Spinach White Bean Enchiladas with Pepper Jack Sauce

$6.72 recipe / $1.68 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.82 from 75 votes
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Someone emailed me recently and said that they use white beans in place of chicken in recipes and I was like, “Wait, whoa, why haven’t I done that?” I use black beans and lentils in place of beef all the time, but for some reason it never occurred to me to use white beans in place of chicken. Well, today I tried it with these Spinach White Bean Enchiladas and it was AWESOME. (And yes, you can totally replace the white beans with about 1.5 cups of cooked chopped chicken for a meat version, if you prefer).

Spinach White Bean Enchiladas with Pepper Jack Sauce

Overhead view of an oval baking dish with Spinach White Bean Enchiladas garnished with cilantro

What Kind of Tortillas Should I Use?

Corn tortillas are best for enchiladas because they have a great toasty corn flavor, and hold up well to the sauce. To get the most flavor out of your corn tortillas, don’t forget to toast them first! This enhances the flavor and makes them a little stronger. You can toast the tortillas over an open flame, or in a dry skillet (see the step by step photos below the recipe).

The Enchilada Filling

The filling for these enchiladas is super simple, with just some chopped spinach, white beans, creamy pepper jack, salt, pepper, and cumin. But thanks to all those colorful flecks of crushed peppers in the pepper jack, they’re not lacking in flavor. If you prefer, you can add some chopped chicken to or in place of the white beans in this recipe.

The Enchilada Sauce

Just to make sure these enchiladas were top notch, I drenched the them in a super rich pepper jack sauce. The sauce is creamy, cheesy, a little tangy, a little spicy, and a LOT delicious. I’m absolutely loving these creamy white enchiladas!

Enchilada Toppings

I topped my enchiladas with a handful of chopped cilantro, but if you don’t like cilantro, green onions also go well. If you happen to find avocados on sale, I think adding a few slices to the top of these enchiladas would be amazing.

What to Serve with Enchiladas

These Spinach and White Bean Enchiladas would go awesome with: Cilantro Lime Rice, Easy Taco Rice, Warm Corn and Avocado Salad, or Cumin Lime Roasted Sweet Potatoes.

A spatula lifting Spinach White Bean Enchiladas out of the baking dish

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Spinach White Bean Enchiladas with Pepper Jack Sauce

4.82 from 75 votes
White beans make an inexpensive and fiber filled alternative to chicken in these creamy Spinach White Spinach White Bean Enchiladas.
Author: Beth - Budget Bytes
White beans make an inexpensive and fiber filled alternative to chicken in these creamy Spinach White Spinach White Bean Enchiladas. BudgetBytes.com
Servings 4 3 enchiladas each
Prep 15 mins
Cook 50 mins
Total 1 hr 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 12 6-inch corn tortillas ($1.10)
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese ($1.00)
  • 1/2 lb frozen chopped spinach ($0.85)
  • 15 oz can white beans* ($1.00)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($0.02)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • Freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
  • Handful fresh chopped cilantro for garnish (optional) ($0.13)

PEPPER JACK SAUCE

  • 1 Tbsp butter ($0.14)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.08)
  • 4 oz cream cheese ($1.00)
  • 3/4 cup whole milk ($0.29)
  • 1/4 tsp salt ($0.02)
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese ($1.00)

