Quinoa Chicken Enchilada Casserole

How’s your day been? I’ve got a delicious healthy weeknight dinner of you to add to your repertoire: quinoa chicken enchilada casserole! It sure is a good one to have planned for on days like today.

Wednesday is writing day, so I spent some quality time at the Love Starbucks.


(Zen tea = my fave! I also love Refresh)

I came home to play with Livi, and while she went off to cook in her play kitchen, I decided to get some dinner together. After I teach Zumba, I’m beyond ready for a hearty dinner -and don’t really have the energy to cook anything- so I knew it would be nice to have it already made and waiting.

The best component:

Homemade enchilada sauce

Homemade enchilada sauce. The canned stuff is totally fine (I love the El Pato brand), but there’s really something special about homemade. Also, it’s much easier to make than I’d originally anticipated. Give it a whirl if you haven’t!

Enchilada sauce

The entire time the sauce was simmering on the stove, Liv was saying, “It smells good! I wanna eat it!!” 

enchilada casserole

Me too, girlfriend. Me too. 

For this meal, I combined all of the necessary dinner components: a lean protein, something green, and a grain/starch.

chicken on the stove

Quinoa, the Pilot’s fave πŸ˜‰


(Sorry, Pilot)

Along with some zucchini, homemade sauce and a hefty serving of grated Manchego on top.

Quinoa chicken casserole

Out of control.

This would also be a great meal to take over to a family or to heat and enjoy throughout the week.

Hope you love it πŸ™‚


Quinoa Chicken Enchilada Casserole

A hearty dinner option that’s easily made in advance! Prep everything to put into the oven before dinner, or make and freeze. High in protein, low fat and insanely delicious.

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 75


  • 4 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 pound of chicken, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a standard baking dish (9×13 works well) or casserole dish with nonstick spray or olive oil.
  2. 2. If you’re making the enchilada sauce, begin the sauce and as it’s simmering, brown the chicken in a separate pan for about 8 minutes, seasoned well with salt and pepper.
  3. 3. Add the chopped zucchini to the baking dish, along with the browned chicken, quinoa and enchilada sauce.
  4. 4. Cover and bake 45 minutes to one hour, until the quinoa is soft and fluffy.
  5. 5. Allow to stand for 10 minutes before serving. Top with plain yogurt, shredded cheese, avocado, a squeeze of lime juice, and/or chopped cilantro.


  • Serving Size: 4



Any favorite healthy casserole recipes? They’re awesome for weeknight dinners, especially since you can easily prep everything in advance and just throw it in the oven πŸ™‚

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  1. Taylee @ twist me fit on February 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    This looks so easy to make! And so good πŸ™‚

  2. sandra on February 19, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    Woah – that’s a tiny ramekin! Is that really your dinner serving size? Is that a size/serving that I should consider appropriate for dinner?

    • Fitnessista on February 19, 2014 at 7:06 pm

      no, i just used it to take a picture πŸ™‚

  3. Liz @ Tip Top Shape on February 19, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Oohh, this looks great!!! I’m not a big chicken fan – is there anything you could sub in for it?

    • Fitnessista on February 19, 2014 at 7:18 pm

      maybe chickpeas??

      • Liz @ Tip Top Shape on February 19, 2014 at 10:04 pm

        I like that idea!!! I’m probably going to make this next week – I’ll let you know how it turns out with the substitution πŸ™‚

  4. Rhiannon @ Bound to be a Buckeye on February 19, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    This looks delicious! I started making my own tomato/pasta sauce last year and I don’t know if I could go back to canned. It usually makes enough that I have some leftover to freeze, so it’s a win-win.

  5. Megan @ The Skinny-Life on February 19, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Looks amazing! I can’t believe how easy this looks to make…can’t be true.

  6. Traci on February 19, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    I’d never thought of anything like this, but I am a huge fan of both quinoa and enchilada sauce…thanks for the recipe inspiration!

  7. Catalina @ Baby on Board on February 19, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I don’t know how this smells, but it definitely looks good! I want to eat it too!

  8. Rachel on February 19, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Thx for reminding me that I need some quinoa back in my life! My fav way to use it is in 2-ingredient breakfast cookies (banana and soaked quinoa + mix-ins).

    Workout today was a 45 minute spin class. Hope my check-ins are counting for ZQuick entries!!

  9. Karissa on February 19, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Refresh is definitely my Starbucks tea of choice! Soothing and yet gives me a boost.

