Red Enchilada Sauce

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The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce | gimmesomeoven.com

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 | gimmesomeoven.com

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.

Enjoy!

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce | gimmesomeoven.com

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

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 | gimmesomeoven.com #mexican

 The Best Chicken Enchiladas EVER

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup | gimmesomeoven.com #crockpot

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup | gimmesomeoven.com #mexican

20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup 

Chicken Enchilada Casserole | gimmesomeoven.com #glutenfree

Chicken Enchilada Casserole (“Stacked” Chicken Enchiladas)

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Comments

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  1. Julie — June 5, 2016 @ 5:56 pm (#)

    For those experiencing problems with bitterness consider adding the chili powder after the sauce has mostly reduced. It should solve the problem. Many chili spices turn bitter when cooked too long or too hot.

  2. DOLLYD — June 7, 2016 @ 4:55 pm (#)

    I’ve used this same exact receipe from my grandmother for years… We never put in the salt it would be way wayyyyy to salty if we did… I’ve made it with homemade chicken stock as well as store bought so no salt was ever necessarily…. kuddos!

      

  3. Ruth Holden — June 8, 2016 @ 1:00 am (#)

    Okay yes this recipe is way off on the amount of chilli powder, I am in New Zealand using chilli powder from an Indian shop (hot stuff) I used ONE tablespoon of chilli powder and it is really really hot. Using four would be insane. Editor please check your quantities here.

    The other ingredients I added were three teaspoons tomato paste and about three teaspoons of raw sugar. Also had no dried oregano I used fresh chopped really small.

    This is now a very hot but acceptable Enchilada sauce, it is still not a five star recipe though :-(

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 15th, 2016 @ 12:09 pm

      We appreciate your feedback Ruth — that’s good to know that 1 TBS of New Zealand chili powder is plenty hot. We apologize this was too spicy! :(

  4. Jenifer — June 9, 2016 @ 5:34 pm (#)

    Hmmmm….easy breezy :-)  Can I can it for later use???

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 15th, 2016 @ 7:59 am

      You definitely can — we hope you enjoy!

  5. Lindsey — June 10, 2016 @ 6:43 pm (#)

    I read all the too spicy comments beforehand hand so I tasted all the way through the process. I used Simply Organic chili powder and started with only one tablespoon because I am a heat wimp and so is my three year old. I found that before the simmer the spice was perfectly mild but after 10 minutes simmering it got significantly more spicy. So I did another batch and buffeted it with a small amount of plain tomato sauce and left out the salt ( it was a bit salty) and simmered only about 3-5 minutes and it was very mild but still flavorful. I hope this helps others who need a milder taste. It was delicious though, I made it in two pans and gave my husband the spicier one and my toddler and I the milder and it was devoured! Thanks!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 14th, 2016 @ 5:56 pm

      Thanks for sharing this with us Lindsey! That’s interesting that the spice got more intense the longer the sauce simmered — definitely good to know! We’re happy you were able to mellow it out some with that tomato sauce and salt though, and that you enjoyed it!

  6. Melissa Burg — June 11, 2016 @ 12:57 am (#)

    Wow!!! This is the best chicken enchilada recipe ever…the sauce was AMAZING! You are right, I will NEVER buy store bought enchilada sauce again. I need to buy a new oven, so instead of baking, I melted butter in my electric skillet and fried the tortillas on both sides. Oh, also I cooked and shredded the chicken breasts instead. But wow…thank you for making my Friday night awesome. And thank you for sharing the awesome amazing enchilada sauce recipe…it turned out perfect! 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 14th, 2016 @ 5:49 pm

      Thanks for your sweet comment Melissa — we’re so happy you enjoyed the sauce and the enchiladas! And your method of frying the enchiladas sounds amazing! :D

  7. Maria Lisonbee — June 13, 2016 @ 12:24 am (#)

    This is the best and easiest enchilada sauce!!! I ran out of my favorite canned brand and used your recipe, hands down better and delicious!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 14th, 2016 @ 7:52 pm

      Thank you Maria — we’re so happy you enjoy it! :)

  8. Los Gringos — June 15, 2016 @ 12:46 am (#)

    We love this recipe with the chicken enchiladas recipe – so tasty!
    Only caveat is that 4T chilli powder is way too much. The fire burned twice if you catch our drift. Perhaps chilli powder is milder in other countries but in NZ 1 teaspoon will give you more than enough kick, and I would use still less than that.
    Thanks for the recipes!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 15th, 2016 @ 10:18 pm

      Thanks for your feedback — we’re so sorry about the spice! We have found that chili powders can vary quite a bit, depending on the brand, and especially if you’re in a different country. We recently had another similar comment from some one in New Zealand, so this is good to know!

