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! :)

  15. Cami — September 3, 2015 @ 12:16 pm (#)

    I have a hard time with chili powder (on the tummy). Do you recommend anything milder? Have you ever made a recipe for a Veracruz sauce? I can tolerate that. I appreciate any ideas. I want to make your stacked enchiladas next week!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 8, 2015 @ 10:03 am (#)

      Hi Cami! We aren’t familiar with Veracruz sauce, but you might try using paprika, since it tends to be milder. We hope this helps!

  16. Liz Adams — September 4, 2015 @ 6:09 pm (#)

    I am positive that you are correct that I need to purchase high quality chili powder. I used my store brand (cheap) chili powder and although the enchiladas themselves were terrific, the whole recipe with the sauce was awful! The sauce more or less blackened in the oven and though we managed to eat them, I fed the leftovers to the dog (who looked mean at me.) I want to try this again with a better (make that the best I can afford) chili powder. Thank you for a terrific recipe.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 7, 2015 @ 1:49 pm (#)

      Thanks for sharing, Liz! We’re sorry the sauce came out poorly with that chili powder. Definitely use the good stuff if you can. We hope you’ll like the sauce better next time!

  17. Virginia McCarthy — September 5, 2015 @ 6:09 pm (#)

    I just made this with Live G Free gluten free multi purpose flour and it turned out perfect. Nice and thick with a rich taste to it. I did add a small square of dark chocolate otherwise followed recipe but I did double it as I needed to make a large batch. Great recipe.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 8, 2015 @ 10:04 am (#)

      Virginia, that’s so great to know, thank you for sharing with us — we’re glad you liked the recipe!

  18. Kay Long — September 7, 2015 @ 10:44 am (#)

    Your recipes look awesome!!! Can’t wait to try them!!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 8, 2015 @ 9:01 am (#)

      Thanks Kay, we hope you enjoy them!

  19. Brittany Wall — September 8, 2015 @ 7:07 am (#)

    I made this tonight, along with enchiladas. I can usually tolerate quite a bit of heat as long as theres bags of flavour backing it up, but am always wary with a new recipe. I started with 2 tbsp of chilli powder and it practically made my head explode. Think Popeye with steam coming out his ears. I corrected it with some lime juice, and it turned out super yummy really flavourful with a nice kick. I don’t know if its because I’m Australian and maybe my chilli powder is different to yours or that I showed it too much heat when cooking off the spices or what but I would very much advise to start with a little and build up. Maybe next time I’ll scale it up and include a can of tomatoes. Otherwise a really yummy sauce. But just know if its too spicy for you the lime really knocked back the chilli and didn’t taste weird at all, was really good actually!

    • Ali — September 15, 2015 @ 11:27 am (#)

      Oh no! I bet the chili powder is a different variety in Australia. We’ve had that happen with a few different countries. The spice traditionally known as “chili powder” in the US is not very spicy. (I imagine yours was closer to a cayenne, which would definitely make my head explode.) :) So sorry that it didn’t work out! You might check with your grocery store and see if they offer the other kind of chili powder. Enjoy!

  20. Lisa — September 8, 2015 @ 2:24 pm (#)

    Thank you for this delicious recipe!!! I added paprika, fresh cilantro and a Tbsp of tomato paste to add even more flavor.  The boys ask for it weekly now.  Now when I walk past the canned sauce in the store I give a little giggle…’cause now I know better:-)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 9, 2015 @ 10:11 pm (#)

      You’re welcome Lisa, we’re happy you and your boys like it! It’s so easy, you just want to stop all of the other people from buying the jarred stuff, right?! ;)

  21. Nichole — September 10, 2015 @ 6:29 pm (#)

    i added a tbsp. of tomato paste to the recipe and used it to make the enchilada recipe that you linked. My husband liked it so much that he told me I should quit my job and open a restaurant! :) Thank you! 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 11, 2015 @ 8:49 am (#)

      Alright, that’s quite a compliment! We’re so happy the sauce was a hit! :)

  22. kristie — September 11, 2015 @ 2:20 am (#)

    Made this today and my family loved it!!! Love that I won’t ever have to buy enchilada sauce again. I also used your EnchiladaSoup recipe too! Thanks for sharing

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 11, 2015 @ 8:48 am (#)

      Thanks for sharing Kristie, we’re so happy you and your family are fans! :)

  23. Susie McCreary — September 11, 2015 @ 10:32 am (#)

    492nd, not 492th ;)

  24. Kris Johnson — September 16, 2015 @ 7:49 pm (#)

    I made this sauce with coconut flour because I am on a low-carb diet….I used it as I would normal flour and it tasted really good. I also added a small can of tomato paste just to give it some tomato flavor and thicken it a bit more…might tasty!!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 17, 2015 @ 9:12 am (#)

      That’s awesome Kris, we’re so glad the coconut flour worked out well in this — great to know! :)

  25. Mariamada — September 16, 2015 @ 9:22 pm (#)

    Excellent! I’ve always shied away from making enchiladas from scratch simply because of the sauce.  I had always heard it was the hardest part & ended up throwing canned chili on top.. This recipe is soo delicious that I will NEVER go back to that! It was soo simple and quick that there aren’t any excuses not to make it. Yum!  Thank you!  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 17, 2015 @ 9:12 am (#)

      Thank you Mariamada, we’re so happy you enjoyed this!

