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 also always 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.  I hope you continue to enjoy it!  Here’s the recipe…

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.)

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. Barbara — September 4, 2014 @ 10:29 am (#)

    I always say, “red chile sauce will be as good as the kind of red chili you use. I have tried many, I was juss curious as to what kind/brand of red chili did you use?

    • Ali — October 19, 2014 @ 1:33 pm (#)

      I like Spice Islands or McCormick. :)

  2. Abby — September 4, 2014 @ 12:40 pm (#)

    Do you have a recipe to can/bottle a large amount?

  3. deborah wilcher — September 6, 2014 @ 2:29 pm (#)

    Missing the tomato flavor in the sauce.can see the use of chicken with would use beef with beef enchiladas…added tomato puree to taste..omitted the oregano too..borders Italian sauces with oregano…

  4. Kgtg — September 7, 2014 @ 12:47 am (#)

    Sounds great! Have you tried pressure canning your sauce? Wondering on guidelines.

    • Ali — October 18, 2014 @ 6:24 pm (#)

      I have not tried that yet. I know very little about canning, so if you try it, let me know! :)

  5. Diana Boles — September 7, 2014 @ 5:15 pm (#)

    I bought some New Mexico chili powder and I can’t wait to try this. The chicken broth is new to me.

  6. sandy — September 7, 2014 @ 8:18 pm (#)

    can i can this sauce?

    • Ali — October 18, 2014 @ 6:23 pm (#)

      I’m not an expert in canning, but I have heard that yes you can.

  7. Ruth (Gram) — September 8, 2014 @ 4:15 pm (#)

    You sound like someone I would like to know. I like most of the things you like.
    My pup’s name is Bebe, a rat terrior. I love cooking. Just found out I have type 2 diabetes, so I get to find recipes for an all new life style. i’VE BEEN looking for a good enchilada sauce recipes. I’m going to try this this week. Have a great week. …. sincerely, Gram

  8. Melissa — September 8, 2014 @ 11:26 pm (#)

    Hi looking forward to making this.
    Thanks for this.


  9. Becca — September 11, 2014 @ 12:14 pm (#)

    Its too bad you can’t can this! I’m on a roll with my canning and this would be wonderful to have in a jar waiting. Sooooo yummy!!!!

  10. Pap — September 12, 2014 @ 1:15 pm (#)

    My sauce did not turn red like yours

    • Ali — September 12, 2014 @ 1:42 pm (#)

      It will depend on the color of your chili powder. Also, mine was backlit by the sun, so it looks a little more red. Yours should still taste great! :)

  11. Kathleen — September 14, 2014 @ 12:58 pm (#)

    I could not get my sauce to thicken. I’m not sure why, I followed the instructions to a T. I hope this doesn’t ruin the enchilada casserole…

  12. Linda — September 14, 2014 @ 5:25 pm (#)

    Why could you not can this sauce?

  13. Mel — October 14, 2014 @ 12:33 pm (#)

    No tomatoes are required in this?  THanks!

  14. Kris — October 14, 2014 @ 2:43 pm (#)

    I believe those that got browner sauce may have browned the flour too much. I love this recipe, it actually tastes like enchilada sauce. I’ve deleted all those so-called enchilada sauces with tomato sauce in them. I didn’t think enchilada sauce should get it’s color from tomato. Thanks so much for sharing your Red Enchilada Sauce with the world!

  15. Erica — October 14, 2014 @ 3:46 pm (#)

    by chili powder do you mean like cayenne chili powder or just good old chili powder that one may put in actual chili beans? thank you 

  16. TOP - 99999 Wonderful Quotes — October 14, 2014 @ 7:00 pm (#)

    I have been looking a long time for a recipe that made me say “YUM”. Spotted this one today and had to try it. I LOVE TO COOK. I want to thank your husband for creating this recipe as it was simply delicious and exactly what I was looking for. I did, however, use Mild Cheddar and Italian Blend shredded cheeses. My husband loved it 

  17. Richigrl2 — October 19, 2014 @ 4:32 pm (#)

    This sauce is just ok. It’s too spicy, I love spicy but it’s just hot, no flavor. I don’t recommend.

  18. Lena — October 20, 2014 @ 1:40 pm (#)

    enchilada sauce is made from chilis, right?? Not tomato. Do not use tomatoes. 
    I have yet to find an original enchilada sauce that uses peppers. 

  19. Birdiebee — October 26, 2014 @ 1:35 pm (#)

    This looks like an awesome enchilada sauce.  If I wasn’t in such a hurry today, I would make this for my chicken enchiladas.  

  20. Rachel Cooks — October 29, 2014 @ 8:01 pm (#)

    The canned sauces have so much sodium. I’m sure yours is much more flavorful as well. I make a creamy enchilada sauce that is so good but can’t wait to try yours for a different spin.

