Red Enchilada Sauce
Homemade Enchilada Sauce that’s 1000X better than canned and ready in just 10 minutes! This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is made with simple pantry ingredients and takes less time to make than running to the grocery store! It’s rich, bold, smoky, quick, easy, freezes beautifully and you can customize the heat and consistency. Once you taste this red enchilada sauce recipe, you won’t want to live without it or go back to the store-bought kind again! It makes everything better from enchiladas, to soups, to skillets and even pastas! You will LOVE having this red enchilada sauce on hand!
Servings Prep Time
8servings 3minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time
8servings 3minutes
Cook Time
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
  • 3tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3tablespoons chili powderNOT cayenne pepper-see notes
  • 1tsp EACH ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, ground coriander
  • 1/2tsp EACH smoked paprika, salt, dried oregano
  • 1/4teaspoon cayenne pepperoptional for spicier
  • 2tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2tablespoons Vegetable oilor other neutral oil
  • 1/4cup tomato paste
  • 3cups reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1teaspoon sugar
  • apinch of cinnamon
  • 1teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  1. Whisk the flour and all seasoning together in a small bowl (through oregano or optional cayenne pepper); set aside.
  2. Melt the butter in the olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium heat. Whisk in the flour mixture and cook while whisking for 2 minutes. Whisk in the tomato paste until completely combined and continue to cook for 1 minute.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, then gradually whisk in the chicken broth. Continue to whisk until smooth and the lumps are dissolved. Whisk in cocoa powder, sugar and cinnamon.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer and continue to simmer, whisking often, until it thickens to your desired consistency, about 5-7 minutes. Keep in mind the sauce will thicken a little as it cools.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired with additional salt, cayenne, sugar or vinegar. If the sauce thickens too much, simply whisk in additional chicken broth, a little at a time until it reaches desired consistency.
Recipe Notes


American Chili powder is a blend of chilies, cumin, garlic powder, and herbs with a ratio of one-part cayenne to seven parts the other spices.  Chili powders sold in other parts of the world, however, are 100% chile pepper and 8X hotter than chili powder!  So, please use American-style chili powder to make this recipe or your mouth will be on FIRE!

How Spicy is this Enchilada Sauce?

This Enchilada Sauce recipe is not spicy, just flavorful IF you don’t add the cayenne pepper.  With the cayenne pepper it has a medium kick. Of course, there are some variances in heat between different chili powder brands, so I recommend tasting the enchilada sauce before deciding if you want to add the cayenne pepper.  And of course, if you would like it spicier, add more cayenne pepper to taste.  Be aware that the heat is also mellowed out when combined with other ingredients such as in enchiladas. 

Do I have to add sugar?

The sugar, cocoa powder and the cinnamon are an easy substitute for Mexican chocolate and really enhance the authentic enchilada sauce recipe so please don’t skip them!


Enchilada Sauce should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container. When properly stored, it is good for 5-7 days.  It will thicken in the refrigerator so just thin it out with some water or chicken broth.

How to Freeze 

  • Let Enchilada Sauce cool to room temperature.
  • Transfer to freezer safe glass jars (it will stain plastic) or freezer safe bags.
  • Label and freeze for up to 3 months.
  • When ready to use, let sauce thaw completely in the refrigerator.
  • Stir in water or chicken broth to reach desired consistency.v