The BEST Enchilada Sauce!

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 new 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.

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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Red Enchilada Sauce

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.)

*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:

  • McCormick Chili Powder
  • Penzey’s Spices Mild or Medium Chili Powder
  • Spice Islands Chili Powder
  • Simply Organic Chili Powder

If making this recipe gluten-free, be sure to use 100% certified gluten-free ingredients.

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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!

How To Make Enchilada Sauce From Scratch

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1,706 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

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  1. Excellent and went perfectly with the main recipe.

    Rating: 5
  2. Pingback: Enchilada Casserole – Sip Still Eat Pretty

  3. This sauce is awesome. We have probably used it 100 times. Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  4. Anyone not in America – BE AWARE American style Chilli Powder is NOT the same as Ground Chilli Powder… I made this last night with 4 tbsp Ground Chilli, and wow it nearly blew my socks off! After a bit of altering, it was certainly tasty, and a very good sauce. I will use the recipe again, but will amend the amount of chilli that goes into it and find a good ratio of spices to replace it with.

    Rating: 4
  5. I can’t ever imagine ever buying enchilada sauce again after using this recipe. It was so delicious and had such depth of flavor. I used it in your Chicken Enchilada recipe. As a bonus, it’s a snap to whip this up. I used Penzey’s spices for all the dried spices called for.

    Rating: 5
  6. Pingback: Enchilada Stuffed Chicken Thighs – Day-licious BBQ

  7. How would I use real chilis? Or dried California chilis?

  8. This was a flavorful sauce made with my from scratch chili powder (Alton Brown’s recipe). I doubled the recipe plus I added a couple of tablespoons of chipolte chile powder to my chili powder. OMG – spicy but delicious sauce for my chicken enchilada casserole. A great base recipe to tweak to my liking. Thanks for sharing.

    Rating: 4
  9. Hi Ali, I’m hoping you can help me. I enjoy making new and different meals for the two of us. We live way up in Ontario Canada and most people don’t seem to make Mexican dishes. I’d like to change that for us by starting with your red and green enchilada sauces and progress to all your posted recipes that use your homemade sauces. My problem is I’m not familiar with chilies, chili powder etc.. I also can’t handle even medium spiced dishes but my husband can. Could you please guide me through your sauce recipes by possibly keeping the flavour profiles but not much of the heat. I certainly may be asking too much and taking too much of your time. If that’s the case I shall muddle through on my own with absolutely no negative feelings what so ever. Thank you for reading my lengthy post and enjoy what’s left of our summer season! Sincerely, Kendra

  10. ALERT TO AUSTRALIANS: Our chilli is definitely WAY hotter and this is far from a mild sauce, I even tried going easy and only using 2 tablespoons of the chilli powder – I can’t recommend this sauce because we could barely eat the enchiladas and had to scrape most of the sauce off before we could eat them and I’m usually okay with spiciness.