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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1,696 comments on “The BEST Enchilada Sauce!”

  1. Made chicken enchiladas using your recipe, with a couple alterations but I used this sauce, making it exactly as written except that I reduced the chili powder to 2 TBSP. They were yummy and I really liked the depth of flavors in the sauce and how thick and gorgeous it looked! However….

    Just a warning to anyone using the kind of chili powder used in indian cooking. Even 2 TBSP is wayyyy too much. I used 1 TBSP indian chili powder and 1 TBSP kashmiri chili powder which is a little milder but still the sauce was crazy spicy. Now my husband and I love spicy food so we ate up the enchiladas anyway but next time, I would definitely use probably just a couple tsp of regular chili powder and then add from there. I still give the recipe 5 stars because it is so easy to make and the burst of flavors is amazing for how few ingredients there are. Also, it is noted in your recipe that spice can always be modified so its absolutely my fault for adding it all at once. Just wanted to give feedback in case there are other people using chili powder in Indian cooking- completely different than what you get in stores here so its always good to know!

    Rating: 5
  2. I made this sauce and it was truly so easy and so perfect tasting. One thing I noticed however is that in your Chicken Enchilada Casserole recipe, you have this sauce as a clickable part of the recipe so I made it first. Only to discover after that after making the chicken enchilada, that the sauce amount was insufficient to cover this recipe. I followed it to a T using a 9 x 13 baking dish.

    Rating: 5
  3. Hi! I live in Australia and i tried to make this last night using only one tablespoon of the chilli powder you can buy over here and it was insanely hot! Like inedible! And i can handle a fair amount of chilli! Do you know what is in the chilli powder that you use?

    • Chilli powder in AUS is COMPLETELY different to the US. In Aus, we use only ground chilli in ours, whereas in the US, it is mixed with other spices (cumin, garlic, oregano, salt etc.). Best to dial it down to approx 1 TSP depending on how hot you like it. Remember – taste as you go (something I need to learn!)

    • I also made the same mistake with Australian chili powder :( way too spicy but managed to fix the sauce by diluting it with more spices and stock. Next time I will definitely take your advice of going for 1 tsp of chili powder and adding more of the other spices.
      Great enchilada recipe though!

  4. This was really good. I have made it twice. I used grass fed butter and left out the flour, used an 1/8th of a teaspoon of xanthan gum instead. It was plenty thick. Served it over keto chicken enchiladas.

    Rating: 5
  5. Excellent sauce, the only change i made was beef broth instead of chicken broth because thats what i had. Still came out great!

    Rating: 5
  6. Obsessed with this recipe. It’s the best!! 👏

    Rating: 5
  7. This has become our family’s go-to enchilada sauce. We’ve gotten to the point we dump the spice combination without measuring amounts into a roux and adding chicken stock to spice/consistency preferences on the fly. Thanks for a super tasty sauce recipe!

    Rating: 4
  8. This is the same recipe I use for my enchilada sauce except you add oregano (I’ll have to try that). But I have been wondering if this can be canned. Would you happen to know?

    • You can definitely can this! I have also frozen it. It is great to have a quantity made up to pull out when you are ready to cook.

  9. SO easy and SO delicious!

    Rating: 5
  10. It’s official. I can’t make enchiladas anymore without this homemade sauce. I don’t see a place to post photos here, but I made it again tonight. One enchilada batch with seasoned ground beef, onions and cheese. A second for a vegetarian dinner guest tomorrow, without the beef. This sauce rocks.

    Rating: 5
  11. Pingback: Homemade Enchilada Sauce – Chef Yum Yum

  12. A) you should temper your roux. Then the clump issue is eliminated.

    B) adjusting your amount of roux is how you adjust thickness, not simmering out the liquid. It would make the sauce done as soon as you tempered the roux and stock.

