This homemade enchiladas sauce recipe tastes so amazing you'll never want store-bought sauce again!! Dried chili peppers, onions, cherry tomatoes, and smoky paprika create a simple yet rich robust smoky flavor that's perfect for your next favorite Mexican-inspired creation! 1 recipe is equivalent to 1 (28 ounce) can of store-bought sauce.
- You just can't beat this Red Enchilada Sauce!
- Why you'll love Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
- How to use Enchilada Sauce
- What you'll need for Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe variations
- How to make Enchilada Sauce from Dried Chiles
- Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe tips
- Red Enchilada Sauce storage
- Homemade Enchilada Sauce FAQs
- More Enchilada Recipes
- 💬 Comments
You just can't beat this Red Enchilada Sauce!
"This homemade enchiladas sauce recipe is better than store-bought - every time. This simple sauce uses dried chili peppers and Mexican spices that make for a smoky, robust flavor that can't be beaten! You gotta try it."
What is enchilada sauce?
Enchilada sauce is a flavorful sauce commonly used in Mexican cuisine to accompany and flavor enchiladas, a popular dish made with tortillas filled with various ingredients, such as meat, cheese, beans, or vegetables. Enchilada sauce is typically a smooth, rich, and slightly spicy tomato-based sauce. It serves as both a cooking sauce and a topping for enchiladas.
What is traditional enchilada sauce made of?
The main ingredients in traditional enchilada sauce can vary slightly depending on regional and personal preferences, but they typically include tomatoes, onions, garlic, chili peppers (such as jalapeños or dried chili powder), and various spices like cumin, oregano, and paprika. The sauce is usually simmered to blend the flavors and develop a balanced taste.
Why you'll love Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
You will love how simple it is to make this enchiladas sauce recipe! I am so happy that I made this to put with our enchiladas. This sauce has so much flavor, and since I already had most of these items on hand in my pantry - it was super easy.
Most people might not have dried chili peppers in their pantry - but once you use them, you will love them. They impart so much flavor into a dish. I love that they keep so much longer than fresh ones too.
The dried chile peppers used in this sauce are used regularly in traditional Mexican food. The varieties we used range from mild to medium heat. You'll also love the tangy brightness that the cherry tomatoes add and the smokiness from the smoked paprika - delish.
Making your own homemade red enchilada sauce is so much more delicious and healthy than the canned, store-bought kind!
- This is a versatile recipe that can accommodate many dietary restrictions.
- This recipe is low-carb, keto, and gluten-free!
- Using vegetable broth makes the sauce vegan and vegetarian.
- No dairy is used.
- We added no sugar. The only sugar content comes from natural sources - the ingredients themselves.
- The broth comes in many options, and can be found in fat-free and reduced sodium.
- You can also substitute extra-virgin olive oil for your preferred oil. I use Extra-virgin olive oil for its health benefits, such as its minimally processed and the amount of retained vitamins and antioxidants it obtains.
How to use Enchilada Sauce
Here are some ways you can use your enchiladas sauce recipe.
- Make enchiladas! Enchiladas can be prepared in many different ways. For an easy weekday dinner, make your own enchiladas by wrapping corn or flour tortillas with your favorite cooked protein, enchilada sauce, and cheese. Place in a greased casserole dish, cover with more sauce and more cheese, and bake at 350 degrees F until heated through. Some protein ideas are chicken, pulled pork, or carne asada. You can keep it vegan by using black beans or chickpeas also!
- Use this sauce as a base for a soup or stew. Add your proteins, and favorite vegetables and top with sour cream, cilantro and tortilla strips.
- Use it as a salsa, and start dipping your chips!
- Makes a great marinade for steaks, chicken, and pork.
- 1 recipe is equivalent to 1 (28 oz) can of store-bought sauce.
- Makes a great topping for chicken, pork, fish, and beef.
- It's a great sauce over tacos, burritos, and such!
What you'll need for Homemade Enchilada Sauce
What is in Enchilada Sauce
Here are the ingredients you will need to make this enchiladas sauce recipe:
See the recipe card for quantities.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil - there are many different kinds of cooking oils available. We prefer extra-virgin olive oil; however, you can use avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or even vegetable oil to saute your vegetables.
Yellow Onion - you can use any variety you prefer here. Cut off the ends and cut in half. Cut each half into quarters.
Garlic - fresh is best; for ease you can use pre-cut jarred garlic.
Dried Guajillo Peppers - are a mild, sweet, fruity and smoky pepper. This is the second most popular mexican chile pepper to use in mexian dishes. Make sure to de-seed and de-stem.
Dried Ancho Peppers - are the most popular dried chile pepper to use in mexican cuisine. This is a mild pepper to use that has great flavor. Make sure to de-seed and de-stem.
Dried New Mexico Chile Peppers or Mulato peppers - My favorite pepper to use is mulato but it isn't as easy to find as a New Mexico chili or California chilie. I de-seed to reduce to a mild heat level. Make sure to de-seed and de-stem before you cook them.
