Introducing your new favorite way to make enchiladas! Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti Squash Boats feature red enchilada sauce, shredded chicken, spaghetti squash, and of course, plenty of cheese.
A Healthy Chicken Enchilada Dinner
My family always gets super excited when I make enchiladas. It’s one of those recipes that I don’t make as often as, say, tacos, but it’s just as special. The savory red sauce and tender chicken make a festive, satisfying dinner option.
When I realized I could make enchilada chicken with spaghetti squash instead of tortillas, it was a game-changer! This combo tastes amazing, adds more veggies to our diet, and works for everyone, even the picky eaters. WE love it!
What You’ll Need
So what do you need to make this recipe? The list of ingredients is actually pretty basic, which is helpful on busy evenings. Let’s take a closer look!
- Spaghetti Squash: To serve four people, plan on a 2 ½ pound squash.
- Olive Oil: To brush the squash before roasting.
- Salt and Pepper
- Cooked Chicken: I like to use leftover shredded chicken for this, but you can also chop or shred rotisserie chicken, or make some while the squash is roasting.
- Enchilada Sauce: There are so many delicious pre-made sauces on the market, it’s easy to pick one up at the store or order online! However, if you have the time and want to make your own, go for it!
- Zucchini: A finely diced zucchini goes perfectly with the flavors in this recipe!
- Cumin: You’ll need a teaspoon of ground cumin.
- Chili Powder: To taste, half a teaspoon to one whole teaspoon.
- Oregano: Oregano brings out the depth of the cumin and chili powder, and adds its own tangy fragrance.
- Cheese: I love pepper jack in this recipe, but you can use monterey jack for a milder version.
- Cilantro: Chopped fresh cilantro is the perfect garnish.
How to Make Chicken Enchilada Spaghetti Squash Boats
The base for this recipe is roasted spaghetti squash, which is super easy to make. All you have to do is cut and bake!
P.S. Grab a rotisserie chicken if you don’t have any leftover cooked chicken to work with. OR, you can just make my recipe for baked chicken breasts. 🙃
- Roast the Squash. First, preheat the oven to 400˚F. Then, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Cut your spaghetti squash in half, and scoop out the seeds and stringy bits. Brush the cut sides of the squash with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake, cut-sides-down, for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
- Shred the Spaghetti Squash. Let squash cool slightly, or until they’re cool enough to handle. Use a fork to shred the spaghetti squash away from the rind, leaving about a 1/4-inch border all around the sides. Transfer the spaghetti squash strings to a large bowl, and place the empty halves of the squash back on the baking sheet.
- Make the Enchilada Mixture. Add the shredded cooked chicken and finely diced zucchini to the squash strings. Season this chicken mixture with cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper. Stir in a cup of enchilada sauce.
- Assemble the Boats. Divide the enchilada mixture between the two squash shell “boats.” Top each boat with the remaining enchilada sauce, and then with the cheese.
- Bake. Bake the enchilada boats for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. To get a bit of browning on top, turn on the broiler for about 2 more minutes, or until the top is golden-brown.
- Enjoy! Remove the boats from the oven. Garnish each one with cilantro, cut in half, and serve.
Tips for Success
This dish is so hearty and comforting, and so easy to make. But don’t get cooking just yet! First, take a look at these helpful tips for making an ah-mazing bake!
- Crockpot Squash: If you don’t want to roast the squash, you can also cook spaghetti squash in a slow cooker. Just wash it, use a fork to make holes on all sides, and slow cook it whole for 3-5 hours.
- Use Beef: This recipe also works perfectly with browned ground beef, to make beef enchilada boats.
- Make Spaghetti! While we’re on the topic of spaghetti squash, this recipe also works wonderfully with spaghetti sauce instead of enchilada sauce, and mozzarella instead of the Monterey Jack!
Now that you know how to make enchilada boats with spaghetti squash, what should you serve for a side dish? Don’t worry, I got you covered! Here are some easy sides that everyone will love.
- Salad: This warm and cheesy dish goes perfectly with a cold, crisp salad. You can do a regular garden salad, or try my easy Avocado Tomato Salad. So delicious!
- Cowboy Caviar: Cowboy Caviar may just be the ultimate side dish! Corn, beans, avocado, and a ton of fresh veggies make this dip/relish/side dish a total winner, every time.
- Grilled Pineapple: For a special sweet and tangy twist, try serving these flavorful enchilada boats with Tequila Grilled Pineapple! On a grill or on a cast-iron skillet, this is one mouthwatering side dish.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
- To store leftovers, remove the filling from the shell and discard the shell. Place the filling in airtight containers, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- To reheat, place leftovers in a covered skillet over low heat, cheese-side up, and cook until heated through.
Can I Make This Ahead?
Yes, you can! Here’s how.
- Roast the squash, but instead of putting the spaghetti strands back into the shells, discard the shells and drain the strands in a colander in the fridge for several hours. Pack into freezer bags, and freeze for up to 6 months.
- Combine the chicken, zucchini, enchilada sauce, and seasonings in a skillet. Heat until the zucchini is tender. Cool, and pack into a food storage container. Freeze for up to 3 months.
- To reheat, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Mix the squash and chicken mixtures together and pour into a greased casserole dish. Top with cheese and bake at 350˚F until heated through and bubbly.
CHICKEN ENCHILADA SPAGHETTI SQUASH BOATS
- 2-½ pound spaghetti squash, halved lengthwise and seeds removed
- Olive oil, for brushing
- Salt and pepper
- 16 ounces cooked and shredded chicken breasts
- 1-¼ cup red enchilada sauce, divided
- 1 zucchini, finely diced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
- Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400˚F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
- Scoop out the seeds and stringy center from the squash and discard.
- Place squash cut side up on the baking sheet. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper; then turn them over, cut-sides down.
- Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until tender.
- Let squash cool slightly, or until cool enough to handle.
- Using a fork, shred the spaghetti squash while leaving about a 1/4-inch border around the sides. Transfer spaghetti squash strings to a large bowl.
- Transfer unfilled boats back to the baking sheet and set aside.
- To the squash strings add the shredded chicken and zucchini.
- Season chicken mixture with cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Stir in 1 cup red enchilada sauce.
- Divide the chicken mixture between the two squash shells.
- Top with remaining enchilada sauce and then top with the cheese.
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
- To get a bit of browning on top, turn on the broiler and continue to cook for 2 more minutes, or until top is browned.
- Remove from oven.
- Garnish with cilantro.
- Cut each shell in half and serve.