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. Jessica — August 1, 2015 @ 9:52 pm (#)

    After reading a few of the comments and making this as written, I added tomato paste (for depth) and some brown sugar. Turned out phenomenal. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 4, 2015 @ 6:15 pm (#)

      We’re so glad to hear that Jessica, thanks for sharing! :)

  2. Dan — August 5, 2015 @ 6:05 pm (#)

    When I make it I use 3 tsp of each of Chili New Mexico, Chilli California, and Chii Pasilla powders.

  3. Devon — August 9, 2015 @ 4:49 pm (#)

    Ran out of chili powder so I used a tablespoon of chipotle pepper powder. We LOVE spicy and this gave is a nice, smoky heat. Was pretty spicy straight off the spoon, but I think the tortillas will help tone it down. Havent eaten the enchiladas but yet, but the sauce was delish!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 13, 2015 @ 1:38 pm (#)

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the sauce Devon, and hopefully you enjoyed the enchiladas just as much! :)

  4. Rista — August 10, 2015 @ 1:54 pm (#)

    A couple of my CF bueidds at my box are doing the Whole30 and while I am not going gung ho on that (hahah, I typed ho ;D) I am doing my best to eat Clean/Paleo. I threw this yummy goodness in the crockpot last night and was awakened by its delicious goodness this morning. LOVE IT. Can’t wait to dig into it for lunch today because if it was as good as my taste was this morning (and it was 6am so maybe it was just me) will be as you put it AMAZEBALLS! Thanks so much Juli for something YUMMY to keep me on the course of eating cleaner. Sign me up for your cookbook next year. (Will you be doing a big signing say at the Tattered Cover for us Colorado folks? :D) Thanks again!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 13, 2015 @ 1:30 pm (#)

      Thank you Rista, we hope you loved it! :)

  5. Lauren — August 11, 2015 @ 3:59 pm (#)

    Made this many times for my boyfriend, who is very picky, with leftover pork roast and chicken.  He thinks it’s restaurant quality and always asks for it. I have the ingredients on hand anyway and it’s sooooo much better than from a can. I make it per the recipe. 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 13, 2015 @ 12:49 pm (#)

      Yay, we’re happy to hear that, what a nice compliment! :)

  6. Shawn — August 14, 2015 @ 1:20 pm (#)

    OMG I will never ever buy from a can again.  This is so easy and absolutely delicious.  The second time I made it I added 1 heaping tbsp of tomato paste, and liked it even better.  My family simply devours the enchiladas with this sauce.  It really took no time at all to make.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 17, 2015 @ 9:29 am (#)

      Thank you Shawn, we’re so happy to hear you and your family enjoyed the sauce and the enchiladas! :)

  7. Michelle L — August 17, 2015 @ 8:38 pm (#)

    Have you ever tried a gluten free version with almond or coconut flour?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 17, 2015 @ 10:17 pm (#)

      Hey Michelle! We haven’t tried either of those two, so we’re not sure how they would change the flavor. However, we would recommend a gluten-free flour blend, if you wanted to use something gluten-free. You could also use cornstarch or arrowroot powder. We hope this helps!

  8. Tanya — August 19, 2015 @ 4:59 am (#)

    Wow, amazing and so simple!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 19, 2015 @ 2:17 pm (#)

      Thank you Tanya, we’re so glad you liked it!

  9. Dave D. — August 24, 2015 @ 7:55 am (#)

    I made this to go with the Chicken Enchilada Casserole. I made a double batch and used 1/2 chili powder and 1/2 cayenne for some heat! It turned out great, except I didn’t cook it long enough!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 24, 2015 @ 8:19 pm (#)

      Thanks for sharing Dave, we’re glad you enjoyed the sauce! Sometimes it does need a little extra time on the stove to thicken more.

  10. James — August 24, 2015 @ 11:52 am (#)

    Hey there. I’m interested in making your sauce and I was wondering if you had any recommendations for someone who would be looking for more of a medium to hot enchilada sauce. :)

    If not I may just add a little smoked ghost pepper powder as it won’t alter the flavor too much and will add a nice zest – but I was hoping for advice from you for something probably a lot more traditional. :P

    • Ali — August 27, 2015 @ 11:28 am (#)

      Ooooh, someone else who loves spicy food! :) I think the ghost pepper powder would be awesome, and plenty spicy. Otherwise, an easy alternative would be to just add in some extra pinches of cayenne to taste. Enjoy!

  11. Toa powers — August 28, 2015 @ 4:09 pm (#)

    Can you use olive oil instead of vegetable?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 31, 2015 @ 11:39 am (#)

      Toa, you can, it just isn’t a neutral flavor, so it might alter the taste just a bit. We hope you enjoy!

  12. Laura — August 28, 2015 @ 4:30 pm (#)

    Can I use chicken broth instead of chicken stock? Or is stock that much different that I should get chicken stock?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — August 31, 2015 @ 12:02 pm (#)

      Hi Laura! Good question. You can most definitely use the broth instead of the stock, the flavor just might not be quite as rich. We hope you enjoy this!

  13. Paul Godward — August 29, 2015 @ 4:00 pm (#)

    This is very similar to mine, except, no oil in mine, and I add coco powder and then finish with tomato sauce after it starts to thicken…

    For added heat, I substitute Ancho and/or Chipotle powder.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 2, 2015 @ 11:03 am (#)

      Awesome, thanks for sharing Paul!

  14. Brent — September 1, 2015 @ 6:08 pm (#)

    Was looking for a quick, no-tomato, sauce recipe and came upon this one.

    I just made this. You should tell your readers that after briefly toasting some guajillos, an ancho, and some del arbol chilis, then sticking them in a coffee grinder, your sauce is going to be 100X better and fresher. I haven’t bought stale store chili powder in years.
    So I quickly made my own powder. That was my only modification besides about 3 small pieces of chocolate. Verdict: EXCELLENT. Thought it needed more flour because it was soupy, but I simmered a just a little longer (than recipe time) and it thickened right up. Great recipe, thanks for sharing it.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 2, 2015 @ 11:15 am (#)

      Thanks for sharing Brent, those are great tips! :)


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