Instructions 

  • Toast the tortillas on each side in a dry skillet over medium-low heat until they are a slightly stiff and have browned just a bit on the edges. Stack them on a plate until ready to use. Toasting the tortillas increases the flavor and helps prevent them from cracking. Shred an 8oz. block of pepper jack cheese. Half will be used for the enchilada filling and half will be used for the sauce.
  • Defrost the frozen spinach in a microwave or take it out of the freezer before beginning to allow it time to defrost naturally. Squeeze as much moisture out of the thawed spinach as possible. Place the spinach in a large bowl. Rinse and drain the white beans, then add them to the bowl with the spinach. Also add 4oz. of the shredded cheese, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and a little freshly cracked pepper. Stir until the mixture is evenly combined.
  • Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Begin preparing the pepper jack sauce by adding the butter and minced garlic to a small sauce pot. Sauté the garlic in the butter for one minute over medium heat. Add the milk and cream cheese to the pot. Stir and heat until the cream cheese has fully melted into the milk and the mixture has thickened slightly. Season with salt. Begin adding the remaining shredded pepper jack, a handful at a time, and stirring it in until fully melted before adding more. Once all the cheese has been melted into the sauce, turn the heat off and allow it to cool slightly.
  • Coat the inside of a casserole dish with non-stick spray. Begin filling the toasted tortillas with the spinach and white bean mixture and rolling them closed. Line up the filled tortillas in the casserole dish, seam sides facing down. Choose a casserole dish that fits 12 of the rolled enchiladas snugly to help keep them from unrolling.
  • Once the tortillas are filled and in the casserole dish, pour the pepper jack sauce over top. Bake the enchiladas in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the edges of the tortillas are brown and the pepper jack sauce is thick and browned on the edges. Sprinkle chopped cilantro over top, if desired.

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Notes

*Preferably cannellini or great northern beans.

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 637.35kcalCarbohydrates: 68.58gProtein: 33.53gFat: 33.5gSodium: 1086.28mgFiber: 9.93g
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Scroll down for the step by step photos!

Front view of the casserole dish of Spinach White Bean Enchiladas

How to Make White Bean Enchiladas – Step by Step Photos

Toast Corn Tortillas

Begin by slightly toasting 12 6-inch corn tortillas in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toasting gives them a nuttier flavor and helps strengthen them a bit so they aren’t as likely to crack when rolled. You want to toast them just until they’re a little more stiff, but still pliable enough to roll. Stack them on a plate as they come out of the skillet and set them aside.

Shredded Pepper Jack divided into two portions

Shred an entire 8oz. block of pepper jack cheese. Half will be used in the filling of the enchiladas and half will be used for the sauce.

Spinach White Bean Filling in a bowl

Thaw 1/2 lb. of frozen spinach (microwave or let sit at room temperature). I suggest getting “cut spinach” or “chopped spinach” so that you don’t have long strings of spinach leaves in your enchiladas. Once thawed, squeeze out as much water as possible from the spinach and place it in a large bowl. Rinse and drain one 15oz. can white beans and add them to the bowl along with 4oz. of the shredded cheese, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp salt, and some freshly cracked pepper.

Spinach White Bean Mix in a bowl

Stir the mixture until everything is evenly mixed. Set the mixture aside.

Garlic and Butter for Sauce in a sauce pot

Begin preheating the oven to 350ºF. To start the pepper jack sauce, add 1 Tbsp butter and one minced clove of garlic to a small sauce pot. Sauté the garlic in the butter over medium heat for one minute to soften it up.

Milk and Cream Cheese added to sauce pot

Add 3/4 cup whole milk and 4oz. cream cheese to the pot. Stir or whisk until the cream cheese melts into the milk and thickens it slightly. Stir in 1/4 tsp salt.

Spoon coated with melted pepper jack sauce

Once the cream cheese has melted in, begin adding the remaining 4oz. of shredded pepper jack, one handful at a time. Whisk in each handful until it is fully melted before adding more. Once all the cheese has been incorporated into the sauce, turn the heat off and let the sauce cool slightly while you assemble the enchiladas.

Stuffed and rolled spinach white bean enchiladas in casserole dish

Begin filling the tortillas with the spinach and white bean mixture, rolling them up, and then placing them in a casserole dish coated with non-stick spray. I had enough filling for 12 enchiladas, but I chose a dish that was slightly too small, so I only made 10 (if you have leftover filling, you can make quick quesadillas with it in a skillet!). Make sure your enchiladas are in the dish with the seams facing down and that they fit snuggly together.

Pour Pepper Jack Sauce on Enchiladas

Pour the pepper jack sauce over the enchiladas. I like to pour it down the center and let some of the tortillas stay exposed on the sides. This gets them extra toasty and delicious.

