15-Minutes Best Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe – A Mexican Cuisine!

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Elevate your next meal with our tantalizing Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe. This recipe combines ripe tomatoes, smoky chili peppers, aromatic garlic, and a secret blend of spices. In just 30 minutes, you’ll have a velvety, fiery sauce perfect for enchiladas, tacos, or dip. Say goodbye to store-bought sauces and savor the homemade goodness. With our straightforward instructions, you’ll be savoring the authentic taste of Mexico in no time.

I remember my grandmother’s kitchen, filled with the rich aroma of red enchilada sauce simmering on the stove.

I’ve carried on her tradition, and now, I recommend this recipe to anyone looking for authentic flavor. 

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

If you love spicy and tangy dishes, you might find this one of the most satisfying sauces. Red enchilada sauce is made from dried red chili peppers, spices, and tomatoes. 

Making it home helps you control the spice level and ensure fresh ingredients. You’ll want to gather all the necessary items before starting. It’s great to enjoy a sauce that tastes amazing and carries a family history.

What Is A Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe?

Red enchilada sauce is a commonly used sauce in Mexican cuisine. It’s made from dried red chili peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions, and various spices. You might adjust the chili quantity if you have a heat preference. 

The sauce boasts a spicy and tangy flavor, perfect for smothering enchiladas or other dishes. To make it, blend the rehydrated chilies with the other ingredients, then simmer the mixture to achieve the desired consistency. 

I recommend using fresh ingredients for the best flavor. It’s better if the sauce sits for a while, letting the flavors meld.

History Of Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

The origin of red enchilada sauce traces back to ancient Mexico. Long before the Spanish arrived, the indigenous people developed this sauce using local ingredients.

One of the key components is the chili pepper, which has been cultivated in the region for thousands of years. 

While it’s hard to pinpoint a single inventor, it’s commonly believed that the Aztecs played a significant role in its early creation. Over time, variations emerged, but the essence remains a tribute to ancient culinary traditions.

Interesting Facts About Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Red enchilada sauce, with its deep roots in Mexican culture, boasts several intriguing facets. Here are some:

  • The sauce’s base, dried red chilies, are not only for flavor. They also offer health benefits, including vitamins and antioxidants.
  • It’s commonly mistaken for tomato sauce because it is red, but traditional recipes might not use tomatoes.
  • While many think of it solely for enchiladas, it’s versatile. You might find it in soups, stews, or even as a meat marinade.
  • Different regions in Mexico have their unique takes. You’ll want to try versions from places like Oaxaca or Puebla for distinct flavors.
  • The sauce’s heat level can be adjusted. If you’ve got a milder palate, using fewer chilies helps you achieve the desired spiciness.
sauce in jar

What Are The Regional Adaptations Of This Sauce?

Red enchilada sauce has several regional adaptations across Mexico:

  • New Mexico: Uses local New Mexico red chiles, which give a distinct flavor and vibrant color.
  • Oaxaca: This version might incorporate chocolate, giving a mole-like depth to the sauce.
  • Puebla: The sauce is often thicker with a richer texture, commonly including sesame seeds.
  • Veracruz: Seafood enchiladas here are paired with a lighter version of the red sauce.
  • Sonora: They often lean towards a tomato-based version with mild heat.

What Will Make You Love This Sauce?

Red enchilada sauce is a culinary delight that captures hearts with its irresistible qualities:

  • Seductive Spice: Red enchilada sauce exudes a perfect balance of smoky, spicy, and earthy flavors, adding depth and excitement to every bite.
  • Versatile Elegance: It’s the versatile superstar of the kitchen, elevating enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and even pasta dishes to gourmet status.
  • Rich, Velvety Texture: With its smooth, luscious consistency, this sauce clings lovingly to your favorite ingredients, creating a symphony of taste and texture.
  • Time-Honored Tradition: Rooted in the heart of Mexican cuisine, red enchilada sauce carries with it the legacy of generations, making it a truly authentic culinary experience.
  • Endless Creativity: Its adaptability invites you to experiment with unique flavor combinations and culinary creations, keeping your taste buds forever intrigued.
Sauce in bowl

Ingredients List

Dried ancho chiles6
Tomato paste1 (6 ounce) can
Corn oil1/4 cup
Garlic, minced2 cloves
Salt1 1/2 teaspoons
Dried oregano1 teaspoon
Ground cumin1/4 teaspoon
Beef broth3 cups

Ingredient Tips

When preparing red enchilada sauce, a few ingredient tips can make a difference:

  • Dried ancho chiles: Always choose pliable chiles, a testament to their freshness. They should have a deep red hue.
  • Tomato paste: I recommend using a paste without added sugars or preservatives. It helps you maintain the sauce’s authentic taste.
  • Corn oil: It’s generally preferred for its neutral flavor, but if you’ve got olive oil or vegetable oil on hand, they’re suitable substitutes.
  • Garlic: Freshly minced garlic offers a more robust flavor than pre-packaged versions.
  • Spices: Ensure your oregano and cumin are not stale. Fresh spices deliver better if stored in a cool, dark place.
  • Beef broth: Vegetable broth is a great to-use alternative for a vegetarian version.

What Are The Variations Of Red Enchilada Sauce?

Red enchilada sauce, a cornerstone of Mexican cuisine, offers a vibrant spectrum of variations to delight your taste buds:

  • Mild and Smoky: A gentle introduction to the world of red enchilada sauce, this version balances smoky chili flavors with a mild heat, perfect for those seeking a milder kick.
  • Spicy Fiesta: For heat enthusiasts, spicier red enchilada sauce varieties turn up the temperature with fiery chili peppers, infusing dishes with a bold and zesty punch.
  • Sweet and Tangy: Some versions add a touch of sweetness, incorporating ingredients like tomatoes and honey to create a delightful contrast to the traditional spicy kick.
  • Green Chile Twist: Green chiles are often incorporated into red enchilada sauce for a unique flavor fusion.
  • Roasted Red Pepper: A gourmet twist, this variation blends roasted red peppers for a smoky, slightly sweet undertone.
  • Chocolate-Infused: A true delicacy, some red enchilada sauces incorporate chocolate, creating a rich and complex flavor profile reminiscent of mole sauce.
  • Vegetarian and Vegan Options: Many recipes use vegetable broth and omitting animal products to cater to dietary preferences.
Ingredients for sauce

Recipe Directions

Cooking Method

  • Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Prepare the Ancho Chiles: Lay out the ancho chiles on a baking sheet. Toast them in the preheated oven for 3 to 4 minutes. Once toasted, carefully remove the stems, pulp, and seeds.
  • Soak the Chiles: Transfer the toasted chiles to a bowl. Pour hot water over them, ensuring they’re completely submerged. Let them soak for about 1 hour.
  • Blend the Ingredients: In a blender, combine the soaked ancho chiles, tomato paste, corn oil, minced garlic, salt, oregano, cumin, and 1 cup of beef broth. Blend until you achieve a smooth consistency.
  • Cook the Sauce: Transfer the blended mixture to a saucepan. Add the remaining beef broth. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Simmer the sauce until it’s heated thoroughly, which should take about 10 minutes.

Scaling The Best Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Scaling a recipe like the red enchilada sauce requires careful adjustments:

  • Doubling: If you have a larger crowd, double each ingredient. Monitor the cooking time closely, as achieving the right consistency might take slightly longer.
  • Halving: For smaller servings, reduce all ingredients by half. Cooking time will generally decrease, so keep a close eye to avoid over-reducing.
  • Consistency: When scaling up, you’ll want to add the beef broth gradually to achieve the desired thickness. Conversely, when scaling down, avoid making the sauce too thick.
  • Spices: Adjust to taste. Even if you’re scaling, personal preference plays a big role in spice levels.
Sauce in making

Can This Sauce Be Used As A Marinade, Dipping Sauce, Or Dressing For Salads And Other Dishes?

