The BEST Enchilada Sauce!

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Truly the BEST homemade enchilada sauce recipe!  It’s super simple to make, and a million times better than the canned stuff.  (Also be sure to check out my recipe for Green Enchilada Sauce too!)

The BEST Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe

My best tip for how to make a killer pan of homemade enchiladas?

This homemade enchilada sauce recipe. 

It has been the secret ingredient in my favorite enchilada recipe for years.  And inevitably, every time I make a pan of enchiladas for a dinner party, or take some enchilada soup to a friend with a new baby, or whip up a quick batch of enchilada nachos, or add the sauce to some shredded chicken for Taco Tuesday — someone always asks for the recipe to this magical enchilada sauce.

It’s a million times better than anything you can buy in the can.  And even better?  It only takes about 20 minutes to make, and calls for simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry.  Let’s make some!

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Chili Powder for The BEST Enchilada Sauce recipe!

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:

To make this enchilada sauce recipe, you’ll need (affiliate links included):

  • Chili powder: As in, the classic American* chili powder, such as this.  This is the main seasoning in this simple sauce, so I recommend buying a good-quality brand.  I sometimes also like to use a 50/50 blend of half chili powder + half ancho chili powder (or chipotle chili powder).
  • Garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and salt: These will be the other seasonings in your sauce.
  • Oil and flour: To make the roux to thicken the sauce. Any kind of mild-flavored oil or butter will do.  And if you are gluten-free, you can use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend.
  • Veggie or chicken stock: This will form the broth for your sauce.

*International readers: Please note that American chili powder is very different than chili powder in other countries.  The American version is quite mild, whereas chili powders in Australia, Europe, and other places around the world are more similar to cayenne (aka — very spicy!).  I really recommend finding a bottle of American-style chili powder to make this recipe.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Ingredients

How To Make Enchilada Sauce:

To make this enchilada sauce recipe, follow these simple steps:

  1. Make your roux: Heat your oil (or butter) in a saucepan.  Then whisk in the flour until combined, and cook for 1 minute or so.
  2. Stir in seasonings: Then add in the chili powder, garlic powder, salt, cumin and oregano and cook for 1 more minute.  This will help toast the spices just a bit.
  3. Whisk in broth: Next, gradually whisk in your sauce until most of the clumps have dissolved and the sauce is smooth.  (That said, it’s ok if there are a few small clumps.)
  4. Simmer and reduce: Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat and let it continue simmering until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.  I like mine just slightly thickened, but you can let your simmer for longer if you would like it to be really thick.
  5. Serve!  Then once the enchilada sauce has reached your desired consistency, it’s ready to serve!

How To Make Enchilada Sauce

My Favorite Recipes Using Enchilada Sauce:

There are about a million ways you could use this enchilada sauce.  But some of my faves include using it in:

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Also, be sure to check out my new recipe for Green Enchilada Sauce too!  Enjoy, everyone!

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Enchilada Sauce

Red Enchilada Sauce

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 cups 1x

Description

My all-time favorite homemade red enchilada sauce recipe.  It’s quick and easy to make, and a million times better than the canned stuff!


Scale

Ingredients


Instructions

  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.)

Notes

Chili powder: Also, I just want to stress again that this recipe calls for traditional American chili powdernot cayenne.  American chili powder is fairly mild, and should not be overly spicy, whereas other international chili powders are often incredibly spicy.  So if you live outside of the United States, please look for an American variety of chili powder.

Heat options: 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.

Gluten-free option: Feel free to use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose flour.  Or alternately, you can thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry (equal parts cold water and cornstarch whisked together, then added to the sauce once it has reached a simmer).

How To Make Enchilada Sauce From Scratch

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1,800 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

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  1. These enchiladas are Amazing and super easy to make!!
    Thank you!

  2. Great enchilada sauce. I like my enchilada sauce with a milder favor so I cut the Chile Powder in half. I will never go back to the can stuff. Recipe is so easy.

  3. I love this sauce and I use Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo & Fava Flour (Gluten free) as the thickener…it gives a richer flavour than brown rice..but that works too! Thanks again for this easy and deliciously versatile sauce.

  4. Hi I just had a question can I used chicken broth instead of stock that’s all i have is chicken broth

    • I’ve been using this enchilada and sauce recipe for years now and we love it so much! Im from canada and I havent been able to find any can or jar enchilada sauce in my area at all but whenever I go to the states and see it i pass on buying it because I’m scared it wont taste this good!

