Main dish Tex-Mex

Summer squash enchiladas

Summer squash enchiladas DSC3521

For the past few years, my family has decided that Tex-Mex is the way to go on Christmas. We don’t get too fancy as my mom’s working at church, but there will be chili, guisada, guacamole, tortillas, salsas, beans, rice and Uncle Austin’s squash enchiladas.

Of course, it’s July and nowhere near Christmas. But if you have zucchini in your garden, you’re well aware of the bounty these plants produce—it can be staggering. And right about now, you’re probably begging friends and neighbors to help you eat some of this prolific vegetable.

Summer squash enchiladas | Homesick Texan

Now, I don’t have a zucchini plant, but I did find myself with a surplus of summer squash. And after making a couple of casseroles and batches of pickles, I realized I’d have to come up with something else to use up my supply. Thanks to inspiration from my Uncle Austin, I made summer squash enchiladas.

His recipe is a secret—no one’s even allowed in the kitchen when he’s making them—so I had to improvise. But I do know that he uses fresh chiles in his sauce and this makes all the difference.

I wanted to keep the sauce light, so I used the not-too-fiery cascabel chile, which is a cute round chile that looks like an apple and makes a rattling sound when you shake it. And for the filling, I simply sautéed the squash with some onions, garlic and jalapeño chiles until they were warm and slightly tender but still with some bite.

Summer squash enchiladas | Homesick Texan

My favorite thing about making enchiladas in the summer months is that you don’t have to keep them in the oven for too long. And while I usually prefer crisp, cool salads this time of year, sometimes you do get a craving for a dish a bit more substantial—and these squash enchiladas will fulfill that desire quite nicely.

Summer squash enchiladas DSC3521
5 from 1 vote

Summer squash enchiladas

Servings 6
Author Lisa Fain


For the enchilada sauce:

  • 10 dried cascabel chiles or 6 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 teaspoons of oil, divided
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 canned chipotle chile
  • 1 15- oz. canned tomatoes, drained
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

For the filling:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, stems and seeds removed, diced
  • 2 zucchini and 2 yellow squash, diced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Cayenne

For the enchiladas:

  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 2 cups shredded cheese, a mix of Monterey Jack and cheddar


  1. To make the sauce, in a dry skillet heated on high, take the chiles and toast the chiles on each side for about 10 seconds or just until they start to puff. Leave the heat on and cover the chiles with water. When the water begins to boil and then turn off the heat and let chiles soak until soft, about 30 minutes. Drain the chiles and add to a blender.

  2. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a skillet and cook the onions for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Place onions and garlic into a blender. Add the canned chipotle chile, the tomatoes, chicken broth, cumin, oregano and blend until smooth.

  3. In a pot, heat 1 teaspoon of oil on low heat, pour in the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and black pepper to taste and adjust other seasonings as needed.

  4. To make the filling, in a large skillet, heat up the oil on medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeños and cook for a minute. Add the diced zucchini and yellow squash, cilantro, cumin and sauté for 10 minutes. Add salt, black pepper, and cayenne to taste.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 baking dish. Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven for 5 minutes while the oven is preheating.
  6. Remove tortillas from oven, open the foil (be careful as there may be hot steam), take a tortilla and with tongs dip it into the sauce. Shake off most of the sauce, but make sure that it’s moist enough to be pliable. Lay the tortilla on a plate or clean cooking surface, add a spoonful of the filling down the center of it and then roll the tortilla. Place rolled enchilada in greased baking dish and repeat with remaining tortillas.

  7. Pour sauce over enchiladas and top with shredded cheese. Bake for 10 minutes or until cheese is lightly browned and bubbling. Serve topped with avocado wedges and cotija cheese.

Recipe Notes

Cascabel chiles are round, about the size of a golf ball and they make a rattling sound when you shake them. Guajillo chiles are red, slender and usually about 4 inches long—they look very similar to New Mexico dried red chiles. Now, in Houston I’ve seen guajillo chiles labeled cascabel chiles—so if it’s long and slender and not round, chances are it’s a guajillo chile. These chiles are commonly found at Mexican grocers, all across the US. If you can’t find them, you can substitute ancho chiles, which may be easier to find–I’d use 4.

  1. This recipe is just what I need! I made the beginner's mistake of planting 6 zucchini plants and 4 yellow squash plants. So far my counter is lined with 20+ squash and they keep multiplying by the day! A girl can only eat so much zucchini bread.