Yes, the red enchilada sauce is versatile and can be adapted for various culinary uses:

  • Marinade: The sauce’s spices and acidity can tenderize and flavor meats, making it great for marinating chicken, beef, or pork.
  • Dipping Sauce: If you’ve got a thicker consistency, it pairs well as a dip for tortilla chips, taquitos, or vegetable sticks.
  • Dressing: Mix the sauce with olive oil or creamy yogurt to drizzle over salads for a zesty twist.
  • Other Dishes: It can be added to casseroles, scrambled eggs, or even as a spread for sandwiches and wraps.

What Are The Best Dishes To Accompany The Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe?

The red enchilada sauce recipe complements a wide array of dishes. Here are some that you’ll want to consider:

  • Enchiladas: Naturally, this is a primary choice. Fill tortillas with chicken, beef, cheese, or veggies, roll them up, and smother them with the sauce before baking.
  • Tamales: These steamed corn dough parcels, often filled with meats or cheeses, pair beautifully with the sauce.
  • Chilaquiles: A breakfast favorite, it involves lightly frying tortilla triangles and then simmering them in the sauce.
  • Burritos and Tacos: Drizzle the sauce over or serve on the side.
  • Mexican Rice: Cook rice with the sauce for a flavorful side dish.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Fill bell peppers with rice, beans, and protein, then top with the sauce before baking.
  • Grilled Meats: Serve grilled chicken, beef, or fish alongside a bowl of the sauce for dipping or drizzling.
  • Quesadillas: Enhance cheesy quesadillas by serving with a side of the sauce for dipping.
sauce served with side dish

What Are Some Classic Dishes That Feature Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe?

Red enchilada sauce is a versatile ingredient that stars in various classic dishes:

  • Enchiladas: Soft tortillas filled with meat or cheese, rolled, and smothered with red sauce.
  • Chilaquiles: Tortilla chips sautéed with red sauce, often topped with cheese and served with eggs.
  • Tamales: Steamed masa pockets, often filled with meats and served with red sauce.
  • Huevos Rancheros: Fried eggs on tortillas, generously covered with red sauce.
  • Pozole Rojo: A hearty soup featuring hominy and meat flavored with red enchilada sauce.

What Are The Key Flavor Profiles And Taste Sensations That Best Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe Offers?

The best red enchilada sauce recipe offers a symphony of taste sensations and flavor profiles:

  • Spiciness: This warmth can range from mild to fiery, originating from dried ancho chilies.
  • Umami: Beef broth and tomato paste contribute to a savory, meaty depth.
  • Earthy: Dried chilies and cumin provide a grounding, rustic taste.
  • Tanginess: The natural acidity of tomatoes and any added vinegar imparts a bright, tangy note.
  • Herbaceous: Oregano introduces an herbal touch, lifting the sauce’s overall profile.
  • Salty: Salt enhances all the flavors above, making them pop.
sauce in jar

Can This Sauce Be Stored And Preserved For Future Use? What Is Its Shelf Life? 

Yes, the red enchilada sauce can be stored and preserved for future use.

  • Refrigeration: Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and refrigerate after cooling. It will generally last for up to one week.
  • Freezing: For longer storage, pour the sauce into freezer-safe bags or containers, leaving some space for expansion. It can be frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Reheating: When ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and gently reheat on the stove.
  • Shelf Life: If you’ve got plans for prolonged storage, consider canning the sauce using a pressure canner. Once canned, it can last up to a year in a cool, dark place. Always check for signs of spoilage before using.

What Are The Substitutes For Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe?

If you find yourself without red enchilada sauce, several substitutes can come in handy:

  • Green Enchilada Sauce: Made primarily from green tomatillos and chilies, it offers a tangier, fresher profile.
  • Salsa Roja: A blended mix of tomatoes, chilies, onions, and garlic, it’s spicier and chunkier but works in a pinch.
  • Adobo Sauce: Often found in cans of chipotle peppers, it’s smoky with a kick of heat.
  • Tomato Sauce: While milder, adding some chili powder and spices can approximate the flavor of enchilada sauce.
  • Mole Sauce: Richer and containing ingredients like chocolate, it introduces a unique flavor but can be a delightful alternative.
  • Chili Sauce: Some bottled chili sauces can suffice, especially if you enhance them with cumin and garlic.
Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

How To Adjust The Consistency Of The Sauce?

