This homemade red enchilada sauce is easy, delicious, and full of authentic Mexican flavor! It takes less than 30 minutes and is perfect to use with all of your favorite Mexican recipes. Better than store-bought sauce, freezer-friendly, vegan, and easy to make gluten-free.
What is Enchilada Sauce
An Enchilada is a popular Mexican dish comprising of soft tortilla (flatbread) rolled around a filling made of chicken, veggies, or beans and topped with savory spicy enchilada sauce, lots of cheese, and baked.
Red Enchilada Sauce is a Mexican condiment or sauce that is super easy, quick, and loaded with tons of flavors.
It is made by simmering chili powder, onion, garlic, spices in broth and tomato sauce and thickened with flour.
Although it's more popular with enchiladas, it pairs well with many Mexican recipes like tacos, burritos, soup, and even pizza.
There are many varieties of enchilada sauce but broadly there are two types - Red enchilada sauce and green enchilada sauce (also known as Verde sauce).
Both these sauces get their colors from the ingredients used. Green enchilada uses green chilies and green tomatillos along with other ingredients whereas red uses red chilies and red tomatoes.
For this post, I am sharing my version of the popular red enchilada sauce. This homemade version always turns out way more delicious than the store-bought canned ones.
The best part is you can customize the sauce to your taste and spice level. Having this homemade enchilada sauce on hand makes meals simple and quick.
Tomato sauce: There are many versions of making enchilada sauce but for today's post I am sharing my red enchilada sauce recipe with tomato sauce. We love how the tomato sauce makes it really rich and flavorful. You can also replace it with tomato paste.
Oil: Use vegetable oil, canola oil, and olive oil. We will use oil with flour to form a roux.
Flour: I use all-purpose flour to form the roux and thicken the sauce. To keep the sauce gluten-free, substitute with a gluten-free flour blend.
Spices: I flavor this sauce using garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin seeds powder, red chili powder, salt, and pepper.
Water or Broth: Can be adjusted to your liking. You can use vegetable or chicken broth instead of water for more flavor.
How To Make Enchilada Sauce (Stepwise)
1 - In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add oil and once hot add the flour and keep mixing until light golden in color. This might take a couple of minutes, so be patient and don’t step away from the stove.
2 and 3 - Add the tomato sauce, spices, followed by 2 cups of water or veg/chicken broth, and mix well. Use a whisk to mix if that's easier.
4 - Bring it to a boil and simmer for 10-15 mins or until the sauce thickens to your liking. Stir intermittently to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pan.
If you feel the sauce is too thick add one more cup of water and simmer for another 5-10 mins. Note that the sauce will thicken some as it cools.
That's it, quick, easy and spicy Mexican Red Enchilada Sauce is ready. Use it to make your Enchilada or any other favorite Mexican Dish.
Alternately cool completely and refrigerate for up to a week in the fridge or freeze and later use.
Although this sauce was primarily made for use with enchiladas, it is very versatile and can be used with a number of recipes to make them even more flavorful.
Here are a few suggestions - Vegetarian Black Bean Enchiladas, vegetable quesadillas, taco pasta, quinoa enchilada soup, and tortilla enchilada pizza.
Measure out all the ingredients and seasonings before you start making the red enchilada sauce as the recipe comes together really quickly.
Cook the flour well on medium-low heat (take your time here) before adding tomato sauce otherwise, there will be a raw flour taste to your sauce. Also, make sure not to burn it.
You can make this enchilada sauce using fresh tomatoes too although the color and taste may differ slightly but still taste great.
Alternately use tomato paste (2-3 tablespoons) instead of tomato sauce.
Adjust spices to your preference. If you like your sauce extra spicy use a combination of cayenne and chili powder.
You can add a pinch of sugar to balance the tartness from tomatoes and impart a slightly sweet flavor. Start with ½ teaspoon and adjust to taste. I have skipped it.
You can thicken the sauce to your desired consistency. But simmer it well so the flavors marry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Once you have made the sauce, let it cool completely and transfer it to a sealable jar or container. It will keep well in the fridge for up to a week.
Yes! This sauce freezes well and will keep for up to 3 months. Make sure the sauce is cool before placing it in a freezer bag or safe container. Thaw the sauce in the fridge overnight before using.
Yes, to make this Mexican sauce gluten-free, simply swap out the all-purpose flour for a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
To make red enchilada sauce using fresh tomatoes, start with 5-6 medium-sized tomatoes (approximately a kg) and add them to a pot with boiling water. Cook till the tomatoes turn soft and the skin cracks/peels. Drain the water and allow the tomatoes to cool. Peel the skin which should come off easily and roughly chop them. Blend them till you get a smooth puree. You can strain the puree if you like or add it as is in place of tomato sauce. The rest of the recipe remains the same.
More Mexican Recipes
Hope you enjoy this Red enchilada sauce recipe!! If you give this recipe a try, please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ in the recipe card. Thank you ❤️! You can also follow me on Facebook | Instagram to see what’s cooking in my kitchen!!
Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce approximately 2 cups
- 1-2 tablespoon canola oil or vegetable, or olive oil
- 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dry oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin powder
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder or to taste
- ½ to 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 cups water or vegetable broth
- In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, add oil and once hot add the flour and keep mixing until light golden in color. This might take a couple of minutes, so be patient and don’t step away from the stove.
- Add the tomato sauce, spices, followed by 2 cups of water or veg/chicken broth, and mix well. Use a whisk to mix if that's easier.
- Bring it to a boil and simmer for 10-15 mins or until the sauce thickens to your liking. Stir intermittently to prevent the sauce from sticking to the pan.
- If you feel the sauce is too thick add one more cup of water and simmer for another 5-10 mins.
- Mexican Red Enchilada Sauce is ready. Use it to make your Enchilada or any other favorite Mexican Dish. Alternately cool completely and refrigerate for later use.
Update Notes: This post was originally published on Jul 6, 2015, but was republished with, step by step instructions, updated photos, and tips in Feb of 2022.
Love the color...... Looks interesting!