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.

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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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1,607 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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

    • 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!

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  5. 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.

  6. 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

    • 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.

  7. 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 : )

  8. 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.

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

  9. 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?  

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

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

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

  11. 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.

    • 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!

    • I was just about to post the same comment as I was thinking to myself “4 tablespoons of chilli powder!! Are you crazy!!” but then after reading around a bit, discovered that in the US, “chili powder” is a blend of spcices and herbs and not simply powdered chilli as it is in many other countries such as India and the UK.

  12. 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!

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

  13. 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?  

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

  14. 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.

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

    • 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?)

  16. 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.

    • 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!

  17. 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.  

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

  18. 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!

  19. 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.

    • 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. :)

  20. 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.

  21. 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!

    • 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!

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

  23. 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.  

  24. 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?

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

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  26. 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.

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

    • I add just a bit more flour. Its like making gravy. You get your oil and flour to the consistency you want your red sauce to be and then add the rest of the ingredients. Comes out perfect every time.

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

    • 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! :)

  28. Can this sauce be frozen?

  29. 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

  33. 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!

    • 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! :)

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

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  36. I’d never made enchilada sauce before so I decided to give this a try. We live and New Zealand and the chilli powder here is very very spicy, so I only used a teaspoon and it still had plenty of heat. Unfortunately because of the low quantity of chilli powder it was very much brown rather than red, so I ended up adding tomato puree (probably about 1/3 cup all up, I added gradually to taste) for colour and wow! Without the tomato puree it was pretty tasty, but adding it improved the flavour a surprising amount. I was worried that the tomato would mask the flavour of the spices but it had the opposite effect and really brought them together. I will definitely be making this again!

    • Awesome, so glad it worked out! And oh man — we actually tried to cook with the chili powder in NZ once, and were also surprised at how spicy it is. They definitely vary from country to country! :)

  37. I decided to make chicken enchiladas tonight and was browsing recipes just to see if something different caught my eye…of course I had to see your sauce recipe because my version is bar-none the best I’ve ever tasted and thought to myself “could her’s have something that might add more depth to the flavor?” (My Mexican-American boyfriend’s mom gave me the treasured recipe 35 years ago) and, heck, I’m open to learning something new or different. Well, that was not to be. BUT your recipe is as close to her recipe that I’ve ever seen. Just for kicks- try adding 1 Tb of unsweetened cocoa powder to the flour when you start to heat it and then 1/8 tsp cinnamon with the rest of the spices. I promise you it will not change the overall taste, but will deepen the flavors you love. I know how it is to have someone make suggestions about a dear recipe- it’s hard to not take it personal. Please don’t take it like that. It’s done for and out of our mutual love of enchiladas. You don’t even need to print this. Just promise me you’ll try it…✌

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  39. Yummy! Thank you for sharing this recipe. I just used it as a base for a soup with onions, ham, pork and hominy.  It was easy, quick, and it added something special to the soup.

    • You’re very welcome, Heather, we’re so glad you enjoyed it, and we think that soup sounds so yummy!

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  41. I only have canola and coconut oil. What do you think I should use? 

    • We would not advise using coconut oil in this, but we think the canola oil should be just fine. We hope you enjoy!

  42. Just making your sauce now. The consistency is perfect. It’s a little bitter – maybe the mild chile powder I used? Any suggestions on how to correct for this? Thank you.

    • Hi Leslie! We’re sorry we’re just now getting to your comment. May we ask what type/brand of chili powder you’re using? We’ve found they can differ pretty greatly from brand to brand, which could account for the bitterness.

  43. Absolutely delicious. I never really liked canned enchilada sauce. This is SO TASTY!

  44. I have to update my comment. Two pans baking in the oven right now. BUT…that sauce is better that fabulous! I added a bit more broth (from some of the cooked chicken) and flour to make it a tad thicker, but the TASTE is just great. Thank you so much for sharing.

  45. Hello!  I’m going to make your enchilada sauce AND enchiladas on Friday for a dinner party of 8.  Would I need to double the
    sauce recipe in order to have enough for 10-14 enchiladas (inside and topping)?  Do you recommend flour or corn tortillas?  I’ve never made enchiladas before and want them to turn out just right.  :-)  Thank-you!!

    • Hi Kim! We apologize for getting to your comment so very late! Yes, we would recommend doubling the sauce, and as for the tortillas, corn tortillas are more authentic for enchiladas. We prefer flour (they’re softer), but it’s totally up to you — either one will work great! We hope you enjoy! :)

  46. I made a double batch a few months ago following the recipe. Very tasty in the huge batch of enchiladas that I made using the sauce. I am making again now for more enchiladas. Very easy and nice to not have to buy enchilada sauce. Will try freezing some. The person responding to the comments is doing a great job.

  47. Hi, Just made your enchilada sauce, but unfortunately I live in Portugal (well actually Fortunately I live in Portugal) but the point being, their chili powder is off the Scovile scale here, used 1 tbsp chili powder and it still blew my head off and I eat lots of spicy curries, chili’s etc., no disrespect to your recipe, i trebled all the other ingredients and made a huge batch to freeze, so eventually all turned out right, but yes – do beware if making this some where other than US especially Portugal – you would need maybe a heaped teaspoon at most. but eventally YUMMY.

    Rating: 5
    • Thank you so much for sharing with us, Debbie, oh my goodness! We’re happy to hear you were still able to enjoy this, and thanks for the heads up about Portuguese chili powder!

  48. Was excited about making this sauce after reading the post. Followed the recipes exactly and I’m sorry but I thought it was horrible. I’ve tried a lot of canned sauces and the worst canned sauce I’ve used is better than this.

    • We’re sorry to hear you didn’t care for this, Jaime! :( We wonder what kind of chili powder you used?

  49. We also made this tonight to go on your chicken enchiladas and LOVED IT. I think I’m forever ruined on the store bought canned stuff!

    Rating: 5
  50. This sauce is everything. I have made it a few times with the Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever. I am not a “make my own sauce” kinda of girl, but I made this and I am a convert. It’s so easy and I always have the ingredients on hand. Just made it for Cinco de Mayo. My hubby loves it to, and he is into canning. He said if I made a big batch he will can it so we can always have it ready! YUM!

    Rating: 5
    • Thank you, Joy, we’re so happy you and your husband enjoy it! :)