Red Enchilada Sauce

Learn how to make homemade red enchilada sauce with this easy recipe!  It’s so simple to make, and so delicious that I bet you’ll never return to the canned stuff. 

This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is the BEST!!! It only takes about 20 minutes to make, it tastes great on all kinds of enchiladas, it's easy to make gluten-free, and it's absolutely delicious! |

Every time I make the sauce for my favorite chicken enchiladas, I feel like the enchilada sauce itself is so good that 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?


Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe Video (1-Minute!)


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.


5 / 5 (71 Reviews)
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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!



  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and whisk 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 slightly thickened.
  2. Use immediately or refrigerate in an air-tight container for up to 3 days.  (I like to use mason jars or Weck jars to store this sauce.)

*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.  Or if you’d like a smokier sauce, I recommend using 3 tablespoons chili powder and 1 tablespoon chipotle powder.

Again, though, this recipe calls for traditional American chili powder, 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
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If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

This post contains affiliate links.

Looking for some good recipes to use this homemade enchilada sauce?  Here are some of my faves:

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1,553 comments on “Red Enchilada Sauce”

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  1. I have made this so many times in the past, and it’s delicious every time. Quick question. Is the flour in it only to thicken? I’m doing a whole 30 diet, and I think I could substitute in arrow root powder for the flower if it’s only a thickener.

    Rating: 5
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  3. We are from San Diego and moved to Denver and no matter what people tell us, we cannot find traditional Mexican food anywhere! I have made this sauce multiple times because it really does taste exactly like the enchiladas we ordered back home. I also have multiple requests to make these over and over again from neighbors! It’s and fave and you deserve all the credit. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  4. I’ll be making this tonight for my zucchini chicken enchiladas! I’m on a diet to help heal my liver and finding enchilada sauce without crazy additives is very difficult! I hope this works! I worry about the gluten free flour as a thickener, all I have is an almond/coconut mix (as I can’t use a rice blend). Do you know if xantham gum would work? I’ve tried using it to thicken gravy’s but it always ends in disaster. So I’m afraid to try that as well. Any advise?

  5. I’ve made this so many times and it is super yummy. It’s very easy to make too. Thanks for the recipe.

    Rating: 5
  6. The enchiladas I made today were,indeed, the BEST EVER! The Red Sauce was WAY better than anything from a can. Very very good. Kept the recipe and will make it again! Thank you

  7. Wow!!! That was the most amazing enchiladas my family has had. My child is so picky. Literally she picks onions peppers and basically any veggie. She loved it!!! Two thumbs up👍👍

    Rating: 5
  8. Made this and didn’t have enough chili powder on my shelf! I added a bit of cayenne, but not too much. I’m excited to make this again, with the correct amount of chili powder, along with the skillet chicken enchilada recipe.

    Rating: 5
  9. Awesome! Thank you for being here!! Well, I have to have onion sooooo I put half the broth and a quartered onion in the blender before adding it. Next time I’ll add fresh garlic and cilantro to the blender…that should be good. GOOD STUFF! THANKS.

  10. This is my absolute go to recipe for enchilada sauce! We use it a lot. I’ll never used canned again! I add a big blob of plain Greek yogurt at the end to make it creamy (and make more sauce bc there can never be too much!)

    Thanks for the awesome yummy recipe!

    Rating: 5
  11. –have never been inclined to endorse a recipe prior to this!
    amazing recipe in its simplicity, healthiness & flavor!!
    thanks !!!!!

    Rating: 5
  12. Made this for the family and it was a big hit. Loved how simple it was to make. Using it again for the superbowl! Hope our friends like it.

    Rating: 5
  13. Not a huge fan of the child powder flavours so I have some adobe chile in its sauce (it was frozen from being leftover from a previous recipe) I used instead. Its given it a smokier flavour. Very nice recipe. Plan to use again.

    Rating: 5
  14. This is a fantastic sauce.! I did make one little substitution in the sauce recipe. I made the sauce gluten free by skipping the flour. I mixed 1/4 cup of the chicken stock with corn starch. And added that with the rest of the stock. The sauce is smooth and has wonderful color and flavor! Worth keeping some on hand for other recipes but it was amazing in the chicken enchiladas! Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  15. So easy and so delicious. Thank you :)

    Rating: 5
  16. Almost 30 years ago i was a foreign exchange student in Michigan and we had a lot of Mexican food in my american family.
    But for some reason Tex Mex food has never been big here in Denmark, and certainly not Enchiladas. And you can not buy enchilada sauce here, at all..
    Over the years I’ve tried to make it myself, but never got it quite right.. This recipie for the sauce is just perfect though..
    Thank you, I will keep making this whenever I get the urge to “go back” to my Exchange student experience..

    Rating: 5
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  18. Just made this recipe for the first time (to accompany the chicken enchilada recipe) and it was a TOTAL success. SO delicious and easy. It’s going to be our new bulk-prep lunch. Many thanks :)

  19. Can i use chicken broth instead of chicken stock?

  20. Love this recipe! I usually double it to make the Enchilada Soup a day or so later. This time I won’t be making the soup for another week so don’t want to leave the sauce in the fridge. Have you ever frozen this sauce?

  21. This is a wonderful recipe for Enchilada Sauce! I make my own chili powder from dried peppers I get from Mexico each year. Through trial and error (lots of over hot chilli powder) I have figured out which chili;s work best for us.

    Rating: 5
  22. I’m making this tonight for the first time and so far it’s pretty awesome. I find it a bit salty at this stage (it’s still in the saucepan) but that’s probably from the bouillon cubes I used for the stock; I used one chicken and one vegetable. Next time I won’t add any salt and see how that works. But I gotta say this is a very impressive enchilada sauce. Thanks Ali. Looking forward to hoovering this down when it’s all put together!

    Rating: 5
  23. This sauce is the best! I made the enchiladas twice, once with this homemade sauce and the second time with premade canned enchilada sauce and it was night and day! I will forever make my own now that I have this recipe. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
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  25. This is indeed the best red sauce EVER. I’ve made this many many times and the family loves it. Other recipes I’ve found used tomato sauce but I love how this one doesn’t and it taste perfectly yummy. I didn’t have black beans in my pantry so I used corn. Also used chicken thighs instead of breast because thighs are just tastier. Thank you for the recipe!

    Rating: 5