This quick and easy Enchilada Sauce recipe uses simple pantry ingredients and only takes 15 minutes to make. It’s cost effective, healthier, and tastes better than anything in a can.

Looking for more Mexican recipes? Try my Tacos Al Pastor, Chicken Quesadillas or Horchata.

The best enchilada sauce recipe in a bowl with a spoon lifting some up, ready to be used in a recipe.

The Enchilada Sauce that ruined me (in the best way)

I’m going to stand proudly on my soapbox for a moment because this homemade red enchilada sauce recipe deserves our attention, and will steal your heart. It’s the easiest way to next-level some of our favorite dishes, like enchiladas, wet burritos, and tamale pie, with unbeatable flavor. But besides the fact that the taste superior to it’s “canned” counterparts, here are three more reason you should make enchilada sauce from scratch:

  1. Healthier, lower in sodium, and less inexpensive.
  2. Pantry ingredients – you probably have what you need to make it. And, if you’re looking for a more authentic version made with dried Mexican chiles, use this red chile sauce recipe, with beef broth in place of the pork broth.
  3. Quick – you can have this whipped up in just a few minutes, and the taste is unmatched to anything in a can.

Ingredients Needed:

  • Tomato Sauce
  • Flour: to thicken the sauce. For a gluten-free version, substitute 1 tablespoon cornstarch for the flour.
  • Beef Broth: Vegetable broth of chicken broth would also work.
  • Oil: vegetable, canola or avocado oil.
  • Dry Spices: Oregano, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper
  • Garlic
All the ingredients needed to make an easy enchilada sauce recipe: tomato sauce, broth, oil, spices, garlic, and flour.

How to make Red Enchilada Sauce:

Stir oil, flour, chili powder, cumin and oregano in a saucepan on low heat until bubbly.

Oil, flour, and spices simmering in a pot on the stove.

Add beef broth, tomato sauce, garlic and salt. 

A quick enchilada sauce recipe simmering in a stainless steel pot on the stove.

Simmer on low heat for 15 min, stirring occasionally. 

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: Homemade enchilada sauce will keep in the fridge for up to one week.

To Freeze: Freeze in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.

A simple Mexican enchilada sauce recipe, poured on top of cheese enchiladas.

Use Enchilada Sauce with:

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Recipe

A bowl of homemade enchilada sauce with a spoon in it, lifting some out.
Prep 5 minutes
Cook 15 minutes
Total 20 minutes
Save Recipe

Ingredients
 
 

Instructions
 

  • In a saucepan stir oil, flour, chili powder, cumin, and oregano together. Cook on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  • Add beef broth, tomato sauce, garlic and salt. Simmer on low heat for 15 min, stirring occasionally. 
  • Store in the fridge for up to 1 week. Use in a variety of recipes, like cheese enchiladas, loaded chicken enchiladas, and veggie enchiladas.

Notes

*Yields 4 cups of enchilada sauce.
Gluten Free Enchilada Sauce: Substitute 1 tablespoon cornstarch, in place of flour.
Enchilada sauce using dried Mexican chiles: use this red chile sauce recipe, with beef broth in place of the pork broth.
Freezing Instructions: Place in a freezer bag or freezer-safe container for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Nutrition

Calories: 100kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 3gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.02gSodium: 596mgPotassium: 510mgFiber: 4gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 2535IUVitamin C: 6mgCalcium: 45mgIron: 3mg

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*I originally shared this recipe in March 2013. Updated February 2019, April 2022 and April 2024.

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Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

4.99 from 517 votes (478 ratings without comment)

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Okay, Lauren, here’s my enchilada story. I have always used canned sauce and I made them this time the same. The sauce I used kind of soaked in and were dry by the time we were to have leftovers tonight. So, I thought it’s about time that I did a sauce from scratch since my hubby is a sauce guy. I found yours and made a half batch just to make sure we liked it. Well, my husband kept going to the pot to slather more and more on!!!! It was so totally yummy!!! I agree with a lot of the other reviewers who are saying good bye to the can!!! Thank you for a wonderful recipe that I’ll use over and over again!

  2. 5 stars
    The best enchilada sauce EVER! What a difference from the canned versions. I will never buy it again!

  3. Glorified tomato sauce. For enchilada sauce, you need ancho peppers, pasilla peppers, or the like.
    Never in my years of cooking enchilada sauce have I ever used beef broth, you use chicken broth.
    This is just tomato sauce with chili and cumin.

  4. My family really liked this recipe. We have never made homemade enchilada sauce before. We made the recipe as stated. We found it to be medium spicy some heat but not overwhelming. I used inexpensive spices from Aldi/Walmart. Definitely will make again!

