Easy baked flautas (taquitos)

I think the first time I had flautas, I was in my early twenties (which is longer ago than I want to believe).  It was over dinner with co-workers at a Mexican restaurant; our boss had taken us out for a holiday meal near year-end.  The main things I remembered about that meal were the excellent frozen margaritas (the kind that came out of a machine, very much like a slushy) and the delicious flautas.  I'd never had them before and was smitten with the crunchy, meaty, and cheesy bites of what is essentially a rolled up taco.  They went very nicely with the frozen margaritas but since I'm not much of a drinker, it's the flautas that stayed with me most.
Whether you call them flautas or taquitos, they're basically small rolled tacos, filled with meat and cheese, commonly fried to give them an irresistible crispness.  You might know you can find them in the freezer aisle at the supermarket.  I used to stock my freezer with ready-made flautas and occasionally heat up 2 or 3 to have as an evening snack (after dinner), with a soda!!  I was young and "wild" once upon a time.

I don't know when I gave up eating flautas.  The time right after my son's birth and the early years after that are a little bit of a blur to me, to be honest, and everything was reset in many ways.  But I often find myself telling people I love flautas even though I rarely eat them!  Mexican food, which I always think of as "fun" food, is something I want to get to know better beyond making quesadillas and having occasional taco nights at home.
Eating at Mexican restaurants is certainly a fun way to learn more about the cuisine but sometimes you have a great meal and other times, you end up a little disappointed.  That happened recently when I thought I'd finally introduce my son to flautas; when we tasted them, they were disappointing (sadly lacking in flavor and cheese) and he probably had to wonder why I keep saying they'd be so good.

If you're like me, you're often tempted to try to make for yourself the things you like to eat or foods that you remember fondly.  So this was my stab at flautas.  This homemade version couldn't be easier, in my opinion!  I took Giada De Laurentiis' recipe, which includes a genius shortcut filling made with: shredded rotisserie chicken, prepared salsa (that's the genius part!), cheese, and a little seasoning.  But instead of frying the flautas like she does, I decided to simply bake them in a 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes or so.  
I tell you what...these satisfied my flauta fix!  The fellas loved them and my son tells me they were far better than the ones we had at the restaurant.  There's no reason not to make them - they are fast, easy, and no-mess (not to mention, lower calorie and better for you) when you skip the frying.  With the Superbowl coming up, I know we're all thinking about finger foods and fun foods.  I think these definitely fit the bill.


Let's get to making these super easy baked flautas!  
Shred about 2 cups of rotisserie chicken.  To that, add about 1/2 cup of prepared salsa.  When I first saw this recipe, I thought that was such a great shortcut.  Many other recipes that use store-bought rotisserie chicken still called for some additional cooking - whether it be with onions and/or other aromatic spices and ingredients - but the salsa effectively takes care of that.  Then, add shredded cheese; I used sharp yellow cheddar.  Finally, toss in some seasoning. I added cumin as well as a little paprika, chili powder, and black pepper.  You can play around with it.  Either way, mix it all together and it's done!
Grab some 6-inch flour tortillas.  The benefit of using flour, instead of corn, tortillas is they are softer/easier to roll and you don't need to worry about the shell cracking. Place a generous amount of filling in the lower third of the tortilla and then simply roll them up tight, placing each seam-side down on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Depending on how generously you fill your tortillas (I was quite generous), you'll get 6 to 8 flautas from this recipe.  I made 6; some of my tortilla shells were slightly bigger than others and I packed in the filling. 
I brushed the tops of the rolled tacos with oil, then placed them in a hot 425 degrees. Bake for about 15 minutes or so, until the tortillas are browned and crisp and the cheese starts to ooze out and bubble.  
They smell delicious and they're ready to eat after a few minutes of cooling time.  You can also make them ahead and warm them back up later, or make extra and freeze them for a later day.  
I served the flautas with a little extra salsa on the side.  Needless to say, they would be great with some guacamole.  

Making them at home, each bite of these is chock full of chicken and flavor.  The chicken and cheese filling is a classic, satisfying taste but if you want to be a bit more inventive, try adding other ingredients like black beans into the filling.  I was happy to get the hit of gooey cheese we were missing from the recent restaurant version, though I did think I could have been more generous with the cheddar.  So when in doubt, go with a little more cheese!


