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Simple 10 Minute Red Enchilada Sauce

This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is super quick and easy to make. It tastes just like the red enchilada sauce I get at my favorite Mexican restaurant.

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Stirring homemade enchilada sauce in a pot with a silver spoon.

I make my own, and for me, it is hands down the best enchilada sauce. It’s quick, easy, and I know exactly what’s in it. I control the heat, which my son appreciates, and it costs less than buying it.

This is perfect for my easy cheesy chicken enchiladas or any other homemade enchiladas you plan to make. I love to add it to tacos, as well, for a little burst of flavor.

Spreading red enchilada sauce over chicken enchiladas in a pan.

The only exception is when I make my honey habanero tacos because they a heaven in a a taco shell already, but I digress.

This recipe makes about two cups of enchilada sauce, which is perfect for me for pretty much all my favorite Mexican dishes. I often double this recipe and save half for the next time I make some.

You can’t beat a good authentic Mexican flavor, and this quick recipe does it for me every time.

Can I make red enchilada sauce vegan?

Yes, you absolutely can. The only non plant based ingredient as written is chicken stock.

That’s a simple switch to make it vegetable broth, and it won’t impact the flavor significantly. So go ahead – enjoy a vegan red enchilada sauce from scratch!

Bonus? This uses simple pantry ingredients, so you can enjoy your favorite authentic Mexican flavors anytime.

How can I make gluten free enchilada sauce?

This homemade enchilada sauce recipe does require flour to thicken it. Without flour, it’s too thin and doesn’t take hold of the enchiladas.

Trust me, no one wants enchilada soup. Well, not this kind anyway.

That said, while I use all purpose flour, I made this for friends of mine who are gluten free and used a gluten free flour in the roux, and it worked just fine. Sub out the all purpose flour for your favorite gluten free blend, and go wild.

Can I use fresh tomatoes?

You would think fresh tomatoes would make for an amazing sauce, but no. Tomatoes create a thinner sauce, no matter how much I cooked it down when I tried.

Thankfully that failure was delicious in soup another night.

Even canned tomatoes and tomato sauce don’t work well. Instead, use tomato paste that helps thicken the sauce and also provides the tomato flavor you expect from your restaurant style enchilada sauces.

Pro tip: this recipe uses three ounces of tomato paste, which is half a can. Either make a double batch or use a tube of tomato paste instead that lasts much longer in your fridge.

How should I store my red enchilada sauce?

Once your sauce comes to room temperature, place it into an airtight container. I often use a mason jar because it pours more easily.

Pro tip: Use a funnel to pour from your pot into the jar.

Place this in the fridge, and you can keep it for a week. Alternatively, you can freeze your homemade enchilada sauce for up to three months in a freezer safe container.

When you want to use it, let it thaw in your fridge, and you’re good to go.

Homemade enchilada sauce dripping off a spoon into the pot.

How to Make Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce From Scratch

In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, add your vegetable oil and flour to make a roux. Whisk to combine.

Add the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, and salt. Note that you can use standard American style chili powder or mix it up with your favorite alternative like chipotle chili powder, ancho chili powder, and more.

These provide a slightly different – and delicious – flavor, but not that many are much spicier, so start with half the amount then add more after it simmers if you want more heat.

Whisk again and let the mixture cook for 1-2 minutes to get the raw flour taste out.

Quick tip: sugar eliminates any bitterness you taste in chili powder. I know it seems like an odd addition otherwise.

Add the tomato paste, then slowly whisk in two cups of chicken broth. Whisk constantly while you add the stock to ensure you have a smooth sauce.

Once your sauce starts to bubble, turn the heat to simmer and let it cook for eight to ten minutes, do a taste test and add more chili powder or salt as needed. Make sure to blow on your testing spoon first to ensure you don’t burn yourself.

From there, you just need to add it to your dish. It’s truly that easy!

Save this authentic red enchilada sauce recipe to make again!

Homemade enchilada sauce dripping off a spoon into the pot.

Red Enchilada Sauce

Making authentic red enchilada sauce is simple when you use this recipe that calls for pantry staples and makes a perfect topping to any enchilada.
5 from 3 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 76kcal
Author: Michelle


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock


  • In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk together oil and flour.
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 tablespoons flour
  • Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk again and let cook for 1-2 minutes.
    1/2 teaspoon each of cumin, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Add tomato paste, then slowly whisk in chicken stock.
    3 ounces tomato paste, 2 cups chicken stock
  • Once sauce starts to bubble, turn heat to simmer and let cook eight to ten minutes.
  • Do a taste test and add more chili powder or salt, as needed.


  • If you use chipotle chili powder or ancho chili powder, these are spicier than American chili powder, so start with less.
  • For more tips and tricks, be sure to read the full article above.


Serving: 0.25 cup | Calories: 76kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Cholesterol: 2mg | Sodium: 282mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g

This site uses an online source to provide nutrition estimates as a courtesy. If you need exact values, please calculate yourself.

Spoon spreading enchilada sauce over tortillas with text 10 minute red enchilada sauce from scratch.

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