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June 14, 2023

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Rich and velvety, our homemade enchilada sauce uses dried spices, tomato paste, and stock to deliver a full-flavored sauce for your next enchilada night.

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homemade enchilada sauce being spooned out of a glass jar
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce

There’s a few levels of making enchilada sauce at home. There’s the kind where you open a packet or can, and heat in a pan. On the other end of that spectrum, there’s the kind of traditional Mexican enchilada sauce that starts by rehydrating dried chili peppers. This shortcut enchilada sauce falls somewhere in between, delivering on flavor and texture, starting with a blend of dried spices like chili powder, garlic and onion powder, cumin, and oregano.

homemade enchilada sauce in a pot spiced with chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste

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What Is Enchilada Sauce?

Enchilada sauce is traditionally made from a combination of dried guajillo, pasilla, ancho, and árbol chiles that have been rehydrated in water. The chiles give enchilada sauce a deep smoky, aromatic flavor. The chiles are blended with cumin, oregano, and garlic to make a sauce that is used variously as a dip for tortillas before frying and as the main component of baked enchiladas, pozole, tamales, and other dishes.

vegetable oil, flour, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, tomato paste and stock in prep bowls

Ingredients You’ll Need To Make Enchilada Sauce At Home

  • Dried spices – Cumin, oregano, and chili powder are the main stars, complemented by onion and garlic powder.

  • Vegetable oil – This helps give the enchilada sauce body and viscosity.

  • Flour – Flour is used to thicken the enchilada sauce.

  • Tomato paste – This is for a red enchilada sauce (enchiladas rojas), where green enchiladas (enchiladas verdes) have a tomatillo base.

  • Stock – We use stock to thin the sauce without diminishing the flavor or texture. Water will do in a pinch, but will affect the flavor and result in a less full-bodied sauce.

homemade enchilada sauce in a pot spiced with chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste

How to Make Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • Add oil and flour to a medium saucepan.

  • Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until smooth.

  • Whisk in the dried spices and tomato paste.

  • Slowly whisk in chicken stock and salt and bring to a simmer.

  • Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened.

homemade enchilada sauce being spooned out of a glass jar

How to Store Enchilada Sauce + Tips

  • Stores up to one week in an airtight container in the fridge, or labeled in the freezer for up to three months.

  • To make gluten free enchilada sauce, substitute gluten free flour for all purpose flour.

  • You can make vegetarian enchilada sauce, by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

  • If you’re looking for less sodium, use a low sodium stock and leave out the salt.

homemade enchilada sauce being spooned out of a glass jar

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The Whole Enchilada

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Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • Yields: 2 cups
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  8 min

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt

Method

  1. Place the oil and flour in a medium saucepan. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium heat until smooth, about 6 minutes. Once bubbling, whisk in the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, and tomato paste. Once combined, slowly whisk in chicken stock and salt and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories478
  • Protein10 g
  • Carbohydrates45 g
  • Total Fat33 g
  • Dietary Fiber12 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium1257 mg
  • Total Sugars13 g

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

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  • Ashley

    Can you use olive or avocado oil instead?

    avocado oil should work fine! hope you enjoy Ashley!

  • Priscilla

    Can you use flour tortillas instead of corn? Or would that get more mushy in texture?

    You can, it totally depends on your preference. Flour tortillas will create a mushier texture than corn but we know a lot of people that enjoy flour tortilla enchiladas.

  • Jenn

    This turned out great! So nice that i usually have all of these ingredients on hand anyway so it will be super simple to whip up in the future too!

    Thanks Jenn, so glad you loved it!