Tex-Mex Enchiladas with Chili Gravy

Tex-Mex Enchiladas with Chili Gravy

Last Updated on by Adrienne

Tex Mex Enchiladas with Chili Gravy

Do you love Mexican Food?

Do you love Mexican food or do you REALLY love Tex Mex?

What is the Difference Between TexMex and Mexican Food

The biggest difference between Tex-Mex and Mexican food is the difference in the ingredients used.


The term Tex-Mex stands for Texan and Mexican, and describes a type of popular cuisine which originated along the southern border states of the US. Basically, it defines a blend of Mexican, Spanish and American cuisine.


What Kind Of Cheese Do Mexican Restaurants Use In Enchiladas?


One of the definite marks of Tex-Mex is the use of yellow cheese. … However, in (true) Mexican food it isn’t as common; chile peppers, oregano, epazote, and cilantro are more commonly used instead.


If you are in a traditional Tex Mex restaurant, the authentic El Fenix cheese enchiladas recipe is going to have yellow cheese – probably a medium to sharp yellow cheddar or maybe a mix of cheddar and an American melting cheese like Velveeta.

Seafood in Mexican Food Recipes


Also, because Mexico has miles and miles of oceanfront, seafood is very common in their cooking.


I was a young girl when I was in Mexico and ordered a Seafood Cocktail. I waited for what I assumed would be the familiar six pink shrimp perched on the edge of a martini glass, and no one was more shocked than I when my waiter set down a dish of lovely fresh seafood topped by A BABY OCTOPUS.


For those who missed it the first time – A BABY OCTOPUS. I draped a napkin over it and tried to forget it, but these some 30+ years later, I remember it well.



Are Enchiladas Mexican or Tex Mex?


The Popularity of Tex-Mex


Don’t be alarmed, but enchiladas, chimichangas, nachos, Texas-style chili con carne and fajitas are NOT “Mexican food.”


Corn, tortilla chips, cheese, tacos, salsa, chilies, and beef dishes – they are all Tex-Mex inventions!


And Tex-Mex is an American creation! What????


If that blew your mind, sit down. Cinco De Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. Cinco de Mayo about the Mexicans beating the French in a war battle in 1862.


I know – almost as shocking as THE BABY OCTOPUS.


Cinco de Mayo


Cinco de Mayo, or the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s May 5, 1862 victory over France. An important and historic day, of course, but not Mexican Independence.


Americans are great at borrowing important events and turning them into a Hallmark holiday worthy of a big party, with everyone spending lots of moolah to celebrate it – think St. Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day. And that’s OK! We like to celebrate!


Take a deep breath, back to enchiladas….


Tex Mex Chili Gravy

The one thing that is completely different in Tex Mex food is chili gravy. Chili Gravy is used in several dishes, but definitely in all enchilada dishes.

It is exactly what it sounds like – a gravy started with a roux, liquid whisked in to make the gravy and seasoned with spices. It is delish – and relatively easy to make. And it’s only fair to warn you – it can be addictive.

Tex Mex Cheese and Onion Enchiladas with Chili Gravy

5 from 3 votes
Cuisine Mexican, TexMex


Chili Gravy

  • 3 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp powdered garlic
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano Mexican oregano, if available
  • 2 Tbsp chile powder homemade, Gebhardt's or similar dark blend preferred, if available
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Cheese Enchiladas

  • 8 corn tortillas thin
  • 2 cups sharp cheddar cheese grated
  • 1 medium white onion diced small


Chili Gravy

  • Heat the oil in a heavy cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  • Whisk in the flour and continue whisking for 3 - 4 minutes or until it makes a smooth light brown roux.
  • Add in all the dry ingredients and continue cooking for 1 minute, constantly stirring and blending ingredients.
  • When spices are fully mixed and become fragrant, add stock, mixing and stirring until the sauce thickens.
  • Turn heat down to low and let the sauce simmer about 15 minutes. Add water or stock to adjust the thickness.


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8" x 8" or 9" x 6" pan.
  • The corn tortillas need to be soft. Wrap 1 -2 tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave in 15 second increments, checking after each time.
  • Spread approximately ¼ cup gravy in the bottom of the baking dish.
  • Working quickly (so the tortillas are still warm and pliable), add approximately 3 Tablespoons of grated cheese and 1 - 2 teaspoons of diced onion. Roll the tortillas tightly and place seam side down in the baking dish.
  • Top the enchiladas with the remaining chili gravy. Bake 10 - 15 minutes until bubbly. Sprinkle with the last bits of cheese and/or onion, remove dish from oven and cover with foil until ready to serve.


You can add shredded or ground beef to the enchiladas. Season it lightly with the chili powder before rolling your tortillas.
Keyword cheese enchiladas, enchiladas


10 thoughts on “Tex-Mex Enchiladas with Chili Gravy”

    • Thanks! Thought that would make an impression. Dang SEO – I would have loved to title it “Baby Octopus to Go” or something like that, but then no one would get the good news about the chili gravy!

  • These look amazing. My husband and I are totally hooked on Mexican food. Or so I thought! Turns out we are crazy about Tex Mex. Pinning this so we can try your version. The sauce sounds incredible. Thanks so much!

  • 5 stars
    I’ve been making these for years, ever since I discovered Robb Walsh’s recipe for chili gravy in his Tex-Mex Cookbook way back in 2005. (I stood in Walmart and copied the recipe out of the book by hand, because I didn’t have the money to buy the book at the time. lol) Years later, I did add the book to my cook book library, and it quickly became one of my favorite cookbooks.
    We like to add cooked ground beef to the chili gravy and serve it over tortilla chips with plenty of yellow Cheddar or Colby cheese melted on top.

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