Homemade Enchilada Sauce


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Homemade Enchilada Sauce is a must-have staple that will enhance any Tex-Mex or south-of-the-border dish. The great thing about my homemade enchilada sauce recipe is that can control the ingredients to keep out the preservatives or MSG that are in some store-bought versions.

We love adding this homemade enchilada sauce to Beef Enchilada Dip, or enchilada soup. Homemade is always better!

Enchilada Sauce served in a jar

What is Enchilada Sauce?

Enchiladas are a soft corn tortillas rolled around shredded or ground meat or chicken, then smothered in enchilada sauce and baked in the oven. Enchilada sauce is zesty and flavorful. Hence, it forms the basis of many other Mexican dishes too. You can spoon it over tacos, or use it to enhance the filling in burritos or chimichangas.

What’s in Enchilada Sauce?

Enchilada sauce is basically chili powder simmered in a broth with garlic, onion, tomato paste/sauce and thickened with flour. I start by browning the flour with some oil until it’s fragrant, this step only takes a few minutes but adds a lot of flavor!

While this is a red enchilada sauce, there are other variations (like the green enchilada sauce I add to my creamy chicken enchiladas).

Green enchilada sauce is a little less spicy than red enchilada sauce. Instead of tomato paste and red chili powder, green enchilada sauce recipes use roasted and peeled poblano peppers, cumin, and oregano. You can roast the poblanos as you would make any roasted peppers.

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Enchilada Sauce cooked in a pot

How to Make Enchilada Sauce

Making enchilada sauce is simple, and literally takes only minutes and requires almost no prep work! You’ll make a sort of a roux with the tomato sauce and broth.

  1. Place oil and flour in a pan and cook until light brown and fragrant.
  2. Stir all the spices and seasoning ingredients and cook for one minute more.
  3. Add the liquids in slowly, stirring as you add to prevent lumps. (It will be thick at first, keep on stirring after each addition until smooth).
  4. Simmer for a few minutes more, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pour this sauce over a pan of baked enchiladas for a Mexican meal that your family will love.

Note: This enchilada sauce recipe has been updated (2019) for improved flavor and consistency.

Enchilada Sauce served in a jar
4.64 from 11 votes
Review Recipe

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 cups
Author Holly Nilsson
Course Dip, Dressing
Cuisine American, Mexican, Tex Mex
This homemade enchilada sauce is perfect on chicken enchiladas or any other recipe you have in mind! 

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup flour
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • 2 cans tomato sauce 15 ounces each
  • 3 cups chicken broth

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Instructions

  • Heat oil in a saucepan. Whisk in flour and cook 2-3 minutes while stirring until fragrant and nutty smelling.
  • Stir in chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and oregano. Cook 1 minute more.
  • Add tomato sauce and broth a little at a time, stirring between each addition until smooth. 
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and let simmer 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Recipe Notes

Nutrition Information is based on 1 tablespoon of enchilada sauce.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 15, Carbohydrates: 1g, Sodium: 155mg, Potassium: 71mg, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 115IU, Vitamin C: 1.5mg, Calcium: 3mg, Iron: 0.3mg

(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)

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Holly

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Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!

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Comments

  1. I made this today, and it was really good. I did have to add a little sugar to balance the acidity of the tomato sauce, but I made no other changes. Thanks, Holly!5 stars

  2. This recipe as well as the Enchilada Casserole Recipe was fantastic. I plan on making this sauce for many things it was so good. Thanks for perfecting this sauce. -Ginny5 stars

    1. Hi Edna, we have never tried freezing this recipe but other readers have with success. If storing in the fridge, it should last up to a week.

  3. Holly this is fantastic! I will never buy another can of enchilada sauce. I have your site on bookmark so I can easily access it whenever I need a recipe. They are all really good so far. Thanks so much.5 stars

  4. Your original recipe (as noted in the comments) doesn’t have flour which would be more authentic since flour wasn’t available pre-Spanish invasion. I’m curious why you opted to add it?

    1. We found this version provided more consistently delicious results Chris. You can view our original recipe in the comments below if you prefer.

  5. This use to be a go-to recipe for me, but I made it after the update and nearly died it was so hot. I figured I did something wrong so I tried it again only doing half the amount of chili, but my lips are still on fire.

    Happy to see the original recipe I fell in love with is posted in another comment – unfortunately too late for this batch. Not sure why the update when the other was delicious, but this recipe is way way way to hott, and I’m not afraid of a bit of spice. If you find this out while in the process of making it you can try adding some brown sugar or citrus juice to tone it down, it took me about 2TB of each. I also don’t think the flour added a lot for me in terms of consistency, so I prefer the nonflour aspect of the other recipe as well.

