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.

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

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. 😉

Homemade Red Enchilada SauceIt 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.

Homemade Red Enchilada SauceThe 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? 😉

Homeade Red Enchilada Sauce

Yield: ~ 3 cups

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
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.
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


  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Have you made this recipe?

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating and a comment below. You can also share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #LITTLESPICEJAR, I'd love to see what you made!

Use this enchilada sauce to make:


Chicken Enchilada Soup (Slow Cooker)

Butternut Squash Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Black Beans and Rice Enchilada