Skip the store-bought canned sauce and make this Homemade Enchilada Sauce recipe instead – you’ll feel like you’re eating at your favorite Mexican restaurant. It’s so quick and easy and great in all your recipes that call for canned enchilada sauce.
We always make a double batch of this enchilada sauce and our Chimichurri sauce, because we use them both so often!
Is it just me or does store-bought canned enchilada sauce always seem to taste like metal? And other than the level of heat (low or high), there’s no real depth of flavor. Meh. I much prefer to make my own Homemade Enchilada sauce, which is incredibly quick and easy and tastes so good!
This Homemade Enchilada Sauce is also a fantastic alternative if you’re located someplace where canned sauce is hard to find.
Enchilada Sauce Recipe
What’s in enchilada sauce? To make this easy enchilada sauce recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Oil and flour: Extra-virgin olive oil and all-purpose flour are combined to make a roux, which thickens the sauce. (See note below if you need this sauce to be gluten-free.)
- Chili powder: Make sure you use American-style chili powder (not cayenne pepper) – American chili powder is a blend of spices and is quite mild, whereas international chili powders are usually immensely spicy.
- Other Spices: The perfect blend of garlic powder, ground cumin, dried oregano, and Kosher salt are also used for this sauce.
- Tomato Sauce: Sweet tomato sauce adds depth of flavor and balances out the savory spices.
- Vegetable Broth: Vegetable broth provides a rich base and also keeps the sauce vegetarian, so more people can enjoy it, but chicken stock is totally fine. Make sure it’s low-sodium, so you can control the saltiness.
Red Enchilada Sauce Variations
Some possible alterations include:
- Us a different oil: We prefer extra-virgin olive oil because of the added flavor, but vegetable or canola oil can be used instead.
- Gluten-Free: A gluten-free flour blend like Bob’s Red Mill can be used instead of all-purpose flour.
- Kick up the heat: Want it spicier? Add in a pinch or more of cayenne pepper or use ancho chili powder or chipotle powder instead of American chili powder.
- Make it creamy: Turn this sauce into a wonderful creamy enchilada sauce by whisking in a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of heavy cream. So good!
- Double it! The recipe can easily be doubled (or tripled) if you think you’ll grow through it pretty fast.
How to Make Enchilada Sauce
Nothing tricky or complicated here! This Red Enchilada Sauce is easy and simple, and comes together in 4 easy steps:
- Make the roux: Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour, whisk and cook off.
- Add spices: Whisk in all the spices, cooking for a minute until fragrant.
- Stir in liquid: Raise heat slightly; add in the tomato sauce and gradually pour in the vegetable stock, whisking until no lumps remain. Continue until the sauce reaches a simmer.
- Let simmer: Reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer (the sauce should continue lightly bubbling) for about 10 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
At this point, you can adjust the seasonings to make it spicier or saltier. I usually add in a 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to begin with, but the saltiness of the sauce can vary depending on the brand of stock you use.
Storing Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Allow sauce to cool completely before storing any leftovers.
How long does homemade enchilada sauce last in the fridge? Transfer it to a mason jar or airtight container and place in the refrigerator. It will keep up to 5 days.
How to freeze enchilada sauce? This sauce does tend to separate once thawed, so freezing it is not my favorite, but you definitely can. Transfer cooled sauce to a mason jar or freezer-safe container, leaving a gap at the top for expansion. If transferring to a freezer bag, make sure all excess air is removed before sealing. It will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months – be sure to label it!
Ways to Use Enchilada Sauce
With the perfect blend of pantry spices and a short cook time, you are well on your way to elevating all your beloved Mexican dishes that normally call for canned sauce. Here are some of our favorite ways to use it:
- This Mexican Lasagna Recipe is a delicious twist on traditional Italian lasagna with layers of corn tortillas, ground beef, refried beans, and cheese. It can be made ahead and is freezer friendly, too.
- Taco Soup is an easy meal made in your crock pot using pantry staples. Super nutritious also, to get you through cold and flu season!
- THE BEST Scrambled Eggs with a drizzle of this sauce is next level delicious!
- Huevos Rancheros with a fried egg, black beans, and this enchilada sauce is basically the best Mexican breakfast ever!
- Turkey Enchiladas are the absolute best use of Thanksgiving leftovers.
- Make a dip for Chicken Taquitos by mixing the sauce with sour cream.
- Mix the sauce with sour cream or homemade Ranch Dressing for a zesty taco salad.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup chili powder (*see important note!)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 cup tomato sauce
- 1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
- Kosher salt , to taste
- This sauce comes together fast, so have all of your ingredients ready to go to prevent burning.
- Warm oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook off, whisking constantly, about 30-60 seconds.
- Add in the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano; cook, whisking constantly for 45-60 seconds, until fragrant and deepened in color.
- Raise the heat to medium-high; add in the tomato sauce and gradually pour in the vegetable stock, whisking constantly to combine until no lumps remain.
- Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer (the sauce should continue lightly bubbling) for about 10 minutes, uncovered, until slightly thickened.
- Give the sauce a taste and season with salt, as needed. (I usually add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, but the saltiness of the sauce will depend on the brand of broth you use.)
- Remove from the heat. The sauce will thicken some more as it cools.
- Use immediately and enjoy or store for later.