Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

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Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce – Authentic Mexican flavour is easy to whip up at home! Ditch the canned stuff for this easy, delicious and flavourful sauce – you’ll never want to go back to store bought again! Made with a few pantry staples and done in twenty minutes.

A jar of home red enchilada sauce with a bunch of cilantro to the left of it.

Mexican food has been one of my favourite cuisines to enjoy for a long time. The spice and the flavours of good Mexican food are like crack to me. I could easily have it multiple times a week, no complaints! Tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, I love it all.

That being said, for the longest time I didn’t think I liked enchiladas a whole lot. Every time I had them, I found they just didn’t have a lot of flavour or were just a soggy mess. I just wasn’t having good enchiladas is what I eventually came to realize.

In my opinion, the key to what makes a great enchilada is the sauce. The sauce goes at the bottom of the casserole dish as well as poured on top of the enchiladas, so it really is a main component of the dish. If your enchilada sauce is bland, there’s a good chance the whole dish will be bland.

Now, you could easily go out and buy some enchilada sauce from the Mexican food/ethnic aisle of your local grocery store. Or you could just as easily make a great batch of enchilada sauce right in your very own home. Trust me, it’ll be better than any store bought sauce too.

A jar of homemade red enchilada sauce, with a spoon resting on top. A bunch of cilantro is to the left.

Why make your own enchilada sauce?

“Vanessa, why would I bother spending the time making enchilada sauce when I can just buy it and be done with it?” you may be asking. Well let me tell ya.

  • This sauce is so easy to make. A short amount of time cooking up in a pot, then a quick spin in the blender and its done. Just as quick as driving to the grocery store and back!
  • You get more bang for your buck. Perhaps its just where I live, but I can only find small packets of sauce at my local grocery store and they’re around $3-$4 a pop. I like mine saucy, which means I need to buy a few of these usually. Meanwhile, the ingredients to make the sauce are fairly cheap pantry staples, ones you likely already have at home. It’s much more economical to make it at home!
  • Unlike canned/packaged enchilada sauces, homemade sauce is free from processed ingredients, preservatives and you can control the sodium level.
  • Control the flavour – you can adjust the spices slightly based on your preferences! If you like things spicy, add some more chili powder or throw in a pinch of cayenne.

Have I convinced you yet? 

A jar of homemade red enchilada sauce. A spoon is dipped into the sauce.

What can I make with the enchilada sauce?

Now, not only is this sauce the bomb dot com, but there are a bunch of ways you can use it too! 

  • Enchiladas – Now this is an obvious one! You can use this red enchilada sauce on all sorts of enchiladas such as chicken, beef, pork, chorizo, veggies – the possibilities are endless. 
  • Nachos – Pour this sauce over your nacho chips to change things up a bit!
  • Soups – Add this sauce to Mexican inspired soups and chilis for some delicious flavour!
  • Casseroles – When I’m feeling too lazy to roll of enchiladas, I’ll make an enchilada inspired casserole by stacking up the ingredients instead.
  • Tacos – Use this sauce as a taco sauce to dress them up a bit!
  • Dips – mix with sour cream, cheese, and beans for a Mexican inspired dip!

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for an upcoming beef enchilada recipe, where we’ll use this sauce to make some of the best damn enchiladas I’ve ever had!

An overhead shot of homemade red enchilada sauce.

If you make this homemade red enchilada sauce please let me know! You can leave a comment below, rate it, post on the Zest & Simmer Facebook page or share photos on Instagram using the hashtag #zestandsimmer. I am always thrilled to hear from you!

Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Authentic Mexican flavour is easy to whip up at home! Ditch the canned stuff for this easy, delicious and flavourful sauce - you'll never want to go back to store bought again! Made with a few pantry staples and done in twenty minutes.
Cook Time20 minutes
Course: Condiment, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Keyword: Enchiladas, Sauce
Servings: 3 cups sauce


  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water


  • In a medium sized saucepan/pot make a roux by heating the canola oil over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and allow to cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring, until lightly tan.
  • Add in the chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and salt, stirring into the roux. Allow the spices to cook for another minute.
  • Add canned diced tomatoes and water to the pot. Turn up heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat down to low and allow the enchilada sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat. Add sauce to a blender, and carefully blend. (Be careful doing this, as the steam from the hot sauce can cause the lid to fly off and a big mess. Either do it in batches or only fill blender up halfway.)
  • Enjoy the homemade red enchilada sauce over enchiladas, in soups, on nachos, as a dip and more!

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Easy Beef Enchiladas - Zest & Simmer

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