Flavorful and easy to make, this homemade enchilada sauce is so much better than the canned kind. Use it in your favorite enchilada recipes!
When I’m craving enchiladas on a weeknight, I first make this red enchilada sauce recipe. It’s the perfect starting point for fast, flavorful homemade enchiladas. It takes minutes to make, and it calls for simple pantry ingredients. Still, its balance of tangy, earthy, and savory flavors really packs a punch. Swap it in for the store-bought stuff, and I promise, you’ll taste the difference.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe Ingredients
Growing up in the Midwest, I thought of enchilada sauce as one thing: the tomato-based stuff that comes in a can. But when I moved to Austin, I learned that in Mexican and Tex Mex cooking, enchilada sauce doesn’t always look one way. It can have a base of zingy tomatillos or be a chili gravy made from broth and spices. Or it can be a mole or a piquant blend of rehydrated dried chiles. All that’s to say that this recipe is just one type of enchilada sauce, basically an upgraded version of the canned kind. Though I love experimenting with other styles of enchilada sauce as well, I often come back to this one because it’s so easy to prepare.
Here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Tomato sauce – It creates the sauce’s tangy base.
- Avocado oil – For richness. I like its neutral flavor here, though if you don’t have it on hand, olive oil would work too.
- All-purpose flour – To thicken the sauce.
- Chili powder – For heat and smoky flavor. Use store-bought, or make your own.
- Cumin – It adds earthy flavor.
- Garlic powder – It makes the sauce intensely savory.
- Dried oregano – For aromatic, herbal notes.
- Vegetable broth – It loosens the sauce, giving it the perfect consistency to pour over enchiladas.
- And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!
Find the complete recipe with measurements below.
How to Make Enchilada Sauce
This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is quick and easy to make! Here’s how it goes:
- First, heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for one minute, then add the spices and whisk for another minute.
- Next, add the tomato sauce and broth. Gradually pour them into the pan, whisking continuously.
- Then, simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 12 minutes. It will thicken more as it cools.
Season to taste and enjoy in your favorite enchilada recipe! (We love this cheese one and this black bean one.)
Enchilada Sauce Recipe Tips
- Know your chili powder (and your spice tolerance). Chili powders vary widely in spice level. Taste yours before making the sauce to get a sense of how spicy it is. If you prefer a mild enchilada sauce, you might want to use as little as 1 tablespoon chili powder. If you like a spicy sauce (or if you have a very mild chili powder), feel free to add more. I typically use 2 to 3 tablespoons of chili powder in my red enchilada sauce.
- Add the tomato sauce and broth slowly. Instead of dumping all the liquid into the saucepan at once, pour in the tomato sauce and broth gradually, whisking continuously while you do it. This will make your final sauce thicker and smoother, free of any clumps of flour or spices.
- Get ahead. This enchilada sauce recipe will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make it on the weekend, and you’ll be able to throw together homemade enchiladas on any night of the week!
More Favorite Homemade Sauces
If you love this recipe, try one of these homemade sauces next:
This homemade enchilada sauce is flavorful and easy to make! Use it in any recipe that calls for red enchilada sauce.
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 to 3 tablespoons chili powder, to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1½ cups vegetable broth
Heat the avocado oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk for 1 minute. Add the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, and oregano and whisk for 1 minute. Slowly add the tomato sauce and then the broth, whisking continuously until smooth.
Simmer for 12 minutes, or until thickened. The sauce will thicken more as it cools. Use in your favorite enchilada recipe.
Makes 1¾ cups.