Best Homemade & QUICK Enchilada Sauce (Top 10 Ways to Use It!)

Ditch the can, this Homemade Enchilada Sauce will make you feel like you’re at your favorite Mexican restaurant in fifteen minutes!

Make your favorite Mexican Food dishes at home with this homemade sauce that’s perfect on everything from yummy Oven Baked Beef Tacos to savory Enchiladas to filling Casserole Bakes!

Ditch the can, feel like you're at your favorite Mexican restaurant in ten minutes! Homemade Enchilada sauce that is so good you'll top it on everything, even your eggs!

This homemade Enchilada Sauce recipe is the base recipe used in many of our inspired Mexican recipes. It is so easy to make you can keep it in the fridge and ALWAYS have it in the freezer because truth be told, making this in bulk will be a game changer. This recipe is scaled down so you could make a quantity for one meal, but after you make it once you’ll be doing in it bulk too!

Enchiladas themselves are a culinary dish developed in Mesoamerica before the time of Columbus. It was, and continues to be, a staple food amongst the peoples living in the region. Enchilada meals simply consists of a corn tortilla rolled around a filling of your choice. It is often topped with a yummy sauce, like this Enchilada Sauce.

If you master a few simple sauce recipes, you can make several meals on a weekly basis right out of your Kitchen Pantry. Find the ones you like and repurpose them into various dishes that your family loves, so when it is 6:00 pm and you are completely drawing a blank on dinner you can go into the freezer, grab a sauce and make an easy dinner, like Classic Chicken Enchiladas.

How to Make Enchilada Sauce

This is so easy to make! It is literally heating and mixing simple ingredients on the stovetop! 

  • Step One: Heat flour and chili powder on medium-high heat, mixing well. 
  • Step Two: Mix the other ingredients in a medium bowl and add to the pan. 
  • Step Three: Whisk for a bit until thickened and ready to serve! 

More Easy Mexican Recipes

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make Enchilada Sauce less spicy? 

If you’re looking for an option that doesn’t have so much heat, try using a light chili powder. The dark chili powder used in this recipe has more spicy heat than the light counterpart. 

It can be hard sometimes to introduce spice into the diet of young kids, so this recipe is a perfect one because you can adjust the spice level to suit your family, and it complements lots of food that young kids like. Try marinating chicken in this sauce before grilling to add a ton of flavor that the kids will enjoy right alongside you.

Want to make a spicier enchilada sauce? Just add a couple teaspoons of cayenne pepper, or to taste. 

How can I make Enchilada Sauce less tangy? 

If you are using low sodium tomato sauce, the sauce might come out a bit more tangy for your preference. You can add a tablespoon or two of sugar to cut the tang. 

How can I thicken Enchilada Sauce without wheat flour? 

You can use cornstarch or arrowroot as a thickener instead. At the grocery store, there are also gluten-free flour options as well.

Additionally, just add a small 6oz can of tomato paste to the pot while cooking. Stir it in really well.

Does this recipe have an overpowering chili flavor?

We don’t think so. If you’d like less of a chili flavor, use a light chili powder and only use 2 tablespoons instead of three. 

How much Enchilada Sauce does this recipe make?

This recipe makes 2 cups of sauce by volu

Can’t I just use pre-made canned enchilada sauces instead?

No. You’ll never again want or need to use canned sauce after having learned this recipe. 

What is the glass cup in the picture? 

The glass in the picture is a great versatile kitchen item. They are old school French glasses that you buy with lids that you can put on the top and store. They are inexpensive and heavy duty, and they double for drinking glasses!

Key Ingredients in Enchilada Sauce

The simple pantry ingredients listed here should be regularly stocked up at home so you never run out of amazing meals to cook for your friends and family. 

  • Tomato: This recipe uses canned tomatoes. Be sure to look for the one’s that aren’t pre-seasoned. Just check the ingredient list. 
  • Spices: This recipe is using garlic cloves and powders like cumin, chili, and onion powder to bring a depth of flavor. Of course, you’ll season with salt to taste and can even add a bit of black pepper for a kick. 
  • Broth: You can use the chicken broth for deeper flavor. Vegetable broth and water are fine substitutes as well. 