  2. It's so great that you posted this recipe today. I'm having a dinner party in Brooklyn next week, and I'm going with a vegetarian Tex-Mex menu. I've been brainstorming about a good enchilada recipe that wouldn't be SO heavy for summer. This is perfect. (I'll just swap out the chicken broth for some high-quality veg stock.) Thank you!

  3. Yum! Vegetarian and Tex-Mex can be challenging. I'd like to see these on a menu! Instead, I'll just make them at home. 🙂

  4. heather @ chiknpastry

    great idea! I only have one little ol' zucchini in my fridge, but i'm sure there's more to come over the next few months 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    I'm confused about the part of adding water. How much? To the same pan you toasted the chiles in?

  6. Lisa Fain

    Phoo-D–I hear that story often! Happens with tomatoes, too.

    Lauren–You're very welcome. Enjoy!

    Heather–They multiply fast!

    Anna–They're very filling and a great option for vegetarians, they should be on more menus!

    Anon–Sorry about that–I left out a crucial step. Thank you for spotting it! Fill the pan with water, enough to cover the chiles, and then let them soak.

  7. Amy Drinkie

    I normally don't enjoy eating squash, but I think if they were hidden in some enchiladas I would! Thanks for the recipe!

  8. Screwed Up Texan

    Phoo-D, make zucchini bread or mock apple pie–deliciousness!

  9. this recipe is worth to try 🙂

  10. DessertForTwo

    I get so excited when you update, Lisa! I know it's always going to be great. And sure enough, my garden is over-flowing with squash.
    I'm going to Texas to cure some homesick blues for a bit and I'll be making these to for my cowboy to eat while I'm gone! Thanks a million for this recipe–perfect timing!

    I don't know if I've ever told you, but I'm hooked on many of your recipes. Your Texas caviar is the BEST I've ever had. Your banana pudding ice cream is better'n Blue Bell! Your jalapeno cheese grits, Mexican rice, peanut butter pie, and guisada are tops yoo! I could go on and on-I've made so many of your recipes with excellent results every time!

  11. Kristin

    Lisa, did you have any problems with your summer squash enchiladas coming out wet? In my past experience, the tortillas have become soggy and fallen apart while cooking due to the moisture in the squash. Thanks!

  12. Gabriela

    Squash enchiladas are always the vegetarian entree option when I have people over for dinner. I'll have to give Uncle Austin's rendition a try! (Is it just me or are they tasty, straight out of the fridge like cold pizza for breakfast?)

  13. Austin Realname

    Your grandma will enjoy reading this as I made these for her and your mom a couple of days ago, and she go can heat some up. Your version sounds even better than mine! Of course, I'm lazy so I stack it in layers rather than rolling each enchildada.

  14. oh my! these sound super delish and since we'v been eating less meat this recipe will have to be tried! can't wait! thank you

  15. Monday Through Friday: Food & Photography

    I would have never used squash in this manner, but what a awesome idea! Great for a veg option at dinner parties!

  16. This makes me wish I had a garden overflowing with squash and zucchini. At least the tables at the farmers' market are overflowing, and I'll happily take a few off their hands!

  17. I'm in Houston and love to read your postings. Especially when you reminisce about places like Taco Bueno. Ah, those were the bean-and-cheese burrito days.

  18. Yum! I love the idea of zucchini in enchiladas. This might even get my picky husband to eat squash!

  19. M. M. Martinez

    Perfect. I'm about to get squash in my weekly farm delivery and I wasn't sure what to do with it. I haven't made enchiladas in years.

  20. Maureen

    I planted everything late this year – I'm still about a week away from squash. I will definitely be making this!

  21. Oooh these enchiladas sound great! I never thought to make them with squash!

  22. Oh, how I miss yellow squash! I've never seen it here in Ireland. I'll have to try this with all zucchini.

  23. homegrown countrygirl

    YUM. Thank you for sharing!!! I really enjoy reading your posts. Congrats on the cookbook!

  24. krobertson

    Another great vegetarian option for enchiladas is one that they have at one of my favorite restaurants here in Austin – they call them aguacate enchiladas, but they're more than just avocadoes. The enchiladas are stuffed with guacamole. I don't know why this isn't done more often because they're delicious.

