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 two weeks.

*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. Alex Christensen — April 1, 2016 @ 5:28 pm (#)

    Chili powder varies in spiciness between brands. Some countries have a consistency of heat and flavor. North American chili powder is more commonly mild to not spicy at all. Where areas of Eastern Asia have a much more hot spiciness. 

  2. Holly — April 1, 2016 @ 11:57 pm (#)

    Who knew it was this easy?!??! So yummy, I loved it and will be making another batch very soon!! Thank you :)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 3rd, 2016 @ 8:17 pm

      Awesome, we’re so glad you enjoyed it Holly! :D

  3. Danielle Royalegacy — April 2, 2016 @ 12:36 pm (#)

    Instead of canola or vegetable oil, wouldn’t a good virgin olive oil give better flavor?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 3rd, 2016 @ 7:43 pm

      We feel like in this particular recipe, a neutral oil works best, but you can certainly use olive oil if you want!

  4. Gonda — April 5, 2016 @ 9:44 pm (#)

    WAY TO SPICY!!!!!!!!!!! had to throw the entire thing out because no one was able to eat it, to bad through, it looked delicous

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 6th, 2016 @ 8:19 am

      We’re sorry to hear that! :( We wonder what type/brand of chili powder you used? Some can be spicier than others.

  5. Mary — April 7, 2016 @ 4:06 pm (#)

    You can also use chile California powder.. this would be great. It’s mild, has a great red pepper taste, and is CHEAP! So, if you make a mistake, just whip up another batch…  and you can use butter instead of the oil.  But definitely use a mild, flavorless oil… olive oil would give this a very weird taste..

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 8th, 2016 @ 5:47 pm

      Thanks for that tip Mary! :)

  6. laura — April 8, 2016 @ 5:11 am (#)

    Heyya, I did find this very spicy too. We used the Hoyts brand of chilli powder that is purchased from Coles/Woolies. I am a absolute lover of everything hot but this was even a bit much for me to be honest. I added 1 more cup of water and half a table spoon of vegetable stock though and it reduced the heat quite a lot. 
    All in all I think this recipe is a absolute success and I think with the variant countries/spice/flavors and variable tastes in heat (someone might be able to tolerate way more than others) it is going to need altering to bring it to the taste you like. I added more salt and vegetable stock because my guys LOVE salt. Others will probably tell me “OMG YOUR LIVER IS GONNA EXPLODE”… well eh something has to kill me some time ;) <3 kudos and thanks for the recipe! added to my new family favorite book!.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 9th, 2016 @ 9:20 am

      Hi Laura! We appreciate your feedback! We’re sorry you guys found this too spicy :( We think the fact that chili powders in different countries vary so much in their level of heat can make this tricky for some folks. We’re not familiar with the Hoyts brand, but it always helps to start conservatively and then add more to taste. Thank you for giving this recipe a try — we hope it’s less spicy next time! :)

  7. Sue — April 9, 2016 @ 8:19 am (#)

    I made the red sauce and the chicken enchiladas…YUMMY! My only complaint was that I ran out of chili powder  so it was not spicy enough.  I made a double batch so that next time I won’t have to wait for the  sauce to reduce.  For working people, I made the chicken the night before in a small crock pot.  This allowed me to simply shred chicken  and assemble the enchiladas. YUMMY

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 9th, 2016 @ 9:30 am

      Thanks for sharing Sue — we appreciate your feedback! :)

  8. Meg — April 11, 2016 @ 3:47 pm (#)

    LOVE THIS! I just made this red enchilada sauce, and it is so good, I’m basically spooning it into my mouth!  

    Since I’m kinda a whimp, I only used about 2Tbsp Chili powder. But it is still delicious! Thanks for sharing! 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 12th, 2016 @ 1:47 pm

      Thanks Meg — we’re so glad you love this! :D

  9. Alice — April 22, 2016 @ 10:59 pm (#)

    Mother of GOD this sauce is spicey! I used only 3 TBSP of chilli powder and  it was seriously way to spicey to use! I’d say 1 TBSP of chilli powder is enough. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 25th, 2016 @ 7:48 am

      Hey Alice! Hmmm, this sauce should have a kick, but should not be crazy spicy. What kind of chili powder did you use? We’ve found that some brands and varieties are spicier than others. We’re sorry this turned out too hot!

  10. John — April 23, 2016 @ 5:00 pm (#)

    I found the chili powder to be very over powering (not spicy, just bitter). The second time I made this, I cut it back to 3 Tbsp and added a 1 Tbsp of Tomato paste. I do like my modifications better, but thank you very much for the base sauce!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 25th, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

      Hey John! Thanks for your feedback! We’ve found that chili powders differ based on brand and quality (we’ve had great results with some of the nicer brands). We’re happy you found some modifications that work well for you though!

