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Quick Hearty Enchilada Sauce Recipe

A sauce can truly make or break a dish, but this quick hearty enchilada sauce is guaranteed to make any meal a success. Combining the smoky flavor of chipotle chilis with the robust character of Mexican chili powder, this sauce provides a depth of flavor that is both bold and satisfying. Perfect for a simple weeknight dinner or a special occasion, this enchilada sauce is sure to be a new favorite in your kitchen.


Photos of Quick Hearty Enchilada Sauce Recipe

This recipe calls for chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. This can be found in the international aisle of most supermarkets. It's known for its smoky flavor and is a key ingredient in Mexican cooking. If you find it to be too spicy, you can reduce the amount according to your taste. Another ingredient to note is Mexican hot chili powder, which is a blend of spices and is different from regular chili powder. It adds a distinct heat and flavor to the sauce.

Ingredients for Quick Hearty Enchilada Sauce

Olive oil: A kitchen staple, olive oil is used to saute the garlic and bring out its flavor.

Garlic cloves: Garlic adds a pungent, savory element to the sauce.

Chicken or vegetable broth: This forms the base of the sauce and adds depth to its flavor.

Tomato sauce: This gives the sauce its classic red color and tangy flavor.

Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce: These add a smoky, spicy element to the sauce.

Mexican hot chili powder: This blend of spices adds heat to the sauce.

Ground cumin: Cumin lends an earthy, warm flavor to the sauce.

Kosher salt: Salt enhances the flavors of the other ingredients.

Black pepper: Pepper lends a mild heat and a hint of sharpness to the sauce.

One reader, Claus Wesley says:

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This quick hearty enchilada sauce recipe is a game-changer! It's so easy to make and tastes amazing. The flavors are rich and authentic, and it's perfect for adding a delicious kick to any dish. I highly recommend it for anyone who loves Mexican cuisine!

Claus Wesley

Techniques Required for Making Enchilada Sauce

How to sauté garlic: Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add the garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until golden.

How to simmer the sauce: After adding all the ingredients, bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for about 7 to 10 minutes.

How To Make Quick Hearty Enchilada Sauce

Create your own enchilada sauce from scratch with broth, tomato sauce, and lots of chilis. This quick and easy sauce has a smooth texture and a spicy kick!

Preparation: 5 minutes
Cooking: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes



  • ½tspolive oil
  • 4garlic cloves,minced
  • cupsreduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3cupstomato sauce,canned
  • 2tbspchipotle chilis in adobo sauce,chopped to taste
  • 1tspmexican hot chili powder,or more to taste
  • 1tspground cumin
  • ½tspkosher salt
  • fresh black pepper,to taste


  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat, add the oil and garlic; sauté for about 1 minute until golden.

  2. Add the chicken broth, tomato sauce, chipotle chiles, hot chili powder, cumin, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered for about 7 to 10 minutes.

  3. Set aside until ready to use.


  • Calories: 61.22kcal
  • Fat: 1.41g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.20g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.62g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.38g
  • Carbohydrates: 12.20g
  • Fiber: 3.41g
  • Sugar: 6.82g
  • Protein: 2.73g
  • Sodium: 955.23mg
  • Calcium: 45.59mg
  • Potassium: 603.55mg
  • Iron: 2.40mg
  • Vitamin A: 79.24µg
  • Vitamin C: 16.97mg

Key Technique for Perfecting Enchilada Sauce

When incorporating the chipotle chilis in adobo sauce into your enchilada sauce, consider finely chopping the chilis before adding them. This will ensure that the spicy and smoky flavor is evenly distributed throughout the sauce, enhancing the overall taste. Additionally, if you prefer a smoother sauce, you can blend the sauce after simmering using a hand blender or a regular blender. Just make sure to cool it a bit before blending to avoid any hot splashes.

Time-Saving Tips for Making Quick Hearty Enchilada Sauce

Prep ahead: Chop and measure all ingredients before starting the recipe to streamline the cooking process.