  25. Anonymous

    Do you think you can post some substitute common chiles in your notes for us Northerners who don't know or don't have much access to a plethora of chiles. Or suggestions of where to find chiles like this. Thanks!

  26. Brooke @

    Such a great recipe. And I had almost everything (except the chiles) in my pantry/fridge. I just added more chipotle chiles (seeded some of them as they can get hot!) and it was really amazing! I can't wait to try with the other chiles.

    Thanks for all of the great tex mex recipes. As a former Texan in DC, I am so glad to have happened upon this blog!

  27. Lisa Fain

    Amy–You hardly notice it at all!

    Screwed Up Texan–Mock apple pie with zucchini? I've never heard of that!


    DessertForTwo–Your cowboy sure will appreciate these! And thank you!

    Kristin–No, cooking them first got rid of most of the liquid, I found.

    Gabriela–Love them cold! One of my favorite breakfasts!

    Austin–Hey, layers are good–they all taste the same in the end!

    Renee–I tend to eat less meat when it's hot as well.

    Monday Through Friday–Yes, it's hearty enough to appeal to both meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

    Lisa–I hear you about the garden!

    Marcy–Love bean and cheese burritos!

    Katie–Yep, he might not even notice it's there!

    MM Martinez–It's been too long!

    Maureen–Hope you enjoy it!

    Koci–It's a great vegetarian option!

    Bill G–I wonder why they don't plant it as it grows in the same zone as zucchini.

    Homegrown Countrygirl–Thanks, it's fun writing it!

    KRobertson–That does sound delicious!

    Anon–I live in the North! But sure, if you don't have a Mexican grocer where you live, you should be able to find anchos at most grocery stores. I'd substitute them.

    Brooke–Hooray! So happy you enjoyed it! I'll have to try it with chipotles next time.

  28. I wouldn't normally do veg dishes like this , but since you and Uncle Austin think it is worthwhile, I'll give it a shot. I haven't been disappointed yet.

  29. frankie

    I got a bucket of squash from the garden and three words: nom nom nom. Thanks for the idea! I was about to just freeze alot of them until I thought of something.

  30. the country cook

    That sounds pretty good – quite a difference from the traditional heavy cheese and meat enchiladas. Probably better for the waistline as well.

  31. Yum! I just received yellow squash in yesterday's CSA box, and now you've posted the perfect way to use them! Just need to wait for the temperature to drop below 90 degrees so that I can use my oven 🙂

  32. The History Chef!

    Yum! looks good! And congratulations on your cookbook.

  33. Cook in a Bar

    Nice recipe, thanks for sharing! My family also has Tex-Mex for Christmas Eve dinner…tamales, chili, guacamole, fresh tortillas, and the like. Yum!

  34. Yes, another way to use up zucchini! Would you consider sharing your pickle recipe that was mentioned in the post?

  35. Made these last night due to an overabundance of squash (like the rest of the gardening world). Let's just say these were absolutely delicious. This was the best way yet of using up squash! I love the sauce so much I'm going to make a bunch and can it to have on hand for later on.

    These enchiladas would make excellent party fare or potluck offerings as well. I had a leftover ginormous fried chicken breast from lunch at my local diner so I shredded the meat and added it to the filling. Man were they good! Thanks a bunch for the recipe!

  36. Steff @ The Kitchen Trials

    Not only does this sound like a delicious recipe, it seems like it would be therapeutic to make. And by that, I mean the veggie chopping and sauce simmering and the like. I'll cross my fingers and hope I'm able to make a batch of these very soon.

  37. lisadelrio

    Thanks for the great recipe, Lisa. I'll be making these on Monday. I've had a hankering for enchiladas, but am thinking it's too hot for making the classic cheese enchiladas that I love so much. We're overrun with summer squash, so this dish is perfect.

  38. I love the photo of the peppers. Fantastic. I live in Dallas and have Tex Mex all around, and it takes a special recipe to not just jump in the car and visit the experts. But this looks fantastic. Lovely post!

  39. Lisa Fain

    Tommy–They're very filling, you won't miss the meat at all!

    Frankie–You're very welcome–enjoy!

    The Country Cook–I reckon if you don't load up on cheese they are better for the waistline.

    Lisa–Ha! I know how you feel.

    The History Chef–Why thank you!

    Cook in a Bar–It's the best way to celebrate Christmas, I think.