    -Chef Chris

  13. The enchilada sauce is truly yummy and so easy to make. Truly worth the effort….

    Rating: 5
  14. I just found your green sauce recipe and it made me very happy, this one less so. As a chef and New Mexican I can’t wrap my head around roux-based chile sauce or chile powder sauces. Sweat onion and garlic, add water/stock (I use water as I like the pure flavor of chile) and whole dried chiles without the stem, boil to soften the chiles and then puree in the blender for minutes for a smooth sauce. If you didn’t use too much water the sauce will be to thick and you will need to add liquid to thin. Add salt and apple cider vinegar to taste. Perfect red chile. Cumin/oregano optional and I don’t recommend.

  15. Best Enchilada sauce ever !!!
    I have thrown out all the other recipes in my Board.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    I tell all my family and friends about it.

  16. I must be in the minority because i found it to be really tasteless. I added cayenne because i like it spicy and that is literally all i taste and the chicken broth. maybe its the spices i used. the consistency is perfect and thick and looks delicious but there is no taste. i am so bummed because this is so easy and i really wanted it to love it. i hate the stuff in the can it tastes like watered down tomato soup. i have been long on the hunt for the perfect enchilada sauce and sadly this is not it. any ideas to make it more flavorful? thanks.

  17. Your Chicken Enchilada Soup is the bomb! I’m making a double recipe for a Chile Celebration Dinner (it’s chile season in NM). Great easy version of red chile. I used NM certified red chile and added a 1/2 tsp onion powder for a double recipe. Am using NM green chile too instead of canned. Yum!

    Rating: 4
  18. Thank you this looks great! How much does this make serving wise or in ounces?

  19. I don’t know why I’ve never made enchilada sauce before but by golly so happy I found your recipe! Suffice to say, I’ll never use the canned stuff again! This is a game changer. And, I made your Best Chicken Enchiladas Ever recipe .. A marriage made in heaven. Superb!

    Rating: 5
  20. How well does this freeze? I’d like to make a few batches and am wondering how well they would last frozen?

  21. Pingback: Chicken Enchilada Soup – Recipe Review

  22. Uh, nope. Made your chicken enchiladas recipe with the recommended homemade sauce, and the sauce was a huge disappointment. Followed the recipe to the letter, and it just tasted like cooked chile powder in oil. No depth of flavor, no balance of acidity/hot/sweet/spicy. I won’t even go into all the stuff I added to try to make this palatable. I don’t care for the canned enchilada sauce, but this was not an improvement.

    Rating: 1
  23. This did not thicken up for me!

  24. This enchilada sauce is so delicious and couldn’t be easier! Thank you so much for sharing it!

    Rating: 5
  25. I found a little bland,so added more cumin ,cilantro,and,chili,2-3 this tamato paste….sautéed for a few mins to bring out tomatoes flavor,and,a 28 oz can of plum tomatoes..that I processed in food processor until sauce consistency..At end,threw I. 2 Tbs butter..delish

    Rating: 4
  26. Amazing recipe. I have made this several times and always get compliments and requests for the recipe. I only use half the chili powder, but keep almost everything else the same. Soooo aaahhhmazing!

    Rating: 5
  27. Just wondering, what kind of expiry date you would say if I put the sauce leftovers in my deep freezer? I think I previously made this (delicious!) recipe 3-5 months ago? It’s peobably still good, right? Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  28. I made the enchilada sauce with the Beef Enchiladas on this site. They worked together really well. I added a bit more sauce to the meat mixture than the recipe called for. My usual enchilada sauce is tomato based but I thought this was really good and the seasoning spot on – i used 3 TBS of chili pepper. Next time I may add all 4 TBS. I will make this again.

    Rating: 5
  29. After making this sauce and eating it, I can no longer use store bought sauce. It is a family favorite!

    Rating: 5
  30. This is my go-to recipe for enchiladas! I will never buy pre-made sauce again.
    The only comment I would make is to watch your stock, because it can be quite salty and I’m assuming that’s where the salt comes from. Otherwise it’s easy and fantastic!

    Rating: 5
  31. Long time reader, first time commenter. This is the only enchilada sauce we make! I’ve put a bit of my own spin on it by subbing tomato paste for 1 tbsp of the chili powder. Makes it a bit thicker and adds lovely umami.

