This homemade red enchilada sauce uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. It beats store-bought canned enchilada sauce by a mile, and allows you to tailor it to your own preferences. This fantastic enchilada sauce recipe is mildly spicy from the chili powder.
All you need is about 20 minutes (or less) to make this fabulous sauce.
I'm working on homemade enchilada recipes, and have been trying all kinds of red enchilada sauces on them. I tried several store bought sauces. But sauces can be so easy to make, like this one. And having a great one has the power to take the dish to a new level.
So, be on the lookout for some enchilada recipes I've been working!
- What's the difference between enchiladas and burritos?
- What's typically in a red enchilada sauce?
- Freaky Friday
- Life Currents Blog
- Ingredients for Easy Red Enchilada Sauce
- Recommended Equipment
- How to Make Enchilada Sauce
- Enchilada Sauce Variations
- What's the Best Way to Store Enchilada Sauce
- 5 Ways to use Enchilada Sauce (Besides Enchiladas)
- What Did Everyone Else in Freaky Friday Make??
- Homemade Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- 🌱 Sign up for my emails, and get my 5 tips for easy vegetarian meals!
What's the difference between enchiladas and burritos?
They both involve rolling up a filling in a tortilla, so this is a common question. There are at least 2 big differences:
- A traditional enchilada is always made with a corn tortilla. A burrito is typically made with a flour tortilla.
- Burritos can be wrapped in paper, and eaten on the go, simply held in your hands. Enchiladas are smothered in a red or green enchilada sauce, and often some melted cheese, sour cream and garnishes. Eat them with a fork. And a napkin.
What's typically in a red enchilada sauce?
There's a greater variety of ingredients than you may think, and they control the texture and how spicy the sauce is. And obviously, the flavor. Sometimes a red enchilada sauce will be called salsa roja or mole rojo.
- Almost any homemade enchilada sauce begins with a roux of flour, chili powder and a neutral oil, but the amounts of the chili powder vary widely. This one uses quite a bit, so it's slightly on the spicy side. But only slightly. Some recipes use ancho chili powder, which makes it even spicier.
- Instead of the chili powder, I've seen some recipes that use dried ancho or pasilla (guajillo) chiles. This approach takes much longer to make.
- Some sauces, like this one, use tomato paste or very thick tomato sauce. Many do not. The tomato paste helps to give the sauce some body, and tempers the spiciness.
- Vegetable or chicken broth
- Other dried spices and herbs
- I've also seen recipes with apple cider vinegar or chocolate. The chocolate will make it a little more like a mole - enchilada sauce.
Before I jump into this Easy Enchilada Sauce recipe, I've gotta share where I found it! And that brings me to Freaky Friday.
What, you may wonder, is Freaky Friday??
For starters, it's how I found this fabulous recipe that I guarantee you will love.
Freaky Friday is a group of food bloggers who are secretly assigned one another’s blogs to make a recipe from. Then we all reveal who we had on the same Friday, and what we made. And that's TODAY!
Many thanks to Michaela from An Affair from the Heart who created and hosts this blog hop. At the bottom of this post, you'll see a list of all of the other recipes our group cooked up - that's what makes it a blog hop :-).
This fabulous enchilada sauce comes from Debi at the Life Currents blog. I was so excited to be assigned her blog this time around. I've known her for about a year or 2 through another bloggers group that she heads up, and I've made lots of her recipes over the past couple of years.
Life Currents Blog
Debi was a vegetarian for about 30 years, and has created tons of delicious (and easy) vegetarian recipes. More recently, she's introduced fish back into her diet, and has always posted non-vegetarian dishes her meat-eating husband likes.
She's kind of my soul-sister in the blogging world, and you will find so many recipes on her site to fall in love with.
Here are some of her recipes I've already made several times:
I was in a tortilla-making mode a few months ago, and tried all kinds of recipes for them. I love her No Yeast Flatbread recipe, and highly recommend it. It uses baking powder, so there's no rising time. Woo-hoo!
I like her Balsamic Onion Jam so much, I made a bunch of it around the holidays and gave friends little gift jars of it for Christmas. Luckily I made a bunch for myself, and used it in all kinds of vegetarian dishes to amp up the umami flavors.
And her Garlic Parmesan Cream Shrimp over Roasted Squash is to. die. for. I made it at least 5 times last fall and winter. (Gentle reminder: I'm a wimpy vegetarian and occasionally cook fish.)
But now, let's talk about Debi's excellent Red Enchilada Sauce, starting with a quote from someone who made it and commented on her blog.
Made sour cream enchiladas tonight using your enchilada sauce! I don't think I'll ever buy a can of enchilada sauce again! It was fabulous!!Comment from Life Currents blog
Ingredients for Easy Red Enchilada Sauce
- Chili powder (chile powder) - There's fair amount of chili powder in this sauce, so purchase a good that you really like.