    • Ali — June 20th, 2016 @ 10:07 am

      So sorry about that! Yes, we’ve been hearing that chili powders seem to be different in different countries, so it sounds like the NZ version may be stronger than the US. I would start with less and then add more if you make this again. (And this probably goes without saying, but also be sure to double-check that the chili powder isn’t cayenne chili powder.) :)

  9. Ruqiya — June 21, 2016 @ 5:38 am (#)

    Hey, the recipe for the Enchilada sauce seems terrific though it feels like shouldn’t there be tomatoes there as well ( in any form )

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 21st, 2016 @ 10:13 am

      Hi Ruqiya — feel free to add some tomatoes or tomato sauce to the recipe if you’d prefer — some folks have done that and enjoyed it!

  10. Laura — June 23, 2016 @ 9:20 pm (#)

    I wish I would have read the comments before making the enchilada sauce. I added 4 T right away since I like spice, and found I had to cook the sauce for 30+ minutes to get it to thicken at all, and then it was basically inedible. I still plan on trying this recipe, just using store bought sauce.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 26th, 2016 @ 8:56 am

      Hi Laura. We’re sorry this was too spicy for you! We do have notes at the bottom of the recipe about how chili powders and their strengths differ between brands, and how we recommend starting with 2 TBS and add from there, if desired.

  11. saba — June 26, 2016 @ 3:00 am (#)

    A quick question. Cumin powder or whole cumin seeds?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — June 26th, 2016 @ 10:25 am

      Cumin powder. We hope you enjoy! :)

  12. Elaina — July 10, 2016 @ 4:55 pm (#)

    This recipe is great! My husband & I loved it and it’s so easy. I don’t think I’ll ever buy canned enchilada sauce again. One question- did you ever freeze the sauce? Wondering if it’s good to freeze. Thanks!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 11th, 2016 @ 7:51 am

      Thanks Elaina — we’re happy you and your husband are fans! And yes, you can definitely freeze the sauce!

  13. Dana — July 12, 2016 @ 11:23 am (#)

    Hello! This recipe was fantastic! I’m not a fan of enchilada sauce at all (only ever had pre-made/canned), so I was a little worried I just wouldn’t like it…by the time I finished the first bite of the enchiladas, I seriously was wishing I had made waaaayyy more sauce. Spicy and delicious. I did start with 3TBS chili powder and worked my way up.. I did end up using 4, although I should mention that I think the brand I’m using is very mild. Love it! I actually did it with the ‘sister’ recipe for chicken enchiladas on this site. Freaking amazing. I have two male roommates and they literally inhaled them. Nice job!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 13th, 2016 @ 2:52 pm

      Hi Dana! Yay, we’re so happy you and your roomies enjoyed the sauce and the enchiladas! Thanks for your sweet words and for giving these a try! :D

  14. McFeisty — July 14, 2016 @ 6:37 pm (#)

    I love this recipe, so tough to find one that does not use tomatoes (tomato in enchilada sauce is wrong, in my opinion).

    I substitute good paprika sometimes, so if your ‘chili powder’ is too spicy, use plenty of paprika, instead. Also, add a dash of cumin, as that’s usually a component of chili powder. I am making posole tonight, very easy with enchilada sauce, can of hominy, diced cooked pork, simmer the pork in water long enough to make a nice broth, add everything else, very delicious.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 15th, 2016 @ 10:22 am

      Thank you for your comment — we’re so happy you enjoy the recipe and we think that posole sounds wonderful! :)

  15. McFeisty — July 14, 2016 @ 7:42 pm (#)

    I should have also pointed out that “chili powder” as Americans know it, is a blend of salt and spices we use to season a dish we call “chili,” while other countries may think of chili powder as simply dried, powdered chilies of one or more types. I have a recipe for chili powder, that doesn’t include salt:
    2 tablespoons paprika
    2 teaspoons oregano
    1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
    1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
    3/4 teaspoon onion powder
    1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste (optional)

    This supports my use of paprika as a ‘chili powder’ substitute, solves the ‘too hot’ chili powder dilemma, and also enables better control of the saltiness of the enchilada sauce.
    Enjoy!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 15th, 2016 @ 10:15 am

      Thanks for sharing your recipe with us! :)

  16. Holly — July 19, 2016 @ 7:52 am (#)

    I have made this sauce 4x now. It is fabulous! My whole family loves it. I will never use canned again. Heck this stuff is so good you can eat it right off the spoon! I made it for company 2x and now have a reputation for being an excellent enchilada maker.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 19th, 2016 @ 1:39 pm

      Thanks for sharing with us Holly — we’re so happy to hear you and your family enjoy this! :)

  17. Jen W — July 19, 2016 @ 7:58 pm (#)

    I made this homemade sauce with your beef enchilada recipe, and my boyfriend, who is rarely impressed by my attempts at homemade Mexican food, absolutely loved them! This will be a repeat recipe in our house! Love!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 20th, 2016 @ 1:26 pm

