I just love the Tex Mex flare that bell peppers it adds to this dish. But you can leave out either of these ingredients or substitute with another veggie of choice.  If you like mushrooms, that would be a great substitution option.
  • Garlic Cloves – There’s nothing like the fresh and pungent flavor from garlic cloves.  While I don’t recommend substituting garlic powder, you could use shallots instead.
  • Paprika – It’s amazing how just a little bit of this spice goes a long way.  The subtle smokiness that paprika adds is just perfect for this dish.
  • Shredded Chicken – I personally like to cook 5 pounds of chicken breast at once and shred with a hand mixer.  You can read more about that here or above.  However, rotisserie chicken is another time saving option. You can also totally switch up the protein option and go with ground beef.
  • Tortillas – The first time I made these enchiladas, I used gluten-free corn tortillas (not paleo).  However, to make paleo you could use one of the Siete Foods grain free options like their cassava flour tortillas.  If you’re not concerned about keeping this paleo, any storebought gluten-free tortilla will work great in this recipe.  I do have to mention that while I absolutely love to make my own paleo tortillas using cassava flour, I would not recommend using fresh tortillas for this recipe.  They will simply get too mushy in the cooking process.
chicken enchiladas
paleo chicken enchiladas

Optional Toppings

  • Dairy-Free Cheese – I used a little bit of dairy-free cheese as noted below in the recipe. (not paleo).  You can easily omit this.  Or, if tolerated, feel free to use cheddar cheese or your favorite Mexican blend.
  • Green Onion – I like to thinly slice and serve in a bowl on the side.
  • Cilantro – I personally like to tear off whole cilantro leaves, as I love the bright pops of cilantro in this dish and think it makes for a beautiful presentation. You can also chop to your liking.
  • Sliced Red Onion – I recommend slicing the red onions as thinly as possible. To take off some of the pungent bite red onion can have, you can soak in cold water for 15 minutes. Just drain the water and paper dry the onions before serving.
  • Avocado Slices – I slice the avocados just before serving so they don’t turn brown.


Refrigerator: Store cooked enchiladas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also wrap individual enchiladas tightly in plastic wrap or foil when storing in the refrigerator.

Freezer: After cooking, allow enchiladas to cool completely then wrap the entire baking dish tightly with plastic wrap followed by foil. Wrapped enchiladas can also be stored in their baking dish in extra-large freezer bags or airtight containers in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

To reheat from frozen: Thaw frozen enchiladas overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat oven to 350°F. Place foil wrapped enchiladas on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, until heated through. You can also reheat individual enchiladas on the stovetop – unwrap and place in skillet with a couple tablespoons of avocado oil. Add a couple tablespoons of broth or water if needed. Cover and heat over medium low heat until hot. Add extra broth or water as needed to prevent sticking. Enjoy your tasty paleo chicken enchiladas!

pan of enchiladas

Paleo Chicken Enchiladas – Dairy Free Cheese Sauce

Sarah Erickson
These paleo chicken enchiladas have the creamiest and "cheesiest" dairy free cheese sauce. It's the perfect Tex Mex addition to your menu.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine Mexican


Paleo Cheese Sauce

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups broth
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon arrowroot
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1-4 oz jar green chiles

Filling and Tortillas

  • 2 tablespoons avocado oil
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded chicken
  • 12 tortillas
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil


  • 1 cup dairy-free cheese
  • Green Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Sliced red onion


Cheese Sauce

  • Put cashews in a heat proof bowl. Cover with 3/4 cup of hot water. Allow to sit for at least 30 minutes for cashews to soften. While this softens, you can work on the filling (below).
  • Once the cashews are soft, add cashews and the water they are in along with all of the remaining cheese sauce ingredients except for the green chiles to a blender. Blend until fully combined.
  • Add the green chiles and stir. Give a taste test and add more salt if needed.


  • Add oil to a skillet over medium heat.
  • Add bell pepper, zucchini, onions and salt. Heat until soft, about 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  • Add garlic cloves, and paprika. Stir to combine and heat for about 30-60 seconds.
  • Add shredded chicken and 1 cup of cheese sauce. Taste and add more salt if needed.


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Before assembling, heat tortillas until pliable. My recommended way to do this is to heat 1/2 cup avocado oil in a frying pan and add tortillas one at a time to the hot oil. After letting them sit in the oil for just a second or two, flip being careful not to crisp the tortillas. Quickly soaking in hot oil makes the tortillas pliable and help soften them so they are ready to absorb all of the flavors of the chicken mixture and cheese sauce.
  • Grease a 9×13 casserole dish. Add one cup of cheese sauce.
  • Add 1/12 of chicken mixture to tortilla and roll. Place seam side down in the baking dish. Repeat until all 12 tortillas are used.
  • Evenly pour remaining sauce on top. If using, sprinkle on cheese.
  • Bake in oven until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.
  • To serve, add your favorite toppings: green onions, cilantro, avocado slices and/or red onions on top of the enchiladas.
Keyword cashew queso, cheese sauce, dairy free, dinner, enchiladas, gluten free, low carb, paleo, tex mex

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply