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Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Enchilada sauce is the heart of any good enchiladas. Homemade enchilada sauce has a rich, robust flavor that cannot be matched by store-bought versions. Making your own means you can customize the heat level to your liking and ensure it's free of any preservatives or additives.


Photos of Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe

The ingredients for this homemade enchilada sauce recipe are generally pantry staples. However, one ingredient that people may not always have on hand is ground chili powder. It's worth noting that chili powder is not the same as cayenne pepper. It's a blend of spices that typically includes ground chili pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano. Make sure to get the right one when shopping.

Ingredients for Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Olive oil: Used as the base for the sauce, its mild flavor doesn't overpower the other ingredients.

Flour: This acts as a thickening agent, giving the sauce a hearty consistency.

Ground chili powder: This is the main spice which gives the enchilada sauce its unique flavor.

Ground cumin: This adds a warm, earthy flavor to the sauce.

Garlic powder: This enhances the overall taste of the sauce.

Dried oregano: This adds a hint of Mediterranean flavor.

Salt: This enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

Cinnamon: This adds a hint of sweetness and warmth.

Tomato paste: This gives the sauce its rich, tomato flavor.

Vegetable broth: This forms the liquid base of the sauce.

Apple cider vinegar: This adds a subtle tanginess to the sauce.

Black pepper: This adds a bit of heat and flavor.

One reader, Dora Shanahan says:

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This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is a game-changer! The flavors are rich and authentic, and it's so easy to make. It's the perfect balance of spices and the texture is just right. I've been using it for all my Mexican dishes, and it's a hit every time!

Dora Shanahan

Techniques Required for Making Homemade Enchilada Sauce

How to make the enchilada sauce: A step-by-step guide on preparing the homemade enchilada sauce, including the process of combining and cooking the ingredients to achieve the desired consistency and flavor.

How to whisk constantly: The technique of continuously stirring the sauce to prevent lumps from forming and to ensure even cooking and blending of the ingredients.

How to season to taste: Explaining the process of adjusting the seasoning of the sauce according to personal preference, including adding more salt or freshly ground black pepper as needed.

How To Make Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Level up your enchiladas with a healthy and vegan-friendly enchilada sauce, packed with flavorful Mexican spices all simmered in a savory tomato mix.

Preparation: 3 minutes
Cooking: 7 minutes
Total: 10 minutes



  • 3tbspolive oil
  • 3tbspflour,whole wheat flour, or all-purpose flour and gluten-free flour
  • 1tbspground chili powder,*
  • 1ground cumin
  • ½tspgarlic powder
  • ¼tspdried oregano
  • ¼tspsalt,to taste
  • pinchcinnamon,optional but recommended
  • 2tbsptomato paste
  • 2cupsvegetable broth
  • 1tspapple cider vinegar,or distilled white vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper,to taste


  1. Place the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and 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.

  3. Once it’s ready, pour in the flour and spice mixture. While whisking constantly, cook for about 1 minute until fragrant and slightly deepened in color.

  4. Whisk the tomato paste into the mixture, then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.

  5. Raise the heat to medium-high, then bring the mixture to a simmer then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.

  6. Cook, whisking often, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the sauce has thickened a bit and a spoon encounters some resistance as it’s stirred.

  7. 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.

  8. Serve over enchiladas, and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

  • *Scale back if sensitive to spice or using particularly spicy chili powder.


  • Calories: 257.88kcal
  • Fat: 21.26g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.97g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 15.06g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 2.57g
  • Carbohydrates: 16.43g
  • Fiber: 3.31g
  • Sugar: 2.46g
  • Protein: 2.86g
  • Sodium: 570.10mg
  • Calcium: 49.90mg
  • Potassium: 301.19mg
  • Iron: 2.07mg
  • Vitamin A: 80.16µg
  • Vitamin C: 4.25mg

Technique Tip for Perfecting Your Enchilada Sauce

When whisking in the flour and spice mixture, ensure to do so gradually and consistently. This will help to prevent the formation of lumps in your sauce. Similarly, when adding the vegetable broth, pour it in a slow, steady stream while continuing to whisk. This will help to incorporate the liquid smoothly, resulting in a sauce with a more uniform and silky texture.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Enchilada Sauce

Prep ahead: Chop vegetables, measure ingredients, and prepare what you can in advance to streamline the cooking process.

