Did you know making a killer red enchilada sauce is just about as easy as opening a can? And if you buy the right kind of chili powder it totally tastes better than the store bought kind. PLUS: done in 10 minutes. Yes! Originally published September 23, 2017.

red enchilada sauce on a spoon.
Table of Contents
  1. Easy Enchilada Sauce
  2. 10 Minute Enchilada Sauce ingredients
  3. How to make Red Enchilada Sauce
  4. Red Enchiladas Sauce Recipe Tips
  5. Red Enchiladas Sauce Storage
  6. What to make with Ten Minute Enchilada Sauce
  7. You will love these recipes too!
  8. Killer Red Enchilada Sauce That’s Done in 10 Minutes Recipe

Right now I’m sitting in a white rocking chair, enjoying the dappled sunlight streaming in through the branches of a tree. There’s a cool glass of water by my side and there’s even a steady rush of people walking by that I can people watch (am I the only creepy people watcher??)

Want to save this recipe?
Just drop your email here and I’ll send it right away! Plus you’ll get new recipes from me every week. Yes please!
pouring red enchilada sauce onto a pan of enchiladas.

Guys, I’m in the AIRPORT. Charlotte, North Carolina: you know how to do airports right my friends. I’ve never been so not-irritated to have a layover. This is downright pleasant.

(Side note: Almost every time I take a flight somewhere, I hear people chatting around me. They’ll be like, “yeah Sacramento blah blah blah…” and I’ll think to myself, hey! I live in Sacramento too! What a coincidence! Until I remember that everyone was in Sacramento an hour ago, because that’s where we got on the airplane. I’m an idiot. This is the same excitement I feel when I send myself an email, and then check my email. Hey! Someone sent me an email! Oh whoops no just me, hi Karen from the past.)

a jar of enchilada sauce.

Eric and I have abandoned our children and are off on an adventure. We’re heading to Richmond, Virginia where my brother Nathan is in the middle of his residency. (Have I complained before about how much of an underachiever you feel like when you have not one, but TWO brothers who are doctors?? Oh yeah. I have.)

My parents are coming too, and we are going to spend some time in DC and Williamsburg. Eric has never been east of Pennsylvania, so this is all a first for him! We’re so excited, but I think the kids are even more excited that they get to stay home and do crafts with Eric’s mom. If you have any food recommendations or cool spots we should see, let me know! We managed to get a tour of the Capitol building, I’m super excited about that!

Easy Enchilada Sauce

So do you ever get a hankering for enchiladas but don’t have any canned sauce? I feel like my enchilada cravings come on like lightning sometimes. I’m so excited to have finally nailed a homemade sauce I love that uses pantry staples. This recipe is not a fancy one; we will not be reconstituting dried chili peppers today. Not for a weeknight dinner.

I can hear you saying, “but why not use a can of sauce,” and you are so right, the can wins sometimes. But this sauce is super easy and the flavor is totally worth it! Really. This isn’t one of those times when the food blogger is like, “it’s so easy, all you have to do is whisk nonstop for 45 minutes! Oh and make sure you simultaneously pat your head and rub your tummy clockwise, otherwise it will be a TOTAL FAILURE!”

pouring homemade enchilada sauce into a mason jar.

10 Minute Enchilada Sauce ingredients

Have you guys heard about New Mexican Hatch chili powder? It is the secret to a killer enchilada sauce. My mother-in-law Kris helped me do a quick taste test of a bunch of different chili powders I had bought (New Mexican, California, regular chili powder, chipotle). She tasted the New Mexican chili and said, “This tastes like it would make a great enchilada sauce!” Bingo. We mixed it with a little bit of the chipotle chili powder and thought it was perfect.

You can use regular chili powder in this recipe, but it won’t be the same. Did you know that regular ol’ chili powder from the spice aisle has salt in it? And other spices too, including garlic? I’m not complaining, it’s delicious, but it’s not going to give you that pure flavor we want for this recipe. If you decide to use it, omit the salt from the recipe and add to taste.