- All-purpose flour - This is for the roux. Substitute gluten free flour or potato starch for excellent gluten free options.
- Avocado oil - This is also for the roux. You can use any neutral-tasting oil, but I've linked the avocado oil I use.
- Vegetable broth
- Tomato paste
- Dried oregano
- Cumin powder
- Onion Powder
- Kosher salt
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links to products and foods I use in my kitchen. This means that at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. To view my entire storefront of recommended kitchen tools and equipment, check out my shop on Amazon.
How to Make Enchilada Sauce
Step 1 (3 minutes)
Make the roux. A roux sounds more intimidating than it is. It's just a mixture of flour or other starch like potato starch with fat, which can be butter or oil. These are stirred together over low heat in a pot or skillet, and cooked for a couple of minutes to cook the flour.
In this recipe, chili powder is added to the flour, and the fat is a neutral oil. By adding the chili powder to the flour, and cooking it over heat with the oil, the spice cooks up a bit too, making it very fragrant. This is your flavor base and sauce thickener, so don't rush it.
Check out this Spinach Madeline recipe for more information on making a roux.
Step 2 (15 minutes)
Add everything else. Add all the remaining ingredients to the same pot, and turn up the heat to medium. Stir with a wooden spoon or whisk over medium heat until a smooth sauce develops. Bring it to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
This 10-minute simmer thickens the sauce and makes it nice and smooth. There is a lot of dried spice in this sauce, and can be a bit gritty if you shorten this too much.
Enchilada Sauce Variations
Make it Gluten-Free: Substitute a gluten-free flour mixture or potato starch for the all-purpose flour, using a 1 : 1 ration.
Make it Spicier: Use ancho chili powder in place of the general chili powder. This will also make it a little smokier.
Make it Milder: Chili powder is considered mild. But if you are sensitive to spicy foods, cut the chili powder in half. When the sauce is done, add more to taste.
What's the Best Way to Store Enchilada Sauce
Store in the refrigerator in a jar for up to 2 weeks, or freeze in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.
5 Ways to use Enchilada Sauce (Besides Enchiladas)
Beside the obvious, on enchiladas, this enchilada sauce can be used in many other ways.
1 - Enchilada sauce is a typical ingredient for a Tamale Pie, one of my favorite Mexican dinners.
2 - Add it to soups or chili for a depth of flavor. Tomato soups, chili, tortilla soups are great examples.
3 - Mix some into the filling for stuffed peppers.
4 - Stir enchilada sauce into a rice and beans dish, and add some roasted red peppers and scallions. Top with cheese.
5 - Add a little to any dish calling for a salsa. Combining the two amps up the flavors of both. But be use the enchilada sauce sparingly. Too much, and it can overwhelm the freshness of the salsa.
What Did Everyone Else in Freaky Friday Make??
Now it’s time to see what all of the other participating bloggers made! Seriously, go check them out!
Hosted by - An Affair from the Heart
- An Affair from the Heart - Moose Munch Popcorn
- Aunt Bee's Recipes - Breakfast Egg Bites
- The Culinary Compass - Pull Apart Garlic Bread
- Devour Dinner - BBQ Nachos
- Family Around the Table - Grilled Teriyaki Chicken Salad
- Feast + West - Peach Whiskey Smash
- Home Cooked Harvest - Strawberry Cheesecake Bites
- Hostess at Heart - Peanut Butter Cookie
- Kathryn's Kitchen Blog - Cilantro Lime Shrimp Recipe
- Life Currents - Jalapeño Poppers Puffs
- Off the Eaten Path - Cheerwine Bourbon Slush Cocktails
- The Speckled Palate - Lemon Cooler Cookies
- Sue Bee Homemaker - Fruit Dip Without Marshmallow Cream
- The Wimpy Vegetarian - How to Make Enchilada Sauce
Want more vegetarian and vegan dish ideas? I can help you. I have three newsletters for different topics: 1) Vegetarian Recipes, 2) Vegetarian Meal Plans, and 3) Vegetarian Tips for helping you to move to a more vegetarian diet. Choose which newsletters are most relevant to your lifestyle and you'll also get my 5 SECRETS TO FUSS-FREE VEGETARIAN DINNERS.
Homemade Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- Make the roux. Add the flour (or potato starch) and chili powder to a medium pan and mix it together using a wooden spoon or whisk. Add the avocado oil and heat it up over low heat. Stir it all together to absorb the flour and chili powder into the oil, and cook over low heat until it's very fragrant. This will take about 3 minutes.
- Add everything else. Increase the heat to medium. Stir in the broth and tomato paste, and continue stirring (with a wooden spoon or whisk) until the tomato paste is absorbed into the liquid. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes to allow it to thicken. Stir, taste and adjust for any seasoning.