Variations and Substitutions on Enchilada Sauce 

Take your favorite enchilada recipe and make it your own! 

  • Tomato Sauce: An equal amount of pureed jarred salsa works great in a pinch!
  • Broth: You can use vegetable broth or low sodium chicken broth if you prefer without problem. You can also simply use one or two cups water instead.
  • Oil: Any low flavor oil like avocado, canola, and olive oil also works in this recipe. We don’t suggest using coconut oil or oil past its expiration date. 
  • Green Enchilada Sauce: The chili powder and tomatoes give Enchilada Sauce its red coloring. If you’d like to try a green one, simply replace the tomato sauce with an equal blend of green tomatillos and green chili, like in our copycat Green-Chili Salsa recipe. To turn the chunky Green-Chili Salas into enchilada sauce, simply continue to purée until completely smooth before serving. Too spicy? Try adding a quarter cup of sour cream or half and half to the blender for a creamier version of green enchilada sauce. 
Ditch the can, feel like you're at your favorite Mexican restaurant in ten minutes! Homemade Enchilada sauce that is so good you'll top it on everything, even your eggs!

10 Ways to Use Enchilada Sauce

This sauce is a versatile sauce beloved in traditional Mexican households. Here are 10 of the best ways you can use this sauce that includes enchilada recipes and other favorite recipes.

  1. Chicken Enchiladas: These cheesy and delicious enchiladas are perfect for a midweek dinner. (Tip: Because pre-shredded cheeses contain an additive to avoid clumping, they also don’t melt as well as you’d hope so it’s a good idea to always shred your own.)
  2. Mexican Lasagna: You can use tortillas instead of noodles, layered with Mexican shredded cheese, and ground beef to make a fun and easy meal
  3. Chicken Tamale Bake: Spicy and made from scratch, this yummy chicken recipe is all natural and amazing!  
  4. Taco Sauce: You can add a dash or two of smoked paprika to the recipe to make an amazing sauce to put on your tacos. 
  5. Burritos “Enchilada Style”:  top your Burrito with this homemade Enchilada Sauce, some shredded cheese, and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
  6. Creamy Enchilada Sauce: Mix with sour cream for a creamy spicy sauce (top almost anything with this, like the Cheesecake Factory Tamale Corn Cakes).
  7. Taquito Dip: Mix with sour cream as a dip too, for things like taquitos and Ultimate Totchos which are nachos made with tater tots instead of chips! 
  8. Taco Salad Dressing: Mix with Ranch Dressing for a taco salad dressing your whole family will love. 
  9. Huevos Rancheros: Top your layered tortillas and fried eggs with Enchilada Sauce for easy huevos rancheros, a traditional brunch served on rural Mexican farms. Serve with Easy Refried Beans
  10. Yummy Marinade: This recipe works as a great marinade for chicken/pork too! Just scrape off the excess and grill on a cast iron griddle until ready. 

Bonus: Serve your homemade enchiladas with a refreshing Avocado Tomato Corn Salad and some Beans & Rice for a complete feast! And don’t forget Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips for dessert!

More Yummy Sauces

How to Store Enchilada Sauce

  • Serve: Refrigerate sauce after allowing to cool to room temperature. Keep it out for no longer than 2 hours.
  • Store: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Freeze: This sauce freezes so well, and can be heated straight from the freezer in a pinch. If you do have time, thaw in the refrigerator overnight. It can be stored in the freezer up to 6 months.

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Best Homemade Enchilada Sauce (And Quick!)

Ditch the can, this Homemade Enchilada Sauce will make you feel like you're at your favorite Mexican restaurant in fifteen minutes!
Yield 12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Mexican
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth , (water can work too)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garlic , minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

  • Heat the vegetable oil in a saucepan on medium heat.
  • Add the flour and chili powder and stir.
  • Cook until the bright red color turns a bit brown while stirring.
  • In a small bowl mix the tomato sauce with the rest of the ingredients until it is fully blended.
  • Add to your saucepan and whisk until fully mixed.
  • Cook for 8-10 minutes on medium heat until thickened.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 153mg | Potassium: 60mg | Vitamin A: 595IU | Vitamin C: 1.6mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 0.7mg
Keyword: Best Homemade Enchilada Sauce, easy enchilada sauce
Enchilada sauce in cup with jalapeño pin 1

Photo used in a previous version of this post.

