Wondermom » Recipes » Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce Recipe

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Add some delicious heat to your everyday meals with this easy-to-make chile enchilada sauce recipe.

Glass jar of homemade Chile enchilada sauce with chili peppers and olive oil in the background.

This homemade sauce will surely dial up the spice when generously drizzled over any type of food, and make enchiladas taste even more amazing as well. Use this sauce on chicken slow cooker enchiladas or Instant Pot stuffed peppers. Or, use the sauce as a dip for your air fryer tortilla chips while you enjoy a relaxing afternoon watching movies.

I love making sauces at home because they’re always guaranteed fresh and free of any chemicals and preservatives. Plus, making it from scratch is really easy to do. So if you love putting an authentic Mexican touch to your dishes, then this red enchilada sauce is a must-try.

Jump to:

What is an Enchilada?

No Mexican feast or meal seems complete without enchiladas on the table!

Enchiladas are typically made from a combination of staple ingredients like tortilla, cheese, meat, and sauce. This gives them versatility because you can choose a variety of meats, cheeses, and toppings to add to the dish to suit your personal taste. 

It has a rich history, dating back several thousand years as corn tortilla or tlaxcalli in Nahuatl has long been a fixture in Mesoamerican cuisine. Back then, they were dipped in pumpkin seeds, rolled in chopped egg, and covered in tomato sauce.

However, it was the Aztecs who developed a more spicy version, thanks to their addition of chili pepper to the mix. (Fun fact: “Enchilada,” in English, means “in chili.”)

Eventually, the Spanish forces who conquered the Aztec empire adapted enchiladas as part of their cuisine. This practice trickled its way to Mexico, a full-fledged colony of Spain back then. 

Now, however, when you think of delicious enchiladas, you don’t think of Spain or the Aztecs but Mexico.  This delicious food remains a highly popular menu item in Mexican restaurants that many people from all walks of life love.

It is also a very iconic representation of Mexican cuisine.

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❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Sauces really do brighten up many dishes, and this super easy and quick chile enchilada sauce is no exception. Here are some great points to consider why you’ll love this one over most store-bought enchilada sauces:

  • Versatile: You can use this enchilada sauce in many ways. Add it as a topping, spice up your chowder, or dip your chips in it.
  • A quick recipe: In under an hour, you will have created a homemade enchilada sauce that you’ll be using everywhere.
  • Super easy sauce to make: Even novice cooks will love making this sauce since no overly complicated steps are involved in this great recipe. Just throw all your ingredients in a saucepan and whisk. Soon, you’ll have a sauce that will be a staple on your menu.
  • Bold flavor: The combination of chili, spices, tomatoes, and broth creates a sauce bursting with bold and savory flavors. The chili sauce adds a delightful kick that appeals to those who enjoy a bit of spice in their meals.
  • Great for parties: This enchilada sauce is a hit with families. The dish can be prepared in larger quantities, making it suitable for gatherings and family dinners. You can switch it up between red and green enchilada sauces.

If you love this sauce, then you may also enjoy this Copycat Chick-fil-A Sauce that’s just as amazing as the store version!

🥘 Ingredients

Ingredients for Chile enchilada sauce recipe organized and labeled on a wooden surface.

A great thing about this homemade chili sauce is that most, if not all, of the ingredients may already be in your pantry.

To try this recipe, you will need:

  • Chili powder: This will bring delicious heat to your sauce. It’s best to use a high-quality ancho chili powder for the best results.
  • Tomatoes: This will help bring the spices all together, and add more of a beautiful red color to the sauce.
  • Chicken Broth: This will thin the sauce while also giving it some depth.

See recipe card for complete list of ingredients and quantities.

🔀 Substitutions

Don’t have the ingredients above? Try these substitutes that will not alter the taste of your chile enchilada sauce.

  • Chili Powder: Any regular chili powder will do if you don’t have ancho chili powder.
  • Crushed Tomatoes: Tomato paste or tomato sauce can serve as an alternative. 
  • Chicken broth: You can use water as a substitute if you don’t have chicken broth.

🌈 Variations / Options / Add-Ins

Here are some ways to give this homemade red enchilada sauce a playful twist.

  • Use dried chiles instead of chili powder: You can try to make this recipe with dried chiles like guajillo. However, this will make the process longer and a bit more complicated – but it can be worth trying if you have the time.
  • Go green: Green enchilada sauce is made with green chili peppers, like poblano or Anaheim, providing a milder and slightly tangy flavor. Tomatillos, garlic, and cilantro are commonly used to enhance the green color and add freshness.
  • Make it creamy: To create a creamy texture, add sour cream or heavy cream to the sauce. This variation adds a rich and velvety quality to the enchiladas.
  • Give the sauce more kick: Use cayenne chili powder if you love more heat. This will dial up the spiciness of your sauce.
  • Make it vegetarian-friendly: Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • Roasted flavor: Roasting the chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, and onion can enhance the depth and smokiness of the sauce.
  • Aromatic flavor: Adding herbs like cilantro or oregano can add a fresh and aromatic quality to the enchilada sauce.

Wondering how to make your own homemade chili powder? This MSG-free homemade chili seasoning mix is easy to do and can be used in so many recipes.

🥄 Equipment Needed / Helpful Tools

You’ll need the following equipment to create this authentic red enchilada sauce recipe:

  • Saucepan: This is what we’ll use to combine all the ingredients and cook the sauce.
  • Whisk: It is very useful to blend the ingredients well.