Here’s a quick list of everything you’ll need to make this enchilada sauce. I bet you already have a lot of these ingredients in your pantry! The New Mexican chili powder and chipotle chili powder are totally worth buying if you don’t already have them. 

  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Chicken broth
  • Tomato sauce

How to make Red Enchilada Sauce

I promise, this recipe consists of melting butter, adding powder, then adding chicken broth. Simmer 7-8 minutes. That’s it. It only takes a few minutes and the flavor is unstoppable!

adding spices to a bowl, blooming the spices in a pan.
stirring and adding spices to red enchilada sauce.
Here’s the “pinch” of cinnamon I used. Maybe a little less than 1/8 teaspoon? (This is my 1/4 teaspoon that has been down the garbage disposal more times than I can count…oops.)
enchilada sauce in a plastic measuring cup.

Red Enchiladas Sauce Recipe Tips

This enchilada sauce is super easy. Here’s how to make yours just right.

  • Don’t skip the special chili powder. I mean, technically you can, and it will still be great enchilada sauce. But New Mexican chili powder and chipotle chili powder pack such a punch and add depths of flavor regular chili powder can’t touch.
  • Thin the sauce as desired. If your sauce is pretty thick, add a little more chicken or vegetable broth to thin it to your desired consistency. 
  • Make extra to have on hand. I don’t know about you but Future Me loves it when Past Me makes extra food for her to use. A freezer bag of this enchilada sauce makes dinner a heck of a lot faster when I forget about it again…dinner, I mean. You know. That thing that I have to do every day.

How to thicken Enchilada Sauce?

Enchilada sauce needs a thickener; here we’re using flour, but you can substitute cornstarch if you’re eating gluten-free. Make sure to mix the cornstarch with a couple tablespoons of water so that it doesn’t make your sauce lumpy.

So. Any guesses what recipe I’m going to post next? Hint: it involves this red sauce + sweet potatoes + black beans. Get excited!! (Update: check out these Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, so good!)

Red Enchiladas Sauce Storage

Enchilada sauce should be refrigerated or frozen – decide how soon you’re going to use it and plan accordingly.

How long does enchilada sauce last in the fridge?

Enchilada sauce is good for up to a week in the fridge.

Can you freeze enchilada sauce?

Yes, you can freeze it for 2-3 months. Throw it in a (labeled!) ziplock or any tupperware. Thaw overnight in the fridge when you’re ready to use it.

a jar of red enchilada sauce with parsley nearby.

What to make with Ten Minute Enchilada Sauce

Here are some of my favorite ways to use this enchilada sauce!

  • Make a burrito and drench it in this sauce. Sprinkle with cheese, pop it in the oven for 10 minutes (or until the cheese melts) and eat with a fork.
  • Use the enchilada sauce in place of tomato sauce on your next pizza. For toppings, use rotisserie chicken, jalapenos, diced tomatoes, even black beans!
  • Drizzle it on top of tamales. Yum….
  • Make Sweet Potato Black Bean Enchiladas, a vegetarian delight. You won’t miss the meat, I promise (this is coming from a total carnivore).

You will love these recipes too!

10 Minute Enchilada Quesadillas << stupid easy, kids love ’em

Chicken Enchilada Soup << This is basically one of my all time favorite soups!

Aunt Shirley’s Creamy Chicken Enchiladas << if it’s Aunt Shirley’s, you know it’s amazing

Christmas Style Enchiladas from The Goldilocks Kitchen

Enchiladas Verde de Pollo from Kevin is Cooking

Honey Citrus Chicken Enchiladas from Tastefully Frugal

Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram


Killer Red Enchilada Sauce That’s Done in 10 Minutes

4.84 from 6 votes
Prep: 3 minutes
Cook: 7 minutes
Total: 10 minutes
Servings: 12
Did you know making a killer red enchilada sauce is just about as easy as opening a can? And if you buy the right kind of chili powder it totally tastes better than the store bought kind. PLUS: done in 10 minutes. Yes!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons New Mexican chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1 & 1/2 cups chicken broth*
  • 1 (8-oz) can tomato sauce


