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

12 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes

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
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 cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, 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. Yes, but use half as much, cornstarch is a very powerful thickener. I’d also add it in at the end vs the beginning.

  1. This was yummy!!!
    I added GF flour instead of regular and a tsp of apple cider vinegar for a bit of tang! So easy and delicious!

  2. It was great, however I did change a few things but wish I would have reduced the oil. I booked 2 guajillo chiles and blended all ng with 2 cups of vegetable broth (we are vegan). I will try it again with minimal oil as I don’t see it needing it.

  3. Because I’m paleo/AIP, I used avocado oil and gluten-free oat flour. I also added 1/2 tsp of nutritional yeast to further assist the thickening due to the lack of gluten. And I gotta say, this enchilada sauce is phenomenal! Spot on! Great share. Thank you. ??

  4. Awesome Enchilada Sauce! I made a double batch so there would be plenty to add extra on top and some for tostadas the next day. My family said, “Throw out the old recipe, this one is the best!”

  5. Sabrina, this recipe gets me rave reviews every time, and i send them all your link! Along with the chicken enchiladas, of course. Crazy good, simple, and made with kitchen staples. Perfect 5 stars. Thank you!

    1. I’ve gotten to the point that I know beyond any doubt that if Sabrina posted it, it’s great!!! I’ve been looking for a enchilada sauce recipe and I know I can adopt this one sight unseen. Thank you, Sabrina!

  6. was excited by all the 5 star reviews for an easy recipe but this has way too much chili powder in it ? luckily I had a canned verde enchilada sauce on hand so I mixed it in to dilute the flavor.

    1. Hi Jamie,
      If you live outside the USA, chili powder is a different thing. In the USA, chili powder is generally (in my experience At least) a spice mix with powdered chilis, oregano, cumin etc. To substitute this, I used 2 tablespoons of paprika, 1 teaspoon of dried oregano and 1 teaspoon of what we in the UK, Australia and Europe call chili powder, which is literally just powdered chilis.

      1. Kate, you have just saved our dinner with company! We have just moved to Sweden from US and BOY, the chili powder is so strong here!! Thank you for your post!
        Sabrina, thank you for the recipe.

    2. I agree. I followed the recipe to the T and it would’ve been fine with 1 less tablespoon chili powder. (I didn’t use chili mix, but actual chili powder) I had to add another can of tomato sauce and it still looks nearly as thick as tomato paste, rather than a sauce.

      1. YUM! It’s not even on my enchiladas yet and I’m excited!

        I used gluten free flour as I am intolerant to gluten and vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. Still soooo good.

  7. Love this recipe – so easy and so good. I used a 15 oz can of tomato sauce in error instead of 8 oz. Perfect, that’s how I make it now.

  8. I made this recipe but started by blooming the spices in a dry fry pan.
    I then whisked the flour in the hot oil to make the roux and cooked till it was medium brown. I know in Louisiana they say cook it till it’s copper but I didn’t go that long.
    I then whisked in the toasted spices.
    I ended up using puréed tomatoes because I didn’t have a small can of sauce and used extra chicken stock to thin.
    This sauce has so much depth and did not taste tex-mex.
    Five Stars

  9. Fabulous! I was going to put the extra sauce in a container to save, but my hubby put it all on tortillas with fresh cabbage and cheese.

  10. Absolutely 5 stars

    Quick note, I’m drained the liquid from canned vegetable and tomato and used the liquid as the based and as a result cut down the salt.

  11. Wow? This recipe was so delicious and easy . I did add 2 pkgs of stevia and a couple ounces of grated unsweetened dark chocolate , a dash of cinnamon , also used gluten free flour and chicken broth . I doubled the recipe, glad I did. Using it tonight in my tortillia casserole and then on eggs, and probably most other things? Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hmmm I like the idea of adding dark chocolate and cinnamon. I have become a fan of Indian spices and the depth of flavor they add. This would definitely deepen the enchilada sauce.

      This recipe is just FANTASTIC Sabrina!!!!

      I did not have 2 cans of tomato sauce so I added some crushed tomatoes and canned fire roasted diced tomatoes. I used Chicken bone broth and my Ancho Chili Powder and Cumin that I buy from Mexico. I did toast my spices before adding broth & tomatoes .

      This is so good that I’m considering caning it for gifts ?

      Thank you for sharing.
      Liz

  12. I used to use a premixed sauce and spices from a well-known brand to make enchiladas, but had a craving one day and some spare time so thought I’d try making everything from scratch. SOOOO glad I did! This sauce recipe is just another world in terms of flavour and is so easy to do. It’s become a real family favourite. Thanks Sabrina!

  13. I went to crate and barrel website and tried to find those old-school French glasses that had the lids with them so that I could make the enchilada sauce and stored in there but I couldn’t find them can you help me find them

  14. I made this and it was yummy! I made it All backwards. But, it came out Great! I did not cooked the things first. I mixed the ingredients Then into the sauce pan and cooked.
    Thank you! For the recipe.

  15. Really good and tasty, and easy! I might cut back a tiny bit on the oil next time, and use water instead, but that’s about all I’d change. I think your technique of cooking the chili powder and flour with the oil is great and really enhanced the final flavor! Thanks for this recipe!

    1. Who knew that during this craziness I wouldn’t be able to find enchilada sauce and instead would be blessed to find a recipe that’s better than the canned!
      Right now, your food blogs are a GODSEND! ????????

