Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
The best homemade red enchilada sauce recipe. This recipe has lots of flavor and is pretty much effortless! Believe me, you’ll never go back to the canned enchilada sauce again! Simple to make and can be frozen for later use.
I have my days. Days where I absolutely ❤ nothing more than cooking (except family, of course). Where i’m willing to make even my red enchilada sauce from scratch for my enchiladas. And then there are those day. Where even popping frozen tator-tots into the oven seems like a chore.
I have been on the hunt for a good red enchilada sauce recipe for a VERY long time. And yes, lets be honest, there are times when you want enchiladas and you want them now. And times like that, sure I use to just grab a can of sauce and go pour happy. But believe me, this recipe is it. I will never, ever, ever use another canned enchilada sauce ever again. Like ever. If I haven’t made that clear already. 😉
It should come as no surprise that canned red enchilada sauce contains both sugar and ‘natural flavors’. I just think that if it truly is a ‘natural flavor’, shouldn’t they be able to disclose what it is? Is it so natural that it can’t have a proper name of its own? I want to know whats in my enchilada sauce. No mystery ingredients, please and thank you. You’ll notice that my enchilada sauce recipe contains just 5 simple ingredients (other than a few additional spices) and none of those are described as ‘natural flavors’ or sugar.
The best thing about this red enchilada sauce is that you can make a large batch at one time and use what you need and freeze the rest. Just let the sauce come to room temperature overnight in the refrigerator when you need to use it again. This recipe is also going to be a lot more cost effective than constantly purchasing cans of enchilada sauce for every recipe you need it for.
The sauce doesn’t just stop at enchiladas either. Enchilada sauce can be used for things like chicken enchilada soup, a quick marinade for poultry or fish, or an easy dip for quesadillas. Having this sauce is the freezer also makes it a lot easier when you need to throw a meal together on a weeknight.
The sauce can also be customized for your preference of spice level. Since we use chipotle peppers in our enchilada sauce recipe, cutting back the amount of chili powder will allow you to make the sauce mild, medium, or hot. The recipe calls for a total of 4 tablespoons of chili powder with 1 chipotle pepper. If that is too much spice for you, cut it back to 2 tablespoons of chili powder and the 1 chipotle pepper. I used a total of 4 tablespoons and did not find this recipe to be very spicy. But play around with the spice level and do what tastes good to you! Keep in mind that this recipe also makes about 3 cups of enchilada sauce.
And coming up next… my black bean and rice enchiladas. What? You didn’t think i’d leave you with just the enchilada sauce, did you? 😉
Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
- 1 chipotle pepper + 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
- 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
- 4 tablespoons chili powder*
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- Combine the chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, and 1/2 cup of the chicken stock in a blender. Blend until the chipotle pepper completely blends down with no solids remaining.
- Heat the oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute, making sure the mixture doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add the tomato sauce, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin powder, dried oregano, onion powder, and salt. Continue to whisk and add the chipotle pepper mixture. Once the sauce starts to thicken, add the chicken stock 1/2 cup at a time. When the sauce is just thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, remove from heat.
- Use the sauce immediately or let the sauce cool completely before refrigerating in an airtight container for up to 1 week. The sauce can also be frozen. Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature before freezing. To use, simply allow the sauce to defrost in the refrigerator overnight.
- I think the sauce is about a medium level of spice if you use as directed. If you're hesitant to use the chipotle along with the 4 tablespoons of chili powder, start by using half the quantity. More chili powder can always be added once the sauce has started to simmer. Feel free to increase the chili powder too if you prefer a spicier enchilada sauce.
Use this enchilada sauce to make:
Chicken Enchilada Soup (Slow Cooker)
Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
Black Beans and Rice Enchilada
I made this sauce for our shredded beef enchiladas we had for Christmas dinner and EVERYONE loved it! I am throwing away my other recipes for enchilada sauce because they do not compare. Thank you so much for an awesome recipe!
Hi Karri, I am so pleased to hear that you’ve got a new favorite enchilada sauce recipe and that it’s mine! Thanks for commenting! 🙂
We are starting a new tradition of Saturday Supper at our house. The idea is to invite friends and family to join us. Our inaugural event is this weekend and I am making enchiladas. Wanted to make homemade sauce though and found your recipe via a google search. Can’t wait to try it. Will let you know what everyone thinks
I just made enchiladas using this sauce and am eating them right now 🙂 This is my first time making it from scratch and it turned out delicious. I didn’t have onion or garlic powder so I used the onion and garlic salt instead and omitted regular salt. Next time I might use 2 chipotle peppers as I didn’t think this was very spicy. I added 1 tsp of cocoa powder as well. Very good, thanks for sharing!
Does this sauce taste strongly like tomatoes?
No, not in my opinion, Ashley. The cooking process along with all the flavors that are used, don’t really let the tomato flavor shine through too much.
Hi, I was wondering if you can make this using roasted red peppers in place of the tomatoes. I can’t eat tomatoes.
The flavor will be slightly different but I don’t see why not!
Thank you Marzia. I love the enchillada sauce in the can and want to make it my self without all the additives. Will give it a try and let you know. Thanks again.
I made a big batch of this and used it over nachos one week and beef enchiladas the next. My whole family requested I put this in our “recipe repeat binder”. That’s exactly where it’s going! Delicious. Thanks for the recipe.
Hi! I am very much looking forward to making this sauce. Do you think cornstarch would work in place of flour?
Hi Andrea, I’m sorry, i’m unsure about using cornstarch. Without further recipe testing, I cannot say definitively whether it will work. If you do end up trying it, I would love to know how it went as i’m sure others may have the same question! Thanks!