  5. 1 star
    Unfortunately this recipe did not work for me. I think 1 tbsp of cumin is too much. I should have started with 1 tsp and went from there. The amount of cumin really made everything stink. I think the chili powder I used was too spicy as well. My husband loves really spicy food, and he was choking on this. I wasted good ingredients on this and am really disappointed. Don’t recommend

  6. 5 stars
    Tried it. Love it. Mods: addtn of 1/2 tsp garlic powder (instead of clove), 1 tsp onion powder, 2 c Vegetable broth (Better Than Bouillon). No salt/pepper.
    Thus far I have tried and loved your gumbo, chicken stock, key lime pie, and now this. Might have to have your cookbook. Thank you for the time and work you putting into all of this. 🙏❤️

  7. 5 stars
    I love this enchilada sauce, but the chilli powder I used was really spicy and I didn’t know that. I even halved the amount of chilli powder you called in the recipe. I assumed all chilli powders were mild 🤣😅… my 2 1/2 year old son and his grandpa couldn’t handle it. If I use the same one again (Fiesta brand from the Mexican section in Walmart) then I’d probably have to cut it down to a teaspoon or two.

    Note to self: read the labels and check to see if chilli peppers are the first ingredient in the chilli powder 🤣 or choose mild chilli powder

  8. 5 stars
    This sauce is the best sauce I have ever had! It reminds me of the sauce I ate as a child on enchiladas. I make refried beans and spanish rice to go with my enchiladas, and I always add a little sauce in the beans and rice, too! Thank you so much for this recipe!

  9. The so called enchilada sauce recipe
    Looked so bad I didn’t try it, I thought it looked more like a meat loaf sauce recipe.
    Finding it was very confusing too.

    1. Looks can be deceiving, but hey, meatloaf enchiladas might just be the next culinary trend! 😄 Thanks for the feedback; we’ll aim for clearer and less “mysterious” recipes in the future.

  10. 5 stars
    I found your sauce recipe a couple years ago and I’m so happy I did. I use it make your cheese enchiladas recipes. I wish corn tortillas were easier to roll (even if I heat them up).
    I’ve passed this recipe along to my friends.

  11. 5 stars
    I made a half recipe of this for the Tamale Pie recipe and it is soooooooooooo much better than canned enchilada sauce! Love the flavor!

  12. 5 stars
    This has now become my go to red sauce recipe. Have now made it several times always comes out great. It’s a keeper for sure!! Quick and easy.

  13. 5 stars
    Delicious and so easy to make!! We use it in enchiladas and quesadillas and we’ll never buy in a can now. Thanks!

  14. 5 stars
    This is now my go to enchilada sauce. Perfect spices – not to spicy, just right. You can spice it up if you like with other hotter chili powders. Made it now over five times. Hubby loves it. Will never buy it in a can.

  15. 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was the first time I’ve ever made wet burritos. I followed the recipe to T and it came out perfect for my wet burritos. It was easy and yet still had a lot of flavor. Thank you I will be using this recipe again for sure.

  16. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! My husband prefers red enchilada sauce but I don’t like the ones that come from a can. Even my picky son liked it! I’m keeping this recipe!

  17. 5 stars
    Excellent!! Tossed out my favorite enchilada sauce that i make because this recipe has so much more flavor. Awesome compliments from family and friends about the richness of taste. I used low sodium Chicken Broth since that was in my pantry. Thanks for the recipe!!

  18. 5 stars
    I started preparing my husband’s favorite enchilada casserole by request when I realized I didn’t have any enchilada sauce (I always keep one can in the pantry). Since I have been using your recipes for a while now, instead Googling it and wishing to pick a good one, I decided to just go to TBFS. Best move ever. It’s so easy to make and delicious. Much more delicious than the canned ones. Thank you so much. You made me look good.

  19. Hello,
    My family and I LOVE ALL of your recipes (I should comment on them more LOL). I’ll try to do that! I am putting this on my menu for next week and was wondering if I could use olive oil in lieu of veg/canola oil? Thank you for being so awesome!

  20. 5 stars
    Love making anything from scratch when I can especially when I have all the ingredients. This sauce came out delicious! In hindsight it s a little spice for my 10 and under crew. Is there a way to lessen the kick a bit at this point?

    I basically cook from TBFS everynight!

  21. 5 stars
    I LOVE enchiladas, I can’t handle spicy food. That being said, I found this recipe and was finally able to make the food I love without buying canned spicy sauce that I couldn’t eat. This has been my go-to since 2018. I switch the cumin and chili powder ratios, making this a flavorful family recipe. Sometimes I will use the broth from my beef roast (which I shred for the beef enchiladas) and use that with the traditional beef broth, making it even richer in flavor.

  22. Great recipe– I made some minor adjustments. 1. added a bit of tomato paste (had a can open) 2. 7-9 dried arbol chilis, stemmed/ seeded/ rehyrdated to add a bit of extra depth and a tad bit of spice.

    Wife asked me to save this sauce recipe.

  23. 5 stars
    This was really amazing! The only change I made was to halve the oil and really I just dumped all the ingredients at once into my Pampered Chef cooking blender. 20 minutes later we had the most amazing sauce. My husband said it didn’t taste bitter like canned enchilada sauces, and asked me to save the recipe (he NEVER asks that). So YAY!

  24. I love your recipes! I want to make this sauce for a dinner with my sister-in-law who can’t have gluten (she has celiac disease). Should I substitute the flour with cornstarch? Also do you canned tomato sauce? Thanks so much!