  21. Kimberly — October 30, 2014 @ 9:12 pm (#)

    I LOVE this sauce so does my family its so good!! I was shocked by how many comments ask about tomato sauce though since authentic enchilada sauce doesnt have tomato in it. Seriously though awesome recipe

  22. Andre thomason — November 1, 2014 @ 11:47 am (#)

    I found this sauce recipe while I did a Google search a while back. Now it is the only enchillada sauce I make. Thank you so much for making/posting this recipe. Yum!

  23. Jennifer — November 2, 2014 @ 10:15 am (#)

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!!!! I recently found out I am allergic to tomatos so this is amazing!!!! Most enchilada sause is a tomato paist base, So I love this!!  My BFF sent me you link after her family tried this I am so excited words can not express how excited I am!! Thank you!!!

  24. Sue — November 2, 2014 @ 5:57 pm (#)

    This recipe was designed to be without tomato sauce….to me this a more authentic Mexican sauce although I use equal amounts of cumin to the chili.. 4 tablespoons of each…much richer flavor…I don’t like the tomato flavor in enchiladas

  25. Terri — November 3, 2014 @ 5:07 pm (#)

    Can this be made in larger batches and canned?

    • Ali — November 9, 2014 @ 9:00 pm (#)

      I’m not an expert in canning, but yes, I am told that it could be canned.

  26. Kate — November 11, 2014 @ 12:11 pm (#)

    I am so very happy to find a sauce that I can adjust the sodium!  

  27. obi — November 12, 2014 @ 7:36 pm (#)

    Are all the spices ground…or is the oregeno the little flecks? Thanks

    • Ali — November 12, 2014 @ 7:41 pm (#)

      I just used traditional dried spices (little flecks) — I didn’t ground them. Enjoy!

  28. Chicki — November 18, 2014 @ 1:06 pm (#)

    For LENA on Oct. 20, 2014, dried red chili peppers sold in bags or produce section, can be rinsed and boiled in water until very tender. Can take up to 30-40 minutes of controlled boiling. Then remove stems (if not done so already). Blend until a smooth consistancy. Then use as described in this recipe for enchiladas or tamales.

  29. Kelsey — November 18, 2014 @ 2:25 pm (#)

    Can you use olive oil instead of vegetable or canola? Sorry if this has already been addressed in the comments.

    • Ali — December 4, 2014 @ 8:53 pm (#)

      Sure. You may just taste a bit more of the olive flavor.

  30. Lena — November 30, 2014 @ 1:18 pm (#)

    thank you CHICKI for mentioning the chili pepper part!!
    I think this would be a more authentic Mexican flavour. 
    I do not care for the tomato taste in a lot of homemade enchilada sauces and the chicken stock is new to me too.
    Guess we’ll see what I come up with!

  31. Susan — December 3, 2014 @ 2:59 pm (#)

    Enchilada sauce way  too hot for us…what can one do to tone it down?  

  32. sandra — December 4, 2014 @ 2:38 pm (#)

    Finally, A recipe that does NOT have tomato in it. Yay. Gracias.

  33. Emilee Brooks — December 9, 2014 @ 8:42 am (#)

    I am wanting to use this sauce for my enchiladas this weekend for our Christmas party. I need to make 3 cups of it though. So do you have a recipe for larger amounts?

  34. Ela — December 14, 2014 @ 2:06 pm (#)

    Why use GLUTTEN FREE flour? Can I just use regular or would it mess up the end result?


    • Ali — December 14, 2014 @ 3:29 pm (#)

      You can use regular all-purpose flour.

  35. mary — December 16, 2014 @ 3:50 pm (#)

    Very salty! Skip the salt!

  36. kelly — December 26, 2014 @ 6:22 pm (#)

    You need to add “bring to a boil” before simmer.  It will never thicken if you don’t.  Also, I made this recipe with bringing to a boil and then simmering and it still never thickened   I added and bit of cornstarch and water mixture plus 1/2 can tomato paste.

  37. DocTong — December 30, 2014 @ 4:28 pm (#)

    Amazing to me how many people asked about canning this sauce. Seriously, do people even bother reading comments before posting? Sorry to seem cranky, but this question was asked and answered about 80 times. 

    This recipe is similar to another that I’ve made several times. It’s not really unusual for enchilada sauce to be made without tomato. Of course, if you want tomato, add some. It’s true that chili powders can vary widely in color. Usually this depends on the types of chills in the blend. For those who don’t know, chili powder is generally nothing more than ground dried chili peppers. Some companies add other things–notably cumin and paprika. Yes, it’s the same powder you use in chili (although the name “chili powder” doesn’t come from the dish, but from the chilis in the powder). 