    I hope this helps anyone else was having the same experience.2 stars

    1. Sorry to hear that Britt, but thanks for sharing your tips on reducing the heat! Did you use chili powder for this recipe or ground chilies?

  6. I made and loved this recipe before it was updated. Didn’t it have cilantro in it originally? Would it be possible for you to share with me the original version. I used it as a key ingredient in a casserole my family loves to eat.

    1. Sure thing Karen, this is the original text from 2013.

      1/2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
      1 Large Onion, Diced
      2 Cloves of Garlic, Minced
      1 1/2 Tablespoons of Homemade Taco Seasoning OR 2 Teaspoons each chili powder & cumin and 1 Teaspoon of Oregano
      1 Large Can of Low Sodium Tomatoes (Diced for a chunkier sauce, crushed for a smoother sauce)
      1 Cup of Chicken Broth or Water
      1 Tablespoon of Brown Sugar
      1/2 Teaspoon each Salt and Pepper
      3 Tablespoons of Finely chopped cilantro

      Instructions
      Heat olive oil in a sauce pan
      Add onions and garlic and stir until softened, about 4 minutes
      If using the diced tomatoes, crush or blend a portion of them so it is only slightly chunky
      Stir in remaining ingredients except cilantro
      Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer covered for 15 minutes
      Remove cover and simmer an additional 5 minutes
      Remove from heat and stir in cilantro

  7. Holly, this is an outstanding recipe! Absolutely delicious and just enough heat for my taste. I also love it because the only salt is from the tomato sauce. I didn’t need to add any additional. So glad I tried it!5 stars

    1. Hi Brittany, you will want to reduce the remaining ingredients accordingly to keep the flavor the same.

  8. I never liked the taste of store-bought canned enchilada sauce, so I was happy to give this recipe a try and was really glad I did. This recipe is great as-is. The only change I made to this recipe is I substituted beef broth for chicken, since I was making shredded beef enchiladas. (Those turned out good too.) This recipe is a keeper!5 stars

    1. Glad idea Barbara! If time permits, we love making things homemade! It adds that extra delicious touch.

  9. Just made this and it was very good. Not hard to make at all. I would probably double all of the spices because we like food a bit more spicy! It was rather mild.4 stars

  10. When you say to add broth in this recipe, what kind of broth? Chicken, beef or vegetable, or does it matter? Looking forward to making this!

  11. Holly I am going to make this sauce it sounds amazing. How much does the recipe yield. And what do I have to do to can this I like to make enough to store some in my pantry. Also do you know if I need to add lemon juice due to the tomatoe in it. And also the canning salt. I would appreciate your input on this thank you Rosa

    1. This makes about 4 cups. I don’t have experience in canning so I can’t answer your questions. Hopefully another reader has some experience and advice!

  12. Holly, I am astounded at how uniformly successful your recipes are to execute in my kitchen. They are so consistent in taste and satisfaction, which is quite rare in my experience. I’ve visited a lot of foodie-type websites, and yours is by far the best and the most well-rounded. The ingredients lists are always simple, the instructions are clear, and the results are delicious. My latest success is this enchilada sauce. Never again will I buy the stuff. I’m now about to go create the Beef Enchilada Casserole — from your site. Yayay You for being so …. honourable (?)!

    1. Ruthielil, Thank you so much for such a kind and lovely message, you’ve truly made my week. I’m so happy you have found the recipes easy to follow and you’ve enjoyed them!

  13. Have you ever frozen this sauce? Or canned it? Would pouring it into a canning jar hot (so it would seal) and keeping it in the fridge be OK?

      1. Doesn’t matter, I’ll just freeze the rest. This is the BEST red enchilada sauce I have ever had1
        I used some of the sauce leftover from the crock pot enchiladas (amazing and going into the rotation!) to make “enchilada bread” for a Super Bowl gathering Mixed cooked chicken, shredded pepper jack and some of the sauce rolled up in a “canned” pizza dough and baked. More sauce for dipping. It was a hit.

  14. I’m a fan of making sauces from scratch rather than buying them off a shelf. This one is definitely going on the list of one of my favourites! And so is your website :) Thanks for the awesome recipe.

  15. Thanks for the recipe share; I was actually searching the web looking for an Enchilada Sauce recipe – and so far, this one is the best!!