Easy Enchilada Sauce

$0.80 batch
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.81 from 125 votes
Pin RecipeJump to recipe →

This post contains some affiliate links, which means that we make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

Enchilada sauce is one of my very favorite things, ever. I love when it soaks into tortillas while baking and makes everything all tangy, spicy, and good. Mmmmm. 🤤 But when the selection of enchilada sauce at my local grocery store was less than impressive, I decided it was high time to make some red enchilada sauce myself. This Easy Red Enchilada Sauce is a total game-changer and now I can never go back to store-bought. It has ten times more flavor than anything I’ve ever had from a can and literally takes minutes to make. It’s a total winner.

red enchilada sauce dripping from a wooden spoon into a glass jar.

Quick Method, Big Flavor

This EASY enchilada sauce is not an authentic enchilada sauce made with dried chile peppers that you’ll find in Texas or Mexico, but it’s a quick and easy version that anyone can whip up in their kitchen using basic pantry staples. But I promise, once you taste it, you won’t regret the shortcuts. It’s still bursting with flavor and you’ll want to pour it over everything. If you want a made-from-scratch with dried chiles enchilada sauce, check out this Authentic Enchilada Sauce recipe from Isabel Eats.

How Spicy is Red Enchilada Sauce?

The “chili powder” listed in the recipe below is a store-bought mix of spices used to season chili. It is not straight chile powder, or pure ground chile peppers, which can be extremely spicy. The brand of chili powder I use is completely mild, but other brands can sometimes carry some heat. If you are using a spicy chili powder, simply reduce or eliminate the cayenne powder from this recipe to compensate. The heat level of the recipe below, using McCormick’s chili powder, is medium spicy, like a medium salsa.

How to Use Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada sauce is not just for Enchiladas! Here are some other great ways to use red enchilada sauce:

  • as a simmer sauce for meat (in a slow cooker or skillet)
  • as a rich sauce to smother burritos
  • combined with eggs and fried tortillas for Migas
  • combined with sour cream to make a creamy and spicy dip
  • as a replacement for taco sauce
  • a soup base (30 Minute Posole)
  • to sauce up casseroles like Mexican lasagna, enchilada casserole, or Taco Stuffed Shells

But if you do want to use it for enchiladas, make sure to check out these great enchilada recipes: Chorizo and Sweet Potato Enchiadas, Black Bean and Avocado Enchiladas, and Weeknight Enchiladas.

enchilada sauce being poured from a glass jar over a casserole dish full of enchiladas.
Share this recipe

Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

4.81 from 125 votes
It only takes 10 minutes to make this super easy red enchilada sauce that is bursting with flavor.
close up of enchilada sauce dripping off a wooden spoon into a jar.
Servings 8 ¼ cup each
Cook 10 minutes
Total 10 minutes


  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.10)
  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour ($0.02)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder ($0.30)
  • 2 cups water ($0.00)
  • 3 oz. tomato paste ($0.27)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin ($0.03)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.03)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)
  • 3/4 tsp salt or to taste ($0.03)


  • Add the cooking oil, flour, and chili powder to a sauce pot. Turn the heat on to medium and whisk the ingredients together. Continue to whisk as the mixture begins to bubble. Whisk and cook the mixture for one minute once it begins bubbling.
  • After one minute, whisk in the water, tomato paste, cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper until smooth. Allow the sauce to come up to a simmer. Once it reaches a simmer it will begin to thicken slightly.
  • Starting with a 1/2 teaspoon, add salt to taste. I used about 3/4 teaspoon total. The sauce is now ready to use!

See how we calculate recipe costs here.



The water can be replaced with either vegetable broth or chicken broth for more depth, just be sure to reduce the salt added at the end to compensate.


Serving: 0.25CupCalories: 53kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 1gFat: 4gSodium: 338mgFiber: 1g
Read our full nutrition disclaimer here.
Have you tried this recipe?Mention @budgetbytes or tag #budgetbytes on Instagram!
Enchilada sauce in a sauce pot with a wooden spoon.

How to Make Enchilada Sauce – Step By Step Photos

chili powder, flour, and oil in a sauce pot.
Start by adding 2 Tbsp flour, 2 Tbsp chili powder, and 2 Tbsp oil to a pot. I use McCormick’s chili powder, which is not spicy, just flavorful, so don’t be frightened by the large quantity in the recipe. All of the heat comes from the cayenne pepper.

boiling chili powder and roux in a sauce pot with a whisk.
Whisk these ingredients together and allow them to come up to a bubble over medium heat, whisking the whole time. Whisk and cook for one minute. This will toast the flour and chili powder, adding to the flavor depth and making sure that the flour doesn’t taste like paste.

water being poured into the pot with tomato paste and spices.
After one minute, add 3oz. tomato paste, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp cayenne, and whisk in 2 cups water (or broth).

Simmered enchilada sauce in the sauce pot.

Let the sauce come up to a simmer and it will begin to thicken. Taste the sauce and add salt to your liking. Start with about 1/2 teaspoon and add more if needed. The salt will really help bring out the flavors. If you’re using broth in place of water, you might not need to add any at all.

close up of enchilada sauce dripping off a wooden spoon into a jar.

And now you’re good to go! Drizzle this thick and flavorful enchilada sauce over all of your favorite foods and enjoy!

side view of a jar of enchilada sauce with a spoon.
Share this recipe

Posted in: , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

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.


Leave a Comment
  1. Ever since I tried this recipe years ago I keep coming back. It’s so simple and yummy and tastes so much better than a can!!!

  2. Is it really 2 Tbsp oil in the photos? I tried 2 Tbsp for flour and chili, but it came out as a paste.
    Otherwise quick and tasty sauce recipe

    1. This happens to me every time too! I wonder if we need a smaller pot so the liquid is closer together (aka deeper). I just use 3T of oil instead of 2T and it works for me!

  3. Sauce is very good and easy to make. We poured it over jalapeno cheese tamales on Christmas day – yum!! Did not use any salt – it really does not need it.

  4. Great enchilada sauce recipe! I used roasted garlic and ancho powder. If you don’t have tomato paste you can use tomato sauce, just mind the total liquid volume and use some water to keep the consistency. Also Wondra flour will assure a smooth texture. Cumino powder can be very variable in strength so use enough to know it’s there but not enough to cause bitterness. I used Knorr Beef Bouillon powder as the salt. Thanks very much Beth for a great utility sauce that is simple and open for interpretation! All the best this holiday season and hopes for a blessed new year!

  5. Wow!! Am I ever happy that the snow kept me from running to the store to get canned enchilada sauce. I cannot believe how yummy, but also how easy this was to make!! I will forever be making it from now on. I doubled the recipe plus I had some beef bone broth opened in the fridge that needed used so replaced that with the water. It turned out amazing!!

  6. Agreed with Rachel, I will never going to purchase another can of enchilada sauce. This recipe was not only easy to made, but it has such a lovely flavor, the enchiladas were delicious,
    Thank you!