Easy Queso Fresco Entomatadas

Mastering a basic Mexican-style tomato sauce is easy, versatile and makes great entomatadas – tortillas dipped in tomato sauce then filled with cheese. A satisfying meatless meal!

Recently I shared my mom's recipe for chicken enchiladas that utilizes ground California chile powder for the sauce in place of whole dried chiles. It was a huge hit.

Even though the majority of the recipes here at Confessions include meat, there are plenty of vegetarian and vegan choices for those people trying to achieve a good balance between meat and vegetable-based meals on a weekly basis.

Today, I'm sharing a meatless recipe and one of my favorites: entomatadas. It has a few more steps than that enchilada sauce and truth be told, a few more steps than your basic entomatada sauce recipe but I really feel that it's worth the extra 10 minutes it takes.

First things first: What are entomatadas?

Entomatadas are flash fried tortillas that are dipped in a homemade tomato sauce and most often filled with a blend of queso fresco and chopped white onions. Whereas enchilada sauce is made from dried chiles that have been reconstituted (or in my mother's case, ground California chile powder) that has a little tomato sauce stirred in for acid and balance, entomatada sauce is tomato-based.

It all starts with the sauce

Many Mexican dishes begin with a simple homemade tomato sauce: tomatoes, onions, garlic and a fresh green chile with the optional addition of fresh cilantro. Depending on the application, it can also include dried chiles, dried spices or even vinegars in the case of adobos. So knowing how to make a basic tomato sauce can get you well on your way to enjoying many homemade Mexican meals, like today's entomatadas recipe.

At it's most basic, entomatada sauce involves the boiling of roma tomatoes that are then blended with a bit of onion, garlic and salt and pepper. Easy peasy!

But for this dish, I like to take it one step further by utilizing another basic Mexican cooking technique: charring of the vegetables instead of boiling.

I also like to add two dried California chile peppers, another deviation from the basic recipe that adds tons of flavor without compromising on that wonderful tomato base.

And though these steps add a few minutes of cooking time, I feel the added layer of flavor is well worth it. Besides, the vegetables can be charring away while I fry the tortillas so in reality, it isn't that much more time.

As for those tortillas, you aren't frying them to get them crispy. On the contrary, just like my tip for good enchiladas, you're flash frying the tortillas to give them structure so they don't fall apart in the sauce. And what I mean by flash frying is, once the oil is near smoking, the tortilla gets dipped into the oil for about 20 seconds on each side then are immediately removed to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb that surface oil.

After all the tortillas are fried, they get dipped into the sauce and because they've been flash fried, they'll hold their shape and not disintegrate.

What is queso fresco?

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you know that I love queso fresco. Literally, it translates to "fresh cheese" and is made from raw cow's milk and sometimes from a combination of cow and goat milks. It's a mild, milky, soft curd-like cheese that can be sliced or crumbled and used as a filling or topping. It's readily available at most major supermarkets but if you can't find one, opt for a very mild feta that is sold in brine (the dry pre-crumbled kind is simply too salty and will, in my opinion, overpower many Mexican dishes).

For this dish, I like to chop the onions first, crumble the cheese then combine them thoroughly so you're only having to fill the tortilla once and not have to make two passes. Doing this early on allows the cheese to tame some of the rawness of the onion without sacrificing crunch and texture.

What else can I fill entomatadas with?

My favorite filling is this classic queso fresco and white onion mix but truth be told, the beauty of any enchilada or entomatada or really just the very use of a corn tortilla to make a meal is that you can fill those tortillas with pretty much anything your heart desires. But might I suggest:
  • Leftover rotisserie chicken
  • Browned ground turkey, beef or pork cooked with just a bit of salt and pepper so that the main flavor profile comes from the entomatada sauce
  • Soft scrambled eggs and queso fresco make an excellent breakfast entomatada
  • Sautéed veggies such as mushrooms, eggplant, spinach and onions

Final words

Entomatadas can be filled with nearly anything you want. Leftover sauce makes a great topping for grilled meat or steamed or sautéed veggies. It's also great heated up in a small pan and once it's bubbling, crack an egg or two in it and poach them in the sauce for easy huevos rancheros. I hope you give this a try! How you use this easy sauce is only limited by your imagination so let your imagination run wild!

Easy Queso Fresco Entomatadas

Serves 4, plus extra sauce for later use


¼ medium onion, finely diced for filling, plus ½-inch thick slice to brown for the sauce
10 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
2 dried whole California chiles, stems and seeds removed and discarded
2 fat cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for frying tortillas
4 large roma tomatoes
2 jalapeño peppers
2 teaspoons whole dried Mexican oregano
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (my favorite is Knorr's)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
kosher or sea salt, optional, to taste
12 corn tortillas


Mix the diced onions and crumbled queso fresco well; refrigerate until ready to use.

Place the chiles in a small sauce pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Turn heat off, cover with a lid and let steep until needed.

Add 2 tablespoons neutral cooking oil to a skillet. Once hot, add the slice of onion and the garlic and cook until golden brown on both sides then remove to a blender jar; set aside. Reserve the pan and the oil for later.

Heat a griddle or skillet. When hot, add the tomatoes and jalapeños, dry roasting until the vegetables are slightly charred on all sides and the tomatoes have softened. The jalapeños will be done first. Carefully trim off the stems, split the peppers and remove the seeds and veins then add them to the blender jar with the onion and garlic. As the tomatoes are ready, add them as well. Toss in the steeped chiles and 1 cup of water along with the oregano (crushed between your palms as you add it to help release the herb's oils), bouillon and pepper. Blend on high until smooth.

Re-heat the skillet that the onions were cooked in. Once the oil is hot, carefully pour in the sauce (use caution, it will splatter) and cook the sauce on medium-low heat for 10 minutes. Taste sauce, adding salt, if desired.

In another skillet, heat ¼ cup oil. Line a plate with paper towels. Once the oil is hot, fry the tortillas one at a time for 20 seconds on each side. Remove the tortillas to the towel-lined plate. Once all the tortillas are fried, take one and dip it into the sauce, covering the tortilla on both sides. Place the tortilla on a plate and fill with 2-3 tablespoons of the cheese-onion blend. Roll the tortilla and continue dipping and filling tortillas until all are filled. Serve 3 entomatadas per person, topping with additional sauce and cheese-onion blend as desired.

Once cooled, any leftover sauce will keep refrigerated in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.

Until next time friends … ¡Buen Provecho!
xo, ani