    • I just made this sauce and used it for chicken enchiladas. It is delicious–the best enchilada sauce I’ve ever tasted. It was delicious right out of the oven. It will be even better tomorrow. I made it per directions with 4 Tbs of the McCormick chili powder. It has a little bite, but I wouldn’t call it hot, but then I like hot. The only changes I made was to use tarragon instead of oregano, and I left out the cumin.

  5. This sauce is a bomb! Wonderful, wonderful. There’s something about canned enchilada sauces that just don’t taste great…there’s one dominant flavor and it’s not good.

    Your recipe is light and fresh tasting with excellent flavors. I made no substitutions – followed your recipe precisely. Next time (probably tomorrow), I will add more heat.

    Thanks again for a great recipe.
    @cantstopcooking

    • You just changed what the sauce should taste like…Mexican Tarragon has hints of anise…
      this recipe Adobe sauce is more smokey red sauce needing Mexican oregano to marry the cumin even cinnamon for earth tones of the sauce.
      but hey if yours taste great now try Adobe sauce for your enchiladas LOL

  6. Red pepper, garlic, onion, oregano and cumin is chili powder in the US. Your recipe simply doubled the chili powder, which is good but redundant.

  7. Chili powder? What? Might as well buy canned. Get whole red chilies and use that as a base. The flavor is pure and full.

  8. Love the sauce. How long can it keep in the fridge and the freezer if I freeze it? Thanks!

  9. This is so, very good. It is also so quick and easy. Thank you for sharing this recipe. This will definitely be included in my favorites list.

  10. It’s fairly good. Love the oregano. But I feel like this needs something acidic in it. Maybe it’s my chili powder’s fault. But it could really use a touch of vinegar or tomato juice or something like that. Overly “chili powder” ish.

  11. For those of you without chili powder…or using it.
    FYI: Remember Chili powder isn’t always just chilis this is McCormick’s ingredients: Organic Chili Pepper, Organic Spices, Salt, Silicon Dioxide (Added to Make Free Flowing), & Organic Garlic.
    So if your following this recipe and want to use the authentic Chilpolite peppers or Ancho chili’s….just add in the McCormicks ingredients that this recipe is using minus the chili and use other hot or mild peppers to make more athentic….OH also smoke paprika will be very mild but substitute.
    I hope that makes sense??

  12. This sauce is EVERYTHING! Total game changer and totally delish!

  13. It truly is the best enchilada sauce out there! I’m eager to try it with dishes other than chicken enchiladas!

  14. Is there really no tomatoes or tomato sauce/paste in this?

  15. This IS an awesome enchilada sauce. My husband and I both love it and use it on your enchilada recipe. I’ve made other enchilada recipes and always come back to this one.

  16. Made this along with your chicken enchilada recipe and my husband loved it.

    I’d like to make a larger batch, but can you freeze the sauce if you aren’t going to use within 3 days?

  17. My family loved the taste of this sauce. The recipe seemed to call for too much flour. My sauce turned out way too thick, I even added an extra cup of chicken stock and it was still very thick. Next time I think I will use 1 T flour and see how that works out. The flavor was great though. Will make again.

  18. I added a bit of red wine vinegar to the sauce because I love a bit of zing. I found the recipe exactly as spicy as I would want it but a little hot for my littles. So I made a 2nd batch with less chili. Yum!

  19. Can the sauce be frozen and used at a later date?

  20. Very good enchilada sauce. I’ve always used it from a can so this was a big improvement and not as salty (understatement)! Also good with a little sour cream or Greek yogurt mixed in.

  21. This is the recipe I have been looking for! I was skeptical at first because it didn’t have tomato sauce in the recipe, as they all seem to have. However, that is the key! I have not been able to find a recipe that is similar to the restaurant enchiladas I like. But this is it! I did double the recipe without doubling the chili powder, and that was perfect for my taste. I will never buy canned again! Thank you so much!

  22. This is the recipe I have been looking for! I was skeptical at first because it didn’t have tomato sauce in the recipe, as they all seem to have. However, that is the key! I have not been able to find a recipe that is similar to the restaurant enchiladas I like. But this is it! I did double the recipe without doubling the chili powder, and that was perfect for my taste. I will never buy canned again! Thank you so much!

