Red Enchilada Sauce

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

Every time I make the sauce for my favorite enchiladas, I feel like it 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.

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.


The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

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 stir 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 thick.

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. Mare — September 25, 2016 @ 5:24 pm (#)

    I am obviously missing something in the recipe for red enchilada sauce. Where is the red coming from?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 26th, 2016 @ 11:07 pm

      Nope, nothing missing! Some chili powder blends are redder than others, and also the lighting when these images were shot made it appear redder than it actually is.

  2. Russ — September 28, 2016 @ 2:55 pm (#)

    I can’t say I would trust this sauce for two weeks if using chicken stock. I may be wrong but chicken stock doesn’t keep that long. Perhaps the acidity of the tomato helps preserve the chicken stock?  

    • Ali — October 12th, 2016 @ 5:08 pm

      Whoops, that was a major typo. It was supposed to say 2-3 days. Just edited that — thank you!

  3. Sarah — September 29, 2016 @ 2:16 pm (#)

    I love this recipe and use it to make your enchiladas but I can’t seem to get all the lumps out. Any suggestions?

    • Ali — October 12th, 2016 @ 5:08 pm

      It might not be entirely smooth — it’s ok if there are a few lumps. But my best tip is to add the stock in gradually, whisking it really thoroughly with the flour mixture until it is smooth before gradually adding in more stock. :)

  4. Tony Verberne — October 3, 2016 @ 9:25 pm (#)

    I agree with Ruth Holden’s comments. Looking again at the recipe I note that you Do stress that there is considerable variation in chilli powders. I also used 1 Tbspn also sourced from an Indian spice store and found it just tolerable. So clearly in New Zealand and Australia our chilli powders are significantly more potent. Nevertheless, the enchiladas were great, particularly with the addition of real corn tortillas.

    I will definitely make this recipe again although with less chilli in the sauce.



  5. Jeannie — October 5, 2016 @ 1:49 pm (#)

    I made this enchilada with the EXACT measurements and it turned out AWESOME!!! For my chicken stock I used 2 tsp. Better Than Bouillon and 2 cups of hot water. I also used all-purpose gluten free flour for the roux. The chili powder I used was from McCormick (yes, it has other spices, garlic and salt in it). Thank you again for such a wonderful recipe. I will never have to buy red enchilada sauce again. Do you have a recipe for green enchilada sauce? :)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 6th, 2016 @ 10:17 am

      Thanks for sharing with us, Jeannie — we’re so happy you enjoyed it! We actually don’t have a recipe for green enchilada sauce at the moment, but that’s a good idea! :)

  6. Rachel — October 7, 2016 @ 3:32 pm (#)

    Hi I was wondering if I don’t use oregano is that okay, Also if I only have a 8X8 pan should I cut the recipe by half?

    So excited to try this!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 8th, 2016 @ 9:44 pm

      Hi Rachel! You can definitely skip the oregano if you want. And as for the 8×8 pan, are you talking about the enchiladas? If so, then yes, you’ll probably want to cut the recipe in half. We hope this helps and that you enjoy!

  7. shawna — October 10, 2016 @ 11:38 am (#)

    Can another oil be used? Perhaps olive oil? I don’t keep canola on hand… I’m excited to try this. It sounds delicious!

    • Ali — October 12th, 2016 @ 4:18 pm

      Sure, you’re welcome to use olive oil, but it has a stronger flavor. I recommend going with a mild oil if you can! :)

  8. Eric — October 14, 2016 @ 10:27 am (#)

    Ali, I just wanted to thank you for this recipe. This recipe inspired one of my kids’ favorite recipes of mine (Lasagna). My Masagna recipe is on my website that I just published, and I had a “thank you” shout out on there. I did post a thank you on there for the enchilada sauce recipe, but I also wanted to throw a thank you into your comments here.The sauce is amazing, and I will never touch the canned stuff again.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 14th, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

      Hey Eric — thanks for sharing with us! We love that you call the recipe “Masagna,” and we’re so glad you love the enchilada sauce! :)

  9. Angie — October 14, 2016 @ 2:22 pm (#)

    Tried this recipe don’t use chipotle chili powder it is way too spicy 😉

  10. Melissa M — October 16, 2016 @ 9:29 pm (#)

    Had anyone canned/pressure cooked this in a large batch?

  11. FRASER — October 22, 2016 @ 9:38 am (#)

    Made last night for the first time, so good, nice kick to it as well. Possibly even add a touch more chilli powder next time.

