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!

This post contains affiliate links.

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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.

All images and text ©

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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1,672 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

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  1. If I have no chili powder, can I substitute it for the entire chiles (i.e. canned chipotles)?

    • Alli, I have the same question. How much fresh, roasted chile would you sub for the chili powder?

    • Hey Kate! Not entirely sure on the substitution. As I wrote below, would consider trying a single chipotle chili in adobo sauce to begin with, and then add more if needed. If you try it, would love to hear how things go!! :)

    • Since there are so many comments about how brown the sauce is compared to the picture I have to ask if the recipe is really supposed to use “chili powder” or “ground chili”?

      “Chili powder” is the darker spice blend normally used when you make a bowl of chili. The picture does not appear to have used “chili powder”.

    • Hmmm…I imagine you could substitute in some canned chipotles, but it would probably give the sauce a different flavor. I would begin with one chipotle chili (in adobo sauce), and see how things go from there. (And would blend the sauce to be sure that it is pureed!)

  2. Ooo! this looks yummy! :)

  3. I love my Mexican food but I can’t stand store-bought enchilada sauce. This just might be the best thing I’ve seen all day!

  4. This stuff is so yummy! I always make extra, too.

  5. This sounds delish! I can’t believe that there aren’t any kind of tomatoes in it.

    • I was surprised by that too! You can add in some tomato paste if you’d like, but I love this sauce just by itself. So flavorful!!

    • I am shocked as well. Every authentic recipe I know does not use chicken broth as a base but rather tomatoes. My Grandma would kill me if I did it this way haha

  6. I always get the store-bought ones but I’m so glad I can finally start making it at home! Who knew it was this easy?!

    • I never knew until I tried it, and was ridiculously glad I did! Soooo much better. :-)

    • I’ve been reading through all of the comments, and I’ve noticed several asking about canning it. That is my question as well. I’ve read a couple saying to freeze it, but can this be canned? Inquiring minds want to know.:D

  7. This sounds so good – I’m always turned off by recipes that just call for “red enchilada sauce” because the stuff I buy is never what I’m hoping for. I’ll be trying this!!

    • Agreed!!! I used the canned stuff for years, and always though it was so bland. :S I hope you enjoy this one!!

  8. I’ve always wanted to make this! BOOKMARKED! :)

  9. I’ve been DYING to find a good enchi sauce! and HERE. YOU. ARE.

  10. Looks great, but the link to the Favorite Enchiladas isn’t working. We need that recipe too! :-)

  11. Oh my goodness… I have an enchilada recipe that I love, and I never thought to make the sauce and keep it in the fridge. I always just make the whole giant recipe and have tons of leftovers. I am going to be making this sauce next week!

  12. Hey Ali –

    Have you ever frozen this? Would love to make a big batch and freeze for quick night cooking.

  13. Huh. It never occurred to me to make my own enchi sauce. That is about to change. Thanks Ali!

  14. I never thought about making enchilada sauce! I use it all the time though so I don’t know why I haven’t yet! Thanks for the recipe.

    • Would it be possible to can it like you do tomatoes, or would you just use a water bath canner. I do alot of bottling and this would be ideal to keep in the pantry.

  15. Some friends and I are doing our ow cooking comp….My tme is mexican and I will try this sauce for my enchiladas :-)

  16. How spicy is this? Usually when I’ve bought canned sauces even mild ones, they are too spicy for us.
    Only one that so far isn’t spicy is the McCormick’s package.

  17. This looks delicious! How long does it last if you don’t use all of it?

  18. I can’t stand store bought stuff either and we love Mexican I just made this but made some substitutions I added some tomatoe paste (about a tablespoon) and cinnamon (maybe a teaspoonful) a bit more broth (about half a cup but next time I’ll do a full cup more) a bit more garlic and cumin and I used pink Himalayan salt and it’s pretty darn good! Thx for this;)

  19. I was wondering if you’ve tried canning this… I would love to have some on the shelf for when I don’t have time to whip up a batch.

  20. We made this tonight for the first time and it was AMAZING! I licked the spoon and pan clean! Thank you!

  21. Made this today. It’s wonderful! I don’t make anything that requires enchilada sauce because it grosses me out to use the can. I love this easy, delicious, recipe. Thank you for posting!