      Thanks for sharing Jen — we’re so glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed the sauce and the enchiladas! :)

  18. Tess — July 25, 2016 @ 4:43 pm (#)

    Chili powder means different things in different places. I’m. American and the average chili powder isn’t too hot because it also has a mix of spices. Here in the UK however, chili powder means powdered cayenne pepper. Oh boy!! I made chili and put in a lot of chili powder thinking it would be like the American one. It was so hot that even my husband couldn’t eat it.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 26th, 2016 @ 9:56 am

      Hi Tess! Yes, you are absolutely right, which is why were were careful to include some notes on this below the recipe (we’re so sorry if you missed it!):

      *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

      Since the chili powders in the UK are pretty much all cayenne, starting with 2 TBS would be way too much. You might want to try making your own chili powder in the future, since cayenne is very different and much hotter/concentrated. We like this recipe. We hope this helps — we’re sorry this was too hot for you guys!

  19. Larissa — July 26, 2016 @ 11:43 pm (#)

    Hmm glad I read Ruth Holden’s comment  before making as I’m also in NZ, thought you must be either crazy or born in India to use 4 Tbsp of chili!! Haha. I used just a 1/3 teaspoon of chili powder and it was just right, barely spicy so my grandma would eat it (my toddler loves spicy food!) but the spice was still there. Also added a tsp brown sugar and a good squirt of tomato sauce and the sauce was perfect! Now to make the enchiladas….

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 27th, 2016 @ 9:50 am

      Thanks for sharing Larissa — we’re glad the 1/3 tsp worked well for you! It’s crazy how vastly different chili powders can be all over the world — it sounds like the ones in OZ, NZ, and the UK are especially concentrated and intense! Anyway, we’re glad you enjoyed the sauce and we hope you enjoy the enchiladas as well! :)

  20. Cat — July 28, 2016 @ 3:25 pm (#)

    Thanks for the recipe!  I have tried homemade enchilada sauce in the past and have not had any luck.  This one was great!  We do not like things too spicy, so I only added 1 and a half Tbsp of McCormick’s chili powder and it wasn’t too spicy but still had a kick. I also added less oil and salt. Overall, great flavor!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 29th, 2016 @ 8:19 am

      Thanks for sharing Cat! We’re glad you and your family enjoyed it!

  21. V — July 29, 2016 @ 3:30 am (#)

    Thanks so much for the recipe, but why do you advise against using cayenne? I

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 29th, 2016 @ 8:15 am

      You’re welcome! Cayenne is just incredibly hot compared to chili powder (a blend), so we’re just specifying the difference (if you used the same amount of cayenne, this would be unbearably hot).

  22. Nancy — July 29, 2016 @ 8:09 am (#)

    I have made this and it IS the best enchilada sauce recipe……………ever! I do not use any salt and use homemade chicken stock that I make – it is delicious.
    I used 4 Tablespoons chili powder but it is mild and not overbearing at all.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — July 29th, 2016 @ 8:11 am

      Thank you Nancy — we’re so happy you love it! :)

  23. Jane Rosenbaum — July 30, 2016 @ 8:10 pm (#)

    I made this sauce exactly with the amount of ingredients in the recipe. It’s not edible. Is 20 times more salty than anyone could stand. Flavor not good either. When I eat out the first thing I do is salt and pepper my food before I even taste it. I love salt, but this is ridiculous. I don’t recommend anyone try this recipe. You will be disappointed and waste your time and ingredients. The only way to salvage this recipe is to add some tomato sauce, but not sure that would help.

    • Ali — August 8th, 2016 @ 8:15 pm

      Hi Jane,

      I’m sorry to hear that this was so salty. I’m not sure why that would have been — maybe the chicken broth brand used was more salty than average? Otherwise, I’m not quite sure what else would have made this too salty. Sorry that it didn’t turn out well for you.

  24. Julian Cooksey ( Jules ) — August 2, 2016 @ 6:27 am (#)

    For the Red Enchilada sauce where you mention 2 cups of chicken or Veg stock what is the actually measurement for that. I am in the UK and we don’t usually measure to that.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 3rd, 2016 @ 2:10 pm

      Hi Julian — 2 cups would be 16 oz/ 1 pint/ 500 ml. We hope you enjoy the sauce!

  25. Bekah — August 3, 2016 @ 12:28 pm (#)

    Thank you for posting this! The sauce is really good, I love the flavor and spice. (I’m Texan, I like things spicy:) ) I’ve made it several time and it has come out great each time.