Cherry Tomatoes - come in many different brands, colors, and hybrids. Use what your favorite kind are and are easily found at your local store.
Tomatillos - are a green firm tomato-like fruit that add a tart bright flavor to this sauce.
Vegetable Broth or Chicken Broth - can be used or replaced with your favorite kind of stock. A healthier alternative can be used such as a fat-free and reduced sodium stock or broth.
Apple Cider Vinegar - adds a little tang and more depth to the recipe. White vinegar can be used, as well, lime juice, lemon juice, or sour oranges.
Dried Five Spice Blend
Equipment and tools needed to make this enchiladas sauce recipe:
- Cutting Board - for chopping ingredients
- Chef Knife - Any chef's knife works as long as it is shart and feels comfortable
- 4 Quart Stock Pot - or larger is fine
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Mixing Spoon
- Stick Blender or Regular Blender- to puree sauteed ingredients to make the
Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe variations
Here are a few ways you can vary or make substitutions to your Enchiladas Sauce recipe:
- Feel free to substitute the chicken stock with vegetable broth for vegetarian or vegan diets!
- Increase the smoky flavor, by toasting the chiles in a hot skillet until charred before adding to the sauce.
- Make it spicier by adding chipotle powder to the sauce for added spice depth. Or, add a single fresh jalapeno or fresno pepper when sauteing the onion, garlic, and other peppers for a fresh addition.
- If you don't like the flavor of vinegar you can omit it. The amount is very minimal, yet adds brings depth of flavor for an umami experience. I find substituting lime juice for vinegar to be a nice touch.
- If you don't like tomatillos omit them. Adjust the tartness with a little extra vinegar or lime juice.
How to make Enchilada Sauce from Dried Chiles
Here's how to make this delicious red enchilada sauce:
For complete instructions, please see the printable recipe card below.
In a large stockpot, pre-heat with olive oil over medium heat. Wait until the oil begins to smoke a little.
When the oil is hot, add onions and garlic. Saute until they turn golden brown and caramelize.
Add the cherry tomatoes. Continue to saute everything until the tomatoes begin to pop and break down.
Next, add the dried chili peppers, vegetable stock, vinegar, salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, and oregano. Bring to a simmer, cover, and reduce heat to simmer.
Simmer until the peppers are very soft. Once tender, remove the pot from heat.
Blend, Blend, Blend
Using a hand blender, blend the enchilada sauce until smooth.
If needed, you can return the stockpot to heat and simmer on low heat to reduce your enchilada sauce to your desired thickness.
Adjust seasoning to your liking and use it in your favorite recipe.
Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe tips
- Watching the temperature of your stovetop is important when sauteing your vegetables and peppers. If you burn your vegetables and peppers this will add a very bitter flavor to your sauce and is nearly inedible. Did you know that you can tone down bitterness with brown sugar or white sugar (or sugar substitute)? Yep. Offset tartness with sweetness! 🙂 Start with a teaspoon or two and add as much as you need.
- If you are unable to find the exact dried peppers - it's okay. Feel free to utilize waht you can find. Most packages will tell you what the spice level is of each pepper - just use the same quanitity of what the recipe calls for, but choose the spice level you want.
Red Enchilada Sauce storage
Can you make it ahead of time?
You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until serving for up to 5 days.
How long will this sauce keep?
It is recommended to use this enchilada sauce within five days for the best freshness.
Can you freeze this sauce?
You can freeze this sauce as well! Just make sure to date your container and package in manageable amounts to thaw and use for future recipes. It is recommended that you use it within six months of freezing. Before serving, you may need to defrost in a saucepan and reduce to your desired thickness.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce FAQs
If you don’t have enchilada sauce you can substitute a basic salsa in whatever heat level you like (mild, medium, hot).
Yes, enchilada sauce is made from tomatoes, as well as onions, chili peppers, and seasonings.
There are many reason your enchilada sauce may be bitter, but the most common is that it may be due to burnt ingredients, overuse of certain ingredients, bad or expired ingredients, too much citric acid from the tomatoes, etc.
There are several different types of enchilada sauces - red enchilada sauce, green, mole, white, and chipotle. The red enchilada sauce uses red chili peppers as does the chipotle enchilada sauce (chipotle peppers are used) along with tomatoes. In green enchilada sauce, green chiles are used and tomatillos. White enchilada sauce uses, flour and milk or cream as well as mild seasonings.
More Enchilada Recipes
If you are looking for more enchilada recipes, check these out:
- Green Enchiladas with Chicken
- Green Enchiladas Chicken Soup (Slow Cooker + Instant Pot)
- Healthier Green Enchiladas
- Seafood Enchiladas (So Delicious!)
- Low Carb Chicken Enchiladas (Keto Zucchini Enchilada Boats)
More Enchilada Sauce Recipes:
Did you try this Enchiladas Sauce Recipe? Let me know how it turned out! I'd love for you to come back and give the recipe a star rating and/or a review in the comments! 🙂 Let's stay connected, so please share photos of your creations with me and others on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!