  • In a 2 or 3 quart pot, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat.
  • In a small bowl, combine flour, New Mexican chili powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and a pinch of cinnamon.
  • When it is frothy, add the flour mixture. Stir it together into a thick paste. It should get nice and bubbly. Stir constantly for about 1 minute (this is to cook out the raw flour flavor and toast the spices a bit.)
  • Slowly pour in the chicken broth while stirring. The sauce should thicken up immediately. Add the can of tomato sauce.
  • You can thin it out with a few more tablespoons of chicken broth or water, if it is thicker than you like.
  • Simmer over medium or medium-low heat for another 7-8 minutes to give the flavors a chance to marry.
  • You can either use it right away, or store it in the fridge for up to a week. I like to store it in a 1-quart mason jar. You can also freeze it in a ziplock bag to have on hand.
  • Makes about 2 and 3/4 cup enchilada sauce.


 *Use vegetable broth to make this vegetarian!


Serving: 0.25cups | Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 316mg | Potassium: 144mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 934IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 16mg | Iron: 1mg
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 56
Keyword: enchilada sauce
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

Categorized as , , ,

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

You May Also Like...


  1. 5 stars
    Love this! I made a double batch yesterday and will freeze half. Just finished the sweet potatoe black bean enchiladas. They are amazing!
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. This is the best enchilada sauce that I have ever made!
    Simple and always delicious!  Thank you, Food Charlatan!  (F.Y.I.- Ancho chili Powder is the same as Mexican chili power.) many people don’t realize this. All available at Whole Foods in Organic & Conventionally grown.  

    1. So happy to hear that Cary! Thanks for leaving a review! And I did no know that about the chili powder, thanks for sharing!

  3. This is the best enchilada sauce recipe I have ever tasted. I was so happy to make something this good. I feel like a pro. Thank you for sharing this recipe and inspiring us to make great meals through your recipes.

    1. Hey Valerie! Great question! I meant to talk about this in the post. Depending on where you live, you can find them on the Hispanic foods aisle of your grocery store. They often have a bunch of spices sold in plastic bags. Sometimes it’s by the produce section too. A Latin American market will also definitely have it. If you don’t have any near you, click the links in the recipe to buy it on Amazon!

  4. Hi when you say a can of tomato sauce for the enchilada do you mean a sauce that has lots of added sugars spices etc?Or can I use just tinned tomatoes?
    Looks great especially the colour.

    1. Hey Bridget! I just mean tomato sauce, which has no added sugar. You can even find types that have no salt added if you’re worried about it (I used a salted can though.) I hope you enjoy!

  5. WOW! Our trip back there was one of our BEST EVER!!!! If you want to eat some DIVINE food, I suggest going to the Mount Vernon Inn Restaurant! The Hoe Cake with Ham & Crabmeat under Hollandaise is PERFECTION! We also loved the peanut & chestnut soup, (who knew?!?!) the lamb, and the salad with the little pieces of fried feta. It was all so delicious!!! We loved our time at the Smithsonian, and at Colonial Williamsburg. We went last September, and the weather was perfect except for one day of rain. You will have an incredible time! Here is a link: http://www.mountvernon.org/inn

    1. I will have to check it out Dana, it looks amazing! We had crab cakes at a restaurant here in VA yesterday, it was SO delicious. September is a really good time to visit this part of the country! Thank you so much for the recommendation!! PS Peanut and Chestnut soup???? Sounds so interesting!!

  6. Recipe for red sauce really looks good. We are trying to eat at home more now, because restaurants are just too expensive. Thank you for having a website that offers so many good-looking & simple recipes. We’ll be long-time subscribers.

    1. We’re in the same boat, eating out all the time is just too much! I’m glad you are enjoying the recipes on the blog David. Thanks for letting me know! Keeps a blogger going! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.