Red Enchilada Sauce

Learn how to make homemade red enchilada sauce with this easy recipe!  It’s so simple to make, and so delicious that I bet you’ll never return to the canned stuff. 

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

Every time I make the sauce for my favorite chicken enchiladas, I feel like the enchilada sauce itself is so good that deserves its own post.

Believe me, people.  This recipe will knock your socks offffffff.

I guarantee you will never go back to the canned store-bought stuff again.  This sauce is a breeze to make, calls for simple ingredients, and is insanely delicious.  Whenever I am making enchiladas, I will often whip up a double batch of the sauce to use in some chicken soup, as a marinade, or to some salsa or quesadillas up a notch.  Really, it is so good.

Just make sure that you pay the extra dollar for some good-quality chili powder.  You will taste the difference.  And love it.

Did I say you’ll love it?

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

Update 3.31.14 — SO many of you readers have used and loved this sauce over the past few years that I decided to post some new photos of the sauce, after making it for the 492th time.  :)

Also, a number of people have commented on the color of the sauce.  Different chili powders that I have used sometimes make the sauce more brown and sometimes more red.  I shoot my photos about a foot away from a window, so the backlighting can make the photos also appear more vibrant.  Whatever color it comes out, though, this sauce is always crazy good.

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

Just be sure to buy chili powder (not cayenne, also known as “crushed red chili powder”), and simmer the sauce for however long it takes to reach your desired thickness.  The sauce will not be super thick, but should not be overly runny.


Red Enchilada Sauce

This homemade red enchilada sauce is WAY better than anything you can buy in the can, and quick and easy to make as well!


  • 2 Tbsp. vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 Tbsp. all-purpose or gluten-free flour
  • 4 Tbsp. chili powder (*not cayenne, see recommendations for brands and tips on reducing the heat level if you don't like spicy sauces below*)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock


Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk together over the heat for one minute. Stir in the remaining seasonings (chili powder through oregano). Then gradually add in the stock, whisking constantly to remove lumps. Reduce heat and simmer 10-15 minutes until slightly thickened.

Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.

*I consider this sauce pretty mild.  But if you are wary about heat/spice in your sauce, I would begin with 2 tablespoons chili powder and add more from there once the sauce has reached a simmer if you'd like.

Again, I am using chili powder for this recipe, not cayenne.  From the comments, it sounds as though chili powders vary significantly from country to country.  But the traditional American chili powder is fairly mild, and should not be overly spicy.  Some brands I recommend include:

  • Morton & Bassett Chili Powder
  • Penzey's Spices Mild or Medium Chili Powder
  • Spice Islands Chili Powder
  • Simply Organic Chili Powder

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Looking for some good recipes to use this homemade enchilada sauce?  Try these!

The BEST Chicken Enchiladas Ever | #mexican

 The Best Chicken Enchiladas EVER

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup | #crockpot

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup | #mexican

20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup 

Chicken Enchilada Casserole | #glutenfree

Chicken Enchilada Casserole (“Stacked” Chicken Enchiladas)

Leave a Comment:


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  1. Brian — January 30, 2017 @ 10:14 pm (#)

    This sauce is 11 times better than anything out of a can; every store-bought brand I’ve tried has too much of a “tinny” taste.  I used Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base and liked it more than I did with the typical canned broth.  This is no doubt a keeper recipe.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — January 30th, 2017 @ 10:46 pm

      Thank you so much, Brian — we’re thrilled that you loved it!

  2. Donna — January 31, 2017 @ 9:44 am (#)

    Hi Hayley, I just ran across your recipe for this homemade sauce, and I am about to try this and I was wanting to know from Brian, How much or haw many cubes Bouillon does he use? 
    I am a foodie and love to try now recipes. Soooo excited

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 2nd, 2017 @ 8:48 am

      Hi Donna! This is actually Ali’s recipe and her blog (I just help out with things around here). :) But we’re so happy you want to give the sauce a try! If using Better than Bouillon, for 2 cups of stock you would need 1 teaspoon (or one bouillon cube) per 8oz of water, so 2 teaspoons or 2 cubes.

  3. Deborah — February 3, 2017 @ 12:30 pm (#)

    I love it, had the same problem getting it to thicken up but just added a Tbl of flour water and worked like a charm. I used 2 Tbl mccormick chili powder and is just right. Thank you.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 4th, 2017 @ 10:39 pm

      We’re glad the flour and water helped, Deborah, and we’re happy you enjoyed the sauce!

  4. susie — February 6, 2017 @ 4:48 am (#)

    Hi, I looked up a few recipes for enchilada sauce and they add crushed, canned tomatoes.  Have you missed them out in the recipe and for what reason?  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 6th, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

      Hi Susie! No, our recipe doesn’t have tomatoes in it, but feel free to add them if you like!

  5. Jessica — February 15, 2017 @ 5:45 pm (#)

    How do you keep the flour from burning when you mix it into the oil?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 15th, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

      Just make sure your oil is not crazy hot and that you are whisking well and it shouldn’t burn. We hope you enjoy!

  6. Sam — February 16, 2017 @ 11:35 pm (#)

    Be warned if you live in a country where they put real chili into chili powder you will want to use much less than 4 tablespoons. I live in Vietnam and I tried adding 4 Tbsp and the entire house felt like a riot police pepper spray attack for an hour. However this is an excellent recipe, just be cognizant of the chili situation if you’re not living in the US.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 17th, 2017 @ 10:13 am

      Yes, we’ve found chili powders can differ drastically from country to country! We’re so sorry this lit you up — we hope you can give it another try with less chili powder next time!

  7. Kristine — February 18, 2017 @ 11:30 am (#)

    Hi! I highly recommend using maseca instead of the flour. Gives it a more authentic Mexican flavor. Its a great thing to have on hand and add to any mexican dish…especially chili! Yum! I have made this a few times over the past several years and i cannot get enough!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 20th, 2017 @ 11:02 am

      We’re glad you enjoyed this, Kristine! We’ve never tried it with Maseca, but we’ll have to next time we make it! :)


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