Ditch the jar and make THE BEST Red Enchilada Sauce at home! This easy recipe is so flavorful and comes together in just 20 minutes! I’ve been making this sauce for over a decade and people always RAVE about it!

Use it to make beef or chicken enchiladas, vegetable or cheese enchiladas, or even these popular Low Carb Enchiladas!

spoon in mason jar of enchilada sauce

Making my own sauces, salsas and salad dressings has been a regular practice at my house for years. I like making them myself because I know exactly what’s going in them. And they always taste better than the store bought cans of sauce!

I know, I know, who has the time for that? Well, luckily this sauce only needs 5 minutes of hands-on time! It’s so easy to make and you can always double the recipe to freeze some for later. (Which I highly recommend doing!)

This sauce can be used to make any kind of enchiladas you like, chicken, ground beef, veggie or cheese. We even use the sauce to make homemade chilaquiles for brunch on the weekends! It’s totally versatile and so flavorful, you’ll want to use it over and over again!

overhead image of red enchilada sauce ingredients

Ingredients you’ll need

  • Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Canned Tomato Paste
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Chicken Broth – or vegetable broth for a vegetarian & vegan sauce.
  • Chili Powder – be sure to use chili powder, NOT chile powder! Chili powder is a blend of ground dried chilis with other spices. Chile powder is straight blended dried chiles and is much spicier than chili powder!
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Ground Cumin
  • Dried Oregano
  • Cocoa Powder
  • Onion Powder

Step by step instructions

  1. Saute minced garlic in olive oil, in a medium pot on the stove, over medium heat.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, broth and spices.
  3. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the sauce from the heat, transfer to a blender and puree until smooth.

It’s that easy! In 4 simple steps, this red enchilada sauce recipe is ready to go!

spoon of enchilada sauce lifted out of mason jar of sauce

Tips and tricks

  • This sauce is mild. If you’d like to spice things up a bit, I recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes with the other spices. For a smoky, spicy flavor, I recommend adding 1-2 minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce.
  • This recipe makes 24 ounces of red enchilada sauce. This should be enough sauce to make 16 enchiladas, or two pans of 8 enchiladas each.
  • To make a double batch, or triple batch, of the sauce simply hover over the number of servings in the recipe card below. To double the amount of sauce, slide the servings up to 48 ounces. The ingredient amounts in the recipe card will automatically update for the desired serving amount.
  • The sauce will stay good in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.
  • This sauce can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Be sure if you’re storing it in a glass container, such as a mason jar, that you leave at least 1 inch of space at the top of the jar for the sauce to expand. You can also store the sauce in freezer-safe bags, making sure to push any extra air out as you’re sealing the bag.
red enchilada sauce in tall mason jar

How to make basic enchiladas

  1. Prepare the filling.
    • For a ground beef or turkey filling, saute 1/2 cup diced onion and 1/2 cup diced bell pepper in olive oil on the stove over medium high heat. Saute for 5 minutes, then add 1 pound ground turkey or beef. Once the meat is cooked through, drain any grease, then add 2 tablespoons taco seasoning to the meat. Toss the meat in the seasoning, then remove from the heat.
    • For a vegetable filling, saute 1 cup sliced red onion, 2 cups sliced bell peppers and 1 cup sliced mushrooms, in olive oil on the stove over medium high heat. Saute for 8-10 minutes, then season with 2 tablespoons fajita seasoning. Toss until the vegetables are coated in the seasoning, then remove from the heat.
    • For a chicken filling, I recommend using cooked, shredded chicken. This could be removed from a rotisserie chicken, or you could use this recipe to make Pressure Cooker Chicken Taco Meat. It’s made quickly and easily in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker.
    • For a cheese filling, I like to use a combination of cheddar and pepper jack cheese. You’ll need 4-6 cups of shredded cheese, depending on just how cheesy you’d like your enchiladas!
  2. Prepare the enchiladas.
    • Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish.
    • Spread 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce on a large plate.
    • Place a tortilla in the plate of sauce and press down to make sure the bottom of the tortilla is covered in the sauce.
    • Spoon a thin layer of sauce on the side of the tortilla facing up.
    • Add the filling of your choice to the middle of the tortilla and sprinkle with a little shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese.
    • Roll the tortilla up and place it in the baking dish.
    • Repeat the 4 steps above another 7 times to create 8 enchiladas.
    • Spoon another light layer of sauce over the enchiladas in the baking dish.
    • Sprinkle shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese in an even layer over the enchiladas.
    • Bake in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.

Use the recipe above for basic enchiladas, or try the sauce in these unique enchilada recipes:

spoon in mason jar of enchilada sauce

More homemade sauces to try

For more easy homemade sauces and salsas, check out these popular recipes!

  1. Green Enchilada Sauce
  2. Creamy Avocado Salsa
  3. Chimichurri Sauce
  4. Watermelon Salsa
  5. Thai Peanut Sauce
  6. Mango Salsa
  7. Sun Dried Tomato Pesto
  8. Green Tahini Sauce
spoon of enchilada sauce lifted out of mason jar of sauce
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Red Enchilada Sauce

Ditch the jar and make THE BEST Red Enchilada Sauce at home! This easy recipe is so flavorful and comes together in just 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • ½ cup chicken broth, or vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil to a medium pot on the stove over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic to the heated oil and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and vegetable broth.
  • Stir everything together, then add the chili powder, salt, sugar, cumin, oregano, cocoa powder and onion powder.
  • Combine well, then bring the sauce to a simmer.
  • Once the sauce begins to bubble, reduce the heat on the stove to low, cover the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer to a blender, puree until smooth.
  • Use immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Notes

  • The nutritional information provided is for one ounce, or two tablespoons, of the sauce.
  • This sauce is naturally gluten free.
  • To make the sauce vegetarian, simply use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.
  • This sauce is mild. If you’d like to spice things up a bit, I recommend adding 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to the sauce with the other spices. For a smoky, spicy flavor, I recommend adding 1-2 minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce.
  • This recipe makes 24 ounces of red enchilada sauce. This should be enough sauce to make 16 enchiladas, or two pans of 8 enchiladas each.
  • To make a double batch, or triple batch, of the sauce simply hover over the number of servings in the recipe card above. To double the amount of sauce, slide the servings up to 48 ounces. The ingredient amounts in the recipe card will automatically update for the desired serving amount.
  • This sauce can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. Be sure if you’re storing it in a glass container, such as a mason jar, that you leave at least 1 inch of space at the top of the jar for the sauce to expand. You can also store the sauce in freezer-safe bags, making sure to push any extra air out as you’re sealing the bag.

Nutrition Facts

Calories 16kcal (1%)Carbohydrates 3g (1%)Protein 1g (2%)Fat 1g (2%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Sodium 200mg (8%)Potassium 113mg (3%)Fiber 1g (4%)Sugar 1g (1%)Vitamin A 226mg (5%)Vitamin C 4mg (5%)Calcium 10mg (1%)Iron 1mg (6%)
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