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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1,907 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

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  1. I just made this sauce and it is delicious. It’s the first time I’ve made enchilada sauce and it was quick and easy and I’ll definitely make it again. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I will never use store bought sauce after making this for the family. We absolutely loved it!!! Thank you sooooo much for sharing.

  3. I liked this recipe. One augmentation–anything with cumin, I’ve found, can be enhanced by instead keeping cumin seeds around and quickly pan roasting and grinding them. I’m fine with dry ingredients…unfortunately I don’t have sprigs of parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme hanging all about my kitchen. But a fresh cumin is super easy and the flavor pops. Thanks for the recipe.

  4. we do not get chicken or vegetable broth.what alternative can i use?

    • To get chicken stock or vegetable stock all you really have to do is boil some vegetables or boil some chicken and there’s your stock you can season it with salt and pepper if you like

  5. Gurrrl, this stuff right here is restaurant quality. 1st time making it….so dang good, can’t go back to the can! #authentic

  6. Loved this sauce. I just made it with ground beef enchiladas. I added a can of tomato sauce to it because it had a bitter taste. I think also adding honey or orange zest might enhance it. Or is a sweet component not necessary?

  7. Sorry forgot to rate it. It was my first time making homemade enchilada sauce. I like the simplicity yet tasty sauce! A winner for sure. Son and hubby loved it.

  8. This actually may be the worse recipe I’ve ever tried, was gritty and bitter and I had to dump it down the drain.

    • I think you may have burned the roux in the beginning :( I’ve never had that issue

    • I’m there with you on the grittiness and bitterness… I’ve made this twice now and on the second time I decided to go rouge a little and add some honey (~1/2″, more oil (double), more salt (double), paprika (1/4 tsp) and some cayenne (1/4 tsp). Turned out a little better but still gritty. I think the problem is the amount of chili powder. It just doesn’t seem to dissolve correctly even after cooking it for twice as long. Besides the bitterness the flavor is pretty good, so adding some sweet and salty flavors to this helped a lot.

    • Did you maybe burn it? Burning it on the stove would make it gritty and bitter. The second time I did burn it because I put too much oil in the pan and it made it gritty as well. I just dumped it and started over. It was fine after I redid it; not gritty, not bitter at all. if it is still too “gritty” for you, try straining it.

  9. Great sauce! Made my own quick chicken and black bean enchiladas (leftover chicken, can of beans, some salsa and lots of spices) and used this sauce with Mexican cojita cheese. Wow, Husband kept saying…”this is the bomb!” Didn’t want to stop eating it. P.S. Didn’t use quite 2 cups of broth…probably more like 1.5 – 1.75 cups.

  10. The best! I will not buy another can of sauce again. And very easy to make!!

  11. I made this sauce last night and combined it with a small can of store bought enchilada sauce because I didn’t make enough. It was the PERFECT blend. Excellent recipe.

  12. My husband has an intolerance to chili powder spice. How can I make this red sauce for the whole family to enjoy? Or do I need to make him a separate sauce for the enchiladas? How can I make it taste Mexican without the heat? Thanks!

    • Chile is the integral ingredient to enchilada sauce, maybe try something tomato based?? cumin, oregano and garlic for flavor?

  13. I found this to be very salty also.. great flavor though, well definitely make again but maybe adjust seasonings for our taste

  14. I made chicken enchiladas with this last night and the sauce was absolutely my all-time favorite.

  15. Excellent. I added 1/2 t onion powder and a pinch of sugar to cut the bitterness of the chili powder.

  16. I will admit, I was a bit skeptical as I read how great this enchilada sauce is, and how people were always asking for the recipe. I made it last night. I can honestly say, with no exaggeration, this is the BEST enchilada sauce. I’m amazed! My family loves it, too. Thank you so much for sharing. This is definitely a new favorite.

  17. I can’t wait to make this recipe! Thank You So Much for sharing it!

  18. This was really good and so easy! I had started making a tamale pie when I realized it called for enchilada sauce. Thankfully I remembered I had saved your recipe so it was a good excuse to try it. I might cut back on the chili powder next time or try ancho to change it up. Thank you!

  19. This is quite good. I do like to add tomato paste to my enchilada sauce, so I added in 2 Tablespoons and really loved that addition. I also eliminated the salt called for because my broth has salt in it. 1/2 teaspoon on top of that would be way too salty for us. I would like to tell people to have your dry ingredients mixed together in a bowl and right beside your stove prior to heating up your oil/flour mixture so you are ready to go as soon as your roux comes together, otherwise you seriously risk burning your roux. Have your broth handy right by the stove too. You will thank me later. :)

  20. Excellent! May cut back a little on chili powder the next time. Do you think the sauce would freeze well? Beef enchiladas…it’s what’s for dinner! Thank you for sharing your yummy recipe.

  21. LOVE this sauce!!! I’ve probably made this 10x since in the last few months. For me the actual enchiladas are almost an afterthought lol. Make the sauce, put whatever in tortillas, cover w/sauce and cheese and bake. I tend to add the entire tsp of cumin, oregano and garlic powder but I love seasonings. I first made this using better than bouillon veggie broth and it was good, then I used the same brand of no-chicken broth (vegetarian) and I could literally drink the stuff.

  22. Has anyone made these in large batch and can it?

  23. This is a game-changer!! So delicious. My family always loves my enchiladas, but this was the first time I made the sauce. (I usually go for Old El Paso.) This was WAY better. High marks all around. Thank you!

  24. This is a game-changer!! So delicious. My family always loves my enchiladas, but this was the first time I made the sauce. (I usually go for Old El Paso.) This was WAY better. High marks all around. Thank you! ❤️ The Roaming Texan

  25. This recipe is amazing. I used it to make a ‘Chili’s’ chicken enchilada soup but I realized too late that I was out of almost everything (canned tomatoes, beans…), so the soup was just flavored with this sauce, chicken, cheese, and more chicken broth. It tastes great!

  26. Excellent and so easy. I will never buy canned enchilada sauce again!

  27. Outstanding recipe. I tried it straight the first time and it worked very well. It spread well and was thick enough not to run off the shells. Tangy without too much heat. I tend to like a little more heat, but the rest of the family doesn’t. It was quick and easy and stored well overnight and reheated without changing the taste or consistency.

    I used a homemade chicken stock made from big-box roasted chicken carcass. I poured it straight from the stockpot to the strainer to the enchilada sauce pan. Normally, I would refrigerate overnight to remove the fat, but it was very flavorful with it.

  28. I’m not much of a cook, but I ran out of my canned enchilada sauce. I snagged this recipe and made it. It was great! Better (and cheaper) then the canned stuff I used to use. I don’t think I’ll ever purchase sauce again. Too easy to make it myself.

  29. Thanks for the quick sauce recipe. It was delicious. I used less chili powder and the sauce still tasted wonderful :)

  30. Easy! Delicious! I like the option that include s chipotle powder. Thank you!

  31. Love this sauce, to cut the heat for my partner i use smoked paprika to keep the flavour without the heat

  32. This recipe is easy and delicious. No more can for me. I made it for the first time and my family loved it.
    Thanks for sharing.

  33. I made this earlier in the week using homemade chicken stock and following the recipe exactly. It was my first time making an enchilada sauce, and it was perfect! The deep color of the sauce makes it appealing, and it had just enough heat with the ingredients in the filling. Thank you for this recipe!

  34. Great site

  35. Yep!! Best enchiladas ever

  36. horrible, ruined my enchilada’s!