  10. Chicago Jogger on February 19, 2014 at 8:26 pm

    Ooh, I can’t wait to make this! Two of my favorites – quinoa + anything taco-related.

  11. Brynn on February 19, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    I love that you can prep this meal ahead of time. My favorite casserole is my morning egg bake. It has great flavor, you prep it the night before, bake off in the morning and it feeds a crowd. Perfect!

  12. Alex @ Kenzie Life on February 19, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    I’d love to try this with tofu! Or beans for the protein. Sadly, today has not been a good day. It’s one of those days that started off great with lots of (very missed) sunshine and it was downhill from there. I don’t really have a lot of bad days so I’m just really hoping this one will end soon. Hope you had a great one though!

  13. Haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine on February 19, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Holy moly! This sounds goood! I can’t wait to try it!

  14. Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous! on February 19, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    This looks amazing and only 4 ingredients. Can it get any better? I just started a pin board for easy to cook ahead meals for when the baby arrives. This one is definitely going on there!

  15. Amelia @i_heart_kale on February 19, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Mmm… I love enchiladas. I really need to try your sauce recipe soon. That and I wish I lived near you so I could try some authentic tamales! I’m sure I can find some here in Charleston, Sc, but I suppose I haven’t looked hard enough yet.
    My husband is not a fan of quinoa, but he likes the creaminess of millet. Have you ever subbed millet for any recipe in which the pilot isn’t crazy about? It’s great in stuffed peppers too. ( Also, it’s not a ‘complete’ protein, but if you are already eating meat, it won’t matter).

  16. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on February 19, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Yum this looks delicious! i just got some quinoa and this would be a great recipe to try out πŸ™‚

  17. GiselleR on February 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I’ve enchiladas once before and I really didn’t like them but that’s prob because I bought them. I’m thinking I’ll give them another try because these like super awesome! πŸ˜€

  18. Amanda on February 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    I need to make homemade enchilada sauce.

  19. Kristen@Change of Pace on February 19, 2014 at 10:59 pm

    So simple and yummy!

  20. Heather @ Housewife Glamour on February 20, 2014 at 1:24 am

    Yum!! This recipe looks so good! πŸ™‚

  21. JessicaJ on February 20, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Holy yum, pinned! I’ll be trying this one for sure. My hubby hates quinoa as well, I’m always looking for ways to get him to eat it so he won’t know it πŸ™‚

  22. Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork on February 20, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Looks delicious! We make enchiladas frequently using a similar formula: protein, veggies, tortilla (or no shell for me if we’re out of GF ones). We make our own enchilada sauce as well and it makes such a difference. We use Emeril’s recipe, but half the stock with water so it’s not as salty. I’ve never thought of making it into a casserole, though! Great idea!

    Are you mocking the Pilot? Because I can’t get my husband to like quinoa either. I think it’s because he’s gotten a piece of sand from it (if you don’t rinse it, which I don’t usually).

  23. Sara on February 20, 2014 at 8:28 am

    It looks yummy! We do that alot… We look in our fridge and try to use up veggies that are on their last leg. Sometimes we layer corn tortillas and cover in salsa and or enchilada sauce and other times we add a grain like quinoa. Such a fast, healthy meal that is great for left overs for the next couple of days πŸ™‚

  24. Erin on February 20, 2014 at 8:57 am

    My husband “loves” quinoa as much as the Pilot, hehe. But he does love chicken enchiladas, so maybe I could sneak this one by him. What did the Pilot think?

  25. jodie on February 20, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Yum yum yum. Making this.

  26. Alissa @ Eat Clean Beauty Queen on February 20, 2014 at 9:24 am

    You can’t beat a hearty make-ahead meal! I will definitely be making this one. I teach 2 hrs of boot camp on Tuesday/Thursday and, like you, am often ready to eat my arm and almost too exhausted to speak afterward so cooking when I get home is out of the question. I’ve got a rotisserie chicken headed in the slow cooker with veggies for tonight!

  27. April on February 20, 2014 at 9:45 am

    Yum, totally making this next week!!!! I hope my little one is as excited about it as Livi was:) Did she eat it?

  28. Sarah on February 20, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Do you put the quinoa in dried or cooked? Looks delicious either way.

  29. Annalisa on February 20, 2014 at 10:54 am

    I made your enchilada sauce this week when I made Anne’s sweet potato and black bean enchiladas. It was hot stuff. I loved it. I love meal ideas that will last a few days. I love cooking and feeding my family, but everyday three times a day gets tiring.

