Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Enchiladas are probably our favorite meal. Whether it’s chicken, pork, shrimp, or a simple bean and cheese filling – they’re so comforting, and relatively easy to make. The easiest part of all being making your own homemade enchilada sauce. So many recipes I’ve seen on the internet call for canned sauce – and it always makes me feel sad for them, a “bless their heart” type situation. It’s basically seasoned tomato sauce, taking only minutes to come together . No excuses.

And the flavor, wowza. Out of this world! The stuff in the can will just seem bland and watery if you ever have the misfortune of tasting it again. Often I’ll double the recipe, and freeze half in a Ziploc bag for a rainy day. It’s also great as a base sauce for taco pizza, which is another one of our favorites.

If you’re still buying your enchilada sauce from the can, do yourself a favor and try making it at home. You can thank me later!

40 Comments

  1. Posted January 28, 2013 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    Well, how easy is that? As much Mexican food as I make, I really should make my own enchilada sauce. Thanks for your recipe. And love that photo.

  2. Posted January 28, 2013 at 11:28 PM | Permalink

    I’ll confess that one of my favorite quick and easy dinner recipes calls for canned enchilada sauce, but I should definitely make a big batch of this to keep on hand instead!

  3. Posted January 29, 2013 at 1:22 AM | Permalink

    Now I’m craving enchiladas, your sauce looks great!

  4. Kim in MD
    Posted January 30, 2013 at 11:02 AM | Permalink

    I am so happy that you posted this recipe, as I am not a fan of canned enchilada sauce. I can’t wait to try this!

  5. Posted January 30, 2013 at 3:16 PM | Permalink

    i’ve never made enchilada sauce at home! and now… i want enchiladas for dinner tonight. :)

  6. Sara
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:06 PM | Permalink

    You must see it is a bit ironic that you feel sad for ppl using canned enchilada sauce when you just made canned enchilada sauce with this recipe. Canned tomato sauce? Just grate fresh tomatoes, use homemade from boiled chicken stock and that is home made…like mine.

    • Laura
      Posted February 4, 2013 at 4:20 PM | Permalink

      Well Sara, it sounds like you deserve a medal! I actually do use fresh tomatoes when they are in season, and homemade chicken stock. But I find that in the winter months, canned tomatoes are superior to fresh tomatoes that you’d buy in the store. And, you can’t beat the convenience factor! I’m looking forward to trying canning my own tomato sauce at home this summer!

      • Posted July 24, 2013 at 7:59 PM | Permalink

        “Well Sara, it sounds like you deserve a medal!”

        Holy crap, I love you Laura.

        Sara, If you’d like to get off your high horse for a moment – I know, it might be hard – not everyone has tomatoes at the ready for impromptu enchilada sauce. Actually I hate tomatoes in their raw state and do not purchase them. Maybe once in a great while I’ll get a bunch of romas for some super homemade spaghetti sauce, but I can assure you that happens about as often as I’m caught up on both laundry and dishes.

        I’m so shameful I make “homemade” pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and tomato soup from my cans of Kirkland Organic Tomato Sauce. And they’re all delicious! :D

        • lewis
          Posted October 2, 2013 at 2:36 PM | Permalink

          Jennifer, would that be a plug for Costco ?…. Seriously, I also make all of my tomato and chile based sauces, but buy nothing organic. I need the additives that are in those multi- ingredient cans for a long, healthy life

  7. Shari
    Posted February 6, 2013 at 9:55 AM | Permalink

    I currently don’t have a mesh strainer :/ Would it be all that bad if I left the one bits in the sauce? I wanted to make this tonight along with enchiladas for dinner!

    • Laura
      Posted February 6, 2013 at 1:23 PM | Permalink

      Shari, it would be fine – and just as delicious!

  8. Posted February 20, 2013 at 10:36 PM | Permalink

    Um, hi. Your blog is AWESOME! I was just wondering how to make this today and here you have a recipe. Gah..I can’t stop scrolling and drooling. Consider me your new fan. Thank you!

    • Posted February 21, 2013 at 8:27 AM | Permalink

      So glad you found me! This sauce is so much better homemade, and so versatile – it’ll become a staple in your kitchen. Thanks for the kind words! :)

  9. Abbie
    Posted February 24, 2013 at 2:39 PM | Permalink

    OMG. This sounds great!! I HATE HATE HATE canned red enchilada sauce, and this is the solution! Thanks for Tide and Thyme… I’ve cooked a few of your recipes and what do they all have in common? THEY ROCK!

  10. Shannen
    Posted March 18, 2013 at 11:00 PM | Permalink

    this was delicious! So much better than canned sauce and I love that it doesn’t have any of the artificial stuff that is in canned. Thanks for this great recipe! I pinned it for you! :)

  11. Lisa
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 12:49 AM | Permalink

    I made this today for my vegetarian enchiladas (they were not totally vegetarian since I did add the chicken broth to the sauce). It was amazing!! I also made homemade corn tortillas with some added lime zest and it all really worked together. My husband said these were by far the best he has had and he LOVED the sauce. I added 5 tbsp. of regular chili powder + 1 tbsp. of chipotle chili powder, I also did not run the sauce through a fine mesh sleeve but I do not mind the texture. Thank you very much, it was amazing! Oh and the use of canned tomato sauce did not take away from it one bit, it was by far WAY better than canned enchilada sauce!

  12. Brigitte
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:47 PM | Permalink

    Have you tried canning canning this? I just wonder if I could make a huge batch and water bath it or pressure cook it to preserve it?

    • Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:16 PM | Permalink

      I’m sure you could, Brigitte. I don’t have any experience canning my own sauces yet though – need to work on that more this year! Just make sure you check the pH, to make sure your acid levels are okay before canning!

  13. Posted April 15, 2013 at 12:22 PM | Permalink

    So glad I found this recipe – the ingredient list on all the enchilada sauces at the store today left me feeling blech, I knew I had to start using my own. This is so straight forward and simple, thank you!

  14. Amy D
    Posted April 20, 2013 at 1:15 PM | Permalink

    Yum! I was so excited to find this recipe AND see that I had all of the ingredients on-hand! I used vegetable broth instead (cause I needed to use it up), and my chili powder (from an Amish store in PA my MIL bought me) made my sauce a lot darker than your pictured sauce. Guess that’s okay…it tastes delicious. My eyes are still watering from the onions! ;) Thank you for the delicious recipe!

  15. Pattie
    Posted May 1, 2013 at 9:00 PM | Permalink

    YUMMY! fixed this tonight and it was wonderful. I’ve tried several recipes and this one is the best. Thank you for sharing.

  16. Kasie
    Posted August 13, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

    I have no fresh garlic or kosher salt on hand. Can I just use minced garlic and sea salt?

  17. Billie
    Posted August 25, 2013 at 7:35 PM | Permalink

    Hi Laura! I just stumbled on your recipe, planning to make it this weekend. I was wondering though what exactly is canned tomato sauce? I’m Australian and what we call tomato sauce is equivilant to your ketchup. Is canned tomato sauce like tomato paste? Or canned tomatoes with sauce? Thanks!

    • Posted August 26, 2013 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

      It’s something along the lines of a pizza sauce consistency. A very finely pureed tomato. You could take a can of tomato paste, and thin it out with about 3/4 cups water to get a similar result I think!

      • Billie
        Posted September 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM | Permalink

        Hey Laura I ended up using passata, not sure if you have it in America but its pretty much a watered down tomato paste. It worked and was delicious!! Thanks for posting this recipe its a keeper!

        • Posted September 19, 2013 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

          That sounds precisely what we were looking for. Bingo! Thanks, Billie! Glad you enjoyed.

  18. Tara
    Posted September 23, 2013 at 6:13 PM | Permalink

    I don’t post comments often but had to let you know this recipe is amazing! Not only was it simple but it’s something I’d always have on hand in my pantry. I plan to use this a lot. It makes me feel so good feeding my family things when I know all that’s gone into the recipe. Thank you so much!

    • Posted September 24, 2013 at 7:30 AM | Permalink

      Tara, thanks for much for taking the time to stop in and comment. This recipe is so versatile, I find myself making up a batch every week – for one recipe or another. I’m glad your family will enjoy it as much as we do!

  19. Posted September 30, 2013 at 1:19 AM | Permalink

    I’ve been searching all over the internet for homemade enchilada sauce, and I found it! sounds wonderful. I’ll be using up a whole heap of homegrown tomatoes. My question is how spicy is this using 1tbsp of Cumin? I found another recipe that says to use 1 1/4 tsp. I won’t be adding any of the Chili at all. thanks

    • Posted September 30, 2013 at 9:24 AM | Permalink

      Cumin isn’t spicy at all. And, chili powder is a pretty key ingredient to make it an enchilada sauce. This sauce is not spicy, and I’d really urge you to try it as is!

  20. Michael Garneau
    Posted November 18, 2013 at 9:58 AM | Permalink

    Lol you downed folks for using canned enchilada sauce when you use canned sauce as an ingredient? Bless your heart.

    • Posted November 18, 2013 at 5:49 PM | Permalink

      Canned tomato sauce and canned enchilada sauce are two different things. If you’d like to make your own tomato sauce, knock yourself out Jack.

  21. Karina J.
    Posted January 16, 2014 at 8:07 PM | Permalink

    I must confess…I used Butterball chicken broth and canned tomato sauce, since I didn’t have stock on hand and I felt the broth would impart more flavor than just plain water. This recipe is by far so much more flavorful than canned enchilada sauce. It was so easy to make, too! I also had only an 8 oz. can of tomato sauce, so I supplemented with tomato paste. I simply added more chicken broth. I’m actually not even going to strain the onion. I’m going to use the sauce as is. It’s not really that lumpy ith the onion in it since it got soft during the cooking process. Thank you for providing my new forever enchilada sauce.

    • Posted January 17, 2014 at 8:33 AM | Permalink

      Karina, I’ve used chicken stock as well when I have it handy. Straining the sauce isn’t necessary, but I like to add the cooked onions to the filling for a little extra flavor. Glad you enjoyed it!

  22. Posted January 25, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Permalink

    Made your sauce today for my enchiladas. Super delicious! Will use again, thanks.

  23. Alli D.
    Posted September 18, 2014 at 9:44 PM | Permalink

    This is one sauce I have to make! With all the rave reviews I just can’t pass this up. My son has Celiac & has to eat gluten free. Lots of enchilada sauces have some form of gluten in their product or it just simply do not taste good. Some sauces have either too much salt or have an off kinda taste. I would love to know if I am able to can this either by water bath process or pressure canning. Thanks for sharing.

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  1. […] a roasting pan all at once and you can even cook it up ahead of time like I did. Having my go-to enchilada sauce recipe ready to defrost in the freezer is a huge help – if you haven’t tried it yet, please […]

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