One-pot wonders: Opt for recipes that allow you to cook everything in one pot or pan to minimize cleanup time.

Efficient tools: Use kitchen tools like a food processor, blender, or mandoline to speed up the prep work.

Batch cooking: Make a larger quantity of the recipe and freeze the extra portions for future quick and easy meals.

Organized workspace: Keep your kitchen organized and clean as you cook to avoid wasting time searching for utensils or ingredients.

Substitute Ingredients For Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe

  • olive oil - Substitute with avocado oil: Avocado oil has a similar mild flavor and high smoke point, making it a suitable substitute for olive oil in this recipe.

  • flour - Substitute with gluten-free flour: If you need a gluten-free option, using a gluten-free flour blend can work well in place of regular flour.

  • chili powder - Substitute with paprika and cayenne mix: Mixing paprika and cayenne pepper can replicate the flavor and heat of chili powder.

  • cumin - Substitute with coriander: Coriander has a similar warm and earthy flavor profile to cumin and can be used as a substitute in a pinch.

  • garlic powder - Substitute with minced garlic: Fresh minced garlic can be used as a substitute for garlic powder, providing a more intense garlic flavor.

  • dried oregano - Substitute with dried marjoram: Dried marjoram has a similar herbaceous flavor to oregano and can be used as a substitute in this recipe.

  • tomato paste - Substitute with ketchup: Ketchup can be used as a substitute for tomato paste, adding a touch of sweetness and acidity to the sauce.

  • vegetable broth - Substitute with chicken broth: Chicken broth can be used as a substitute for vegetable broth, adding a savory depth of flavor to the enchilada sauce.

  • apple cider vinegar - Substitute with white wine vinegar: White wine vinegar can provide the same tangy acidity as apple cider vinegar in the enchilada sauce.

Best Way to Present Enchilada Sauce

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the enchilada sauce, consider using a white, wide-rimmed plate to allow the rich, vibrant color of the sauce to stand out. The contrast will make the dish visually appealing and appetizing.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Sprinkle a few sprigs of cilantro over the sauce to add a pop of color and a hint of freshness. The bright green color will provide a beautiful contrast to the deep red of the sauce.

  3. Incorporate texture: Consider adding a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds or crumbled queso fresco on top of the sauce to introduce a textural element that will enhance the overall dining experience.

  4. Use a drizzle technique: Employ a steady hand to drizzle a touch of extra virgin olive oil over the sauce in an artistic manner. This will not only add a subtle richness but also create an elegant visual effect.

  5. Consider the negative space: Embrace the concept of negative space on the plate to allow the enchilada sauce to be the focal point. Avoid overcrowding the plate with excessive garnishes or accompaniments.

  6. Temperature contrast: If serving the enchilada sauce with a warm dish, such as enchiladas, consider using a warm plate to maintain the temperature of the sauce and create a pleasing contrast between the hot dish and the plate.

  7. Artistic sauce placement: Instead of simply pouring the sauce over the dish, consider using a squeeze bottle to create an artistic design or pattern on the plate, adding an element of sophistication to the presentation.

Essential Tools for Making Enchilada Sauce at Home

  • Food processor: A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance that can be used for chopping, slicing, shredding, and pureeing ingredients. It's great for making sauces, salsas, and purees.

  • Mixing bowl: A mixing bowl is an essential kitchen tool for combining ingredients, whisking sauces, and tossing salads. It comes in various sizes and materials, such as stainless steel, glass, or ceramic.