  26. Adi stamatis — September 17, 2015 @ 7:08 pm (#)

    I made these for dinner tonight… Best decision EVER!  They were easy, fast and best of all my hubby approved! & the homemade enchilada sauce is my new favorite!! 😍

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 18, 2015 @ 7:20 am (#)

      That’s so great Adi, we’re happy you and your husband enjoyed it!

  27. Kat — September 20, 2015 @ 3:32 pm (#)

    I’m curious, would it be possible to make this sauce and can it for later use?  It looks delicious and I would love to have a bunch on hand and in my food storage. :)

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 22, 2015 @ 11:48 am (#)

      Yes, completely! We’d say it should last about two weeks or so in the fridge. We hope you enjoy!

  28. Karen — September 22, 2015 @ 10:42 am (#)

    Do you have any nutritional values for your recipes? Sodium, carbohydrates, calories, sugars, etc.??? Specifically the Enchilada Sauce and yore delicious sounding GF/DF Stacked Chicken Enchilada Casserole

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 22, 2015 @ 12:08 pm (#)

      Hi Karen! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps!

  29. Determined WW Momma — September 23, 2015 @ 8:44 pm (#)

    I was in the middle of a recipe and reached for a can of enchilada sauce; much to my dismay it was gone!  So I found this recipe and WOW!  It is truly the BEST enchilada sauce.  Ever.  Thank you for the delicious recipe.  Can’t wait to try more of your creations!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 24, 2015 @ 8:27 am (#)

      Oh we’re so glad you were able to make this on the fly, and that it worked out! We’re happy to hear you liked it, thanks for sharing! :)

  30. Lisa — September 25, 2015 @ 3:40 pm (#)

    I made this last night, It was fantastic! I did make the enchilada sauce since I had everything on hand, one thing I noticed was the recipe called for 2 cups chicken broth and when I was making the layering everything in the pan, I noticed the recipe called for 3 cups of sauce, though it had already simmered enough to get thick, I then added an extra cup of broth, as not to be short. Im so glad I did as it would have been very dry. Next time, I’ll double the recipe for the sauce and have some extra on hand.

    We loved it, will be making again, Thanks for sharing!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 27, 2015 @ 8:32 pm (#)

      Thanks Lisa, we’re happy you liked this!

  31. Harsher — September 26, 2015 @ 9:41 pm (#)

    Is the red color from the chili powder or do I have to use tomato purée 

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 27, 2015 @ 8:57 pm (#)

      It’s from the chili powder. We hope you enjoy the recipe!

  32. Debbie — September 27, 2015 @ 4:40 pm (#)

    Just made a batch of this and it was so easy. I will watch the salt next time though, perhaps it was the chicken broth.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 1, 2015 @ 9:10 am (#)

      Thanks Debbie, we’re glad you enjoyed it!

  33. Lauren — September 28, 2015 @ 11:55 am (#)

    Love this!! I’ve been trying to look for copycat recipes of things I use in my own cooking–it makes me feel better since I know EXACTLY what is going into it! Have you ever tried freezing or canning this? I love the idea of making my own enchilada sauce but I’d like to also be able to make a bigger batch and then have it on hand whenever I need it.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 28, 2015 @ 1:35 pm (#)

      Thanks Lauren, we’re glad to hear that! We haven’t tried canning this, but you can definitely freeze it! :)

  34. Cindy — September 30, 2015 @ 8:00 pm (#)

    No tomato sauce or paste? Hmmm

  35. jackie — October 2, 2015 @ 2:22 pm (#)

    I used to love cooking but have slowed down. I would feel prouder if I could do something simle

  36. Elle — October 7, 2015 @ 6:40 pm (#)

    As another Australian this was pretty spicy and I read the comment and reduced the amount of Chili to 1 tablespoon. I then saw this recipe and realized that our chili and your chili is completely different. Chili powder in Australia is just ground chilies, not Cayenne but still really hot. Next time around I’ll add paprika, cumin and ground chili in place of the Chili powder.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — October 8, 2015 @ 8:17 am (#)

      Ah, that make sense! We’re glad you saw that, and we hope you enjoy the recipe!

  37. Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — September 7, 2015 @ 1:57 pm (#)

    Sure, we think jars would be just fine for storage (as long as you refrigerate of course)! :)


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