This easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce tastes like it came straight out of the kitchen of your favorite Mexican restaurant. One meal with this recipe and you will never opt for store bought, canned enchilada sauce again, guaranteed. You just won't find this kind of authentic flavor in anything premade.
This classic, red Enchilada Sauce is composed of simple yet powerful ingredients, such as chili powder and ground cumin. It's savory, smokey, and super versatile, making it perfect for chicken, beef, and even pork enchiladas. Not to mention it works great for burritos and tamales as well!
This sauce takes less than 15 minutes to make and you probably already have everything you need. Everyone who tries it loves it, so you'll probably be making it again soon! For more easy Tex-Mex recipes, check out our tamale sauce, enchiladas Rojas, and green enchilada sauce next!
ENCHILADA SAUCE INGREDIENTS
Before we get into how you make this insanely easy Enchilada Sauce, let's talk about what is going in it:
- Tomato Sauce | It might surprise you to learn that the base of most Rojo enchilada sauces is not just chili; there's most definitely tomato in there, too. Make sure you grab a can of plain tomato sauce, not a tomato sauce with basil or other added flavors.
- Tomato Paste | Tomato paste will add a welcomed acidity and a note of umami flavor to this sauce. Don't leave it out!
- Chipotles | Chipotles in adobo are a great way to add a bit of complex flavor, a touch of vinegar, and extra spice to your Enchilada Sauce. You can find cans of chipotles in adobo in your grocery store's Mexican or international aisle.
- Spices | The spices you'll use to make your Homemade Enchilada Sauce are chili powder, cumin, kosher salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried oregano. This is a traditional Mexican spice blend in which every spice adds its own welcomed "oomph" of flavor.
- Oil | The oil is the first part of the roux. We opted for a flavorless oil like avocado or canola oil for this recipe; however, if you have a vegetable or olive oil on hand, either one would be a fine substitute.
- Flour | The flour is the second part of the roux, a key ingredient to thicken the sauce. We tested this recipe using all-purpose flour, but gluten-free flour would also work for this recipe. We do not recommend using cake flour or self-rising flour for this recipe.
- Chicken Broth | We love the extra savory vibes chicken broth gives this Enchilada Sauce. However, if you want to keep your Enchilada Sauce vegan, use vegetable broth. If you want to boost the savory quality of your Enchilada Sauce, beef broth would also work. The one thing you want to keep stick to across the board when it comes to the broth is that it should be either unsalted or low sodium.
A QUICK WORD ON SPICES
Most chili powders only add mild heat to the sauce but don't make it overtly spicy. However, different brands of chili powders might have different heat levels. We use McCormick chili powder and do not find it "spicy" at all.
If you are especially sensitive to heat, we recommend using the McCormick brand chili powder, and you might also consider cutting back the quantity of chili powder by half. Another Noteworthy spice is cumin. Cumin adds a good deal of smoky flavor to this Enchilada Sauce.
HOW TO MAKE ENCHILADA SAUCE
Bonus alert: This homemade Enchilada Sauce recipe progresses quickly and comes together in less than 15 minutes! Yes, please.
But, one important factor regarding the speediness of this recipe is that the initial stove top work happens really fast -- we are talking a mere matter of 2 minutes here, people. For this reason, your tomato spice mixture should be measured out, mixed up, and ready to go before any oil hits the pan!
Add the tomato sauce, paste, chipotles, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, and oregano to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment or a blender. Secure the lid and process until all of the ingredients are completely smooth and puréed. Set the blend aside and move on to the stovetop!
Grab yourself either a large skillet or a sauté pan and place it over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and allow the oil to come to temperature. Once the oil is hot, sprinkle the flour over the oil and whisk until the flower has moistened.
Now, you'll begin adding in your broth one big splash at a time, whisking well after each addition. As soon as all of the chicken broth has been incorporated and the mixture looks very smooth, add your tomato paste spice mixture and whisk until combined.
Allow this sauce to come to a simmer, and reduce the heat as necessary to maintain the simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally until slightly thickened.
HOW TO STORE ENCHILADA SAUCE
Making it ahead of time? Way to go, you! Luckily, this sauce is super easy to store. Simply allow it to cool a bit, seal it up in an airtight container, and pop it into the fridge. It should maintain its freshness and flavor for about 5 days.
To store this Enchilada Sauce for even longer, feel free to freeze it. To do so, allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, transfer it to a freezer-safe, zip-top bag, seal, and freeze for up to 3 months.
6 MORE ENCHILADA RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Shrimp Enchiladas
- Beef Enchilada Casserole
- Cheese Enchiladas
- Crockpot Chicken Enchiladas
- Sour Cream Enchiladas
- Tex-Mex Enchiladas
This Homemade Enchilada Sauce recipe is going to seriously up your Tex-Mex cuisine and it only takes 15 minutes to make!
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-2 chipotles (from a can of chipotle in adobo)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons Kosher salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons canola or avocado oil
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 3 cups unsalted chicken broth
Add the tomato sauce, paste, chipotles, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, cumin, onion powder, and oregano to a food processor fitted with a blade attachment or blender. Process until smooth and set aside.
Add the oil to a large sauté or fry pan over medium heat and allow to come to temperature. Once the oil is hot, sprinkle over the flour and whisk until the flour has moistened.
Add the chicken broth one big splash at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the tomato-spice mixture and whisk to combine.
Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, and reduce the heat (as necessary) to maintain a simmer. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.
Serve over enchiladas or tamales. If not using immediately, allow the sauce to cool slightly, transfer to an airtight container, and refrigerate for up to 5 days.