Ditch the can, feel like you're at your favorite Mexican restaurant in ten minutes! Homemade Enchilada sauce that is so good you'll top it on everything, even your eggs!
Ditch the can, feel like you're at your favorite Mexican restaurant in ten minutes! Homemade Enchilada sauce that is so good you'll top it on everything, even your eggs!
Ditch the can, feel like you're at your favorite Mexican restaurant in ten minutes! Homemade Enchilada sauce that is so good you'll top it on everything, even your eggs!
Enchilada Sauce Collage
Enchilada Sauce Collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. Oh, I forgot 1 thing I did change. I put 1 tablespoon of chili powder in the skillet and 1 in the blender when I was mixing the rest of the ingredients. But love, love, love this enchilada sauce! Ditching the can!

  2. Love, love, love this enchilada sauce! So easy to make, so inexpensive and most importantly so delicious! This sauce makes my enchiladas the hit of the Bonfire Birthday Party! Ditching the can! #HomemadeIsBest! Thank you so much for the recipe!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Best enchilada sauce recipe I have found! So easy and really tasty. Also makes just the right amount needed for enchiladas for my family! I no longer will end up having to toss left over sauce that I froze and then forgot about until months later.

  4. What gives the recipe the heat?I need something mild as I have an ulcer that doesn’t like spicy foods.

  5. LOVE everything about this sauce!!! Easy, versatile, quick and YUMMY!! We use it for enchiladas, tacos, eggs, and chicken!!! So good!! Thank you!!

  6. My favorite enchilada sauce! I use vegetable broth so I can use it for vegetarian/vegan enchiladas too. I always make extra and freeze in batches

  7. My favorite enchilada sauce! I use vegetable broth so I can use it for vegetarian/vegan enchiladas. I always make extra a freeze in batches

  8. This is absolutely DELICIOUS! Made exactly as is written. Used to make my chicken cream enchiladas. Fabulous!

  9. This was so easy to make! A hit with the infamous 3 year old who NEVER eats dinner! Also a hit with the 16 month old and the hubby! Loved all around! Not too hot! Just enough spice and tons of flavor!

  10. Hi Sabrina,

    I loved this quick enchilada sauce! I used low-sodium tomato sauce (trying to watch the salt and planned on using this sauce for a Frito pie which has a lot of salt too). But I had two questions:

    I/4 cup seemed like a lot of oil. Could I have used less oil? Is the oil really that important to the flavor?

    Since I used low sodium tomato sauce, it was on the tangy (sour) side, which I didn’t mind, but my husband did.

    Any suggestions on making the taste less sour? I was going to add a bit of sugar, but I wanted to try your recipe just as is first. Then play around with ingredients on the next batch.

    Thanks so much for this great recipe. I can see myself using this quick to make sauce on soooo many dishes!!!

    Best,
    Linda

    1. Hello Linda, you can definitely add sugar to the tomato sauce. As for the oil, that’s more really a personal preference. I wouldn’t say it adds any flavor but rather a crispiness.
      Glad you guys enjoyed it none theless. Thank you for trying out my recipe.

  11. This sauce is soooooo much better than canned enchilada sauce. And it’s so easy to make. I see you also have a recipe for taco bell red sauce (which this really reminded me of that).

  12. So easy. So fast. So delicious. And even better the next day. I’d prep the 2nd half before starting so you don’t risk burning the flour and chili in the oil.

  13. Try at your own risk….I don’t mean to gross you guys out but….this recipe gave me the runs IMMEDIATELY after I was done eating. I don’t have a sensitive stomach but that sauce was burning in my stomach and had me running to the restroom. It was delicious at first but I regretted ever trying it.

    1. Hello Vanessa, I am so sorry this recipe didn’t work out for you. I hope you are recovered now and maybe a different recipe will sit better with you. Thank you for your support!

