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 |

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.  :)

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

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 |

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! also, see note below if you do not like heat*)
  • 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 from country to country.  But the traditional American chili powder is fairly mild, and should not be overly spicy.

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. Roger Alfa — October 27, 2015 @ 5:42 am (#)

    How to get the  red color so strong ? it looks like been added tomatoes . Or is it from the chilly powder ? 

    • Ali — November 4, 2015 @ 3:40 pm (#)

      Different chili powders have different colors. The one I used the day I photographed this happened to have been more red, but usually my sauce is a little more brown-ish.

  2. Kate — October 28, 2015 @ 12:18 pm (#)

    Absolutely delicipus, I added some tomatoes from the garden and my homemade adobo sauce as well. Wondering if this can be pressure canned to preserve? I like to have stuff like this ready to go. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 30, 2015 @ 10:30 am (#)

      Awesome Kate! We haven’t tried canning this ourselves, but you should be able to! :)

  3. toni — October 28, 2015 @ 2:00 pm (#)

    Can you substitute beef stock for the chicken? We tend to stick more to beef in our fam. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 29, 2015 @ 3:45 pm (#)

      Yes, we think that should work just fine. We hope you and your family enjoy! :)

  4. Jackie — October 28, 2015 @ 2:39 pm (#)

    Whoa! I had no idea the sauce would be THIS simple. It looks so easy!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 29, 2015 @ 3:44 pm (#)

      Thanks Jackie, we hope you enjoy!

  5. Brittany — November 1, 2015 @ 3:44 pm (#)

    I LOVE the flavor of his sauce but for whatever reason it just does not thicken up like it is in the picture! It’s very thin.  I cook it for longer every time also, any trouble shooting tips? I don’t want to give up on it!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 2, 2015 @ 8:11 am (#)

      Thanks Brittany, we’re glad to hear that! Sometimes this sauce just takes a little longer to cook and reduce, to thicken. It also actually continues to thicken more after you take it off the heat. We hope this helps! :)

  6. Mo — November 2, 2015 @ 2:49 pm (#)

    How long will this sauce last in the fridge? 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 2, 2015 @ 7:35 pm (#)

      Probably up to two weeks Mo, but you can also freeze it. We hope you enjoy!

  7. Tiffany — November 8, 2015 @ 2:02 pm (#)

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe. I hadn’t made homemade enchiladas in a while and was looking to brush up on the sauce recipe. I was so disappointed to see so many other recipes required tomatoes (which my Ma always said NOT to do). Thank you again! I’m using this with beef stock instead of chicken and on top of pork enchiladas! I’ll have pictures on my site of the outcome. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 8, 2015 @ 2:27 pm (#)

      You’re so welcome Tiffany, we hope you enjoy both the sauce and the enchiladas – definitely share some pics when you can! :)

  8. Katrina — November 9, 2015 @ 11:08 am (#)

    I added some dark chocolate to the sauce and it gave the flavor a little more depth 

  9. Kelsey — November 10, 2015 @ 4:50 pm (#)

    This sauce is delicious! Does it matter if I use a broth instead of a stock?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 11, 2015 @ 8:25 am (#)

      Thanks Kelsey, we’re glad you like it! And nope, either one is completely fine! :)

  10. le moo — November 13, 2015 @ 6:11 pm (#)

    ancho chilli?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 13, 2015 @ 6:20 pm (#)

      We just use regular chili powder, which is very different from Ancho chili powder. We haven’t tried Ancho chili powder in this, but you could always experiment!

  11. Lisa — November 15, 2015 @ 11:06 am (#)

    For best results use Gebhardt’s Chili Powder.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 16, 2015 @ 8:20 am (#)

      Thanks for sharing this with us Lisa!

  12. Lindsey — November 15, 2015 @ 8:10 pm (#)

    This sauce is amazing and so quick to make!! I have made it a few times now but am going to add it to my regular roster as I roast a chicken every few weeks and am always looking for something yummy to make with my chicken broth. 
    I have the used the sauce in enchiladas, baked beans and a spicy soup. Thank you for the recipe and your great blog!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 16, 2015 @ 8:35 am (#)

      Thanks Lindsey, we’re happy you like it! Thanks also for your sweet words about the blog, we’re glad you’re a fan! :)

  13. Carla — November 17, 2015 @ 5:42 pm (#)

    Just tried this tonight! It is a delicious homemade enchilada sauce…but I’m pretty sure you forgot to mention the tomatoes? I followed your directions to a T and the sauce was brown, tasted very strongly of the spices and looked nothing like the picture. I added a small can of crushed tomatoes and now it is perfect. Just wanted to mention! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I had an actual can of enchillada sauce ready to go but I’m so happy I made yours instead! :)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 18, 2015 @ 9:39 am (#)

      Thanks Carla, we’re happy you enjoyed it! That wasn’t a mistake regarding the tomatoes, our recipe isn’t mean to have any, but you can certainly add them like you did! :)

  14. Dominique — November 18, 2015 @ 8:18 pm (#)

    Do not add any salt!  It was way too salty with the broth, my partner said it was brutal and pretty much ruined the dinner.  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 19, 2015 @ 8:10 am (#)

      We’re sorry to hear this was too salty Dominique! Did you make your own stock or use store-bought? If you make your own stock, you want to salt it pretty liberally (it helps preserve it so it will last longer), and then you generally don’t need to add much (if any) salt to your recipe, depending on what you’re using the stock for. Using a low/less sodium stock is one way to help cut back on the salt, and it’s good to season and taste as you go. We hope this helps!

  15. wend — November 19, 2015 @ 7:21 pm (#)

    This is the first red enchilada sauce I have seen that does not contain tomatoes or tomato sauce, paste, passata or any other form of tomato.  Was it missed or is this recipe for real?  Thanks.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 20, 2015 @ 2:31 pm (#)

      Hi Wendy, no, this was not an error. Our recipe doesn’t have any tomatoes/tomato sauce/paste, etc. :)

  16. wend — November 19, 2015 @ 7:29 pm (#)

    Also, wondering how you pronounce 492th.  My mind refused to compute that one.

  17. wend — November 20, 2015 @ 4:34 pm (#)

    No tomatoes.  Now I am really intrigued.  Will give it a try!  Thanks.

  18. Kerry — November 22, 2015 @ 5:08 pm (#)

    In markets, you can find red chile sauce which does not contain tomatoes. The stuff marked enchilada sauce always seems to include tomatoes.This red chile sauce is what I use on enchiladas. Some suggestions.

    1) to thicken, you could add more flour. I thicken mine by adding a sofrito of carrots, celery and onion and then pureeing the sauce after it is cooked. If you use ground chile rather than chile powder, you will avoid the salt in the chile powder. If you can get ground chile, the mildest are ancho, California or New Mexico.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 23, 2015 @ 1:23 pm (#)

      Thanks for sharing your tips with us Kerry!

  19. Shana — November 26, 2015 @ 6:19 pm (#)

    Thank you for sharing. The proof is in the sauce.:) I made this sauce and used in in a batch of enchiladas. My son made a big helping and, approximately five minutes later, came back with an empty plate and helped himself to another huge portion. When asked about it, he said it was good. When I told him I tried a new enchilada sauce recipe, he gave me a smile and a thumbs up as he descended the stairs back to his room. Awesome!! FYI…I used a mixture of chili powder that I bought from the spice shop and a brand that ran about $5 from the store resulting in a Very vibrant red coloring.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — November 29, 2015 @ 9:59 pm (#)

      You’re welcome Shana, we’re happy you and your son enjoyed the enchiladas (and the sauce)! :) Thanks for sharing!


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