    Anna–I do it the same as my okra.

    Nan–Enchiladas are perfect for potlucks! And so happy you enjoyed them!

    Steff–It is therapeutic. Plus you can get a chile-gravy facial as you make the sauce!

    Lisa–Hope you enjoy them!

    Kelly–Now, that's high praise. Gracias!

  40. i made these and they were so delicious!! my husband absolutely loved them. i didn't have all the different peppers on hand but went with what i had. this recipe is a keeper! i decided to throw in some baby lima beans with the squash – delish!

  41. This sounds wonderful and I want to make them ASAP. I live in a very rural area and don't have fresh chilis available. What would be an acceptable alternative? I will definitely go buy fresh chilis the next time I can.
    Thank you!

  42. miscanthis213

    These sound so delicious!!! The sauce is simmering as I type. I am hoping that I didn't error…I used chipolte peppers in adobo sauce, that's all I saw at the market. Also, I took the stem and the seeds out of the guajillo chiles
    Are they going to be good??
    Love your blog

  43. Tasty Eats At Home

    I am a sucker for good enchiladas, and this sounds awesome! Definitely want to try!

  44. Anne Stesney

    This is going in my oven this weekend!

  45. YUM! I had leftover zucchini's and I was wondering what else I was going to do with them – now I know! Thanks for sharing!

  46. My husband made this for me last night and they are fabulous. I've spent so much time on this site in the past few weeks drooling over nearly every dish. We've also made the Ranch Style Beans and they were the best beans I've made in a long while. Can't wait for your book to come out.

  47. Bliss Doubt

    Hi. Love your blog. When I was growing up, once my brothers and I got to be about adolescent age, we started having tacos on Christmas eve. At that age, that was when we opened our presents too. The habit stuck. We always did it thereafter. On xmas day itself, it was a trip to grandma's house for all the traditional things anyway.

  48. Carla Jenness

    I made this last night here in Alaska. This El Paso girl went against her best instincts and didn't dip the tortillas in hot oil before rolling the filling. (Which was delicious!) Sure enough, I was met with a mushy mess. I will be trying this again, though.
    Carla in Nikiski, Alaska

  49. Lisa Fain

    Renee–Yay! So happy your husband loved them!

    Trish–If you don't have fresh chiles available, I'd make the sauce with 1/4 cup of chili powder.

    Miscanthis213–They will be good, I hope!

    Tasty Eats at Home–Hope you do!

    Anne–Excellent news–hope y'all enjoy them!

    Biz319–You're very welcome!

    Dina–Hurrah! So happy y'all enjoyed them!

    Bliss Doubt–It's a fine tradition, I think.

    Carla–So sorry they turned out mushy for you. I tend to not dip in hot oil to reduce the fat, but always do what works best for you!

  50. steph- whisk/spoon

    i also live in NYC, and i have to say that i'm completely jealous of those who have the "too much zucchini" problem. it's one of my favorite veggies, and i must make this recipe. thanks!

  51. Debbi Does Dinner Healthy

    I just found your blog from Biz and I am totally making these! I love anything zucchini and this sauce looks amazing! Thanks!

  52. Meredith

    These were great! I am always trying to find recipes for zucchini- my husband doesn't care for it, but I love to grow it for the blossoms. (So we end up with a lot of squash!)
    He loved this! Thank you! We did add some fresh corn because we had gotten that at our CSA, besides that we stayed true to your recipe. Wonderful.

  53. Anonymous

    I fixed these yesterday. It took somewhat longer than I anticipated but well worth it. I ended up with 16 enchiladas from the recipe but only 5 are leftover. Considering that this was the side dish for four adults, you know it was a bit hit.

  54. SprinkleandServe

    Absolutely thrilled that I found this recipe with squash season finally here. Thanks!

  55. Anonymous

    Any advice for preparing these ahead of time? I'm taking them to a vegitarian friend who's having surgery.


  56. Lisa Fain

    Amber–I'd bake them in a freezer-proof dish and then freeze them. To reheat, cook covered, while still frozen, in a 350°F oven for about 45 minutes to an hour. (Be sure your dish can go from the freezer to the oven.)

  57. Can you use butternut squash in this recipe?

  58. Oh! And, jalapeño peppers?

  59. Lisa Fain

    Sdowkes–I've never made it with butternut squash and jalapeños, but that could be good!

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