Recipe

Easy Baked (Chicken & Cheese) Flautas/Taquitos
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

- Makes 6 to 8 flautas - 

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
1 cup shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese (or cheese blend you prefer)
Seasoning (adjust to your own liking)
  1/2 teaspoon cumin
  1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  1/4 teaspoon paprika
  1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper
1/2 cup chunky prepared salsa, plus more for serving (optional)
Six to eight 6-inch flour tortillas
Oil or cooking spray, for brushing tortillas

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  

In a bowl, mix together the chicken, cheese, seasonings, and salsa for the filling.  

Place about 1/4 cup of filling onto the lower third of a tortilla.  Roll the tortilla up tightly around the filling.  Place it, seam-side down, onto the prepared baking sheet. Continue with remaining filing and tortillas.  

Brush the tops of the flautas with oil, or spray evenly with cooking spray.  Bake until the flautas are browned and crisp and the cheese is melted, about 15-18 minutes.  Let cool for a few minutes, then serve with additional salsa or other accompaniments you enjoy. 








32 comments:

  1. Hi Monica, since we live in the southwest we have access to great Mexican food, for a very fair price, except flautas, they usually are frozen even from the restaurants, not many make there own. Thanks for this great recipe, love that they are baked.

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    1. That is so interesting, Cheri. I don't think I see flautas all the time on menus at Mexican restaurants either (although I could stand to go to more of them). I'm all for lighter versions of restaurant meals at home so baking rater than frying is great here.

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  2. I enjoy Mexican food and now I wish I could take a bite of one of those flautas…they look nice and crispy without frying.

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    1. They are definitely crisp enough for me...might not be shattering like the ones that are fried but the ends are particularly crisp and there's lots of flavor. : )

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  3. I would love to try these Monica! Cheesy goodness for sure. I love to hear about your food memories - and would have enjoyed the margarita myself! Great recipe - thanks for sharing.

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    1. You're so kind, Tricia. Thank you...

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  4. These look delish Monica!! I have only eaten flautas in restaurant but I need to try these at home soon!

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    1. Yes, save some chicken and make these one day. So fast and easy! : )

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  5. Taquitos always seem to lurk in the shadows for me, I think because they’re deep fried so I usually ignore them on the menu. I am totally loving this recipe as being baked and how easy it’d be for dinner.

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    1. I totally hear you! Baking them makes it far, far easier and you can adjust how much cheese, etc. you want in the filling. Hope you give it a go!

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  6. Gosh I really don't care what people call them. That crispy tortilla and that melted cheese say it all!

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  7. That's such a good shortcut, perfect for dinner in a hurry!

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    1. I love a good shortcut, too, Caroline! This is a great shortcut.

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  8. Love to know about your memories, Adina. Taquitos look so delicious, Monica! Love that you baked them. Crispy and cheesy — the way I like.

    Anu
    http://www.mygingergarlickitchen.com/

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    1. Amazing we have food memories all over the place and for so many dishes/foods. Love that...and gives us an excuse to enjoy the foods over and over again and reminisce.

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  9. It's been way too long since I have had these! They are one of my favorites! Thanks for the great recipe.

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    1. Thanks, Ashley...glad I'm not the only one who thinks about a favorite food and realizes she hasn't had it in ages!

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  10. Hello Sweetie!
    A happy Chinese New Year to you and all the best for 2017!
    Today I'm in bed with a flu, so soup for me.
    P.S. Recipe looks exquisite as usual. I am a huge fan of Tortillas con queso :)

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    1. You poor thing! Feel better soon!!
      And thank you so much on the CNY wishes. : )

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  11. Ooh, these taquitos look so good! I am definitely going to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing, Monica:)

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    1. Hope you do...we really liked them!

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  12. These look perfect, Monica! So much better than any restaurant! My husband would polish off this batch in no time! It's one of his favorites and I can't wait to try it! And Happy Chinese New Year to you and your family! Hope 2017 brings lots of good things! :)

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    1. The fellas were definitely fans. Happy Chinese New Year to you as well. I'm very stuffed (i.e., in a happy state)!

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  13. I've never heard of flautas before, but then I know so little about Mexican food, not much beyond the quesadillas, chili or guacamole. I would love to try these rolls, they definitely look delicious and anything with chicken and cheese or very appreciated in our house. :)

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    1. I agree...chicken and cheese is a winner. : ) Thanks, Adina.

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  14. Great way to use up the leftover rotisserie chicken...these flautas look great...chicken and melting cheese...yum!
    Enjoy your week Monica :)

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    1. It's so easy using rotisserie chicken. Hope you're having a nice week!

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  15. I LOVE taquitos! It's that crispness that gets me every time! And yay for baking them - these sound so easy and delicious! Making me very hungry for dinner...

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    1. Hi Ashley - yes, super easy and reheats well too. I'm really glad I tried baking them at home.

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