Finished spinach white bean enchiladas in the casserole dish from above

Finally, bake the enchiladas in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the tortillas are brown and crispy on the edges and the pepper jack sauce has thickened and browned around the edges. Top the enchiladas with chopped cilantro for garnish, if desired.

Close up of crispy edges of tortillas in the spinach white bean enchiladas

Creamy heaven!

Spinach White Bean Enchiladas served on a plate with a black fork

Dig in!

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  1. WOW. An easy, low-cost, delicious recipe that’s only been in my rotation for 1 month— I’ve made it THREE TIMES. So good!

    I love enchiladas but I’m too lazy to cook meat AND toast tortillas AND make a sauce AND assemble them. The yummy filling for these cuts out so much prep time and isn’t super messy when assembling. I may try it with other sauces in my repertoire to see how it works as a vegetarian substitute in other enchilada recipes.

  2. Can these be frozen? Making them tonight but we will have leftovers because it is only 2 of us.

    1. Yes. Cover enchiladas tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and place in a freezer-safe container. Freeze up to 3 months. XOXO -Monti

  3. Wowwww this was so good. We are trying to eat less meat and I’d happily eat these enchiladas over chicken-based enchiladas any day. The flavor combination was perfect. The only thing I changed was to use 10x 8inch flour tortillas instead of 12x 6inch corn, because flour was what I had on hand, and I used 10oz fresh spinach wilted in a pan rather than frozen. I will definitely make this again!

  4. You guys, this recipe is a keeper! My husband, seven year old, and 3 year old all cleaned their plates!

    After reading through a bunch of comments, I decided to double the sauce. I also used mixla tortillas (half corn/half flour). It was really good but I honestly think the extra sauce was unnecessary and it would’ve have been even better with just corn tortillas. 

    So I’m looking forward to making this recipe again but following the instructions next time! I know it will be even better! 

    1. I made this recipe again, just as it is written without modifications and I liked it even more! My husband, 7 year old, and 3 year old loved it and went back for seconds. My sister doesn’t like cooked spinach so she wasn’t sure about the recipe but gave it a 10/10 review! 

      Seriously, this is one you want to try!

  5. Another winner! Thanks, Beth…I doubled the spinach ’cause that’s how I roll :-) otherwise followed recipe –delicious.

  6. These turned out great! Topped with some of my favorite hot sauce and paired up with your slow cooker chicken tortilla soup. Perfect meal!

  7. Since some people said this needed a little extra moisture and flavor, I added a can of diced tomatoes and green chilies, used the whole 8 oz block of cream cheese, and didn’t measure the amount of pepper jack I used. The whole family loved it! I also used pinto beans I cooked instead of canned white beans, but I doubt that makes much of a difference. Thank you for the enchilada recipes on this site. They’re really fun to riff off of!

    1. The recipe makes 12 enchiladas and there are four servings, so it would be three enchiladas per serving. I’ll edit that in the recipe card to be more clear! :)

  8. I agree with others, it is lacking in flavor and was really dry! I will make this again, but will add more cream cheese and a jar of salsa verde to the sauce and A LOT more cumin.

  9. While this recipe was a good base, it definitely needs a little more flavor and heat. I thought all the pepper jack cheese would be flavorful enough. I sautéed onions and garlic before cooking fresh spinach (12 oz raw).  I added lots of salt, pepper and cumin to the filling plus a small can of diced green chilies. Also added a can of black beans to the white beans.  I made 1 1/2 times the sauce and just layered corn tortillas (thick ones from Trader Joe’s) with sauce and filling in 9X13 casserole dish.  Next time I will sauté a jalapeño with the onion and add way more cumin and other Mexican seasonings to the filling.  My daughter and I added jarred Hatch Valley green salsa also from Trader Joe’s to our servings.  I will probably add a jar of this to the filling next time.

  10. Great recipe! Next time I will probably double the sauce recipe so I can put some in the pan before placing the enchiladas. Looking forward to the leftovers!