    Thank you again!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 3rd, 2016 @ 2:23 pm

      Thanks Bekah — we’re so glad you enjoy it! :)

  26. Kat — August 7, 2016 @ 5:09 pm (#)

    Made this to go with your best chicken Enchiladas ever recipe. It was a special kind of hell. If I’d read the comments before making i would have known better than to use 4 Tbsp of chili powder here in NZ! That being said, It was still the best Enchiladas I’ve ever made! I’ll be keen to give it a go again, but with MUCH less chili powder!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 7th, 2016 @ 6:31 pm

      Oh no Kat, we’re so sorry! :( We’re glad you were still able to enjoy the enchiladas though and we hope you can make the sauce again with less heat. It’s crazy how vast a difference chili powder is here in the States and there in NZ!

  27. Lisa Baker — August 13, 2016 @ 1:47 pm (#)

    Can you use regular flour in the red enchilada sauce?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 14th, 2016 @ 4:47 pm

      Yes, it will have a slightly different taste, but we think that’s fine. We hope you enjoy!

  28. Heather M. — August 13, 2016 @ 2:05 pm (#)

    Loved this easy and better than canned enchilada sauce.
    Used veggie ground beef instead of chicken in the enchilada recipe.
    Alternatively, add lean, well drained ground beef to make an excellent hot dog and hamburger sauce.
    Thanks for the super recipe.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 14th, 2016 @ 4:48 pm

      Thanks for sharing, Heather! We’re so glad you enjoyed the sauce and the enchiladas! :)

  29. Kimberly — August 13, 2016 @ 5:06 pm (#)

    Let me first say that I haven’t tried this recipe yet, it sounds quick and amazing! I just thought I might help clarify the chili powder debate; I read that some were using chili from an Indian shop or found their chili to be too spicy… the chili powder that the recipe’s author is referring to is a Mexican style that is typical in America. It contains a mixture of spices-chili pepper and cumin mainly, but others are often in the mix. I suggest looking up a recipe for chili powder if it’s not something you can find in your area or country. You will have much more success with this recipe!

  30. Marlene — August 14, 2016 @ 11:01 pm (#)

    I tried this as a change from our regular enchilada sauce and it was awful. It would not thicken and it was spicy and lacking the tomato flavor we usually enjoy. I will not make this one again. Awful.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 15th, 2016 @ 9:08 am

      We’re so sorry to hear you didn’t care for this Marlene! Sometimes it just needs to cook a little longer in order to thicken. As for the spice — we’re wondering what type and brand of chili powder you used?

  31. Sabrina — August 17, 2016 @ 5:02 pm (#)

    I think it is all just a matter of different tastebuds. I have made this recipe twice, the first time I used 3 TBSP chili powder because that wa wall I had in the pantry. To me, it was not hot at all. To my husband and one of my kids, it was hot. They were drinking milk and acting like their tongue was on fire.  So next time I made it I only used 2 TBSP.  

    To my taste buds, chili powder adds flavor but does not have “heat” like hot peppers or some cayenne pepper would. I guess others taste heat in it? I grew up in Louisiana and my husband grew up in the Midwest. That may have something to do with it. I have a much higher tolerance for spice than he does. To the point where I don’t even detect a hint of spice in something that he thinks is too spicy to eat. I see a few from New Zealand saying 2-4 TBSP would be way too much. I am not sure if their chili powder is different or they are just not used to spice. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 18th, 2016 @ 1:17 pm

      Hi Sabrina! Yes, we’ve learned that chili powders vary (quite significantly sometimes) in different parts of the world. There are so many different types and brands out there, and we have learned that chili powders in New Zealand and Australia are much, much stronger! But you are right, one factor at play is definitely people’s different palates for heat. :)

  32. Rose — August 21, 2016 @ 8:49 pm (#)

    I didn’t have any oregano on hand, used EVOO instead of canola. 
    This is by far the best sauce I’ve ever made! I ate a half cup of sauce waiting for the enchiladas to bake!
    I’m going to make 2 gallons next week and can it. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 22nd, 2016 @ 10:53 am

      Thanks for sharing, Rose! We’re so glad you loved it! :)

  33. Leo — August 22, 2016 @ 9:40 am (#)

    I see the lobe you have for echiladas and eating them regularly myself I gotta ask have you tried using green tomato sauce before? I normally vary red and green sauces just to spice things up, you might wwnna use green chilli powder like jalapeño for green sauce depending on your chilli tolerance, over here in Mexico jalapeño would be a pretty mild chilli for sauces and we rarely use powders so I would not know about the hotness level but what it does have is a really great taste

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 22nd, 2016 @ 10:59 am

      Yep, we love green sauce as well! :)

  34. Sheri — August 23, 2016 @ 1:56 pm (#)

    I just tried your red sauce for my enchiladas and it has made all the difference in the world!!! I waited until the sauce started to boil before I put the flour in. (mix flour with cold water, then drizzle in). It is a wonderful sauce. Thank you so much.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 23rd, 2016 @ 8:58 pm

      We’re so glad to hear that Sheri! :)

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