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Enchilada Sauce

Perfect Enchilada Sauce [Video]

Enchilada Sauce is easy to make and tastes so much better than the canned stuff, bold and flavorful as at your favorite Mexican restaurant. This recipe is simple and comes together in less than 15 minutes. If you have tried other enchilada sauce recipes, you will notice right away that this one is easy but has so much flavor. We use the sauce a lot in our main dishes such as Chicken Enchilada Pasta, BBQ Chicken Enchiladas, or use it on this Turkey Meatloaf.

The enchilada has been around for centuries. It was sometime between 2000 and 200 BC when the Mayans were wrapping eggs and fish in tortillas covered in tomato sauce. But it was the Aztecs who made what experts say were the first true enchiladas as they were described by Bernal Dias del Castillo in 1576 as white tortillas with eggs and other nourishing ingredients.

This sauce is great for beef, fish, pork, or even veggie enchiladas. It can also be used for dipping with some chips or veggies. I think it is the best enchilada sauce recipe you can make at home and use whenever you please!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients needed:

  • All-purpose flour: For thickening. You could also use whole wheat flour.
  • Vegetable oil: You can use olive oil or whatever oil you like.
  • Tomato paste
  • Tomato sauce
  • Water: You can use vegetable broth or chicken broth.
  • Ground cumin: For an earthy sweetness.
  • Onion powder: If you use onion salt, omit the extra salt.
  • Garlic powder: Fresh garlic, chopped or minced, will also work.
  • Ground red chili powder: Or chipotle chili powder.
  • Brown sugar: Optional, but it adds a subtle sweetness.
  • Paprika: Or smoked paprika.
  • Apple cider vinegar: Gives it a tangy flavor.
  • Salt

How to make enchilada sauce from scratch?

  1. Heat oil: To start, heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Then, stir in chili powder, cumin, and flour.
  2. Turn it down: Immediately, reduce heat to medium, and cook until light brown, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning. It only takes about a minute.
  3. Stir it up: Gradually stir in the tomato paste, sauce, chicken or vegetable broth, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, brown sugar, and vinegar into the flour mix until smooth.
  4. Simmer sauce: Continue cooking over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, or until slightly thickened. If the sauce is too thick, add more water or broth, a little at a time.
  5. Season and serve: Last, season to taste with salt, onion, and garlic powder as needed before serving.

Recipe variations:

  • Extra spicy: Turn this red enchilada sauce recipe into a five-alarm fire sauce with cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder, minced chipotle chilies, red pepper flakes, or any spicy chili powder.
  • Low sodium broth: Use low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth so it is not too salty.
  • Mild sauce: For a milder sauce, use less chili powder. Remember that chili powders sold in Mexico and other countries are 100% cayenne pepper. American chili powder (also known as regular chili powder) is much less spicy.
  • Gluten-free: Make this homemade enchilada sauce recipe gluten-free by using gluten-free flour.

Frequently asked questions

Is this an authentic enchilada sauce recipe?

This easy enchilada sauce recipe is a bit different than the original recipe. What is considered an authentic recipe, includes dried red chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and special spices. Make it anyway you like it with whatever additions suit you and your family. There is no vinegar, flour, chicken broth, or chili powder in the original enchilada sauce recipe. 

Can I use this for other dishes?

Yes, while this sauce goes beautifully with any enchilada recipe like beef and chicken enchiladas, it is also a delicious sauce for tamales and burritos, or you can turn it into an enchilada casserole. Instead of canned sauce, use enchilada sauce with other Mexican dishes like Mexican stew, chili rellenos, Mexican stuffed peppers, and taco soup. Or just mix it with shredded chicken and serve on fried tortillas for absolutely delicious chicken tostadas.

Is green sauce spicier than red sauce?

Traditionally, the color depends on the kind of chilis that were used. With green enchilada sauce, the base is made out of green chilis while the red sauce is made of red chilis. Since red chilis are usually spicier than green chilis, red enchilada sauce is usually spicier. Red chilis are hotter because they are left on the vine longer.

How to store leftovers:

  • Store: You can store your leftover sauce in an airtight container like a glass jar.
  • Freeze: To freeze enchilada sauce for up to three months, pour it into a mason jar or some other type of glass jar with a lid.
  • Thaw: Thaw out frozen leftovers in the fridge overnight before using.
  • Reheat: To reheat, pour the sauce in a saucepan on medium heat until it is warmed through.

More homemade sauces to try:

Recipe tips:

  • To shorten prep time, you can buy canned enchilada sauce and add your ingredients to it. But remember, when you buy canned sauce, you are getting whatever additives and preservatives they put in it too.
  • If your enchilada sauce is too thin, you can add cornstarch slurry. Just mix equal parts water and cornstarch.
  • The recipe makes about four cups of sauce, depends how thick you make it. 
  • This post may contain affiliate links.
  • Put your phone in cook mode so it does not go dark while you are cooking.
  • If you make this enchilada sauce recipe, share your thoughts in the comments section. Thank you so much!


Perfect Enchilada Sauce

  • Prep Time10 MIN
  • Cook Time15 MIN
  • Servings 4 cups


  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup ground red chili powder use less for a less spicy sauce
  • 1 (8oz can) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cup water vegetable broth or chicken broth for more flavor
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika or smoked paprika for more flavor
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar optional, but it balances the flavors nicely
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar


  • Start by heating oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Then, add flour and chili powder, and stir together. Instantly reduce heat to medium, and cook the flour-chili blend until lightly brown, stirring constantly to prevent from burning. It only takes about 1 minute to cook it.
    stirring flour and chili powder in a saucepan
  • Gradually stir in: tomato sauce, tomato paste, chicken broth, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, brown sugar, and vinegar into the flour and chili powder mix until smooth.
    adding tomato sauce to a saucepan with chili powder and flour mix
  • Continue cooking over medium heat for approximately 8-10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. If the sauce is too thick, add more water or broth, a little at a time.
    stirring enchilada sauce in a saucepan
  • Season to taste with salt.
  • The recipe makes about 3 1/2 to 4 cups of sauce, depends how thick you like it. Let the sauce fully cool before refrigerating or freezing.
    overhead shot of a jar of enchilada sauce with a spoon in it

Nutrition Facts

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Homemade is always best and I have to make this Enchilada Sauce! Looks great1



Made this last night with my usual enchilada recipe, and it was amazing! Thanks so much for this great recipe!



Perfect name for a perfect sauce. This looks amazing !



This is a perfect sauce one of my favorite and this steps are very detailed. Great!

Catalina Castravet

Catalina Castravet

Yes, we love it also, spicy and delicious!

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