Red Enchilada Sauce


Once you try this easy homemade Red Enchilada Sauce recipe you’ll never be able to go back to the canned stuff. It’s brimming with delicious flavor and it makes the best enchiladas! You might as well make a double batch and freeze half for later.

a ladle of Enchilada Sauce over a glass bowl

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

I’ve tried so many different recipes for enchilada sauce. I know a lot of people might say this is not an authentic Mexican enchilada sauce, and no it’s not. But this recipe has been my favorite.

I’ve tried enchilada sauce with whole dried chilies and I’ve tried enchilada sauces with many different kinds of chili powder but I just keep coming back to the traditional chili powder and tomato sauce based sauce.

It’s similar to what you’d find in a lot of Mexican restaurants here in the U.S. You know, the sauce on those extra cheesy delicious kind!

Feel free to adjust the amount of chili powder here to what you like best. If you find that it needs a little more flavor for your liking add more chili powder, if you find it’s too much then just cut back.

I like McCormick brand. Use what you like but skip past those $1 options.

homemade Enchilada Sauce ingredients

Red Enchilada Sauce Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil (or light olive oil)
  • Chili powder
  • All-purpose flour
  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Tomato sauce
  • Ground cumin
  • Cocoa powder
  • Granulated sugar
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Coriander
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

making in a metal saucepan Enchilada Sauce

How to Make Enchilada Sauce

In a medium saucepan, whisk together oil, chili powder and flour.

Heat mixture over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and let simmer about 30 seconds (while stirring).

adding tomato sauce and broth to pot of Enchilada Sauce

While whisking pour in chicken broth and tomato sauce. Then add in cumin, cocoa powder, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander and cinnamon then season with salt and pepper to taste.

making Enchilada Sauce

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Let cool slightly then use as desired.

Enchilada Sauce in a metal saucepan

How to Use Enchilada Sauce

This sauce is great for chicken, beef, pork or veggie enchiladas. I like to spoon some of the sauce over the meat or veggie filling (and cheese) in the tortilla then wrap and place in a baking dish.

Then pour on lots of the sauce and spread to cover. And of course top with more cheese and bake to melt through.

I’ll be sharing the method for chicken enchiladas soon, so stay tuned.

Can I Use Vegetable Broth Instead of Chicken Broth?

Most likely, yes, although I haven’t tested that myself. Just make sure you’re using low-sodium vegetable broth still.

Can I Freeze Enchilada Sauce?

Yes, this easy enchilada sauce can be frozen for later. To freeze this red enchilada sauce, let it come to room temperature before pouring it into glass jars or freezer-safe containers. When you’re ready to use the frozen sauce, let it thaw completely in the fridge.

pouring red Enchilada Sauce over a pan of enchiladas

Tips for the Best Enchilada Sauce

  • The red enchilada sauce spices can burn easily, so keep an eye on them. It only needs to simmer and toast briefly to let those flavors bloom.
  • The pinch of ground cinnamon really makes this enchilada sauce recipe, so don’t omit it!
  • Make sure the tomato sauce is unflavored, otherwise it’ll throw off the taste of this sauce.

More Easy Mexican Recipes You’ll Love:

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Red Enchilada Sauce

5 from 22 votes

An easy to make, deliciously flavorful enchilada sauce! It's a thousand times better than canned and it makes the best enchiladas! You can make a double batch in a larger pan, then freeze half for later. 

Servings: 7
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes


  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 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
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a medium saucepan whisk together vegetable oil, chili powder and flour until smooth.

  2. Heat mixture over medium heat, bring to a simmer, stirring constantly, and let simmer about 15 seconds, while stirring*.

  3. While whisking pour in chicken broth and tomato sauce. Then add in cumin, cocoa powder, sugar, onion powder, garlic powder, coriander and cinnamon then season with salt and pepper to taste.

  4. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat to low and let simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

  5. Let cool slightly then use as desired (if you like the sauce a little less thinner you can thin with a bit of broth or water).

Recipe Notes

  • *Note that I haven't yet tried this on an electric stove top so you may need to pull it off before a simmer on an electric stove. It can burn easily so just keep an eye on it. It only needs to cook for a minute or two total but that can vary depending on how long it takes for your burner to heat up.
  • Recipe source: Cooking Classy
Nutrition Facts
Red Enchilada Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 88 Calories from Fat 54
% Daily Value*
Fat 6g9%
Saturated Fat 4g25%
Sodium 235mg10%
Potassium 218mg6%
Carbohydrates 6g2%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 985IU20%
Vitamin C 2.4mg3%
Calcium 19mg2%
Iron 1.2mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: condiment
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Enchilada Sauce
Calories: 88 kcal
Author: Jaclyn


  • Elizabeth DelPidio: How do I store the remaining sauce? How long does it keep in the fridge? Can it be frozen for longer storage? August 9, 2019 at 1:48am Reply

    • Jaclyn: It should keep for about 5-6 days in the fridge or it can be frozen for a few months. August 9, 2019 at 9:16am Reply

  • Elizabeth DelPidio: I don’t have coriander. Goya has seasoning packets Sazon Coriander and Annatto which has dehydrated garlic in the ingredients. Could I use that and just omit the garlic powder or should I include the garlic powder with it? How much of it would I use? Do you think I can use one packet or will I have to measure out and use less,Measuring 1/4 tsp as per coriander in the recipe?
    I can’t wait to try this recipe?! August 6, 2019 at 8:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Since it’s only 1/4 tsp I’d just recommend omitting and not making substitutions. That seasoning mentioned appears to be mostly msg and salt and coriander is the last ingredient so it may not work well here.
      Hope you enjoy! August 6, 2019 at 8:42pm Reply

      • Elizabeth: Thanks for the advice. I will omit August 6, 2019 at 9:29pm Reply

        • Jaclyn: No problem :). August 7, 2019 at 12:03am Reply

  • Kristi Richey: I’ve made several enchilada sauce recipes that I’ve found online, looking to replace the canned versions, and this is the absolute best, in my opinion. Don’t leave out the cocoa or the cinnamon. They only serve to enhance those Mexican flavors that we all love. July 30, 2019 at 2:14pm Reply

  • Linda Lucas: Best homemade enchilada sauce recipe I have found. I followed recipe as stated. I always have chicken broth and tomato sauce in my pantry so I’ll never buy canned enchilada sauce or the packaged mix again!! May 29, 2019 at 8:00pm Reply

  • Sara L.: This is a really excellent sauce. I tried a different one and dumped it right down the sink. This one is flavorful and has just the right balance of spice. May 26, 2019 at 1:45pm Reply

  • Jody Meece: The recipe was easy and we absolutely loved it! I will never go back to canned sauce again. May 25, 2019 at 10:33am Reply

  • Amy: This sauce is…absolutely delicious! I think it’s the perfect blend of spices and just the right amount of kick. Oh my goodness. I thought it tasted too tomatoey at first so I added a little more cumin, but once it’s cooked it’s heavenly! I did leave out the cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon. But this recipe is a new fave!!! Thank you!! May 20, 2019 at 5:35pm Reply

  • Cassandra: I kept out the sugar, cocoa, and cinnamon. Otherwise this sauce was perfect it was your basic Tex mex sauce to put on cheese enchiladas May 16, 2019 at 1:45pm Reply

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