Enchilada Sauce (1)
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  • Food: Enchilada Sauce
  • Writer: Nicolas Wilson
  • Content-Type: Food Blog

I figured I’d share my tried-and-true Enchilada Sauce recipe with you today in case you want to use it in your favorite enchilada dish.

It takes less than 10 minutes to make, and I promise you won’t want to go back to the store-bought variety.

I attempted at least five of the top sauce recipes on Google when I built my go-to sauce (first seen on my spinach artichoke enchiladas), all with various ingredients and approaches.

I tried to make a sauce with tomato sauce, but it tasted too raw and was goopy. I tried preparing sauce with diced tomatoes mashed together, but the results were the same.

I prepared a sauce made without tomatoes, and it didn’t taste anything like the enchilada sauce I grew up with or the sauce at my favorite Mexican restaurants.

I tried sauces made without a thickening (such as flour or cornstarch), and they pooled at the bottom, turning my enchiladas into a soupy, textureless casserole.

Finally, after a lot of experimenting and consulting America’s Test Kitchen, I came up with the perfect enchilada sauce. The sauce’s base is vegetable broth, but it’s only added after a simple roux of flour and oil is made.

To thicken the sauce adequately, you’ll need three teaspoons of each. I also tried preparing this sauce with a gluten-free flour blend, which turned out to be a success.

Enchilada Sauce at its Finest

Enchilada Sauce yum (1)
Food: Enchilada Sauce (Source: Dinner Then Dessert)

This recipe has four reasons to adore it:

  • This sauce has a distinct Mexican flavor. It’s made out of umami-rich tomato paste and dried spices that are sautéed in oil to bring out their greatest flavors.
  • Because some people don’t enjoy cinnamon in savory dishes, it’s optional, but a pinch gives a beautiful warmth and depth.
  • The final flourish is a smidgeon of vinegar, which dramatically enhances the flavor.
  • This homemade enchiladas sauce is free of extraneous manufactured ingredients and MSG (monosodium glutamate, which causes headaches in my mother).

This sauce is one of my favorites, and it’s garnered amazing reviews on my spinach artichoke enchiladas and veggie black bean enchiladas, so I’m convinced you will as well.

Enchilada Sauce

 3 minute prep time

7-Minute Cooking Time

10 minutes in total

This red enchilada sauce is created from scratch and has a traditional Mexican flavor. You’ll never go back to store-bought sauce because it’s so wonderful and easy to make. You can even quadruple the recipe and freeze half of it for later use. The following recipe makes around 2 cups (16 ounces) of sauce.


Enchilada Sauce Homemade (1)
Food: Enchilada Sauce (Source: Dinner Then Dessert)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons flour (you may use whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, or gluten-free flour mixes!)
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder (if you’re sensitive to spice or using a very spicy chili powder, reduce the amount)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • a quarter teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano, dry
  • a quarter teaspoon of salt, to taste
  • Cinnamon, pinch (optional but recommended)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • black pepper, freshly ground, to taste


  1. Measure the dry ingredients (flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and optional cinnamon) into a small bowl and set it near the stove. Also, keep the tomato paste and broth close to the burner.
  2. Warm the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat until a little sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture sizzles as it comes into contact. This could take a few minutes, so be patient and don’t take your eyes off the stove!
  3. When it’s done, add the flour and spice mixture. Cook, whisking continually, for 1 minute, or until aromatic and somewhat darker in color. Whisk in the tomato paste, then slowly drizzle in the broth, whisking constantly to avoid any lumps.
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a soft simmer, then reduce heat as needed to keep it there. Cook, whisking often, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened somewhat and a spoon meets resistance while stirring it. (As the sauce cools, it will thicken even more.)
  5. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vinegar, and season with freshly ground black pepper to taste. If required, season with additional salt (I usually add another pinch or two). Enchiladas, enchiladas, enchiladas!


  • STORAGE SUGGESTIONS: Enchilada sauce leftovers can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it for up to three months. Allow cooling to room temperature before transferring to a wide-mouth mason jar or a freezer bag, allowing some room at the top for expansion (don’t entirely screw on the lid until the mixture is totally frozen) (remove excess air before sealing).
  • USE A GLUTEN-FREE ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR BLEND TO MAKE IT GLUTEN-FREE. I used Bob’s Red Mill brand and it worked beautifully.
  • REMOVE THE TOMATO: The tomato paste can be left out. You might wish to add a few more spices. The sauce will not taste exactly like store-bought enchilada sauce, but it will be delicious!
  • TURN IT AROUND: Chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder are required, but the rest of the spices can be changed to suit your tastes.