Easy enchilada sauce uses on-hand ingredients and is ready in about 10 minutes! This flavorful homemade enchilada sauce is perfect for all your enchilada needs.
I haven't done a personal update in a blog post in a few weeks and thought I'd give you a short snapshot of what we've been up to:
- We had a really amazing, long, relaxing holiday season. My husband is in between jobs, I had a lot of time off of my full-time job as a health/nutrition editor and the kids were off of school.
- There were lots of movie nights, walk and bike rides, family visits, games, reading and relaxing. And we somehow didn't get completely sick of each other! 🤗
- We had a low key New Year's with an early party for the kids at a neighbor's house -- complete with a milk and cookies toast and a balloon drop at 8:00 p.m. -- and welcomed 2020 with open arms. 🎉
- The kids are now happily back at school, I'm back at work and it's kind of nice to have a schedule again. Last week was a bit tiring as a re-entry, but we've adjusted and I'm thinking we've got this. 💪👊
But let's move on to the FOOD, cause that's why we're here, right?!
Homemade enchilada sauce is seriously flavorful and tastes just like what you get at your favorite local Mexican restaurant.
Plus, it uses on-hand ingredients and is ready in about 10 minutes. You can’t beat that for quick and easy!
It also means you can have more enchiladas in your life, which is definitely a good thing. 😊 (These chicken enchiladas are always a huge hit!)
And if it sounds complicated or intimidating, I promise it's not. Let's start with the basics...
What’s in red enchilada sauce?
This recipe uses chili powder, salt, cumin, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder as the seasonings, as well as tomato paste (or tomato sauce), and chicken or vegetable broth. A quick roux of oil and flour gets the recipe started off and helps thicken the sauce as it simmers.
Red enchilada sauce is classic in most recipes but there’s also green enchilada sauce. What you need will depend on the recipe but red sauce is more commonly used.
But let’s be clear, this is not an authentic enchilada sauce recipe.
Those typically call for toasting dried whole peppers, using onion and garlic (not onion powder and garlic powder) and flour is not part of the equation, a longer cooking time is. (They also aren’t tomato-based traditionally.)
That totally sounds intimidating. And it's not likely something I'd be willing to attempt in my kitchen on a regular basis. So I just cut myself some slack.
Instead, we’re making a quick and easy enchilada sauce that takes some shortcuts but delivers BIG on the flavor.
It’s way healthier than the canned varieties and is ready in just 10 minutes, so you can whip this up as you’re prepping your enchiladas.
It'll be ready to pour over your rolled enchiladas and pop in the oven. Dinner time has nothing on you! 🙌
Now, I’ve got some notes, tips and substitutions coming up below on how to make easy enchilada sauce. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on easy homemade enchilada sauce:
- The tomato paste in this recipe adds a great richness and depth of flavor, but you can substitute tomato sauce if needed.
- Use an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce in place of the tomato paste and reduce the amount of broth you use to 1 cup.
- Use chicken or vegetable broth, either works great.
- The recipe calls for just regular chili powder, not a Mexican-style, spicy or dark variety of chili powder.
- Also, I tried to call it out in the recipe card below, but wanted to note that you will need ¼ cup of chili powder for this recipe. That’s the same as 4 tablespoons and it sounds like a lot, but that’s what adds the great color and flavor.
Tip: Many grocery stores sell chili powder in a much larger container than just a regular spice jar, which can help save money if you use it a lot. Which I definitely do between this and my homemade taco seasoning.
(Sometimes they also have less expensive brands of seasonings in an international aisle so check that out too.)
Also, it’s worth mentioning that the chili powder flavor mellows as the sauce cooks and also when you use this in a recipe. (After all, we’re not dipping food into this sauce, it’s going on some enchiladas!)
As written, this recipe is vegan and dairy-free. You can also use a gluten-free flour for this recipe to make it gluten-free if needed.
Finally, what to do if you’re making this ahead or have some extra sauce leftover after you use it.
Tips on storing homemade enchilada sauce:
- Cool the enchilada sauce once it’s cooked and then store in a jar or covered container in the refrigerator for up to one week.
- You can also freeze extra sauce in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Beyond enchiladas, there’s lots of other ways to use enchilada sauce: in casseroles, soups, Mexican-style lasagna, a quick chicken skillet, or to season chicken or pork in the crock pot or Instant Pot.
But of course, you know if I’m bringing you enchilada sauce, I’ve got some enchilada recipes to share too.
You can sign up for free e-newsletter to get all of my new recipes delivered straight to your inbox so you never miss a thing. I’ll even send you my free e-cookbook, Healthy Weeknight Dinners, as a thank you!
Enjoy and happy cooking!
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) chili powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste (see notes)
- 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until hot. Add the flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the spices and stir well. Add the tomato paste and then the broth and bring to a simmer (you an increase the heat to medium high to help this go faster), whisking to get the tomato paste well incorporated.
- Reduce the heat to medium low, maintaining a simmer, and let cook for 10-12 minutes, until slightly thickened.
- Use immediately or cool and store in the refrigerator for up to one week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The tomato paste in this recipe adds a great richness and depth of flavor, but you can substitute tomato sauce if needed. You can also use an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce in place of the tomato paste. Reduce the amount of chicken or vegetable broth to 1 cup.
The recipe calls for just regular chili powder, not a Mexican-style, spicy or dark variety.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 109Total Fat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 25mgSodium: 194mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 0gSugar: 1gProtein: 7g