  16. Yum! I make a similar sauce, but thicken it with masa harina instead of flour for a subtle taste difference.

  17. If I am wanting to make this a lot less spicy tasting, would I just scale back on Chili powder or cut the chili powder all together?

  18. hi great recipe, but if in the u.k like me please be aware that our chilli powder is very hot especially from asian grocers. and 3 tablespoons would blow your head off. i subbed some chipotle powder and some old bay and just used 1 tablespoon of chilli powder. really nice recipe love it.

  19. I found it to be quite bitter, but I’m not sure why. The only difference is that I used vegetable broth instead of chicken. It seems like it needs some sweetness to it. I’m baking some veggie enchiladas now, but I’m not optimistic it’ll turn out okay since the sauce tasted bitter on its own.

  20. I have never made my own enchilada sauce before, as I usually cook in the daytime when I can go buy a can of sauce, but tonight around 11pm I wanted enchiladas. So I had to make sauce myself, and let me say it is the best decision that I’ve ever made! This sauce is delicious, and very easy to make. I will never buy canned sauce again. This sauce is so tasty, and better than anything store bought. I added a bit more spice, and a can of tomatoes with green chilies, because I made too many enchiladas and not enough sauce, oops! It’s the best sauce I’ve tasted. Thank you for this recipe!!

  21. I cant wait to try this, have to watch sodium and msg , migraines, i don’t know how i missed seeing your recipe, will let you know how i do. THANKS

  22. I made some chicken, artichoke, green chili enchiladas & realized I didn’t have any sauce, found this recipe & love it, so much better than a can, thanks!

  23. Made this and added into slow cooker with chicken, 1/2 an onion, and 1 packet of slow cooker chicken taco seasoning. Holy Cow! Everyone went mad for this!! Served it with black beans and yellow rice.

    1. Forgot to mention, I didn’t have any canola oil so I used rice oil which has almost no taste of its own. It worked just fine!

  24. I NEVER comment on recipes – this is a first for me – but I had to.

    This tastes exactly like anything you’d buy in the store but much better! And it’s so simple!!

    I wanted to make some copycat Mexican Pizza because I’m no longer in the US (and even if I was, probably wouldn’t patronize Taco Bell) and needed Enchilada Sauce for the recipe. They don’t sell that in Belize.

    I made alterations but not before tasting the original recipe. I simply cut the chilli powder by half and mixed in some chopped chipotle (canned) and juice for the other half and it’s spectacular!

    GREAT job! Thank you so much for sharing this!!!

    1. Aw, that’s so awesome that you were able to recreate it and get the flavor you like! Being in Belize AND having Mexican Pizza copycat? Perfection! 🙂

  25. I have already made this twice in the last week. Thank you so much. Now I am following your Pinterest account. Made a double batch the second time and jarred half and put in fridge. YUMMY

    1. Thanks for the follow and I’m so glad you like it! That’s exactly what I do – make a double batch and store half!

  26. Hi..can this recipe be frozen?..i have a Foodsaver and usually freeze portion sizes of things.
    With just my Husband and me..i would not use this whole recipe at once..Sounds delish and can’t wit to try..tia for your reply..huggzz

  27. This has been my go-to for years, so I thought it was time I finally left a review. I sub gluten free flour and it’s perfect every time. Thank you!

  28. Was on the net looking for an uncomplicated enchilada sauce and found your site. Great sauce!! Thanks so much for the recipe. Did you ever post your Mexican Lasagna recipe?

  29. I don’t use canned tomato sauce.
    If your going to offer a homemade enchilada sauce recipe , why do you use canned tomato sauce? Doesn’t make sense.

    1. Umm Matt, she’s making enchilada sauce not tomato sauce so just do it how you want it and be quiet, her sauce rocks!

  30. Thanks so much, awesome sauce! I made homemade flour tortillas and stuffed them with white chicken chili no beans, cheddar rolled them up and then smothered them with your sauce and mozzarella and cheddar. Baked them for 10 then broiled for 5 to bubbly up the cheese. Definitely a keeper in my recipe list!

  31. OMG, SO spicy! (Probably my chili powder — it was a new one I just got from the bulk foods store. It was pretty brown to begin with, ending almost a chocolate color.) I had to dilute it. If you are used to more mild enchilada sauce or using a potent chili powder, be prepared to either use less chili powder or add more liquid. We’ll be serving our dish with LOTS of sour cream to cut the heat! Flavor is great though.

    1. Now when I buy bulk chili powder I always taste it first. I’ve had some really ‘eye-watering’ surprises. I live in New Mexico, land of the Hatch chile, and have come to realize that all chili powder is NOT the same. 🙁

    2. Many chili powders can vary in color and intensity. I mostly use dark chili powder and it naturally makes my dishes more “chocolate-y” color and a little more smoky & intense. I suggest having both light and dark chili powder for different dishes.

      Great and simple enchilada sauce. I had no tomato sauce so I used Knorr Tomato & Chicken Buillon cube (very common to use by Hispanics and Mexican food in Texas). Thanks?

  32. YUM! This recipe is so delicious and so easy. Nothing better than homemade enchilada sauce. I used bacon grease because that’s my preference (which I get that not everyone keeps) and I didn’t have chicken broth so I made some beef broth with beef base. Thank you! I’ll definitely be coming back 🙂

  33. I bought everything I needed…I thought to make my Frito Pie then I found I did not have any enchilada sauce, so I found this one and it was perfect! So quick, too!