    Thanks for recipe :)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 26th, 2016 @ 1:23 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Fraser — we’re happy you enjoyed it!

  12. Mindy Childs — October 23, 2016 @ 5:46 pm (#)

    I’m in the process of making this for the first time. I followed the recipe exactly and it’s not thickening up. I’ve even added a little more flour. Not sure what I did wrong? Any suggestions?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 25th, 2016 @ 10:08 pm

      Oh no, we’re sorry Mindy! Sometimes it just needs to cook a little longer. Try upping the heat a little and giving it a bit more time (it’ll get there)!

  13. Jodes — October 24, 2016 @ 10:04 pm (#)

    Wow – all the hype and this is not so nice – nothing like an enchilada sauce I have ever tried before.
    Glad I tasted it before I made actual enchiladas.

    Any Australian chilli powder is way too spicy for this recipe too.

    Wouldnt attempt this again…

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 27th, 2016 @ 9:56 pm

      We’re sorry to hear you didn’t care for this.

  14. Kara — October 25, 2016 @ 5:34 pm (#)

    I must say that solely based on the deliciousness of this sauce and the chicken enchilada casserole, that when I am looking for something specific I will come to your site first!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 28th, 2016 @ 11:12 am

      Thanks, Kara — we’re so glad to hear you enjoyed both of the recipes! :)

  15. Elizabeth — October 27, 2016 @ 4:30 pm (#)

    I was wondering if i can use water instead of chicken stock, none in cabinet and need in a hurry

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 28th, 2016 @ 11:57 am

      That should be okay, but you’ll need to add more salt and other seasonings most likely. We hope you enjoy the sauce!

  16. Deb — October 29, 2016 @ 3:04 pm (#)

    A commentator below mentioned tomatoes, and I would have guessed the sauce had tomatoes from the color, but I don’t see tomatoes in the list of ingredients.  Were they left out or are there no tomatoes?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 3rd, 2016 @ 4:31 pm

      Hi Deb! There’s actually no tomatoes in this recipe (though some people have commented saying they prefer to add some), which is fine. The relish color comes from the type of chili powder we used (and also the lighting that day made it look more red). :)

  17. Monica — November 4, 2016 @ 9:54 am (#)

    Can you use something in place of the flour? I don’t eat flour in any form.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 14th, 2016 @ 11:16 am

      Yes! You can use cornstarch or arrowroot powder. We hope you enjoy!

  18. kim — November 5, 2016 @ 6:28 pm (#)


    I just wanted to tell you I got your recipe from They have a recipe for beef enchiladas. THey use this recipe and have a link to you. THey rave about it. All I know is that I had never had enchiladas before and never had or made enchilada sauce before. I was kind of worried. I don’t like spicy stuff. I was amazed. I made it. IT WORKED..and it tasted really good and didn’t give me gerd. I was surprised how easy it was to make and it worked. I also at that time didn’t have enough wraps so I had to use an 8×8 pan like someone mentioned. But I made the whole recipe. Used it all too. I even had leftovers from the 8×8 which were awesome next day. But the leftover filling didn’t go to waste. YUM. I will make this reg now. THanks for such an awesome recipe. I am curious how you came up with it??? THanks. ps I used olive oil cause that is my oil of choice..didn’t have a prob at all with that. awesome recipe

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 14th, 2016 @ 11:55 am

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the sauce and the enchiladas, Kim — thanks for giving the recipe a try and for taking the time to comment! :)

  19. Kim — November 14, 2016 @ 2:41 pm (#)

    I have been making this sauce at least once every two weeks since I found this recipe and my picky family loves it!  Thank you for a great new recipe!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 18th, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

      Thanks for sharing with us, Kim — we’re so glad to hear that!

  20. Kelly — November 19, 2016 @ 11:24 am (#)

    Y’all – I’ve made this recipe to the T about 3 or 4 times now and it is THE BEST! A definite go-to. My friend is expecting her first baby and you better believe this sauce is making its way into some freezer-friendly enchiladas for her family. Thanks Ali!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 21st, 2016 @ 7:09 pm

      Thanks for sharing with us, Kelly — we’re so happy you love it! :)

  21. Steph — November 28, 2016 @ 12:09 pm (#)

    Just looking at making enchiladas so followed the link to the sauce – should this have tomatoes in the recipe?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 28th, 2016 @ 12:45 pm

      Hi Steph! No, there are no tomatoes in the sauce recipe, though you can certainly add some if you’d like!


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