🔪 How to Make Chile Enchilada Sauce

Ready to make enchilada sauce? These are the quick and easy steps to make this red chile enchilada sauce that brings a much-loved heat to everything it’s added to.

Step 1: Prep the Ingredients

First, prepare all the necessary ingredients to make Chile Enchilada Sauce.

Step 2: Mix Flour, Chili Powder, Oil

Then, in a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the flour, chili powder, and oil together.

Flour, chili powder and oil in a saucepan.

Step 3: Bring to a Simmer

Next, stir frequently as you bring the mixture to a simmer. Let it stay at a simmer for about 15-20 seconds.

Flour, chili powder and oil in a saucepan.

Step 4: Add all the Remaining Ingredients

Whisk in the rest of the ingredients with the flour and oil mixture. Bring the sauce to a boil while you frequently stir it.

Step 5: Reduce the Heat

Once the sauce is at a boil, drop to Low heat and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

A skillet containing simmering chile enchilada sauce on a wooden surface.

Step 6: Remove from Heat and Cool

Lastly, remove it from the heat and let it sit and cool for 20 minutes before using. 

Homemade chile enchilada sauce in a jar with a spoon.

👩‍🍳 Pro Tips

Give these tips a try to make the best enchilada sauce at home.

  • If you can, use fresh tomatoes, chili, garlic, and onion for a bolder flavor.
  • If you’re using dried chili peppers, hydrate them properly before blending. Soak them in hot water until softened, and then remove the seeds for a smoother sauce.
  • Giving the sauce enough time to cool down will make it thicker.
  • Add some more salt and about a teaspoon of vinegar to the sauce if it tastes too flat. If the sauce is too bitter, add more sugar.
  • Additionally, if the sauce tastes too spicy, you can add a squeeze of lemon or vinegar to tone it down.  
  • For a silky-smooth texture, strain the sauce after cooking to remove any fibrous or grainy bits. 

❓ Recipe FAQs

How do you store enchilada sauce?

After cooling, you can store the sauce in an airtight container and put it in either the refrigerator or the freezer.

How long do enchilada sauces last? 

If put in the refrigerator, you can use it for up to a week. If stored in the freezer, you can use it for a month or more.

How do you thaw frozen enchilada sauce?

It’s best to transfer the sauce from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. You can then use it freely the following day.

How do I control the spiciness of the sauce?

Adjusting the spiciness involves choosing milder peppers, removing seeds and membranes, or adding more chili peppers for extra heat. Taste and adjust as needed during the cooking process.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

All-purpose flour contains gluten. To make this a gluten-free recipe, all you have to do is switch it to a gluten-free all-purpose flour. All the other ingredients are gluten-free, too.

🙏 Pairing

These are my favorite dishes to serve with Chile Enchilada Sauce:

Ready to get cooking? Print off the recipe card below or toggle on Cook Mode to keep your screen from going dark while you follow along on your phone or tablet.

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📋 Recipe

A jar of homemade chile enchilada sauce on a wooden table surrounded by ingredients.

Chile Enchilada Sauce

Corinne Schmitt
Make this delicious homemade chile enchilada sauce following this easy recipe.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Sauces and Seasonings
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 2 cups
Calories 291 kcal

Equipment

  • Saucepan
  • Whisk

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • dash of salt and ground black pepper

Instructions
 

  • Prepare all the ingredients.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the flour, chili powder, and oil together.
  • Stir frequently as you bring the mixture to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 15-20 seconds.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the saucepan. Bring the sauce to a boil while you frequently stir.
  • Once the sauce is at a boil, drop the heat to low. Let it simmer for another 5 minutes.
  • Remove the sauce from the heat and let sit and cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

Notes

  • Pro Tips

    • If you can, use fresh tomatoes, chili, garlic, and onion for a bolder flavor.
    • If you’re using dried chili peppers, hydrate them properly before blending. Soak them in hot water until softened, and then remove the seeds for a smoother sauce.
    • Giving the sauce enough time to cool down will make it thicker.
    • Add some more salt and about a teaspoon of vinegar to the sauce if it tastes too flat. If the sauce is too bitter, add more sugar.
    • Additionally, if the sauce tastes too spicy, you can add a squeeze of lemon or vinegar to tone it down.  
    • For a silky-smooth texture, strain the sauce after cooking to remove any fibrous or grainy bits.
       
       

      Recipe FAQs

       
      How do you store enchilada sauce?
      After cooling, you can store the sauce in an airtight container and put it in either the refrigerator or the freezer.
      How long do enchilada sauces last? 
      If put in the refrigerator, you can use it for up to a week. If stored in the freezer, you can use it for a month or more.
      How do you thaw frozen enchilada sauce?
      It’s best to transfer the sauce from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight. You can then use it freely the following day.
      How do I control the spiciness of the sauce?
      Adjusting the spiciness involves choosing milder peppers, removing seeds and membranes, or adding more chili peppers for extra heat. Taste and adjust as needed during the cooking process.
      Is this recipe gluten-free?
      All-purpose flour contains gluten. To make this a gluten-free recipe, all you have to do is switch it to a gluten-free all-purpose flour. All the other ingredients are gluten-free, too.

Nutrition

Calories: 291kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 5gFat: 24gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 1076mgPotassium: 501mgFiber: 6gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 4197IUVitamin C: 11mgCalcium: 71mgIron: 4mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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