  30. jodie on February 20, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Random question: have you tried quinoa in desserts? Just wondering about the taste. I saw this recipe http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/quinoa_blondies.html

  31. Liz on February 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

    How you feel after teaching Zumba is how I feel every day after work, so I look for super easy dishes that I can throw together, walk my pup and then come back and enjoy. I will for sure add this into the rotation. So simple and looks absolutely amazing!

  32. Melissa on February 20, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I am putting this recipe on the weekends menu. Simple, easy and cost is low!

  33. Lauren on February 20, 2014 at 11:39 am

    This looks like a great recipe. I usually go Mexican-inspired when I’m in a time crunch to make dinner and always have these ingredients on hand!

  34. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance on February 20, 2014 at 11:40 am

    This looks really yummy! I’m with you on not wanting to cook after the gym. Also, could Olivia be any cuter?

  35. Tracy on February 20, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Wow! That sounds delish. I bet the homemade enchilada sauce makes it!! I love love love how simple it is to put together, too!

    Spaghetti casserole has always been a favorite in our house.

  36. Lauren @ Focused To Be Fit on February 20, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I love everything about this dish – yum and so easy! I want to re-create tuna casserole and make it healthier because it’s one of my favs!

  37. micaela on February 20, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Hey Gina,

    I emailed you a week back about visting Tucson but I’m sure you get a million emails a day. I’m visiting next week and my friend and I would love to take one of your Zumba classes. Would you be able to share where and what day you teach? I love all your videos and it would be great to take a class in person.


    • Fitnessista on February 21, 2014 at 12:34 am

      hey girl! sorry i’m just now getting back to you! how long are you in town? i’m getting a sub next week because we’ll be at the arizona game.

      • micaela on February 21, 2014 at 12:00 pm


        Thanks for the response. We’ll be there from tomorrow to Friday. If you wont’ be teaching next week, we’ll be sure to check out your recommendations for other zumba studios.


  38. Cassie Vaughn on February 20, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Anne’s Mexican Lasagna stands out in my mind.

  39. Mia on February 20, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    This looks delicious! I love your nails in the first photo too! What kind of polish are you wearing?

  40. Kim @ FITsique on February 20, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    This is a great idea! What a fantastic way to get the Mexican craving taken care of πŸ™‚

  41. Sarah on February 20, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Workout today (Thurs. 2/20) was strength training & stadium stairs. I hope my entries are counting towards the ZQuick Reebok giveaway!!!

  42. Rachel on February 20, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Workout for Thursday was a Bootcamp class. Group fitnessss!!

  43. Liesl@Fitnessinthekitchen on February 20, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    Homemade enchilada sauce=awesome!
    Love this recipe. For a vegetarian version you could easily sub in some black beans, and that would be awesome. I make a similar casserole with brown rice, black beans, enchi sauce, but then I add in more veg…lots of peppers, poblanos and red.

  44. STUFT Mama on February 21, 2014 at 12:48 am

    Loving the easiness of this! I’m so going to make this for the men in my life. Yay! πŸ™‚ So excited you’re moving here by the way. Weee….

  45. Livi on February 21, 2014 at 8:42 am

    these look awesome! I just recently started eating chicken again, and this looks like a yummy dish to start out with!

  46. Sarah on February 21, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Workout for Friday, 2/21: Yoga. I was in the ER last night, so taking it nice and easy….it’s been one of those weeks. Hoping this check-in counts towards a ZQuick entry! The yellow sneakers are really cute.

  47. Rose on February 22, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Wow that looks fantastic AND easy! I recently made a similar dish using chick peas in stead of quinoa πŸ™‚

  48. jlo on February 22, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Mmm, that looks yummy!

  49. Tiffanie on February 22, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I made these & it was a watery mess πŸ™ did you really use 4.5 cups of sauce? I used a little over three & it’s like soup.

    • Jennie on February 24, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Elliptical intervals

  50. Sharon on December 31, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    I was looking for an easy recipe for chicken breast. I’m pretty sure there couldn’t be anything easier. I cut my zucchini in quite large 1/2 moon shapes as we like our zucchini quite firm. I had some black beans that needed to be used up, so I threw those in also. It seemed quite soupy when it came out of the oven, but after sitting for about 15 minutes the quinoa had soaked up most of the extra sauce. This was tasty, easy, nutritious and customizable; I will make it again. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Fitnessista on January 1, 2018 at 11:22 pm

      that is amazing! so thrilled you liked it πŸ™‚

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