  14. This was so good and so easy to make. It made my kitchen smell amazing. I made shredded beef and bean enchiladas with it. It was restaurant quality all the way. Definitely a keeper. No more jarred sauce. The best part is that I always stock all the ingredients used for it.

  15. This smelled and tasted delicious! I didn’t have any tomato sauce so used an equal amount of pureed jarred salsa and reduced the chili powder to 2 Tbls. Will be saving this recipe!

    1. Hi, I’m just curious if you reduced the chili powder because it was just too much or you wanted it mild? My fiance doesn’t like spicy food at all so I’m just wondering if this would work.
      Thanks!

  16. Love this sauce so much and I love knowing what’s in my food!
    I’ve been using canola oil per the recipe but generally use olive oil in everything…would olive oil change the taste too much? The sauce is amazing following the recipe and I don’t want to ruin it…lol

  17. Wow! This enchalada sauce is amazing.Absolutely the best I’ve ever had. Thanks for sharing this recipe

  18. This is an incredible sauce that goes great with DTD’s beef enchilada recipe. My family was looking for a good make-at-home recipe for beef enchiladas just like you get at the Mexican restaurants. And, wow, DTD’s recipe for beef enchiladas really hit all the flavor bells on the tastes that I was expecting. However, what I would suspect, is that the recipe is based on this red sauce. So, I think the red sauce is what is the secret ingredient that we were missing when we made other Mexican recipes on the web. So, not only did we get a good beef enchilada recipe, but we also got a great underlying red sauce recipe that can be used on beef enchiladas or any other Mexican food. So, like Ms. Sabrina says, this type of sauce is something that she makes in bulk for her family …. Well, I see why now. It is that delicious.

  19. This is fabulous as is, but I added a tablespoon of peanut butter and agave to add touch of sweetness. Thank you for this delicious, easy recipe!

  20. This recipe was AMAZEBALLS. Seriously. This was so easy, so quick, and as an Arizona girl raised on authentic Mexican food, this was on point. My entire family was impressed and wanted seconds (even my parents-in-law!!). My family agreeing on anything, in and of itself, is no small feat!

    I am most definitely putting it in the dinner rotation. No more canned enchilada sauce! Woot! Woot!

    Try it. You will love it!

    Thanks for the great recipe!! You rock!

  21. Wow. This sauce was so simple to make and delicious. I made my enchiladas with shredded chicken, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and black beans. Used corn tortillas. The sauce added the right amount of spice. Definitely a keeper.

  22. Ours didn’t have the pretty red color like yours, I think because our chili powder is a very dark brown, but it was still delicious in our chicken tortilla soup. Thank you!

  23. Dear Cook enthusiast,

    I never have or take time to email authors/bloggers but please allow a moment. I was searching for homemade enchilada sauce because the few times I’ve purchased the canned product, I ended up discarding it, knowing my family would object. Your homemade recipe is wonderful- thank you!!

    This has lead me to other recipes on your site and I can tell you parallel my thinking about food; I won’t bother with something unless it is delicious and tempting to eyes and palate. I’m fussy and feel pride when serving fabulous food/desserts to all those I care about. What is it about that basic joy one feels when you feed folks, and feed them well??!!

    Best to you; stay well and healthy. I’m happy I found your site. Leslie

  24. My daughter wanted to taste the sauce as it was simmering and she absolutely loved it. She wanted to eat it as it was. I had to fight her off to have some left for the soup!!!

    So EASY to make.

    LOVE IT!!

  25. LOVED THE RECIPE! Made chickn enchiladas for dinner- children approved!!! Do you have any bread recipes? I tried your other recipes and so far EVERY single one was a success (banana bread, zucchini, and the blueberry lemon- ALL DELICIOUS). Can’t wait to try more.

    1. Yay!! You should be able to type in bread in the search box and all of them should pop up for you. Thanks for letting me know how much you love the recipes, Miah.

  26. Can this recipe be made with out flour my daughter has a wheat allergy and I want to make an enchilada sauce she can eat

  27. We have made this several times (I always double it). It’s amazing and I love the smell of it while it’s cooking!

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