Use canned ingredients: Utilize canned tomato sauce and chipotle chilis to save time on preparation.

One-pot cooking: Opt for a single pot to minimize cleanup and simplify the cooking process.

Batch cooking: Make a larger quantity of enchilada sauce and freeze the extra for future use.

Organize your workspace: Keep all ingredients and utensils within reach to avoid wasting time searching for items during cooking.

Efficient multitasking: While the sauce simmers, use the time to prepare other components of the dish.

Substitute Ingredients For Quick Hearty 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.

  • reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth - Substitute with homemade vegetable broth: Homemade vegetable broth can be a great substitute, providing a fresher and more customizable flavor profile.

  • chipotle chilis in adobo sauce - Substitute with smoked paprika: Smoked paprika can add a smoky flavor similar to chipotle chilis, without the heat, making it a suitable alternative.

  • mexican hot chili powder - Substitute with ancho chili powder: Ancho chili powder provides a milder, slightly sweet flavor, which can be a good substitute for Mexican hot chili powder.

  • kosher salt - Substitute with sea salt: Sea salt can be used as a substitute for kosher salt, providing a similar level of saltiness to the dish.

  • black pepper - Substitute with white pepper: White pepper can be used as a substitute for black pepper, providing a milder and slightly different flavor profile.

Best Way to Present This Enchilada Sauce

  1. Elevate the plating: When presenting the enchilada sauce, carefully spoon it onto the plate, ensuring it is spread evenly and without any spills. The sauce should be the star, so take the time to create a visually appealing presentation.

  2. Garnish with fresh herbs: Sprinkle some freshly chopped cilantro on top of the enchilada sauce to add a pop of color and a burst of fresh flavor. The vibrant green of the cilantro will contrast beautifully with the rich red of the sauce.

  3. Incorporate texture: Consider adding a sprinkle of toasted corn tortilla strips on top of the sauce for a delightful crunch. This will not only enhance the texture but also add a touch of authenticity to the dish.

  4. Use high-quality serving ware: Opt for elegant, minimalist plates or bowls to showcase the enchilada sauce. The right serving ware can elevate the overall presentation and create a sense of sophistication.

  5. Consider the negative space: Embrace the concept of negative space on the plate to allow the vibrant color of the enchilada sauce to stand out. A well-considered use of empty space can draw attention to the dish itself.

Essential Tools for Making Enchilada Sauce

  • Saucepan: A deep cooking vessel with a handle and often a lid, used for cooking sauces, soups, and other liquids.
  • Spatula: A flat, flexible utensil used for lifting, flipping, and spreading ingredients while cooking.
  • Knife: A sharp-edged tool used for cutting and preparing ingredients.
  • Cutting board: A sturdy board used as a surface for cutting and preparing ingredients.
  • Measuring cups and spoons: Tools used to accurately measure ingredients for recipes.
  • Stove: A cooking appliance used for heating and cooking food in pots and pans.
  • Can opener: A tool used to open cans of ingredients, such as tomato sauce or chipotle chilis.
  • Wooden spoon: A sturdy cooking utensil used for stirring and mixing ingredients in a saucepan.
  • Garlic press: A tool used to crush and mince garlic cloves for adding flavor to the enchilada sauce.
  • Grater: A tool used to grate ingredients such as cheese or vegetables for the sauce.

Storing and Freezing Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  • Allow the enchilada sauce to cool completely before storing or freezing.

  • For short-term storage, transfer the cooled sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days.

  • To freeze the enchilada sauce for later use:

    • Portion the cooled sauce into freezer-safe containers or resealable bags, leaving 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 efficient storage and quicker thawing.
    • Frozen enchilada sauce can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • To thaw frozen enchilada sauce:

    • Remove the desired amount of sauce from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator overnight to thaw gradually.
    • For a quicker thaw, place the frozen sauce container in a bowl of cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until the sauce is thawed.
    • Do not thaw the sauce at room temperature, as this can promote bacterial growth.
  • Once thawed, use the enchilada sauce within 3 days and do not refreeze.

