Red enchilada sauce is a well-known sauce that elevates enchiladas to a whole new level. Warm spices, rich tomato flavor, bursting with Mexican flavor. Learn how to make this red enchilada sauce recipe at home.
Use this enchilada red sauce for enchiladas, stir in a Mexican soup, dip quesadillas in, and so much more.
A red sauce that is so versatile and will elevate any dish to a whole new level. So don’t reach for canned sauce; learn how to make your own at home. Also, learn how to make homemade fajita seasoning or even taco seasoning. Don’t want red enchilada sauce? Try out our green enchilada sauce, which is perfect for our Easy Chicken Enchilada Recipe!
Recipe Ingredient notes
- Olive Oil – You are welcome to use canola or vegetable oil if you need it.
- Chili Powder
- All-Purpose Flour – This is the thickening agent in the sauce.
- Chicken Broth – If you want, you are more than welcome to use vegetable stock instead.
- Crushed Tomatoes – The crushed tomatoes will really transform the sauce giving it a rich flavor.
- Cocoa Powder – This is the secret ingredient to the sauce that adds a deep layer of flavor.
- Granulated Sugar – The sugar will help level out the acidic components of the sauce.
- Onion Powder
- Garlic Powder
- Salt and Pepper
For the full ingredient amount and full instructions on how to make red enchilada sauce, see the recipe card below.
- In a saucepan, you will add flour, chili powder, and oil. Heat over medium heat.
- Next, bring the mixture to a simmer and let it cook for 15-20 seconds. Make sure to stir to prevent it from burning.
- Now add in all the other ingredients and allow the mixture to come to a boil.
- Once the red enchilada sauce boils, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Then remove it from the heat, and let it cool for 20 minutes. Then use the sauce as you would like.
Recipe tips and variations
- You can make this homemade red enchilada sauce thin or thick. If you want a thicker enchilada sauce, you can cook a bit longer to let it thicken up. Keep in mind it will thicken as it cools.
- If your enchilada sauce is too thin, it may not stick well to the tortilla and other ingredients.
- Make sure to stir the sauce often as it cooks, or it will burn.
- If you find there are clumps of flour in the sauce, use a whisk to help break up the lumps as you are cooking it.
- Feel free to adjust the spices to fit the flavor preference of your sauce. Taste and then add additional spices as needed.
- To make it spicy, you can add in some cayenne pepper or even a hot sauce to ramp up the spice.
Storage and reheating tips
- Refrigerate: Store any red enchilada sauce leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator and enjoy it within one week.
- Freeze: To freeze the Mexican red sauce, place it in an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Reheat: To reheat enchilada sauce, you can use warm-up in the microwave or in a pot on the stove. Stir as it reheats, and once warm, you can use it as you would like.
How to serve
You can use this enchilada sauce for making enchiladas, pour over burritos, quesadillas, and more. This sauce is ultimately versatile in how you would like to serve it up.
If you assemble red enchiladas with cold sauce, that is okay as you will bake the sauce, and it will heat up that way.
Frequently asked questions
Oil, flour, and broth are the base of enchilada sauce. Then the Mexican sauce is paired with Mexican spices and tomatoes to give it a rich and deep flavor to complement an arrangement of Mexican recipes.
If you need a substitute for enchilada sauce, you can find that taco sauce is the closest sub for the sauce.
The spices are the biggest difference in the sauces. You will find they are slightly similar in flavor, but there is enough of a difference that you don’t want to interchange the two.
Cooking the flour with the oil and chili powder will help remove the flour taste. Then the flour will simply be used as a thickening agent and not alter the flavor of the sauce.
Go right ahead and double or even triple the enchilada recipe. Just make it and then use as you would like or refrigerate or freeze the sauce until you are ready to use.
Red Enchilada Sauce
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- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 Tbsp chili powder
- 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup crushed tomato
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp coriander
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 dash salt and ground black pepper
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the four, chili powder and oil.
- Bring to a simmer while stirring frequently. Let’s stay at a simmer for 15-20 seconds.
- Whisk in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil while frequently stirring.
- Once it’s at a boil, drop the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and let sit and cool for 20 minutes before using. This will allow thickening. You can use it after cooled or stored in an airtight container.
The nutritional information is automatically calculated and can vary based ingredients and products used. If the nutrition numbers are important for you we recommend calculating them yourself.
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