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. 

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

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?

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

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.

The BEST Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce |

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.


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

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?  Try these!

The BEST Chicken Enchiladas Ever | #mexican

 The Best Chicken Enchiladas EVER

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup | #crockpot

Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Soup

20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup | #mexican

20-Minute Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup 

Chicken Enchilada Casserole | #glutenfree

Chicken Enchilada Casserole (“Stacked” Chicken Enchiladas)

Leave a Comment:


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  1. Jacque — January 17, 2017 @ 4:20 pm (#)

    I just made your enchilada sauce. I was amazed at how easy your recipe comes together and how delicious it is. I used it in my enchilada casserole which is in the oven now. The family is hovering in the kitchen, breathing in the wonderful savory aroma – and watching the timer on the stove.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — January 18th, 2017 @ 9:44 pm

      Thanks for sharing with us, Jacque — we’re so happy you guys enjoyed it!

  2. Steve Provence — January 21, 2017 @ 5:32 pm (#)

    This sauce is spectacular! I have made it many times. I always do a double batch as it goes quick. As for the enchiladas I use corn tortillas and usually make two 9×13 pans at a time. Generally I wing it on the mix for the filling but I always add a can of diced green chilies to the garlic and onion in the first sauté. This is followed buy a generous amount of green onion, shredded chicken, black beans, quality cheese, some plain yogurt, tomatoes and cilantro. Brushing on the sauce to the tortillas is a great idea and adds to the flavor. I give the enchiladas a generous dose of sauce on top and always get rave reviews with this dish. I will never buy store made sauce again. Now I need to figure out an equally great recipe for “green sauce”. Thanks for the great recipe! I happened across your site about a year ago and reference it often.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — January 22nd, 2017 @ 6:23 pm

      Thank you for sharing, Steve — we’re so happy you enjoyed it! :)

  3. Lulu — January 25, 2017 @ 6:31 am (#)

    Just wondering if this will make enough for 1 1/4 cups you suggest for enchilada soup if it is boiled down?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — January 25th, 2017 @ 1:04 pm

      Hi Lulu! Yes, definitely — this recipe makes 1 1/2 cups, so just reduce it down until it’s 1 1/4 cups and you’ll be golden for the enchilada soup! :) We hope you enjoy!

  4. Brian — January 30, 2017 @ 10:14 pm (#)

    This sauce is 11 times better than anything out of a can; every store-bought brand I’ve tried has too much of a “tinny” taste.  I used Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base and liked it more than I did with the typical canned broth.  This is no doubt a keeper recipe.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — January 30th, 2017 @ 10:46 pm

      Thank you so much, Brian — we’re thrilled that you loved it!

  5. Donna — January 31, 2017 @ 9:44 am (#)

    Hi Hayley, I just ran across your recipe for this homemade sauce, and I am about to try this and I was wanting to know from Brian, How much or haw many cubes Bouillon does he use? 
    I am a foodie and love to try now recipes. Soooo excited

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 2nd, 2017 @ 8:48 am

      Hi Donna! This is actually Ali’s recipe and her blog (I just help out with things around here). :) But we’re so happy you want to give the sauce a try! If using Better than Bouillon, for 2 cups of stock you would need 1 teaspoon (or one bouillon cube) per 8oz of water, so 2 teaspoons or 2 cubes.

  6. LynnV — February 1, 2017 @ 1:34 pm (#)

    This is the BEST enchilada sauce I have ever had and I am HISPANIC, living in Texas, so I’ve had my share of enchiladas (including my moms) My kids BEG me to make this sauce recipe : )

    • Ali — March 27th, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

      Yay, I’m so glad you love it!!

  7. Deborah — February 3, 2017 @ 12:30 pm (#)

    I love it, had the same problem getting it to thicken up but just added a Tbl of flour water and worked like a charm. I used 2 Tbl mccormick chili powder and is just right. Thank you.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 4th, 2017 @ 10:39 pm

      We’re glad the flour and water helped, Deborah, and we’re happy you enjoyed the sauce!

  8. susie — February 6, 2017 @ 4:48 am (#)

    Hi, I looked up a few recipes for enchilada sauce and they add crushed, canned tomatoes.  Have you missed them out in the recipe and for what reason?  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 6th, 2017 @ 12:13 pm

      Hi Susie! No, our recipe doesn’t have tomatoes in it, but feel free to add them if you like!

  9. Jessica — February 15, 2017 @ 5:45 pm (#)

    How do you keep the flour from burning when you mix it into the oil?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 15th, 2017 @ 6:00 pm

      Just make sure your oil is not crazy hot and that you are whisking well and it shouldn’t burn. We hope you enjoy!