Adjusting the consistency of the sauce is straightforward:

  • Too Thick: Add more beef broth or water in small increments, stirring and heating until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Too Thin: Let the sauce simmer on low heat, allowing excess liquid to evaporate. If you’re in a hurry, mix a teaspoon of cornstarch with a little cold water, then stir this slurry into the sauce to thicken it quickly.
  • Straining: If you desire a smoother consistency, you can strain the sauce through a fine mesh sieve to remove solids.
  • Blending: A longer blending time can break down ingredients further, leading to a smoother sauce.

Should We Serve The Sauce Cold Or Warm?

Whether serving red enchilada sauce warm or cold depends on personal preference and the intended use.

Traditionally, it’s served warm to enhance the overall dining experience, allowing its flavors to meld with hot dishes like enchiladas, burritos, or tacos.

Warming the sauce also helps it adhere better to the food, creating a harmonious blend of tastes and temperatures.

However, some creative recipes and applications call for serving it cold, such as using it as a dip or drizzle for chilled salads or as a condiment for cold sandwiches.

Whether warm or cold, red enchilada sauce can bring a burst of Mexican-inspired flavor to various dishes.

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Nutritional Values 

For a generic red enchilada sauce made from the provided ingredients, the approximate nutritional values per serving (1/4 cup) are:

  • Calories: 45
  • Protein: 1g
  • Total Fat: 3g (Saturated Fat: 0.5g)
  • Total Carbohydrates: 5g (Dietary Fiber: 1g, Sugars: 2g)
  • Sodium: 290mg
  • Vitamin A: 8% DV
  • Vitamin C: 2% DV

What Are The Total Calories In Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe?

To determine the total calories in the entire red enchilada sauce recipe batch, we’d sum the caloric content of all the ingredients used. Based on a generic assessment:

  • Dried ancho chiles, tomato paste, corn oil, garlic, spices, and beef broth would produce approximately 600 calories for the entire batch.

Dietary Restrictions Of The Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

The red enchilada sauce recipe, as described, caters to multiple dietary preferences:

  • Gluten-Free: The ingredients listed don’t contain gluten, making it suitable for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities.
  • Dairy-Free & Vegan: The recipe doesn’t have any animal-derived products.
  • Low-Carb: While not entirely carb-free, it’s relatively low in carbs, making it a possible choice for low-carb dieters.
  • No Added Sugars: The sauce naturally contains some sugars from the tomatoes but doesn’t have added sweeteners.

Nutrition Table

Nutrition table

Are There Any Common Mistakes While Making This Sauce?

Certainly, when making or using red enchilada sauce, one should be wary of several common pitfalls:

  • Over-toasting chilies: If burnt, they can impart a bitter taste. Monitor closely when toasting.
  • Not properly rehydrating chilies: Skipping or rushing this step can lead to a gritty sauce.
  • Over-seasoning: Too much salt or spices can overpower. It’s better if you add gradually and taste as you go.
  • Inadequate blending: A quick blend might leave the sauce chunky. Aim for a smooth consistency.
  • Overcooking: Extended simmering can change the flavor profile. Heat just until well combined and warmed.
  • Improper storage: Not cooling before refrigeration can lead to spoilage. Use airtight containers.
  • Not adjusting to the dish: If using for a recipe, adjust consistency and flavor to suit the dish’s requirements.

What Are Some Creative Uses Of Leftover Sauce?

Leftover red enchilada sauce can be repurposed in various creative ways:

  • Soup Base: Add it to chicken or vegetable broth for a flavorful soup.
  • Marinade: Marinate meats like chicken, beef, or pork.
  • Pasta Sauce: Mix it with cooked pasta for a Mexican-inspired dish.
  • Chili: Add beans, ground meat, and vegetables for a quick chili.
  • Pizza: Spread on pizza dough as an alternative to tomato sauce.
  • Rice: Stir into cooked rice for added flavor.
  • Stuffed Vegetables: Drizzle over stuffed peppers or zucchini before baking.
  • Dressing: Mix with some mayo or yogurt for a spicy salad dressing.
Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Special Tools/Equipment Needed