I made a batch if this for dinner tonight. Yum-o! I didn’t have a chipotle pepper on hand and didn’t feel like making a trip to the store, so I omitted that item and used 1/2 tsp of ground cayenne pepper instead. Nice and spicy!
I am an adventurous cook. I love to try new things. My husband, the chef (by trade) said, “no, just buy a can of sauce.” Needless to say, after making this one time, he now says, “I will never buy enchilada sauce again. It was so easy and it is delicious!” Thanks for sharing your recipe.
I just tried this! It’s very good I don’t have to look anymore for an enchslada recripe will keep this one!
Hi Dottie. I’m stoked to hear you liked it! Thanks for commenting 🙂
Just made this sauce and liked enchiladas for the first time ever. Thanks for the great recipe!
I made this tonight for some home-ground beef enchiladas and it was fabulous! I put too much chipotle in (and did not deseed either) so I had to temper the heat with a little sour cream. I also bloomed the freshly ground cumin in butter, not oil, and it really made the flavor pop. And the chicken stock was homemade, too. My wife and I both swooned over this sauce! Thank you!
This sauce was fantastic!
Hi, have you ever tried canning this sauce?
No, unfortunately I haven’t. I usually just ending up making a big batch and freezing it. If you decide to can it, i’d love to hear your results 🙂
You can’t can something with flour in it.
Super yummy, super easy! Needed a touch more salt at the end, but I did use no-salt-added chicken broth. Also, we love chipotles in adobo sauce for their smokiness and flavor profile, but don’t think they add much heat (at least in my house)…so, we added heat to the enchilada filling. Overall, a keeper!!
Hi I’ve always wanted to make enchilada sauce and your recipe looks delicious curious so do you use the chili powder with different spices in it or do you just use straight chili powder like the red chili powder?
I used straight chili powder. Hot or mild either will do!
I’ve made this recipe multiple times and every time it is delicious. Last night I doubled the batch and used a different brand of adobo chipotles and they added more heat than usual. Overall though it’s still delicious. I’ve used both sprouted whole wheat flour and homemade gluten free rice blend flour and both yielded equally good results. Thanks for the great recipe!
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This was some damn good enchilada sauce!! I didn’t care if it was a little spicy and I had to sit on the toilet a bit longer than usual☹️…it was worth it! I’d make it again.
I find that a couple tablespoons of honey and/or a tiny pinch of cinnamon increase the flavor profiles of this already delicious sauce!
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Really good sauce! I only used 1 tablespoon of chili powder. Also, had to cook it down for awhile to get the desired consistency. I will use less stock next time. Thank you, no more cannd enchilada sauce in my kitchen!
No need to comment on the enchilada sauce, it speaks for itself but I need help handling corn tortillas and rolling them for enchiladas. I am 80 yrs old and can no longer do the dipping and frying to make enchiladas. When I try to stuff and roll corn enchilada they often break and crack but I prefer them to the flour tortilla. Anybody got a better way to hndle them?
Same trouble here; I can never keep them whole! What I usually do instead is layer all the ingredients, lasagna style, in a casserole dish. Mix some of the sauce into the meat mixture (if you use meat), and then after you build the “lasagna,” pour a cup or so over the whole concoction. Bake until bubbly. Delicious every time.
Yes, heat them briefly in the microwave. I heat 5 at time, wrapped in paper towels, hi at about 15 to 20 seconds. softens them up enough to roll.
Yes I have a gas stove top and I cook the tortilla right on the fire just til browned a bit . I love them this way. Hope you like it
Agree either microwave or gas cooktop, or best bet, wrap in tin foil and heat in oven or toaster oven 5-10 minutes.
Wet a small kicten towl in water then place the corn tortillas inside the towl place in microwave for 3mins this will make them moist and keep them from breaking.
Down here in South Texas we fry the corn tortillas in a little oil, only a few seconds on each side. Then drain on paper Towels, four on one then another towel and do on until you use them all. Very delicious and they won’t fall apart.
I’ve been looking for an easy enchilada sauce for so long; the canned stuff has so much sodium (and whatever else) that I don’t want. This recipe is SO delicious! (Note: I *hate* when people say, “I love this recipe, but I changed this and this and this….” – which means they actually didn’t follow the recipe. In this case I did follow it except for one thing because I had to, so I apologize in advance for this next statement.) I had to substitute extra tomato sauce and water for some of the stock/broth because I didn’t have enough, but I followed everything else to the letter. It still turned out dark and rich and so delicious. It’s definitely a keeper. Wow. THANK YOU.
Wow! I’m on Whole30 and just made your red enchilada sauce. Amazing. I replaced the flour with 5 tablespoons of almond flour and it turned out fine! I also only used a tablespoon of red chili powder and it was definitely spicy enough for me. So easy and flavorful!
Delicious!! Nice and spicy and flavors well rounded. I made this to top polenta stuffed poblano peppers. Yum!
My husband is Hispanic, raised in San Antonio on his Mama’s from scratch Mexican food. He found this recipe, made it, and has been in love with it ever since. He won’t even consider another recipe or anything prepackaged. You have won our enchilada hearts! Thank you!
This makes me so happy, Gail! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment 🙂
I was making chicken and veggie stuffed Anaheim peppers tonight and no enchilada sauce! Found this recipe because I was low on chili powder but had the chili’s in adobo in the pantry. Oh my! This is crazy good! I added a second chili because I was low on the chili powder. I decided to taste test it by dipping a corn chip into it. Can’t stop eating it that way!! I will never buy store bought again.
Do you have a green enchilada sauce recipe too?