  10. Sam — February 16, 2017 @ 11:35 pm (#)

    Be warned if you live in a country where they put real chili into chili powder you will want to use much less than 4 tablespoons. I live in Vietnam and I tried adding 4 Tbsp and the entire house felt like a riot police pepper spray attack for an hour. However this is an excellent recipe, just be cognizant of the chili situation if you’re not living in the US.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 17th, 2017 @ 10:13 am

      Yes, we’ve found chili powders can differ drastically from country to country! We’re so sorry this lit you up — we hope you can give it another try with less chili powder next time!

  11. Kristine — February 18, 2017 @ 11:30 am (#)

    Hi! I highly recommend using maseca instead of the flour. Gives it a more authentic Mexican flavor. Its a great thing to have on hand and add to any mexican dish…especially chili! Yum! I have made this a few times over the past several years and i cannot get enough!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 20th, 2017 @ 11:02 am

      We’re glad you enjoyed this, Kristine! We’ve never tried it with Maseca, but we’ll have to next time we make it! :)

  12. SHERI — February 25, 2017 @ 8:49 am (#)

    Thank s for sharing. I love all your recipes. I was wondering if you have ever tried making large batches of the sauce and freezing?  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 26th, 2017 @ 6:03 pm

      Thank you, Sheri — we’re glad to hear that! And yes, you can definitely freeze this sauce!

  13. Angela — February 27, 2017 @ 9:38 am (#)

    Just made a double batch… This stuff is amazing!! I accidentally added 1tsp onion powder (again made a double batch) but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. Thanks for sharing!! No more store bought for this girl! I used a tomato chicken base with a small amount of celery seed for the vegetable broth.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — February 28th, 2017 @ 9:28 am

      We’re so happy you enjoyed it, Angela! :)

  14. Nathan — March 1, 2017 @ 8:35 am (#)

    Can this sauce be canned to be used for a later date, if I wanted to make a large batch?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 1st, 2017 @ 9:55 am

      Hi Nathan! We’ve never canned this but if you followed the proper canning procedure, you should be able to (we think a hot water bath would probably suffice?)

  15. sarah — March 1, 2017 @ 1:33 pm (#)

    Hi! Can you use water in this? I tend to avoid stock when making soups and sub in water instead…Just not sure how this would work here.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 7th, 2017 @ 9:07 am

      Hi Sarah! Yes, you could use water. It won’t have as much flavor, and you will need to add more salt (just do this to taste), but it should still work out okay. You could also try a lower-sodium stock if you wanted, or try a mix of that and water. We hope you enjoy the sauce!

  16. Cannedam — March 4, 2017 @ 3:38 pm (#)

    This really is the best enchilada sauce ever.  I found this recipe last year and have been using it ever since. My whole family says I make the best enchiladas they’ve ever had, including in restaurants.  This sauce is key.  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 8th, 2017 @ 10:13 am

      Thank you so much, we’re thrilled that you and your family love the sauce and the enchiladas!

  17. Tonya — March 4, 2017 @ 5:35 pm (#)

    This is my “go-to” for red enchilada sauce. It has been a little difficult to dial down the spiciness without increasing the saltiness of it, but I recently found that the use of Ancho chili powder along with paprika not only helps maintain a mild smoky heat, it also helps maintain the color. Thanks so much for this recipe!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 8th, 2017 @ 9:58 am

      We’re so happy you love it, Tonya! :)

  18. kmhwins — March 5, 2017 @ 9:43 am (#)

    really good and easy. i had a dark chili powder so it was a little overpowering, so i added a can of tomato paste to it and it was really good. def. a keeper.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 8th, 2017 @ 9:28 am

      We’re glad you enjoyed it! Yes, we’ve found chili powders can differ drastically (color and level of spiciness). We’re glad the tomato paste helped mellow it out some. :)

  19. Tonya — March 5, 2017 @ 10:09 am (#)

    This is my “go-to” for red enchilada sauce. Enchilada night at our house is always a welcome treat because of both your Stacked Enchilada recipe and this Red Enchilada Sauce recipe. We have some individuals who are not tolerant AT ALL of spiciness once it passes mild heat. I have tried a couple different formulations and have found that Ancho Chili Powder combined with Paprika helps dial down the heat and create a smoky sweet flavor. Thanks! This is another great recipe.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 8th, 2017 @ 9:17 am

      Thank you so much, Tonya — we’re so happy to hear that!

  20. Lisa — March 6, 2017 @ 9:58 am (#)

    Mine is a bit too spicy (kids are eating it too) – how can I cut the spice before I make the casserole? Or, could I add more cheese or something to balance it out? Thank you!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 7th, 2017 @ 3:43 pm

      Hi Lisa! To make this a little less spicy, you can just cut back some on the chili powder (we’ve found that certain brands can vary pretty drastically in their level of spiciness). We would recommend adding the chili powder to taste (that way you can always add more if you like). We hope this helps!