  • Blender or Food Processor: Essential for blending the soaked chilies and other ingredients into a smooth sauce.
  • Sieve or Strainer: Removing any remaining chili skins or seeds helps you achieve a smoother consistency.
  • Saucepan: Necessary for simmering the sauce, combining flavors, and achieving the right consistency.
  • Baking Sheet: Used for toasting the dried ancho chilies in the oven.
  • Mixing Bowls: Great for soaking chilies and mixing other ingredients.
  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Ensure you’re adding the right amount of each ingredient.
  • Wooden Spoon or Spatula: For stirring the sauce while it simmers.
  • Airtight Containers: For storing any leftover sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Make Red Enchilada Sauce Taste Better?

Enhancing the red enchilada sauce can be done by adjusting seasonings and adding fresh herbs like cilantro or fresh lime juice for tang. Toasting the spices before adding them helps you release their full flavor. Tasting as you go and making necessary adjustments ensures a rich, flavorful sauce.

What Is The Difference Between Enchilada Sauce And Red Sauce?

Enchilada sauce is specifically seasoned for enchiladas, typically made with dried chilies, spices, and sometimes tomato. In contrast, “red sauce” is a general term that can refer to various tomato-based sauces without enchilada sauce’s distinct chili and spice flavors.

Which Sauce Is Better For Enchiladas?

The best sauce for enchiladas generally depends on personal preference. Traditional enchiladas use red or green enchilada sauce. Red enchilada sauce is recommended if you’re after a richer, smoky flavor. However, green enchilada sauce, made from green chilies, is an excellent choice for a tangier, zestier flavor.

What Is A Substitute For Red Enchilada Sauce?

Suppose you’re in a pinch and need a substitute for red enchilada sauce. You might consider combining tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, and garlic powder in that case. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Though it won’t replicate the authentic flavor entirely, it’ll be a close match.

Is Enchilada Sauce Hot Or Spicy?

Enchilada sauce can range from mild to spicy, depending on the chilies used and the amount added. Ancho chilies, commonly used in red enchilada sauce, offer a milder, smoky flavor. If you desire a hotter sauce, add spicier chilies or chili powder. Always adjust to your heat preference.

15-Minutes Best Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe – A Mexican Cuisine!

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Recipe by Lana Rivera Course: Hot Sauces


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The best red enchilada sauce recipe combines dried ancho chilies, aromatic spices, and tomato paste. Toasted chilies are soaked, blended with seasonings and beef broth, then simmered to perfection.


  • 6 6 Dried ancho chilies

  • 1 (6 ounce) can 1 (6 ounce) Tomato paste

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 Corn oil

  • 2 2 Garlic, minced

  • 1.5 teaspoons 1.5 Salt

  • 1 teaspoon 1 Dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon 1/4 Ground cumin

  • 3 cups 3 Beef broth

Step-By-Step Directions

  • Preheat Oven: Set your oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Toast Chilies: Arrange the dried ancho chilies on a baking sheet. Once the oven is hot, toast them for 3 to 4 minutes. Be careful not to burn them.
  • Prepare Chilies: After toasting, remove the chilies from the oven. Take off their stems and discard the pulp and seeds.
  • Soak Chilies: Place the cleaned chilies in a bowl. Pour hot water over them, ensuring they are completely submerged. Let them soak for 1 hour.
  • Blend Ingredients: In a blender or food processor, combine the soaked ancho chilies, tomato paste, corn oil, minced garlic, salt, dried oregano, ground cumin, and about 1 cup of beef broth. Process until the mixture is smooth.
  • Simmer Sauce: Transfer the blended mixture to a saucepan. Add the remaining beef broth. Place the saucepan over medium heat. Let the sauce simmer until heated, which should take about 10 minutes.

Recipe Video


  • Adjust spice levels by adding more or fewer chilies based on preference.
  • Add a little water or beef broth if you’ve got a thicker consistency than desired.
  • Store leftover sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
  • Freezing is an option for longer storage; thaw before use.
  • Fresh garlic yields better flavor than pre-minced.
  • Dried guajillo or pasilla chilies are suitable alternatives if you can’t find ancho chilies.

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