Best Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe

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This Authentic Mexican Enchilada Sauce is a game-changer for your kitchen endeavors. It’s not just a sauce; it’s the soul of any enchilada dish, offering a burst of flavors that are both complex and comforting.

Moreover, this recipe is incredibly versatile. Whether you’re a vegetarian or just someone looking for gluten-free options, this sauce has got you covered. It’s quick to make, requiring just 10 minutes of your time, and the ingredients are pantry staples. So, why settle for store-bought when you can easily make your own authentic enchilada sauce?

Enchilada Sauce Recipe


  • 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
  • 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. Measure the dry ingredients 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 sizzles on contact with a sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture.
  3. Pour in the flour and spice mixture while whisking constantly. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Whisk the tomato paste into the mixture, then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
  5. Raise heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  6. Remove from heat, whisk in the vinegar, and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. Add more salt if necessary.

Prep Time: 3 minutes | Cooking Time: 7 minutes | Total Time: 10 minutes | Servings: 2 cups

What is enchilada sauce made of?

Enchilada sauce is a chili-based sauce used in Mexican cuisine. The basic ingredients for a traditional red enchilada sauce include dried red chili peppers (such as guajillo, ancho, or New Mexico chilies), garlic, onions, tomatoes or tomato paste, cumin, oregano, salt, and chicken or vegetable broth. The chilies are typically rehydrated, blended with the other ingredients, and then simmered to develop the flavors. There’s also a green version made from tomatillos and green chilies.

What is a good substitute for enchilada sauce?

If you’re in a pinch and don’t have enchilada sauce on hand, here are some substitutes:

  • Tomato Sauce: Mix tomato sauce with some chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and a pinch of salt. Adjust the seasonings to taste.
  • Salsa: A blended red or green salsa can be used as a quick substitute. You might want to thin it out with a bit of broth or water and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Taco Sauce: While it’s not the same, taco sauce can be used in a pinch. It’s typically thinner, so consider reducing it on the stove to get a thicker consistency.
  • DIY Blend: If you have dried chilies on hand, you can make your own by rehydrating them and blending with garlic, onion, and seasonings.

What kind of enchilada sauce is best?

The “best” enchilada sauce often comes down to personal preference. Some people prefer the tangy and bright flavor of green enchilada sauce made from tomatillos and green chilies, while others love the deeper, richer taste of red enchilada sauce made from dried red chilies. There are also variations like mole enchilada sauce, which is richer and contains ingredients like chocolate and various spices. The best advice is to try different types and find the one that suits your palate.

What is the secret to good enchiladas?

The secret to good enchiladas lies in a combination of factors:

  • Quality Ingredients: Using fresh and high-quality ingredients will always yield a better result.
  • Sauce: A flavorful enchilada sauce is key. Whether you make it from scratch or buy it, ensure it’s rich and well-seasoned.
  • Tortillas: Use corn tortillas for traditional enchiladas. Lightly frying them before rolling can prevent them from breaking and adds an extra layer of flavor.
  • Filling: Whether you’re using chicken, beef, cheese, or veggies, make sure the filling is well-seasoned and not too wet, which can make the enchiladas soggy.
  • Baking: Bake the enchiladas just long enough to heat through and melt the cheese. Overbaking can dry them out.



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