  21. Kim — March 8, 2017 @ 5:11 pm (#)

    I found this recipe 4 years ago… still one of my go tos. Thanks!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 11th, 2017 @ 9:39 pm

      We’re so happy you love it, Kim! :)

  22. Betty Gilliam — March 10, 2017 @ 1:01 pm (#)

    I have used this as a gravy for tamales for years.   It is wonderful.   Have given the recipe to several friends and relatives.   We have used it also, as you suggest for enchilada sauce.     It’s the BEST.   Originally it came from a Mexican cook book.  

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 12th, 2017 @ 8:40 am

      Awesome, Betty, we’re glad to hear that!

  23. Hoping in PA — March 10, 2017 @ 5:33 pm (#)

    I lived in NM for 14 years and boy do I miss Hatch Green Chile and green enchilada sauce. Did Liisa teach you a green enchilada sauce recipe that you can share?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 12th, 2017 @ 8:42 am

      Hi there! We don’t currently have a recipe for green enchilada sauce, but stay tuned! :)

  24. okiegirl — March 12, 2017 @ 2:10 pm (#)

    This makes a VERY thin sauce, no matter how long simmered to reduce., It was barely passable with added tomato paste. I would give it a 1 on a scale of 10.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 12th, 2017 @ 8:09 pm

      We’re sorry to hear you didn’t care for it!

  25. mary — March 15, 2017 @ 9:43 am (#)

    Looks great what is the Sodium? All the ones in store much too high. Also could ground turkey be subbed for chicken?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 17th, 2017 @ 2:11 pm

      Hi Mary! We’re sorry but we are unsure of the nutrition facts/amount of calories in this recipe. We currently are not publishing nutrition facts on the site, as the nutrition calculators available are not 100% accurate, and we never want to publish anything that might be misleading. However, a lot of our readers love the My Fitness Pal nutrition calculator, so feel free to try that for an estimate. We hope that helps! As for ground turkey instead of chicken — are you referring to the enchilada recipe? If so, you can definitely do that swap. We hope you enjoy! :)

  26. ]Amanda — March 17, 2017 @ 2:49 pm (#)

    Can this sauce be frozen?

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 20th, 2017 @ 11:09 am

      Yes, most definitely. We hope you enjoy!

  27. Lea — March 17, 2017 @ 9:31 pm (#)

    Great sauce. I had a little left over, so I mixed it with mayo (roughly 2tbs each enchilada sauce and mayo) and made a tasty dip for sweet potato fries.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 20th, 2017 @ 11:00 am

      Oooh, we think that’s an awesome idea, Lea! :)

  28. Rena — March 19, 2017 @ 7:10 pm (#)

    Hi! I wondered which out of the 4 chili powders you recomended is your favorite to use? 😉 Thanks in advance!!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 20th, 2017 @ 10:08 am

      Hi Rena! That’s tough, as we love them all, but Morton & Bassett Chili Powder is probably our top fave. :)

  29. Lisa Day-Burbaugh — March 20, 2017 @ 4:31 pm (#)

    I used coconut oil instead of vegetable oil and oh man … tasty!!!! I will never buy the canned stuff again!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 21st, 2017 @ 8:35 pm

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the sauce, Lisa, and that’s great that the coconut oil worked out well in this!

  30. Dimpi — March 20, 2017 @ 5:13 pm (#)

    Hi Hayley, do you recommend any substitutes for. Green chiles and red chilli Mexican powder? Can’t find any Mexican chillies in UK.

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 21st, 2017 @ 8:47 pm

      Hi Dimpi — unfortunately we can’t think of any substitutes for the chili powder.

  31. Sarah Nagle — March 21, 2017 @ 3:58 pm (#)

    I used this enchilada sauce with enchilada casserole that I kind of created. I loved it. I wanted to ask you how to double the amount of roux. Can it be frozen?

    that tortilla soup looks really really good. I’ll have to try it!

    • Hayley @ Gimme Some Oven — March 21st, 2017 @ 8:37 pm

      We’re so glad you liked it, Sarah! If you wanted to double the roux, then you would double the oil and the flour amounts. And yes, you can freeze this sauce! :)

  32. Josephine — March 24, 2017 @ 6:21 am (#)

    Can we skip the cumin? ICK~- Otherwise I’m SO down!

    • Ali — March 27th, 2017 @ 5:20 pm

      Sure, you’re welcome to leave it out if you’d like.


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