    Rating: 5
  32. Pingback: Chicken Enchiladas

  33. Also wondering if this sauce freezes well? LOVE it.

    Rating: 5
  34. Made this tonight and we loved it! I was looking for an enchilada sauce recipe and found this. I love your jambalaya recipe so I knew this would be good too!

    Rating: 5
  35. Wow. I was totally expecting the recipe to be made from Red Chile pods. This will go in my quick and easy, don’t tell Nana and Tata, made made from Chile powder recipe.

  36. This has been my favourite recipe for my family since I tried it! Loaded with flavour, protein and veggie rich, …I don’t need to try another recipe: this has it all! SO GOOD!

    Rating: 5
  37. The first time I made this sauce was about two years ago and it got me hooked on your blog. Yes! This is the best enchilada sauce – EVER. I love that I can change things up a little based on what I am making and how I will use it. I Do think that I will want to make enough to freeze at some point. I’m lazy and cooking in batches appeals to me.

    My standard change is that I use 1/2 tomato sauce and 1/2 chicken stock. I added smoked paprika when making beef enchilada’s and loved the depth of flavor that provided. Tonight, I’m making the enchilada casserole for the first time and soooo looking forward to trying it. :)

    PS: I’m excessively jealous of you living in Europe and having a successful blog. Keep living the dream (apparently my dream too!)

  38. I really appreciated this recipe. My husband is very sensitive to MSG and other ingredients in a lot of prepared food, so I make virtually everything from scratch. We haven’t had enchiladas in years because I refused to buy the canned stuff, and honestly had no idea how to make the sauce homemade. I assumed it was tomato based, so when I stumbled across this recipe I was really surprised to see that it wasn’t. This didn’t seem complicated at all, so we tried it and it is delicious! Easy to make, tastes great, and nothing artificial that will trigger a headache reaction. Love, love, love this recipe. Thank you so much!

    Rating: 5
  39. I made this recipe and found the sauce runny until it sat in the sealed jar in the fridge overnight. It worked out well and tasted great. If you used a sterilized canning jar and screw top (10 minutes in the oven at 225F), boiled the canning sealing lid, would it be possible to can this sauce ? It would be handy to have on hand or give as gifts. Thanks

  40. This recipe really is the best! My husband and youngest son are gluten free and I love that’s it’s easy to tweek so the whole family can have it.

    Rating: 5
  41. Pingback: Vegetarian Enchiladas with Quinoa • The Cook Report

  42. We made this recipe, exactly as is, with Chicken Enchiladas last night and I am blown away by how great it is! I don’t think I could ever order enchiladas out to eat again, because now we can make them much tastier at home. The sauce is SERIOUSLY good.

    Rating: 5
  43. I first made this to use in your enchilada soup and it was so good that we will use it for our enchiladas from now on, So much better than the canned version.

    Rating: 5
  44. I love to cook. Been cooking for 45 or so years now. I made this enchilada sauce last week. It is absolutely the best and easiest sauce I’ve ever made. Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  45. Pingback: Cheesy Chicken Enchilada Soup - Healthy Lifestyle Article

  46. I went home and made this recipe for my parents. They loved it, said it was better than any mexican restaurant! I usually double the recipe when I make enchiladas. I am curious as to if this sauce can be frozen and used later on?

    Rating: 5
  47. I will never ever buy canned red enchilada sauce again after making this recipe. This was so quick and easy – and the flavor was out of this world! I made it to put on top of pork tamales and it was a huge hit!!!!!

    Rating: 5
  48. Made this sauce to go in the chicken enchilada casserole…..there’s no going back to the canned stuff. It was de-lish! I used a 3:1 ratio of Ancho to Chipotle Chili Powders, just the right amount of spice of us. Thanks for the recipe!

  49. I come across food blogs all the time when searching for recipes. I decided to make this a few days ago and finally made it today. It would not be a huge stretch for me to say this recipe will change my life. Not only was it amazing, but it was easy to make. My wife loved it, I have a mason jar left in the fridge, and am diving into the rest of the site now.

    Thank you!

  50. Super easy – very tasty, and much more inexpensive then buying premade.

    Rating: 5