Easy Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
Make your own homemade red enchilada sauce with no fancy ingredients! This is an easy recipe that includes a few simple pantry ingredients, and it comes together in about 10 minutes!
**This recipe was originally published in September 2016. The text has been updated to include additional information and step by step photos have been added.
One of my family’s favorite meals is enchiladas. They love them so much that I had to create my own Homemade Enchilada Sauce! I tried so many store bought varieties that claimed to be mild but left us sweating it out at the dinner table.
Now when I make chicken enchiladas or vegetarian sweet potato enchiladas, I know that they’ll be perfect for my spice intolerant family.
And why stop there? My green enchilada sauce is also a wonderful option if you want to change things up!
It’s nice to have options. 🙂
Why you’ll love this recipe:
- This easy homemade enchilada sauce is rich and flavorful, with mild spiciness so it appeals to everyone in the family.
- It takes just a few pantry staples and about 10 minutes to make.
- The recipe is easily doubled to feed a crowd and may be made in advance. It’s also freezer-friendly!
- If you like it hot, you can easily customize it to suit your tastes.
This easy red enchilada sauce is in no way authentic. It’s a simple homemade version that gets the job done with pantry staples, most of which you probably already have on hand.
- Tomato sauce. Use low sodium tomato sauce in order to control the amount of sodium.
- Onion and garlic. I highly recommend using fresh onion and garlic instead of onion powder or garlic powder as they add a lot more flavor. The onion will make the enchilada sauce slightly chunky, so if you’d like a smoother sauce, it may be puréed it in a food processor. It’s truly personal preference.
- Herbs and spices. To flavor the easy red enchilada sauce, I used a blend of chili powder, ground cumin, and smoked paprika.
How to make red enchilada sauce
You will love how easy this enchilada sauce recipe is. It’s a great back pocket recipe that can be made on the fly for enchilada emergencies.
Just grab what you need from the pantry, and it’s done in about 10 minutes! Here’s an overview of how to make enchilada sauce from scratch:
- Heat the canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the onion and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the spices and saute for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato sauce and water, and stir well to combine.
- Bring the sauce to a boil, then remove from heat. There is no need to cook the sauce any further as it will continue cooking with your enchiladas. If you’d like a smoother sauce, process in a food processor until smooth.
Enchilada sauce is either red or green. Red enchilada sauce includes red chilies or chili powder and sometimes tomatoes, while green enchilada sauce includes green chilies and sometimes tomatillos.
Authentic red enchilada sauce is made with onions, garlic and dried chilies and sometimes tomatoes. The sauce has a deep, chili flavor and depending on the type of chilies used, it’s mild to hot in spice.
Absolutely! You can make this homemade red enchilada sauce up to five days before you plan on using it in a recipe.
Yes, let it cool completely, then seal in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container. It can be frozen for up to three months. When ready to use, thaw overnight in the fridge.
How to serve this recipe
This easy red enchilada sauce can be used in so many dishes. Here are some recipes that use enchilada sauce:
- Chicken enchiladas
- Chicken enchilada bake (swap out the green sauce for this red version)
- Sweet potato black bean enchiladas
- Southwest stuffed poblano peppers
- Use the sauce immediately or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for future use.
- If you love spicy enchilada sauce, add cayenne pepper or hot sauce if desired.
- To keep this recipe super simple, I used water. However, veggie or chicken broth may be substituted for an even more flavorful homemade red enchilada sauce.
More easy Mexican recipes you’ll love:
Be sure to look through all of my Mexican recipes for more inspo. Here are just some of my favorites:
- Mexican corn cake
- Mexican rice casserole
- Mexican grilled corn salad
- Restaurant style salsa by Food Network
If you make this recipe I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and rating below, or tag me @flavorthemoments on Instagram!
Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion peeled and chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 15 ounces tomato sauce
- 3/4 cup water use chicken or vegetable stock for added flavor
- salt to taste
- Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the spices and sauté for 30 seconds.1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 small yellow onion, 2 garlic cloves, 2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Add the tomato sauce and water, and stir well to combine.15 ounces tomato sauce, 3/4 cup water, salt
- Bring the sauce to a boil, then remove from heat. There is no need to cook the sauce any further as it will continue cooking with your enchiladas. If you'd like a smoother sauce, process in a food processor until smooth.
- Use the sauce immediately or store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze for future use.
- If you love spicy enchilada sauce, add cayenne pepper or hot sauce if desired.
Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.
25 Comments on “Easy Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce”
So glad you had a lovely long weekend, Marcie! And woot woot to enchilada sauce! Seriously, I’m kinda obsessed with the stuff because it tastes SO good on EVERYTHING! The one I make is kind of a lengthy process, so I can’t wait to try your 10 minute sauce!! Thanks for sharing this, girlfriend! Cheers!
Thanks, Cheyanne! This definitely isn’t authentic enchilada sauce by any means but this definitely gives us enchiladas in a flash which I love! 🙂
Homemade enchilada sauce really is the best – it blows the cans out of the water! And how simple is this!
It sounds like you had one fantastic long weekend Marcie! I wish it was longer on my end! haha 🙂
Thank you, Ashley, and I hope your move went well and that you’re getting settled in nicely! 🙂
I’ve never made enchiladas at home, but you’re making me want to start! I’m drooling thinking about standing over a simmering pot of these flavors 🙂
It’s so easy, Medha — I hope you try it! ?
I love, love LOVE how easy this looks to make!! I just made enchiladas recently and this would’ve been great to top them with. Also, so great that you had an amazing weekend Marcie!
This recipe isn’t authentic obviously, but it really is a great way to get enchilada sauce fast and my whole family loves it! Thank you, Jessica! ?
Homemade enchilada sauce is so much better than the store-bought kind. I can’t wait to try your version, Marcie!
Thank you, Jen!
I have never tried making my own enchilada sauce! But I think I should definitely do that now with this 10 minutes version, can’t get easier and homemade is always better! Sounds delicious Marcie!
It really doesn’t get any easier than this! Thank you, Manali!
The sauce looks so tasty ♥♥
Thank you, Summer! ?
I’ve been meaning to make my own enchilada sauce for aaaaages! This is such a great idea – I definitely need to make this happen ASAP!
Thank you, Julia! ?
I love making homemade enchilada sauce and your recipe sounds so good and simple. Can’t wait to try this one 🙂
Thank you, Stephanie! ?
Wow! Making your own enchilada looks like a fantastic idea, I have never made my own enchilada sauce. Love how quick and easy and simple this is. Glad you had a lovely long weekend, Marcie! 🙂
Thank you so much, Anu!
I tend to buy canned enchilada sauce, but I think I can spare 10 minutes to whip this up. It looks amazing!
This is seriously easy, and I think you’ll want to add some spice since my family is a bit intolerant! Haha. Thanks, Christin!
I just started making my own bbq sauce, and I’m hooked! I’m sure the same will be true with this enchilada sauce. Can’t wait to try it in the next few weeks 🙂
I am such a spicy food baby, so I love a good mild sauce! Love enchiladas and haven’t made them in awhile.
My family is too and this sauce works perfectly! Hope to get to make some soon Nicole!