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!

This post contains affiliate links.

Enchilada Sauce

Red Enchilada Sauce

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


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!




  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.)


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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1,841 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

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  1. Super easy and super flavorful! Loved this recipe.

  2. This was my first time making Enchilada sauce. It’s okay, but it pretty much tastes like chili powder. As I was tasting it I realized it definitely needed some acidity in it (which says something as I tend to shy away from acids.) In the end I had to look up a few other recipes to see what the unifying ingredients were. I added some lemon juice and a bit of tomato paste to it and it helped bring it together. My enchiladas taste pretty good, but this is not a keeper for me.

  3. I have been using this recipe for well over a year! It’s so simple, but delicious. My husband (from Mexico) likes it with just a touch of sweetness, so I add about 2 tsp of white sugar. So good! Thank you!

  4. This is amazing sauce. I usually use canned enchilada sauce. My husband came in while I was starting this recipe. He was not happy that I was changing how I always make my enchiladas. He came back in while the sauce was cooking and said that smells amazing. It tastes as good as it smells. I will never go back to canned sauce this is so easy to make.

  5. Thanks for sharing, the sauce is terrific and for Sheltering in Place I made good use of some meat in the freezer. As a grab and go for the kids, I made a bunch, and froze them, works great. Three enchiladas fit into a small aluminum pan (Like for webber drippings) and then covered with foil and put in gallon zip lock freezer bags. To bake (still frozen) loosen the foil so the cheese doesn’t stick, and bake at 350 still covered about an 45min-1hr, uncover to brown.

  6. Absolutely amazing. My first time making enchiladas and this sauce along with the beef and chicken recipes were awesome.

  7. Made this recipe today with some additions. Used all ingredients listed plus 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, doubled the oregano to 1/2 teaspoon and added a 14oz can of tomato sauce. I also used 1 cup of beef broth and 1 cup of chicken broth.
    The addition of the tomato sauce adds a bit of sweet and acid to the taste, thickens it a bit, and with the broths, adds a good dash of umami to the flavor while toning down the chili powder and cumin.
    I have a couple of pounds of smoked pork shoulder I will be shredding and seasoning for filling.
    When making the enchiladas, we use a silicone bbq brush to coat both sides of the tortillas before filling, then brush the tops with a generous amount of sauce but not so much to make them sloppy.

  8. This was beautiful color and scent. Maybe something is wrong, this was so salty it was not edible. Very spicy, used McCormick American Chili Powder. To fix it, I used 1/4 of the salty concoction, added 4 squares of trader joe dark chocolate, 2 cups of water, 2 tbs of tomato paste, and cooked it down. Still very spicy and we like spice. A great method for a rich beautiful sauce. Next time, no salt or to taste after! 1 Tbs of Chili Powder. Maybe mild paprika as a substitute 3 tbs chili powder for color.

  9. Just love this sauce, especially as its not tomato based. And the other thing I love about this sauce? That,, the post explains that American chilli powder is not as spicy as sold here in Ireland.. First American sauce I made nearly my head blow off!! 😂🇮🇪

  10. Just made this tonight, but with corn tortillas and it was AMAZING. Love your blog and recipes!

  11. Great recipe that is my go to sauce. Thank you

  12. This sauce make enchiladas AMAZING!
    I stumbled upon your recipe a few years ago and didn’t realize it would mean I’d never enjoy enchiladas again unless they were made with this sauce!
    When I first made it I had my doubts because it was based solely on spices and no tomato ingredient. My whole family, husband and three sons, adore when I make enchiladas! Making again tonight and thought I would finally let you know and say thank you!

  13. This is AMAZING! Better than any enchilada sauce I’ve ever tasted! Even better than that I’ve eaten in any Mexican restaurant.

  14. Hi! The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of both oil and flour.

    The video shows a much higher amount of flour in order to achieve the roux.

    What’s the correct amount? When I put 2 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp flour in, I could not achieve the roux consistency…had to add flour.

  15. Never was good at anything Mexican my husbands favorite food. This dish is constantly requested by my family. Thank You

  16. This is DEFINITELY the BEST enchilada sauce ever! I am Very Pleased with how easy it is to make and will Never purchase canned enchilada sauce again! I never comment on recipes but this one is unbeatable. You will not be disappointed.

  17. Made this tonight with regular chili powder using about 2 heaping Tablespoons and a 1/2 T of cumin as 1/2 t of onion powder in addition to the other spices you recommended. It was excellent. My mouth is still a little tingly from the chili powder, but not in a bad way. I make a breast of chicken covered in salsa and add chili and cumin to it and cook it until it’s ready to be shredded and use that inside my corn tortillas. Thanks for this recipe. I will definitely use it again. And for the mason jar suggestion.

  18. Did you leave out tomato?
    What makes the sauce red?
    How do you fill the quart jar in the picture with only 2 cups stock?

  19. Very easy… I would have everything measured out before starting… burnt 1st batch. Oh well… but 2nd batch wea was almost perfect. We added 1/4tsp onion powder.

  20. OK I made the sauce from the chicken thighs broth – The sauce is delicious!.I plan to use chicken thigh meat instead of breast meat in the enchilada recipe…… Due to the fact that all I had were chicken thighs in my freezer! Not getting to the store as much with the Pandemic. Making The best chicken enchilada recipe a little later..I can’t wait to try it today on Cinco de Mayo!

  21. Made your homemade enchilada sauce and enchiladas for Cinco de Mayo during this COVID-19 quarantine. Absolutely wonderful! I did add fresh garlic along with the powered garlic. I’ll definitely make these for my family when we can all get together again. Thank you. Theresa in Foster City, CA

  22. Outstanding sauce. I will never go back to canned sauce. I made it twice this month and made a double batch today so I can freeze half for next month when I am too busy to make it.

  23. This is perfect as I can no longer find enchilada sauce in the UK! Can this be frozen?

  24. Way too salty! 2 cups stock (mine contain salt) so I should not have added any salt, or maybe a small pinch. It was otherwise tasty. I substituted paprika for chili powder so kids would eat it.

  25. I used this recipe today for the first time. I substituted the American chilI pepper for mild/sweet paprika and added a half tsp of smoked paprika. It worked out great. The whole family including my 2 year old loved it. Thank you for the recipe – We’ll be making it again! 🙂

  26. I was reluctant after reading some of the reviews, but not only was this recipe simple but it absolutely was better than any if the store bought sauces we usually buy. Will 100% make this again. I let mine simmer for a long time (~30-40 mins.) which definitely helped the flavors develop, and used a little more than 2 cups broth (just to use up the container). Great, simple recipe.

  27. This is soooo easy & the best! My family loved it as well. I reduced my chili powder because some don’t like the heat. I’m going to make more & can it fit convienience next time around.

  28. Very tasty and delicious!! Will never buy enchilada sauce from a can, ever again!