    Those concerned about the heat, I suggest starting with less chili powder and taste it. You can always add more spice, but you can’t remove it after it is there. Another trick is to add a little sugar if it is too hot. Sugar is one of the few things that can reduce the effect of the capsicum (the chemical in peppers that make them hot). 

    I hope some if these things help. I’m looking forward to a grand Mexican feast on New Year’s Eve!

  38. Alicia — December 31, 2014 @ 8:51 pm (#)

    The flavor of the suace was nice but it was a bit salty and soooo spicy!  My kids almost started crying and I only added 2 T.   I was only able to eat it with lots of sour cream.  Not sure if we are just wimpy, but we couldn’t keep it for leftovers:(

  39. Cheri Smith — January 4, 2015 @ 4:07 pm (#)

    I keep my ground red chile in the freezer to maintain the bright red color. Otherwise it will turn brown with time. Our family demands a bright red chile. 
    My husband was born in New Mexico and through him I’ve learned a lot of the New Mexico cuisine over the past 40 years.
    We live in the beautiful Southwest and love good regional food. 
    I purchase my red chile the rough The Fruit Basket in Albuquerque, N.M.
    After we moved from Albuquerque, I found that they will do mail orders. 
    Be warned though you need to specify hot, medium or mild. Hot is hot! Medium has a nice punch too. Mild has the same wonderful flavor but doesn’t burn your tongue.
    If you’re used the chili powder in the grocery store, this is not the same.
    This stuff will turn you into a chile snob. 
    I make a  larger batch and freeze in smaller containers extras for future use. 
    Your recipe is a good one.

  40. Cheri Smith — January 4, 2015 @ 4:45 pm (#)

    Through, not the rough in my previous comment about where I purchase mine.
    I read a number of comments and have to add.

    If you try using chili powder such as Gebhardts to make this, it’s the wrong thing.
    That type has SALT, cumin and other stuff, which is fine in a big bowl of Texas beef chili or in tacos.
    For enchilada sauce it’s just the red chile that you want. 
    In N.M. Hatch is the best for commercial chile and you may use the whole pods to make it.
    It’s traditional, but boy oh boy does it ever stain! Your blender will retain a red chile orange-red stain for years. I do the powder as it is much easier and the flavor is just as good where I buy mine from.  
    Read your labels carefully to see what is in your chili or chile powders!
    In N.M. it’s spelled chile, so that’s why you see my spelling differences, to me in the has different meanings.
    I was raised up in Texas, so there it’s Tex-mex a different flavor than that of the cuisine of N.M.
    Even when making my pot of Texas chili, I prefer to blend my own individual spices. That way I control the flavor and salt content. 
    NO tomatoes in enchilada sauce, it’s not for spaghetti. 
    Cheese helps control heat if it’s too hot, in fact sour cream will and drinking milk if you like it will help. Dairy.
    Hope this helps on some questions I see recurring. 

  41. ashley — January 10, 2015 @ 1:40 pm (#)

    How long can you freeze it for?

    • Ali — January 10, 2015 @ 1:54 pm (#)

      I’d say up to 3 months.

  42. Julie — January 20, 2015 @ 4:12 pm (#)

    I’m very disappointed to say that this didn’t work out for me. I didn’t make any substitutions and followed the recipe exactly except that I added a little less than 4T of chili powder because I ran out; however it came out extremely grainy…it basically tasted like granulated chili powder mixed with a hot thickened stock. :( I used organic chili powder from the bulk section of my natural food store (which I’ve never used before) so there’s a possibility that the type of powder I used might have had something to do with it…perhaps it wasn’t a fine enough grind. However I don’t think that chili powder ‘dissolves’ into hot liquid like salt or sugar so I’m not sure if a finer grind of chili powder would solve the problem. Too bad I really wanted this recipe to work for me! 

  43. Yolanda — February 2, 2015 @ 8:18 am (#)

    My mom owned a Mexican restaurant for over forty years in Taos. This recipe is similar to hers, except for the chicken broth. For those of you who are questioning the lack of tomato sauce, please know that tomato sauce does not belong in enchilada sauce. For color you  could try adding paprika. You can also purchase Mexican oregano.

  44. Emily S — February 19, 2015 @ 6:45 pm (#)

    Ali, what chili powder do you buy? On your chicken enchiladas post you say “good quality chili powder”. Is this better than what I buy at Trader Joe’s? :)

  45. Georgia — February 19, 2015 @ 8:11 pm (#)

    I made this sauce to go with the enchiladas also from this website and while my father loved it for it’s spiciness, my sister wouldn’t eat it and her boyfriend said it was like being kicked in the teeth. This sauce, even with less than half of the chilli powder is super spicy so I made a batch without the chilli at all and mixed them together which made it much better. I’m wondering if it’s supposed to be four teaspoons of chilli rather than four tablespoons.


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