Homemade Enchilada Sauce

5 from 4 votes

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Make a flavorful and easy Enchilada Sauce at home! This homemade version is made without all the additives and tastes just as good (if not better) than the kind from the store. A great addition to recipes like Beef Enchiladas or Red and Green Enchiladas.

enchilada sauce getting poured over enchiladas

Homemade Enchilada Sauce | Quick and Easy!

Homemade Enchilada Sauce is easy and quick to make! Whether you are wanting fewer preservatives (and additives) in your meals or whether you forgot a can of enchilada sauce when you went to the store I’ve got the solution for you. With just a handful of ingredients and the perfect combination of spices, you can have amazing red enchilada sauce ready in minutes. Perfect to go over beef, chicken, or pork enchiladas or in an enchilada casserole.

spices on counter

Main Ingredients Needed

Here’s everything you need to make this delicious homemade enchilada sauce:

  • Chicken Broth – this is the bulk of the enchilada sauce and acts as a base. You could also use beef broth here for a different type of base flavor.
  • Cornstarch – this is used to thicken and stabilize the sauce. A huge plus is that it’s gluten-free!
  • Chili Powder – go easy on the chili powder if you can’t handle the heat, or use more if you like things spicier.
  • Cumin – this is a great spice that lends a lot of that savory Mexican flavor found in tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
  • Garlic + Onion Powder – since we don’t want clumps of garlic and onion in the sauce I opted for their powdered counterparts.
  • Oregano – pungent and sharp, the perfect herby addition to this list of ingredients.
  • Smoked Paprika – you could also use regular paprika here but I just love the flavor you get with smoked paprika.
  • Salt + Pepper – don’t forget to season!

Plus A Few Secret Ingredients

I know this just seems like a long list of ingredients, but there are definitely a few that you don’t want to miss that really sets this homemade enchilada sauce apart!

  • Cinnamon– I only call for a pinch of this stuff because a little goes a long way. It truly is the ingredient that when people try your enchiladas will say “hmm, what is that that makes these taste so good?” Its an ingredient to swear by. Makes a world of difference.
  • Vinegar– I use a plain white distilled but you can use a white wine vinegar, apple cider or even lime or lemon juice. You need acid in this sauce to balance it out. Again, you won’t notice the vinegar taste, but if you omit it, you’ll notice.
  • Sugar– again, all about that balance! The sauce won’t taste sweet by adding 1/2 teaspoon but it will help balance all the flavors.
  • Butter– I know most recipes for a homemade enchilada sauce will start with vegetable oil or lard in a pan and create a roux with flour and possibly even add fresh onions and garlic, but I don’t have the patience for that. Plus I like butter better. It adds a velvety, rich taste that I like. Not so traditional, but is so good.
  • Tomato Paste– this adds depth of flavor to the sauce and helps support the chili and cumin flavors.
chicken broth and spices in pot

How to Make Enchilada Sauce

This is a super simple recipe to follow, which is great when you don’t want to run to the store just because you forgot the enchilada sauce for dinner. For full details see the recipe card down below 🙂

Combine Ingredients

Into a small saucepan, whisk chicken broth together with cornstarch, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, smoked paprika, cinnamon, salt, pepper, sugar, and vinegar.

Thicken Sauce

Bring to boil to thicken the sauce, then remove from heat and stir in butter until it’s completely melted and the sauce is smooth. Use as desired.

spoon of red enchilada sauce over pot

Storing Enchilada Sauce

Let enchilada sauce cool completely then store in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. I would definitely make extra of this yummy sauce to freeze and use later as well!

Freezing Instructions

To freeze enchilada sauce, let it cool completely. Store in a mason jar or another airtight container, but remember to leave a couple of inches of room at the top to account for expansion. Freeze for up to 3 months!

To use, thaw in the fridge overnight then reheat either in a pot on the stove or in the microwave until heated through, then use as desired!

unbaked enchiladas in pan

Enchiladas to Try With This Sauce Recipe!

If you loved the taste of this sauce let me know down below in the comments and be sure to check out all of my other Mexican recipes while you’re at it!

The printable recipe card is down below, enjoy!

enchilada sauce getting poured over enchiladas
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5 from 4 votes

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Whether you want a homemade enchilada sauce without all the additives or just because you forgot a can at the store, I've got you covered.
servings 2 cups
Prep Time 0 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes



  • Into a small saucepan, whisk chicken broth together with cornstarch, tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, smoked paprika, cinnamon, salt, pepper, sugar and vinegar.
    chicken broth and spices in pot
  • Bring to boil to thicken sauce, then remove from heat and stir in butter until its completely melted and sauce is smooth. Use as desired.
    enchilada sauce getting poured over enchiladas


Calories: 132kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 15mg | Sodium: 1043mg | Potassium: 390mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1628IU | Vitamin C: 18mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 2mg
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: enchilada sauce

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Recipe Rating

3 Responses
  1. D.E.

    5 stars
    I always buy canned enchilada sauce. But, I didn’t have any on hand so I decided to give this recipe a try. It was so easy to make and delicious, too!

  2. Melisa A Olandez

    5 stars
    I have fallen in love with this recipe and it will be a go to for sure. My picky husband loved it, my kids loved it and I have made it now with both cheese and beef. I didn’t have chicken broth so I used half a bouillon cube and water. Wonderful recipe! Thank you! Added sliced red onion and cilantro to the finished product.