  23. Thank you very much! You are right, this sauce is the best enchilada sauce I’ve ever tasted. I was wondering if I could freeze it for later. Have you ever froze it?

  24. I made this years now. Its so good. Im from europe so My sauce might Be litle hot. I use 3 spoons normal Santa Marias chilipowder and 1 spoon chipotle powder. I ADD Aldo 1tl vinegar and Brown sugar.

  25. I’ve made this about 4 times now and it’s sooo good. How good? I have a can of enchilada sauce in the cupboard, but I make this instead. It’s easy. I mix all my dry spices in a bowl first. Also add a good dash of onion powder. I make the roux with 2 T butter vs oil and stir til golden and the butter fat is no longer foam. It’s a keeper. Thank you!

  26. Can this be frozen?

  27. WICKED RECIPE!

  28. I followed the recipe and it turned out to be super salty! I don’t know if it was the chicken stock I used or what but not sure

  29. This turned out so bitter for me and I have no idea what I did wrong 😭 Did I somehow burn the spices? Why would it be bitter? Does anyone know? I want to try again and get it right.

  30. SO GOOD! I made this with ancho chile powder because it’s all I had left, and used some homemade chicken bone stock I had in the fridge. I didn’t have oregano, and I used garlic cloves instead of powder, also because it’s what I had on hand. I was amazed by how good the sauce turned out. It thickened up much more than I thought it would, and it was really red. Oh, I enjoyed dinner so much tonight, and I have leftover sauce to make something else with this coming week. Thank you so much for this recipe! Personally, I didn’t think it needed anything else. Mine was smoky, red, mildly spicy, and a perfect consistency. I would definitely make this again.

  31. I loved it! Cut the Chili Powder (Penzeys) in half… and my wife still thought it was hot. Not I!

    From another similar recipe, added 1T Tomato Paste and 1/4 t Cinnamon.

    Delicious.

  32. Thank you for the recipe! It’s delicious. Is it possible to keep this sause in jars (in a fridge?) till next time?

  33. Have you ever tried canning this sauce? If so, could you supply some directions.

  34. Holy moly! This is the recipe that I have been looking for to actually be able to brag about my enchiladas with!!! I made it exactly like the recipe but used two tablespoons butter and two tablespoons oil but other then that I followed the recipe. Well I doubled it and only had 7 tablespoons of chili powder and I use Better Than Bouillon to make the chicken broth and I simmered it a little longer to allow the chili powder to blend in… oh I just hate it when people say that they follow the recipe EXCEPT!!! But I wanna be truthful here because I NEVER write reviews! This enchilada sauce is so good I’m pretty sure that I would eat it on a dog turd!!! Other reviews are right about no tomato sauce being the “secret “! Thanx so much for the FANTASTIC RECIPE!!!!

  35. Best ever sauce and so simple. The whole chicken enchilada recipe was fantastic. My husband isn’t a spicey food lover so this was perfect.

  36. Really yummy recipe!! I would double it though because it doesn’t make a lot for 8 enchiladas

  37. So mild in spice yet so incredibly flavorful! This enchilada sauce recipe tastes like something out a true Mexican kitchen, so delicious!

  38. OH. MY. GOODNESS. This sauce is amazing!!! I made it for my family last night and everyone could not quit talking about how yummy the enchiladas were! Thank you for this delicious addition to my enchiladas! It was so easy and quick to make! I ended up having to make two batches because the first set of enchiladas were eaten so quickly.

  39. Your recipes are always delicious! Gimme Some Oven is my go to site for yummy recipes. Thank you so much ☺️

  40. Great Recipe… I can’t stand when people do this but I have to say I did change a couple of things to balance out the chalkiness from all the spices (most of it goes away as it cooks anyway). After adding the spices to the roux I added about 2 Tb of tomato paste. I also added 1 tsp of vinegar and 1 Tb sugar.

  41. So delicious! I added a little tomato paste and used some smoked chicken for the enchiladas. My husband loved them and asked me to add this to our family recipe book!

  42. SO good. Glad I stumbled across this recipe. It’s super easy to make, and had just the right amount of heat. I used it in chicken enchiladas -they tasted so much better than when I’ve made them previously with store bought sauce.