  • To reheat the thawed sauce, transfer it to a saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until warmed through. Adjust the seasoning if needed before using in your favorite enchilada recipes.

How to Reheat Leftover Enchilada Sauce

  • Stovetop method: transfer the leftover enchilada sauce to a saucepan and reheat it over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired temperature. This method allows you to control the heat and ensure the sauce is evenly warmed without burning or sticking to the bottom of the pan.

  • Microwave method: pour the leftover enchilada sauce into a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with a damp paper towel or a microwave-safe lid. Heat the sauce in 30-second intervals, stirring between each interval, until it is heated through. Be careful when removing the bowl from the microwave, as it may be hot.

  • Oven method: preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Pour the leftover enchilada sauce into an oven-safe dish and cover it with aluminum foil. Place the dish in the preheated oven and heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the sauce is heated through. This method is particularly useful if you are reheating enchiladas or other dishes that include the sauce.

  • Slow cooker method: if you have a large quantity of leftover enchilada sauce, you can reheat it in a slow cooker. Pour the sauce into the slow cooker and set it to low heat. Cover and let the sauce warm for 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally, until it is heated through. This method is ideal for keeping the sauce warm for an extended period, such as during a party or gathering.

  • Whichever method you choose, be sure to stir the enchilada sauce well to ensure even heating and prevent any hot spots or cold patches. Additionally, always taste the sauce before serving to ensure it has not lost any flavor or texture during the reheating process. If needed, you can adjust the seasoning or add a splash of chicken broth or water to thin out the sauce if it has thickened too much during storage.

Interesting Fact About Enchilada Sauce

The quick hearty enchilada sauce recipe is a versatile base for various Mexican dishes. It can be used not only for enchiladas but also as a flavorful topping for tacos, burritos, or as a dipping sauce for chips. This sauce is a great way to add a spicy kick to your favorite dishes and can be easily customized to suit your taste preferences.

Is Making Enchilada Sauce at Home Cost-Effective?

The quick hearty enchilada sauce recipe is highly cost-effective for a household. With simple, affordable ingredients like tomato sauce, chipotle chilis, and cumin, it offers great value. The versatility of this sauce also makes it a smart investment, as it can be used in various dishes. The approximate cost for a household of 4 people is around $10, making it an economical choice. Overall, this recipe earns a solid 9/10 for its budget-friendly nature and the delicious, robust flavor it brings to a wide range of Mexican dishes.

Is This Enchilada Sauce Recipe Healthy?

This enchilada sauce recipe has some healthy elements, but there's room for improvement. Let's break it down:


  • Using reduced-sodium broth is a good choice to limit salt intake
  • Garlic offers potential health benefits, such as boosting the immune system
  • Tomato sauce provides vitamins and antioxidants, like lycopene


  • Chipotle chilis in adobo sauce can be high in sodium and fat
  • The recipe lacks vegetables, which could provide additional nutrients
  • It's unclear if the tomato sauce contains added sugars or oils

To make this recipe healthier, consider the following suggestions:

  • Opt for low-sodium or no-salt-added tomato sauce to further reduce the sodium content
  • Add diced vegetables like bell peppers, onions, or carrots to the sauce for extra nutrients and fiber
  • Use a smaller amount of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, or replace them with fresh diced jalapeños for heat without the added sodium and fat
  • Experiment with adding spices like oregano, paprika, or garlic powder for flavor instead of relying on salt
  • If the sauce is too thick, use more low-sodium broth instead of water to maintain flavor while keeping the sodium content in check

By making these adjustments, you can create a more nutrient-dense and well-rounded enchilada sauce that still packs plenty of flavor.