How To Store and Freeze Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • Let the enchilada sauce cool completely before storing or freezing.
  • For storing in the refrigerator, transfer the cooled sauce to an airtight container or jar. It will keep well for up to 5 days in the fridge.
  • If you plan to freeze the sauce, follow these steps:
    • Portion the cooled sauce into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags. Leave some headspace for expansion during freezing.
    • Label the containers or bags with the date and amount of sauce.
    • Lay the bags flat in the freezer for easier storage and quicker thawing.
    • Frozen enchilada sauce will maintain its best quality for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw frozen enchilada sauce, transfer it to the refrigerator overnight or for at least 12 hours.
  • Alternatively, you can thaw the sauce quickly by placing the container or bag in a bowl of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes until the sauce is fully thawed.
  • Reheat the thawed sauce gently in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust the consistency with a little water or broth if needed.
  • Do not refreeze previously frozen enchilada sauce once it has been thawed to ensure food safety and maintain the best texture and flavor.

How To Reheat Leftover Enchilada Sauce

  • Stovetop: pour the leftover enchilada sauce into a saucepan and heat it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired temperature. This method is best for quickly reheating smaller portions of sauce without altering its texture or flavor.

  • Microwave: transfer the sauce to a microwave-safe container and cover it with a lid or plastic wrap, leaving a small vent for steam to escape. Heat the sauce in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until it is heated through. Be careful not to overheat the sauce, as it may cause it to splatter or become too thick.

  • Oven: preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). pour the enchilada sauce into an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. place the dish in the oven and heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through. This method is ideal for reheating larger quantities of sauce or if you are simultaneously reheating enchiladas.

  • Slow cooker: transfer the leftover sauce to a slow cooker and heat it on low for 1-2 hours, or until it reaches the desired temperature. This method is perfect for keeping the sauce warm for an extended period without overcooking it or altering its consistency.

  • Repurposing: if you have a small amount of leftover enchilada sauce, consider using it as a flavorful addition to other dishes. Drizzle it over tacos, burritos, or quesadillas, or use it as a dipping sauce for tortilla chips or nachos. You can also stir it into soups, stews, or chili for an extra depth of flavor.

Random Fact About Enchilada Sauce

The homemade enchilada sauce recipe is a versatile base for various Mexican dishes. It can be used not only for enchiladas but also as a delicious sauce for tacos, burritos, or as a dip for tortilla chips. This homemade sauce is a healthier alternative to store-bought versions, as it allows you to control the ingredients and avoid any unnecessary additives or preservatives. By making your own enchilada sauce, you can tailor the spice level and flavors to your preference, creating a truly personalized and flavorful addition to your favorite Mexican dishes.

Is Making Enchilada Sauce at Home Cost-Effective?

The homemade enchilada sauce recipe is quite cost-effective for a household. The key ingredients, such as olive oil, spices, and vegetable broth, are commonly found in most kitchens. These ingredients are versatile and can be used in various recipes, making them a worthwhile investment. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people would be around $10-$15, depending on the quality of the ingredients. Overall Verdict: 9. The homemade enchilada sauce is not only economical but also enhances the flavor of dishes, making it a valuable addition to any kitchen.

Is Homemade Enchilada Sauce Healthy or Unhealthy?

This enchilada sauce recipe is relatively healthy compared to store-bought versions, as it uses wholesome ingredients and avoids processed additives. The use of olive oil provides healthy monounsaturated fats, while the vegetable broth keeps the sauce low in calories and fat. The spices, such as chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and oregano, offer various health benefits and add flavor without relying on excessive salt.

However, there are a few areas where the recipe could be improved to make it even healthier:

  • Reduce the amount of oil used, or replace it with a healthier alternative like avocado oil or coconut oil
  • Use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour to increase the fiber content
  • Increase the amount of spices and herbs to boost the nutritional value and flavor without adding more salt
  • Add some finely diced vegetables, such as bell peppers or carrots, to the sauce for extra nutrients and texture
  • Use low-sodium vegetable broth to reduce the overall sodium content of the sauce

By incorporating these changes, you can create a more nutrient-dense and flavorful enchilada sauce that still satisfies your cravings for Mexican-inspired cuisine. Remember, homemade sauces are always a better choice than store-bought varieties, as you have complete control over the ingredients and can adjust them to suit your dietary needs and preferences.