  22. Making this tonight! Can this be canned or frozen for quick use in the future?

  23. OK, I have a crazy question. “Chili powder’: in health food stores you can buy chili powder that is JUST chillis. But chili powder is also a mix of chili, cumin, garlic, etc. Am I the only one who is ever confused about this? THANKS, Mary Jane

    making your enchilada sauce today :) thanks for posting it. :)

  24. If you do not like spicy substitute the chili powder with paprika:) Tastes great!

  25. Yum, I’m making it right now. I’ve made this a couple times already and my family loves it. Since one of my daughters doesn’t like spicy food, I have to use less chile powder but it’s still delicious. Thank you for the great recipe, Ali.

  26. I made this last night and the family has been singing my praises all day! Best Enchiladas ever! My husband was eating it by the spoonful right out of the saucepan! I had been using another recipe that called for tomato paste and it was always too thick and rich, but better than store bought. This is my go to recipe from now on!

  27. Hi, just wondering what makes this sauce red?

  28. This sounds great. Just wondering if you have tried canning it in jars to store for several months?

  29. I can’t wait to try this! I would like to know if you think it can be frozen. I am currently working on “freezer meals” and similar ideas and would love to add this to my stash!

  30. Can you freeze it?

  31. I made this for dinner this evening. It was amazing! Everyone loved it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  32. Thanks for the great recipe! For the oil can you sub. olive oil? Do you think it would change the taste too much?

  33. I just found this recipe today and I’m looking forward to making it soon. I grind my own chili powder which I think will go quite well in this sauce. I was wondering if you have tried adding some Mexican chocolate?

    Bill Hawkes

  34. I searched the web for a homemade enchilada sauce recipe a few months ago, and found yours. I loved the look of your page and finished product (thought about making this for Christmas gifts) and thought I’d give it a try. This has become my go-to recipe. We LOVE it. The first time I made it for a church potluck and accidently used hot chili powder, it was hot but super delicious and got rave reviews. Each batch I make, I experiment with the chili powder…….sometimes a mix of regular chili powder and cayenne, tonight I’ll mix hot and regular chil powder and cayenne. I sooooo appreciate your great tasting, easy to follow recipe :)

  35. What type of chili powder. Ancho chili powder, New Mexico chili powder etc. Can you be more specific?

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  37. I was wondering how much this makes? Or for how many enchiladas?
    I will be making 50 enchiladas and was wondering how many times I would need to repeat the above recipe? Thanks!

  38. I was wondering how long the shelf life is ? Also, Store it in the fridge ?

  39. LOVE that it has nothing hard to find in it! We live in the middle of no where and it literally is a 2 hour drive to a “real” grocery store. Can’t wait to try this just using what I already have!

  40. OH Thank you thank you. An enchilada sauce without tomato! I’m making this tonight.

  41. Never knew enchilada sauce was so easy! I’ll have to give it a try. :)

  42. This sauce looks really good and I can’t wait to try it! Just to let you know, the link to the ‘best enchiladas ever’ isn’t working and I am really keen to try them out. I tried looking for them in the recipe list but I can’t work out which it is. I am really tired so forgive me if it is obvious!

  43. Do you know if you can water bath can this sauce?

  44. I tried this and my sauce is very brown compared to the color of your sauce in the photo? Also I substituted 1 tabl of Chipotle for the chili powder and whoa! What a mistake! My mouth was on fire. I had to double the recipe to temper the heat of the sauce. I’m still not sure about the color?

  45. Can this recipe be canned?

  46. How much does this make? 3 1/2 cups?

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  50. I’ve never seen enchilada sauce without some form of tomato base in it. Is this correct, or possibly an oversight? Just curious.

    • Did you get an answer about NO Tomato in this sauce Connie? South African’s are not big on Mexican Food but we’ve been to Mexico & I want to make this, but have no idea if it should have tomato’s in the sauce?

    • No tomato sauce or tomato anything in enchilada sauce.

    • so many are asking if this has tomatoes…..I have never used an enchilada sauce that had tomatoes in it. Same with the sauce for tortillas…..there are no tomato in those either…..just because its red doesn’t mean tomatoes….;o)