  25. 5 stars
    Made cheese enchiladas with this red sauce for valentine’s eve, February 13, 2021 for my wife and daughter BIG HIT! We also made sopapillas and honey. Great meal!😋

  26. Fabulous recipe, I just made it this afternoon. I used a cbo of Anchor, Aleppo and chipotle (but just a pinch of the last one) for the chili powder, and it is wonderful. Making shredded beef enchiladas today. Never going back to the canned stuff again!

  27. writing again. your web is the best ever. Im making aomething from you every night this week and we are all loving it. so glad I found you.

  28. What type of chili powder do you recommend using ? I’ve used blended reconstituted dried chilis in the past.

    1. I don’t think it’s “spicy” at all (heat level)–my toddler eats it just fine! . It just adds flavor.

      1. Thank you. My husband is a wimp when it comes to spicy. Your recipes sound delicious. I grew up in So. California & love Mexican food.

  29. I’m a vegetarian. What substitute would come closest to matching the flavor of the beef broth?

  30. This sounds delicious! I cannot eat tomato based products due to the acidity, any suggestions for substitutions for the tomato sauce? Thank you!

  31. 5 stars
    This is one of the best enchilada sauce recipe I have tried. However, the 1/4 cup chili powder was too spicy. I had to add honey to balance out the spice. I would decrease the chili powder by 1/2 next time.

    1. The flour just acts as a thickener, so you could stir in a little cornstarch slurry, or use arrowroot. Enjoy!

  32. 3 stars
    hi, just made this for chicken enchiladas for tomorrow’s dinner. has a bit of a bite (don’t know if that is the correct descriptive). what could I add honey? lime juice? I REALLY need a little-no a lot of direction.

    1. Hi Ali,
      You could add honey. I would probably add more tomato sauce to tame the spice!

  33. 5 stars
    I just finished making this for the first time and WOW! This was easy, and so so so good! I didn’t buy back up sauce so I was really counting on this and it didn’t let me down. My husband and I tried it after it simmered for 15 minutes and we both couldn’t believe how much better it was than the canned sauce. I’m making the cheese enchilada recipe (which is where I came across the recipe for the sauce) tomorrow night and made the sauce ahead of time to make dinner a breeze! If you’re thinking about making this but have some reservations, JUST GO FOR IT!

  34. 5 stars
    Just made this for my beef enchiladas tonight. This is so good! I never knew how easy it is to make such a great sauce. I doubt that I will ever buy the canned sauce again. This is a definite try!!!

    1. I would love to make this – but all I have for the oregano is the ground oregano would this be ok and for the tomato sauce – is regular kind ok?
      Thanks

  35. 5 stars
    I served this at my daughter’s family birthday party along with your Mexican rice and 5 minute salsa. It was like eating at a Mexican restaurant. Everyone was amazed! Thank yo!!

  36. Can I freeze the remainder of the sauce I don’t use tonight?

    Thank you so much for s delicious, easy and fresh meal. Lindsey

  37. 5 stars
    Thanks for the recipe! It is my favorite on I have tried so far. I did use only one cup of water, as I prefer a thicker sauce. I did use the original amount of spices called for. It is my new go to recipe!

  38. 5 stars
    Lauren,
    I did a Mexican theme party and used several of your recipes and they were an immense success! Since we had some vegetarian guests I substituted the beef broth with a vegetarian broth The sauce was delicioso!
    Thank you,
    Anita

  39. 5 stars
    I also love Mexican food but typically go out for it. Your homemade cheese enchiladas and enchilada sauce sound great to bring to a Cinco de Mayo party next week. As I read the recipe, 1/4 cup of chili powder in the sauce sounds like a lot of powder. Is that amount correct? Do you have a chili powder brand you recommend or will any brand do just fine?

    1. Hi Patrice, you are right to use 1/4 cup chili powder. I usually get spice islands or simply organic, or mcormick 🙂 Hope you enjoy them!

  40. 5 stars
    This was fantastic. I surprised my wife with my first from scratch meal I’ve ever cooked and it turned out great. The cheese enchiladas with this sauce were delicious.

    The flavor was great but I’d like it to be more spicy. What suggestions do you have to increase the spiciness without sacrificing the flavor?

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for sharing Kevin! To make it spicier, next time you could replace some of the regular chili powder with some chipotle chile pepper powder, or you could puree hot peppers like jalapeños and add them to the sauce.

  41. So I have literally NEVER left a comment on any recipes I find on the internet.. until today! I made this sauce last night and I couldn’t stop eating it straight out of the pan, it’s that good. And it’s so simple! I will never again buy enchilada sauce
    From the store. Thank you so much for this recipe and I can’t wait to try more!

    1. Hi Bri, Thanks so much! I flattered to earn the rights to your first comment :). I’m so glad you liked the recipe. It really is so much better than the store version!

  42. 5 stars
    I really liked this recipe. This was my first time trying homemade sauce an I actually liked it! I added some red pepper flakes and dried cilantro after tasting.. Really Yummy! Thanks!

    1. Hi Diana, that should work great–it will definitely change the flavor, but I think it would still be yummy–just more mild tasting.