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A Quick and Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe

A smooth and thick homemade enchilada sauce with a base of chillies. This recipe is quick and easy, ideal for whipping up on a weeknight to make delicious enchiladas for the whole family.

May 4, 2021
Homemade Enchilada SaucePhoto By Canva
Difficulty Easy
Servings 4 people
Preparation 5 mins
Cooking 15 mins
Total 20 mins



  1. Place a saucepan on medium heat and add the olive oil.
  2. Warm the oil then add the all-purpose flour, stir continuously to cook out the flour for 5 minutes to form a lightly browned roux.
  3. Then add the tomato paste to the saucepan, continue to stir for 1 minute.
  4. Gradually pour the chicken broth into the saucepan to form a thick, smooth sauce.
  5. Stir in the red chilli powder, garlic powder, ground cumin, oregano, ground coriander, red wine vinegar and salt to taste.
  6. Bring the enchilada sauce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes to bring the flavors together.
  7. Adjust the thickness with additional chicken broth or water to reach your desired consistency.
  8. The homemade enchilada sauce is then ready to be used as a base for your enchiladas or various other recipes.
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Serves 4
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Sodium 996 mg43.3%
Potassium 756 mg16.1%
Protein 5.6 g11.2%
Total Fat 14.9 g19.1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.


  • The enchilada sauce can easily be vegan by substituting the chicken broth for vegetable broth and gluten-free by replacing all-purpose flour with gluten-free flour.
  • Use dried or powdered chilli peppers to create homemade enchilada sauce. This recipe uses red chilli powder for a quick and easy technique to achieve enchilada sauce. When using dried chillies, slice off the tops and pour out the seeds (depending on how spicy you like it) then soak the chillies in warm water for 20 minutes. Follow the recipe as below and blend the rehydrated chillies into the sauce then simmer for at least 30 minutes to develop the flavors.
  • The red wine vinegar balances the enchilada sauce to heighten the spice and provide a welcome sourness. Use any vinegar, lime juice or lemon juice as a replacement for red wine vinegar.
  • Adjust the spice level of the enchilada sauce with more or less chilli powder until it suits your taste. The main flavoring within the sauce is the chilli powder so invest in a quality product or create your own blend with homemade spices. The garlic, oregano, cumin, coriander are all classic spices to Mexican cooking which provide authentic flavoring to the dish.
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A rich chilli sauce which is classically used as the base of Mexican enchiladas. Rolled tortillas with various fillings are placed into a dish then covered with enchilada sauce and cheese before baking until bubbling and oozing.

The herbs and spices provide an authentic Mexican flavoring to the super simple homemade enchilada sauce below. Prepared in only 20 minutes using standard pantry ingredients, this is the perfect recipe to make a big batch then freeze for later use in plenty of delicious dishes!

What is Enchilada Sauce?

A thick Mexican sauce of tomato, chilli and spices which is used as the base burritos, enchiladas and tacos. The sauce is thickened classically with a lightly browned roux of flour and oil, this adds both flavor and body to the final sauce. Beyond enchiladas there are many ways to make the most of homemade enchilada sauce, use in other dishes such as huevos rancheros, chile con queso, chilaquiles, casserole, carne guisada, macaroni and cheese, pulled pork, pasta or even soups.

What Is a Substitute for Enchilada Sauce?

Marinara - A basic tomato sauce is the simplest substitute for enchilada sauce, if available then warm the sauce with taco or fajita seasoning to blend through some Mexican flavors.

Salsa - Salsa may be used as a replacement when making enchiladas however salsa is more of a dip/chutney than a sauce with chunks of vegetables. Salsa is uncooked with the raw tomatoes providing texture to the dip, although the ingredients are similar to a simple enchilada sauce.

Taco Sauce - made from similar base ingredients of tomato, vinegar, sugar and spices. Taco sauce usually has a more prominent tomato flavoring and is spiced with paprika whereas some enchilada sauces contain no tomato at all. Both sauces are thick, smooth and pureed so work well as a substitute for one another.

What Are The Different Enchilada Sauces?

Enchilada sauce can be made with various chillies which affect the fruitiness, heat, spice, smokiness and overall flavor of the end product. Popular chillies include dried ancho chilli, pasilla chilli, anaheim, cascabel, guajillo chilli or Mexican chilli powders such as ancho powder, morita powder, chipotle powder, chile de arbol or your favorite chilli powder blend.

Green enchilada sauce - using roasted green chillies and tomatillos will produce a vibrant green sauce which is perfect for creating enchiladas verdes. Green chillies are generally milder than their red counterparts so this option of homemade enchilada sauce is best suited to those who enjoy a moderate spice level. Green enchilada sauce can be used in all the same applications as the standard enchilada sauce.

When Do You Add The Chilli Powder to Enchilada Sauce?

Some recipes instruct to add the spices at the start of the cooking to toast and bring out flavor. However, as the spices are finely ground, most do not stand up well to high heat and easily become bitter. Instead infuse the spices into the sauce at the final stage of the process to provide a fresh and vibrant flavoring.

What Are The Best Enchilada Sauces You Can Buy from The Store?

Our homemade enchilada sauce is so quick and simple that there really is no need to ever use a canned sauce again, you’re likely to already have all the ingredients in your cupboards and can be presented with fresh, delicious sauce in only 20 minutes. There are quality store-bought enchilada sauces available from a wide variety of suppliers, the most popular brands include; Old El Paso Red Enchilada Sauce, Hatch Green Chile Enchilada Sauce, Las Palmas Red Enchilada Sauce, Rosarita Enchilada Sauce and Tio Pelon’s Salsita.

Recipe byPetite Gourmets

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