Editor's Thoughts on This Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe

This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is a delightful blend of spices and flavors. The combination of chili powder, cumin, and oregano creates a rich and aromatic base, while the addition of tomato paste and vegetable broth adds depth and complexity. The touch of apple cider vinegar provides a subtle tanginess that balances the flavors perfectly. This sauce is versatile and can be used to elevate any dish, not just enchiladas. It's a must-have in any kitchen for adding a burst of authentic Mexican flavor to your favorite recipes.

Enhance Your Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Guacamole: Create a zesty and creamy guacamole with ripe avocados, fresh lime juice, and a hint of jalapeno for a perfect accompaniment to your enchiladas.
Mango Salsa: Whip up a vibrant and refreshing mango salsa with juicy mangoes, diced red onion, and cilantro to add a sweet and tangy twist to your enchilada dish.
Cornbread: Bake a batch of golden and buttery cornbread to serve alongside your enchiladas for a comforting and satisfying meal.
Mexican Street Corn: Grill up some Mexican street corn with a smoky charred flavor, creamy cotija cheese, and a sprinkle of chili powder for a delicious and unique side dish to complement your enchiladas.

Alternative Recipes Similar to Enchilada Sauce

Spicy Beef Tacos: These tacos are packed with flavor and heat, perfect for a spicy food lover!
Mango Salsa Chicken: This fruity and tangy chicken dish is a refreshing twist on traditional chicken recipes.
Creamy Tomato Basil Soup: Warm up with this comforting and creamy soup, perfect for a cozy night in.
Berry Cobbler: Indulge in this sweet and fruity dessert, topped with a buttery and crispy crust.
Vegetable Stir-Fry: Whip up a quick and healthy stir-fry using your favorite vegetables and a savory sauce.

Suggested Appetizers and Desserts to Complement Enchilada Sauce

Stuffed Mushrooms: Impress your guests with these savory stuffed mushrooms, filled with a flavorful mixture of herbs, cheese, and breadcrumbs. They're the perfect bite-sized appetizer to kick off any meal.
Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Indulge in this creamy and cheesy spinach and artichoke dip, served with crispy tortilla chips or warm bread. It's a crowd-pleasing appetizer that will have everyone coming back for more.
Chocolate Mousse: Indulge in a rich and creamy chocolate mousse, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkle of cocoa powder. This elegant dessert is perfect for a special occasion or a romantic dinner at home.
Strawberry Cheesecake: Savor the luscious combination of creamy cheesecake and sweet, juicy strawberries. Whether it's a classic New York-style cheesecake or a no-bake version, this dessert is sure to impress your guests.

Why trust this Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe:

This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is a must-try for any Mexican cuisine enthusiast. With a blend of chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder, it promises an authentic and flavorful experience. The use of tomato paste and vegetable broth ensures a rich and savory base, while the addition of apple cider vinegar adds a delightful tang. The careful process of whisking and simmering guarantees a smooth and well-incorporated sauce. Trust in the quality of the ingredients and the expertise behind this recipe for a truly satisfying enchilada dish.

Share your thoughts on this homemade enchilada sauce recipe in the Recipe Sharing forum and let us know how it turned out for you!
How spicy is this enchilada sauce?
This enchilada sauce has a mild to medium level of spiciness. You can adjust the heat by adding more or less chili powder to suit your taste preferences.
Can I use chicken broth instead of vegetable broth?
Yes, you can substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth if you prefer. It will add a slightly different flavor to the sauce, but it will still be delicious.
How long can I store the homemade enchilada sauce?
You can store the homemade enchilada sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. If you want to keep it longer, you can freeze it for up to 3 months.
Can I make this sauce gluten-free?
Yes, you can make this sauce gluten-free by using a gluten-free all-purpose flour or cornstarch as a thickening agent instead of regular flour.
Is there a substitute for apple cider vinegar?
If you don't have apple cider vinegar, you can use white vinegar or red wine vinegar as a substitute. The flavor may vary slightly, but it will still work well in the recipe.

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