Enchiladas Salvadoreñas - Salvadoran Enchiladas

When I say “enchiladas” – what do you imagine? A burrito-like dish covered in spicy red sauce and melted cheese? Well, for El Salvador and some other Central American countries, enchiladas are a different dish entirely. While each person has their preferences, here is my version: A fried tortilla colored with achiote (annatto) forms the foundation, then in layers, mayonnaise, seasoned ground beef, curtido (Salvadoran cabbage salad), sliced hard boiled eggs, a heavy sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a few squirts of ketchup! Pick up your enchilada and eat it with your hands. Here’s the recipe, (and some notes on other variations you can try!)


Ingredients for the ground beef:

1 lb. ground beef
a few generous dashes Salsa Perrins (also known as “Worcestershire sauce”)
1 teaspoon achiote powder
salt to taste

Ingredients for the tortillas:

3 cups corn flour (MASECA is the brand I use)
a little less than 4 cups water
1 tablespoon achiote powder
a pinch of salt
oil for frying (I use Canola)


6 eggs – hard boiled, peeled and sliced
Curtido (recipe here)
Parmesan cheese
Ketchup (Optional! Traditional enchiladas usually use tomato salsa!)


1. In a pan, fry the ground beef seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, achiote powder and salt. (If using lean ground beef, add a little oil to fry.) Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine corn flour with achiote powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients with a fork to combine before adding water. Add water a little at a time, combining with your hands as you go. You will use almost 4 cups of water, but 4 cups is too much, so don’t add it all. You want the masa (dough) to be very moist but not so wet that you can’t shape it with your hands.

3. Heat oil in a large pan. Shape masa into tortillas, (If you don’t know how to do this with your hands, some people cheat by smashing a ball of dough between the bottoms of two plates covered in plastic wrap.)

4. Fry the tortillas a few at a time without crowding them in the pan. Flip to brown on both sides. Remove to paper towels to drain off some of the oil.

5. Time to assemble your enchiladas! Slather mayonnaise on each tortilla. Top with the following in this order: ground beef, curtido, sliced egg, Parmesan, ketchup. This recipe makes approximately 12 enchiladas.

6. Variations: Enchiladas can be made different ways. You can use whatever toppings appeal to you. Some people top their enchiladas with tomato slices, radish slices, and fresh avocado; other people use refried beans instead of mayonnaise, tomato sauce instead of ketchup, and grilled chicken in place of ground beef.

What do you put on your enchiladas?


  1. My husband is from Guatemala and we use tostadas that we buy at our local Spanish foods store, but we also put on beets, and instead of ketchup we use a very plain tomato salsa, and for the curtido, we use the juice from the beets instead of vinegar, and add onion to the enchiladas separate not mixed with the cabbage slaw

    • I use the pre-made tostadas sometimes too, (it’s a lot less work!), and it makes the dish a little different since they’re crunchier.

      I bet the beet juice adds a pretty color to the curtido! I’ll have to try it Guatemalan-style some day. Thanks for sharing your version!

  2. So this is what my mother-in-law was trying to describe to me. She’s Guatemalan and was trying very hard to describe Guatemalan enchiladas over the phone to me the other day! haha!

      • Good luck! … And if your mother-in-law is Guatemalan, you may want to check out the variation described by Megan in the first comment above. Her husband is Guatemalan and that might be closer to how most Guatemalans make them. (My husband is Salvadoran so the cuisine tends to be similar but not exactly the same!)

  3. Looks like a tostada…but eggs, mayo, & ketchup? Hmm I don’t know about that one. LOL Although I have had a fried egg on a burger and hard-boiled eggs on pizza so if I’m willing to try those I just might like this one too! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. In TX we have Tex-Mex style enchiladas and also some types of regional Mex-Mex enchiladas available in restaurants. There is this one food cart near to my parents’ house that sells enchiladas potosinas. Instead of being soused, they are served dry because the chile sauce is worked into the raw masa of the tortillas to enchilar them and then they are formed and stuffed with some type of melting cheese or carne molida. To cook them they are crisped in the pan already stuffed. They have lashings of crema and avocado slices on top. You are supposed to have cueritos with them but I don’t eat those since they are pork. The enchiladas potosinas are soooo amazing. I suck with masa usage so I cannot make them myself. I have to wait to go to that place in my hometown once a year to eat them but they are a first or second day back must have food for me!

    The Salvadoran enchilada looks awesome. I wonder if I could find some like that around here in NoVa…I was surprised by the recipe that it was achiote and not chiles giving them their color. BTW I use your curtido recipe whenever I get a craving so thanks for that :)

  5. These are similar to the Enchiladas I grew up with in El Salvador, only no Mayo or Ketchup. We usually make them with chicken or pieces of Carne Asada and red sauce. But the pictures do look yummy..

    • Si pero es mejor la tradicion bueno la buena salvadoreñas jamas cambia tostads echas a hacerlas uno mismo mi estilo y mi opinion es esta

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