How to Make Enchilada Sauce (2023)


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How to Make Enchilada Sauce (1)

I’ve been working on my enchilada game lately, for both the cookbook and an upcoming enchilada recipe. There is an art to making great enchiladas, and the sauce is a key component.

I thought I’d share my tested and perfected enchilada sauce recipe today, in case you want to try it on your favorite enchilada recipe. It’s ready in under ten minutes, and I promise, it’s so tasty you won’t want to go back to the store-bought kind again.

How to Make Enchilada Sauce (2)

When I developed my go-to sauce (first seen on my spinach artichoke enchiladas), I tried at least five of the top sauce recipes on Google, all with different ingredients and techniques.

I tried making sauce with tomato sauce, which tasted too raw and was kind of goopy. I tried making sauce with blended diced tomatoes, and it had the same issues. I tried sauce without any tomato ingredients, and it didn’t taste quite like the enchilada sauce I grew up eating, or the sauce at my favorite Mexican restaurants. I tried sauces made without any thickener (like flour or cornstarch), and they pooled at the bottom and turned my enchiladas into a soupy, texture-less casserole.

Finally, after some experimentation and cross-referencing with America’s Test Kitchen, I landed on the perfect enchilada sauce. Vegetable broth forms the base of the sauce, but it’s only added after you make a simple roux of flour and oil. You need a full three tablespoons of each to properly thicken the sauce. I tried making this sauce with a gluten-free flour blend and that worked great as well.

How to Make Enchilada Sauce (3)

The Best Enchilada Sauce

Four reasons to love this recipe:

  • This sauce is full of authentic Mexican flavor. It comes from a combination of dried spices, which are sautéed in oil to bring out their best, and umami-rich tomato paste.
  • The cinnamon is optional since some people just don’t like it in savory applications, but just a pinch adds some lovely warmth and complexity.
  • The final kicker is a tiny splash of vinegar, which really amps up the flavor.
  • Unlike canned enchiladas sauces, this homemade sauce is free of unnecessary processed ingredients and MSG (that’s monosodium glutamate, which gives my mom migraines).

I love this sauce and I’m confident you will, too, since it’s gotten rave reviews on my spinach artichoke enchiladas and veggie black bean enchiladas.

Please let me know how this recipe turns out for you in the comments! Your feedback keeps me going.

How to Make Enchilada Sauce (4)

Watch How to Make Enchilada Sauce

How to Make Enchilada Sauce (5)

How to Make Enchilada Sauce (6)


Homemade Enchilada Sauce



  • Author: Cookie and Kate
  • Prep Time: 3 mins
  • Cook Time: 7 mins
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Cuisine: Mexican

4.8 from 1465 reviews

This homemade red enchilada sauce has authentic Mexican flavor! It’s so good and easy, you’ll never go back to store-bought sauce again. You can even make a double batch and freeze half of it for later. Recipe as written below yields about 2 cups (16 ounces) sauce.



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour (whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and gluten-free flour blends all work!)
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder (scale back if you’re sensitive to spice or using particularly spicy chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional but recommended)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. This sauce comes together quickly once you get started, so measure the dry ingredients (the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt and optional cinnamon) into a small bowl and place it near the stove. Place the tomato paste and broth near the stove as well.
  2. In a medium-sized pot over medium heat, warm the oil until it’s hot enough that a light sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture sizzles on contact. This might take a couple of minutes, so be patient and don’t step away from the stove!
  3. Once it’s ready, pour in the flour and spice mixture. While whisking constantly, cook until fragrant and slightly deepened in color, about 1 minute. Whisk the tomato paste into the mixture, then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
  4. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, whisking often, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit and a spoon encounters some resistance as you stir it. (The sauce will thicken some more as it cools.)
  5. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper. Add more salt, if necessary (I usually add another pinch or two). Go forth and make enchiladas!


Enchilada sauce recipe adapted from my spinach artichoke enchiladas.