  11. Victoria Felicia — April 25, 2016 @ 6:24 pm (#)

    This sauce was simple to make yet complex in delicious flavor. Thank you for sharing this great recipe. It paired nicely with my recipe for Spanish rice on 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 25th, 2016 @ 11:05 pm

      Thank you Victoria — we’re so happy to hear that! :)

  12. Kelley — April 25, 2016 @ 11:18 pm (#)

    I tried making this tonight, and I would say that spiciness isn’t the issue for me–it was BITTER. And, I’m sorry to say, inedible because of that. This was using McCormick Chili Powder, btw. I added a small can of tomato paste to try to mellow the flavor, but it helped only slightly. Am hunting about online for ideas to salvage it. Fwiw, I think the pungent bitterness is what people are talking about when they say “spicy”. Mine is definitely not peppery-hot, just bitter.

    • Ali — April 26th, 2016 @ 9:53 am

      Hi Kelley, so sorry to hear that this didn’t turn out well for you! Hmmm, I’ve actually made this one with McCormick chili powder before, and didn’t experience much bitterness. But there could be a few other variables at play there. Adding extra chicken stock, sugar, or stirring in some sour cream could help cut down on that. But either way, sorry it wasn’t what you were hoping for!

  13. cecy alvarado — April 26, 2016 @ 2:07 pm (#)

    Ok real mexicano enchilada sauce; its way more easier tan this, i don’t mean this Récipe it’s a bad one, km justo saying that the real pone only need guajillo chili, garlic and salt, justo rehidrate the chiles un hoy water, blender WITH the garlic and salt, in aún oiled pan put the sauce and bring its to a simmer

  14. Karen — April 28, 2016 @ 5:00 pm (#)

    I made this today and I don’t know what I did wrong but it did not look like your picture and tasted awful and I only used 2 tablespoons of chili powder!  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 28th, 2016 @ 9:06 pm

      Hi Karen! We’re so sorry to hear this! :( Ours doesn’t always turn out this red (some of why it looks so red in the photos is the lighting). We’ve found that different brands of chili powder can really differ. We’ve had better luck with some of the nicer brands. What kind did you use?

  15. Samara — April 29, 2016 @ 1:11 pm (#)

    Any thoughts for ways to reduce the spice if you won’t want to throw it out and start again? I only had caribbean hot chili powder on hand and even though I used less to start with just in case, it’s still way too spicy (and I LOVE spicy). I COULD just start again, but I’m hoping I can salvage it somehow :/

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — April 29th, 2016 @ 3:59 pm

      Hi Samara! Oh no! We would suggest adding some tomato sauce to this to tame it down. We hope that helps!

  16. Sara — May 2, 2016 @ 2:17 pm (#)

    Might this take much longer to reduce than 10-15 minutes? Mine has been going for 15-20 and doesn’t appear much thicker at all. Double batch, though.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:53 am

      Hi Sara! Yeah, sometimes it takes us longer for this to thicken — especially if it’s a double batch. Don’t give up hope, it’ll get there! :)

  17. Sara — May 2, 2016 @ 7:35 pm (#)

    I feel really mad at you because I can’t eat store bought enchilada sauce anymore. And I never cared about enchilada sauce in my whole life, but now I have really strong feelings about it! Thanks a lot! I’ve also discovered that the Rancho Gordo New Mexican Red chile powder makes the best sauce, it’s a bit on the spicy side but it’s definitely the best so far. *shakes fist at you*

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — May 3rd, 2016 @ 8:47 am

      Haha! We’re sorry (not sorry)! ;P We’re so happy you like this, and that avocado oil sounds yummy — we might just have to give that a try ourselves next time! :)

  18. Sara — May 2, 2016 @ 7:37 pm (#)

    Oh Yeah! And another thing, I’ve been using avocado oil instead. I think it’s a much better option than canola. Everybody’s a critic :) 

  19. Caleb Stratos — May 3, 2016 @ 6:57 am (#)

    Perfect resipe, i use it literally all the time.  Made it with my own beef stock last night and so far thats my favorite.  I suggest people to use the mexican oregano more so then the traditional ones us americans are use to seeing :D 
    I might try a variation of this using fresh roasted peppers, i was reading other resipes that do that but you got your messurments down to a perfect science.  as of now i have been using the Spice Island brand of chilli powder,.  Thanks again for the nice sauce

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — May 3rd, 2016 @ 10:49 am

      Thanks Caleb — we’re happy you enjoy the recipe (and homemade stock is the best)! :D

  20. Diana Moore — May 3, 2016 @ 10:30 am (#)

    I made this today. Very good, but I agree way too spicy and I used regular chili powder. I ended up using just under 2 tablespoons and added a little tomato paste. So much better than the canned sauce. Thanks

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — May 3rd, 2016 @ 10:44 am

      We’re sorry to hear you found it too spicy Diana, but we’re glad you were able to remedy it! We’ve found that some chili powders are spicier than others, so we recommend starting out with less and adding more to taste. Thanks for giving the recipe a try!


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