Leftover Rice Enchilada Bites
Leftover Rice Enchilada Bites

I love Mexican food. Enchiladas are my favorite, whether making them at home, enjoying them out, or eating them in a soup. In fact, my standard order at a Mexican restaurant is combination enchiladas and also my basis to judge a Mexican restaurant. Of course, after all the chips and salsa, (no self-control there!) I’m pretty close to being full, so I eat my enchiladas, dip a few more chips into my beans, and always bring home the side of rice. I have done this so often from so many Mexican restaurants that one cup is the average serving size! That amount is perfect for a batch of these leftover rice enchilada bites. In fact, wondering how to stretch once cup of leftover Mexican rice into a meal is how I came up with this recipe.

Everyone will be calling these meatballs but I call them enchilada bites for each one is like a bite of an enchilada.

The leftover Mexican rice is blended with ground pork and beef, diced green chilies, and taco seasoned tortilla crumbs. Yes–TORTILLA CRUMBS. It’s the secret ingredient to these enchilada bites and also make for some tasty chicken tenders, too.

Seasoned Tortilla Crumbs
Seasoned Tortilla Crumbs

Just a couple of the reasons why I just love the value pack of tortillas? Talk about bang for the buck. I always have some in the fridge ready for enchiladas, chips, taquitos, tacos, salads, Mexican lasagna, tostados, chili pie, tortilla soup, pinwheels, chilaquiles, heuvos rancheros, and as a bowl for desserts.

These enchilada bites are a good way to mix up the meatball scene at home, and once parties begin again, they are the perfect appetizer to spice up the fun. Just be prepared for all the recipe inquiries that will follow their quick disappearance. The meatballs can be kept hot in a covered dish with a little of enchilada sauce added to the bottom. I also have served these meatballs with a topping station of sour cream, guacamole, and salsa for even more enchilada fun.

This recipe makes about 36 cocktail meatballs and can be easily doubled or tripled!

Leftover Rice Enchilada Bites
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Yield: 3 dozen

Leftover Rice Enchilada Bites

Leftover Rice Enchilada Bites


  • 1 cup leftover rice, Spanish or Mexican
  • 1 TBSP Taco seasoning*
  • 1/2 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb ground pork
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1 4.5 oz can diced green chilies
  • 1 cup enchilada sauce


  1. Break tortillas into a food processor and sprinkle in taco seasoning. Pulse until minced. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, add beef, pork, rice, chilies, 1/4 cup of enchilada sauce, and seasoned tortilla crumbs. Mix well.
  3. Grab mixture by heaping teaspoons and roll into balls. Place balls in a non-stick mini muffin tin.
  4. Bake 400* for 20 minutes. Remove and let cool 5 minutes.
  5. Place remaining enchilada sauce into a bowl. Roll each ball in sauce and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  6. Broil for 5 minutes.


1/4 tsp each of cayenne, cumin, garlic and onion powder, paprika and 1 1/2 tsp of chili powder can be used for Taco Seasoning.


Put your TO COOK IS TO CREATE thinking cap on: No leftover Mexican rice? Use Spanish rice or simply season other leftover rice with taco seasoning. What other ingredients could you add to the meatball mixture? Think about what else you enjoy in your enchiladas. Black Olives? Corn? Black beans? Onions? Do you like cheese? Garnish with some grated cheddar or put a cube of cheese INSIDE each meatball before baking. No diced green chilies? Use diced jalapenos. Want to make it a meal? A friend of mine puts the meatballs on a hot dog bun and tops it with chili and cheese! Use the meatballs for a Mexican spaghetti dinner. Keep in mind ground chicken or turkey would work, too.

FOOD FUN: Have you ever used the term, the “whole enchilada”? That term refers to everything, all of something, or the whole situation. But did you know there is a “Whole Enchilada Festival” that has been going on for the last forty years or so? In fact, the World Record for the largest flat enchilada (three layers!) was broken time and time again by the same cook! He retired in 2015 with confidence that his record would always stand. His creation?Β  A red chili and cheese enchilada consisting of 750 lbs of stone ground corn, 175 lbs of grated cheese, 75 gallons of red chili sauce, and 50 lbs of onions. Now that’s “the whole enchilada”!


Leftover Mexican Rice Enchilada Bites
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One thought on “Leftover Mexican Rice Enchilada Bites

  • August 10, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Enchiladas….any way I can have them, they are DELICIOUS! This recipe is a must try. I especially like all of the variations. Lots of ways to try something new. Very filling as a main dish and especially a treat at a party. Like the dipping station of sour cream, guacamole and salsa. I’ll have all three. Never again will I look at the leftover Mexican rice that I leave on my plate….that baby is coming home with me. Thanks Susanne, a new tradition has been born! πŸ™‚


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