Storage suggestions: Extra enchilada sauce will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it cool to room temperature before transferring to a wide-mouth mason jar, leaving some room at the top for expansion (don’t screw on the lid completely until the mixture is fully frozen), or a freezer bag (remove excess air before sealing).

Make it gluten free: Just use gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. I tried with Bob’s Red Mill brand and it worked great.
Make it tomato free: You can omit the tomato paste. You might want to up the spices a bit. The sauce won’t taste quite like the enchilada sauce you might buy at the store, but it will still be good!
Change it up: The chili powder, cumin and garlic powder are essential here, but feel free to change up the other spices to suit your preferences.
If you love this sauce: Check out more of my Mexican recipes here!

(Video) How to Make Ten Minute Enchilada Sauce |

▸ Nutrition Information

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice. See our full nutrition disclosure here.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #cookieandkate.

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By Kathryne Taylor

How to Make Enchilada Sauce (7)Vegetable enthusiast. Dog lover. I'm probably making a big mess in my Kansas City kitchen right now.
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Reader Interactions


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  1. Carol H

    What a terrific recipe for enchilada sauce!!! I have another recipe I usually use but didn’t have the energy or time to make it today so I decided to try yours. This is soooooooo easy and it’s DELICIOUS!!! My picky-eater husband raved about it. (I did, however, cut back on the ground chili powder because I don’t like things too spicy.) This is going into my permanent recipe box. Thanks so much!


    • Kate

      Great to hear, Carol! Thank you for your review.


  2. Sherry Dale

    What a delicious flavorful red enchilada sauce that takes just minutes to make. Thank you for coming up with this authentic tasting sauce. I wondered the same as you on making the sauce the right consistency. This is perfect, now I know how they make it. I’m working on a chili verde version as well.

    (Video) The Best Homemade Mexican Enchilada Sauce ~ Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe

    Bon Appetít


  3. N



  4. Sandra Cardeiro

    This sauce is amazing. I used oat flour that I ground and followed the recipe as is. Will remember this for my favorite Mexican meals. Thank you


    • Kate

      You’re welcome, Sandra!


  5. Kav

    Amazing, been using this for ages. In my top 3 recipes


    • Kate

      That’s great, Kav! Thank you for your review.


      (Video) Easy Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce {15 minute recipe}
  6. Louise

    So good and easy. My veggie broth base is very salty so I shouldn’t have added any salt to my recipe but that would be the only change I would make along with a little extra tomato paste.


  7. Michelle

    This is my “go-to” enchilada sauce recipe. It is easy and everyone loves it!


    • Kate

      I love to hear that, Michelle!


  8. Vanessa

    First time making enchiladas, and this recipe was a dream. Flavourful, but not too spicy. So easy, I will make again for sure!


  9. Tina

    Great recipe as is, but I added some blended green chilies to it & it made all the difference. Gave it that little extra oomph!


    (Video) ENCHILADA SAUCE 2 Ways | Easy Recipe For Homemade Enchilada Sauce | Simply Mamá Cooks

    • Kate

      That’s great to hear, Tina!


  10. Laura Lopez

    I just made this recipe and absolutely loved it! All of the ingredients were already on hand…thank you!


    • Kate

      You’re welcome, Laura! I’m excited you enjoyed it.


  11. Mamacancook

    I rarely make enchiladas but I have this great recipe with black bean and roasted butternut squash filling – a duo made in heaven- and it deserved a homemade sauce. Yours was GREAT! Sooo much better than canned. I used toasted then ground cumin seeds and freshly grated cinnamon- so wonderful with butternut filling. One of my best recipes ever with your sauce to top it!! Thanks. And so easy.


  12. Janet

    Can you use chicken broth if you don’t have vegetable broth?


    • Kate

      Sure, I believe others have used that and didn’t mind the results.


      (Video) Mexican RED CHILE SAUCE Recipe for Tamales, Enchiladas, Asado, Chili con Carne & More

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