Just a few pantry staples and about 20 minutes, you have rich and thick flavorful Homemade Easy Enchilada Sauce. Use it on all your Mexican food for a complex and delicious flavor!
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Please let me know if you have any questions about this recipe. I read all the comments myself and I try to help as soon as I can. I have readers from all levels of comfort and experience in the kitchen on my site, and I’ve tried to answer some of your questions already in the post. But if I’ve missed anything, please feel free to leave a comment and ask.
Quick enchilada sauce
If you make a lot of Mexican-inspired recipes like I do, you need to give this red enchilada sauce a try. This is way better than canned sauce, and so worth the minimal effort that it takes to make it.
This recipe makes a nice big batch, so you can use it for several meals. You can also freeze it for use at a later date.
This fast recipe has great flavor and it’s versatile for those who don’t like or won’t eat heat, because you can always add the heat later.
Is homemade enchilada sauce hard to make?
No, making enchilada sauce from scratch isn’t hard at all. In fact, my enchilada sauce is quick and easy to make. If you can measure a few ingredients, and heat them on the stove, you can make this delicious Mexican flavored sauce. And there’s no chopping involved!
How long does it keep in the refrigerator?
Homemade enchilada sauce will keep in the fridge for up a to two weeks.
We always keep a jar of this sauce in the fridge for just about any meal, from breakfast to dinner, even snacks! And I’m sure you’ll find all kinds of ways to use it too!
Can I freeze it?
Yes, it freezes well. Let the sauce cool completely, and store it in a tightly covered freezer-safe container. It will keep for several months. And defrosts easily in the microwave.
Can I make spicy enchilada sauce?
Yes, my recipe makes for a very mild sauce. If you’d like it to be hot and spicy, you can add hot sauce, or add in a pinch or two of ground cayenne pepper to the chili powder. You can also use ancho chili powder in place of the American chili powder for a spicy sauce. Oh, you could also make a smoky and spicy sauce by using ground chipotle chili powder in place of the regular chili powder.
American-style chili powder
Ok, since we’re talking about chili powder, I thought I’d clarify something. When I first posted this recipe back in 2014, I got several comments that it must be a spicy hot sauce. No, in fact, it’s quite mild if you use American-style chili powder.
Since I live on the west coast of the US, I have grown up with chili powder, and it’s usually very mild, and not hot and spicy at all; it’s actually a blend of various mild chilies and seasonings.
American Chili powder blends are made of chili peppers and other spices, commonly including cumin, onion, garlic powder, and sometimes salt. I have two different brands in my kitchen right now, and the ingredients include, “spices (including red pepper, chili pepper), salt, garlic” in one, and “chili pepper, salt, cumin, oregano, garlic” in the other. Neither are spicy hot. Keep in mind that different brands of chili powder may produce different flavor, color, and spiciness results. Experiment to see what you like best.
Want to make your own chili powder? I have a delicious recipe for homemade chili powder, which is amazing and so delicious!
You’ll want to use a good-quality brand of chili powder for this recipe, since it is the main seasoning used here.
And if you happen to be an international reader, please look for an American-style chili powder, which will not include too much cayenne pepper and won’t be too spicy.
How to make easy enchilada sauce
Simply place the chili powder and the thickener (flour or starch) in a small pan, and stir to combine. Then mix in the oil. Heat the chili powder and oil mixture to bloom the spice, until it smells nice and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Mix in the broth, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Don’t worry about any lumps, they will cook out. Then, bring that to a boil, turn down the heat, and let simmer and thicken for 10 minutes.
Once the sauce has simmered, add in the final seasonings of salt and a little sugar. I add in 3/4 teaspoon of salt (as called for in the recipe card), but please note that the amount of salt you’ll need will directly relate to how salty your veggie broth and chili powder are.
It’s ready to use to slather over a batch of enchiladas. And, I have lots of other recipe ideas a little lower for you! Or, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Gluten free option
Back when I first published this recipe, I had a question on making it gluten free, so I did a little recipe testing.
When I make this sauce now, I always use potato starch. I like the way it works, that it’s naturally gluten free, and that it doesn’t have the gritty mouthfeel that cornstarch can have.
Feel free to use a gluten free baking mix (like Bob’s Red Mill), potato starch, or cornstarch. Because you mix the starch with the chili powder and oil you don’t have to worry about making a slurry with water before making this change in the recipe.
What can I use this sauce in?
Use it as a sauce for all kinds of dishes, I love it on breakfast tacos – add a light smear to the tortilla, then top with scrambled eggs, cheese, hash browns (or tater tots), and sausage.
What to make with enchilada sauce besides enchiladas?
Use this sauce for all kinds of dishes!
For breakfast or brunch, try making my Chilaquiles cups
It’s wonderful in black bean soup
Besides enchiladas, try making enchilada pasta, or corn fritter sliders. I love it on pizza instead of the traditional red sauce. Try making Mexican flatbread pizza, or Street corn pizza.
I’ve made it into veggie casserole. I love to top chicken tenders with it. And appetizers like these stuffed potatoes are a hit with this enchilada sauce.
Sometimes I’ll make enchilada bowls for lunch with rice, veggies, some cheese, (chicken for the husband), and top it all off with enchilada sauce. It’s a great easy lunch idea!
This is truly the best Enchilada Sauce recipe! It’s quick and easy to make, naturally vegan and vegetarian, super versatile, and full of the best flavors.
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Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe
Easy Enchilada Sauce
- In a small saucepan, mix flour (or potato starch) and chili powder together. Add oil, and mix to combine. Heat on low for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Turn the heat up to medium, add broth, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 10 minutes, until sauce thickens and smooths out. Add salt and sugar, and taste for seasonings, adjusting to taste.