Easiest Homemade Enchilada Sauce
This easy homemade enchilada sauce recipe comes together quickly with simple pantry ingredients and is perfect for a big batch of homemade enchiladas and more. With no chopping or blending, it’s definitely the easiest (and most delicious) enchilada sauce recipe you’ll find anywhere.
About This Recipe
I just love the ease and simplicity of a homemade sauce, don’t you?
There’s really nothing better than throwing together a few pantry ingredients together and getting a super flavorful sauce that’s fresher and tastier than anything you can buy at the grocery store (hello easy Cilantro Lime Sauce and Honey Sriracha Sauce!).
This easy enchilada sauce is the perfect example of why you want to make a homemade sauce, since you can control the ingredients and adapt it to your taste preferences, for example, making it super spicy or super mild.
Case in point, I created this red enchilada sauce based on staple ingredients in my pantry.
On that note, know that that this is not an authentic Mexican enchilada sauce recipe, as traditional enchilada sauce is typically made with dried chilis and does not contain tomato paste or tomato sauce (source).
As noted, this recipe is my take based on ingredient availability in my area, however, if you’re looking for an authentic enchilada sauce recipe, I recommend this one from Isabel Eats!
Process & Tips
This a super-fast recipe, but don’t let that fool you.
The flavor is so good that once you whip up a batch of this sauce you’ll never want to go back to store bought.
Note that canned, store-bought enchilada sauce is not gluten free, as it typically contains flour.
One of the great things about making homemade enchilada sauce is that you can control the ingredients!
So, if you want to make this a gluten-free enchilada sauce, just swap in 1:1 gluten-free flour in place of the all purpose flour.
The flavor of the chili powder you use will strongly influence the flavor of this sauce, so use the best, freshest chili powder you can find.
For a spicy red enchilada sauce, use spicy chili powder, and for a mild enchilada sauce use mild chili powder.
Storing and Freezing
This easy enchilada sauce can easily be made ahead.
Simply store it covered in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
This red enchilada sauce will thicken up as it cools.
When ready to use, gently reheat to thin it back out, and add a splash of stock if needed.
How to Use Homemade Enchilada Sauce
This recipe makes a little over two cups of sauce (so a little more than a 15-oz can of store-bought sauce), and is the perfect about for a batch of enchiladas. Try it with easy chicken enchiladas and simple chicken enchilada skillet.
Enchilada sauce can also be used to elevate simply grilled or baked chicken, just drizzle over for a punch of flavor and color. I also love this enchilada sauce with tacos!
Ingredient Notes & Substitution Suggestions
Avocado oil: Any neutral oil can be used, such as canola or corn oil.
All purpose flour: I’ve tested this recipe with 1:1 gluten-free flour and it works well, so feel free to make that substitution for a gluten-free enchilada sauce.
Chili powder: Chili powder is essential to this recipe, so use the best, freshest chili powder you can find. Use mild chili powder for a mild red enchilada sauce, and hot chili powder for a spicy red enchilada sauce. Or, use chipotle chili powder for a smokey kick!
Garlic powder: Granulated garlic powder works best for this recipe.
Cumin: Ground cumin adds a smokey, earthy flavor that’s important to this recipe.
Dried oregano: Look for dried Mexican oregano if you can find it, though any dried oregano will work.
Kosher salt: The preferred salt for this recipe. If using iodized (table) salt, use less.
Stock: Use chicken stock, or vegetable stock for a vegetarian/vegan option.
Tomato paste: Lends a richness to the sauce, so I don’t recommend substitutions.
Apple cider vinegar: Adds an important acidic hit. Lime juice can also be used.
Easiest Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil, (or neutral flavored oil)
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups chicken stock, (or vegetable stock for vegetarian/vegan))
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until incorporated.
- Add the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and salt, whisking until well combined.
- Pour in the stock and whisk until well combined. Simmer, whisking constantly, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute.
- Turn off the heat, then add the tomato paste and vinegar, whisking until well incorporated.
- Taste and add additional salt if desired. Use immediately or store covered in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.