Editor's Opinion on This Enchilada Sauce Recipe

The quick hearty enchilada sauce recipe is a flavorful and versatile addition to any dish. The combination of chipotle chilis, cumin, and garlic creates a rich and smoky flavor profile, while the tomato sauce and chicken broth provide a hearty base. The simplicity of the recipe allows for easy customization to suit individual preferences, making it a go-to sauce for enchiladas, tacos, or as a dipping sauce. The balance of heat and spices is well-executed, resulting in a sauce that is both satisfying and delicious.

Enhance Your Quick Hearty Enchilada Sauce Recipe with These Unique Side Dishes:

Guacamole: A creamy and flavorful guacamole with ripe avocados, fresh lime juice, and a hint of cilantro.
Mexican Street Corn: Grilled corn on the cob slathered in a tangy and spicy mayo, then rolled in cotija cheese and sprinkled with chili powder.
Churros: Crispy fried dough coated in cinnamon sugar, perfect for dipping in a rich chocolate sauce.

Similar Recipes to Try

Spicy Beef Tacos: These spicy beef tacos are perfect for a quick and easy weeknight dinner. The combination of flavorful spices and tender beef will have your taste buds dancing!
Mango Salsa Chicken: This mango salsa chicken is a refreshing and tropical twist on traditional chicken dishes. The sweet and tangy flavors of the mango salsa pair perfectly with the tender and juicy chicken.
Creamy Avocado Pasta: Indulge in this creamy avocado pasta for a rich and satisfying meal. The smooth and velvety texture of the avocado sauce coats the pasta beautifully, creating a luxurious dish that's sure to impress.
Berry Cobbler: End your meal on a sweet note with this delicious berry cobbler. The combination of juicy berries and buttery crumble topping creates a mouthwatering dessert that's perfect for any occasion.

Appetizer and Dessert Pairings for Enchilada Sauce

Spicy Stuffed Jalapenos: These spicy stuffed jalapenos are the perfect appetizer to kick off your meal. Filled with a creamy cheese mixture and topped with crispy bacon, they are sure to be a hit with your guests.
Savory Spinach and Artichoke Dip: This savory spinach and artichoke dip is a classic appetizer that never fails to please. Creamy and cheesy, it's the perfect accompaniment to crispy tortilla chips or fresh veggies.
Chocolate Lava Cake: Indulge in a decadent, warm chocolate lava cake that oozes with rich, molten chocolate when you cut into it. Pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for the perfect balance of sweetness and richness.
Banana Foster: Create a show-stopping dessert with bananas flambeed in a buttery, caramelized sauce, then served over a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. The warm, sweet flavors of the bananas and caramel sauce complement the cool, smooth ice cream for a delightful treat.

Why trust this Quick Hearty Enchilada Sauce Recipe:

This quick and hearty enchilada sauce recipe is a must-try for any Mexican cuisine enthusiast. With a perfect blend of chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, cumin, and hot chili powder, it promises an authentic and flavorful experience. The use of tomato sauce and chicken broth ensures a rich and savory base, while the addition of garlic infuses a delightful aroma. Trust the combination of these high-quality ingredients to deliver a satisfying and delicious enchilada sauce that will elevate your dish to new heights.

Want to share your own enchilada sauce recipe or discuss tips and techniques? Join the conversation in the Recipe Sharing forum and let's talk about this quick and hearty enchilada sauce recipe!
Can I use regular chili powder instead of Mexican hot chili powder?
Yes, you can use regular chili powder as a substitute. Just adjust the amount to your taste preference.
Can I make this enchilada sauce ahead of time and store it?
Absolutely! You can make the enchilada sauce ahead of time and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Is there a substitute for chipotle chilis in adobo sauce?
If you don't have chipotle chilis in adobo sauce, you can use a small amount of smoked paprika or a dash of cayenne pepper for a similar smoky flavor.
Can I freeze this enchilada sauce?
Yes, you can freeze the enchilada sauce in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator before using.
Can I use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth?
Absolutely! You can use vegetable broth as a substitute for chicken broth to make this enchilada sauce vegetarian-friendly.

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