Red Enchilada Sauce

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This easy red enchilada sauce is made with a handful of spices, chicken stock, and tomato paste. It’s quick, flavorful, and can be made ahead of time!

Red enchilada sauce in liquid measuring cup.

This red enchilada sauce recipe is going to quickly become one of your favorites. It is perfect with chicken or cheese enchiladas. And it freezes well so you can make a double batch and store it for later use.

I know I’ve mentioned how much I love Mexican food – we probably have tacos or enchiladas at least once a week. I recently whipped up my fish taco sauce to serve with some fish tacos and it was delicious.

As much as I love tacos, I really love enchiladas. Loaded with beef, veggies, cheese or chicken, drizzled with some avocado crema, and served with rice and beans – they’re just soooo good.

At our house we usually we do half a pan of veggie and cheese and half a pan of chicken enchiladas. I love my fresh and flavorful green enchilada sauce, but sometimes I want to have old school red enchilada sauce.

This flavorful red sauce takes about 30 minutes to make from start to finish and the ingredients are very simple – tomato paste, chicken stock, and a bunch of spices.

This easy enchilada sauce recipe is mild but it’s easy to make it spicier if you’d like. Just adjust the amount or type of chili powder or add a bit of cayenne pepper.

There are a variety of ways to serve this sauce too. It’s great over tacos, nachos, or even fish tacos!


Ingredients

This is a very simple list of pantry ingredients that come together with spice and flavor to make the best homemade enchilada sauce ever!

Ingredients for red enchilada sauce.
  • Olive Oil: Or other neutral-flavored oil of your choice.
  • Chicken stock: Vegetable broth can be used for a vegan/vegetarian version.
  • Spices: We added a little ground cumin, chili powder, dried oregano, garlic powder, salt, and pepper but feel free to play around here.
  • Tomato paste: Highly concentrated tomato sauce that adds flavor and color. Make sure you’re using tomato paste and not tomato sauce.
  • Flour: Just a touch of all-purpose flour to thicken the sauce.

How to Make Red Enchilada Sauce

This red enchilada sauce comes together very quickly, so it’s best to have all the ingredients measured out and ready to use ahead of time.

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below

  1. Heat flour and spices. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add in the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, and salt and cook for 1 more minute, whisking.
  2. Add liquids. Whisk in the tomato paste, then slowly pour in the chicken broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer for about 10-15 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
  3. Enjoy! Use immediately in your favorite recipe.

Substitutions

  • Oil – use whatever neutral flavored oil you have on hand.
  • Vegetarian – The chicken stock can be replaced with vegetable stock if you prefer.

Variations

This sauce can be made spicier by adding cayenne pepper or a spicier chili powder.

For a deeper, smokier flavor, add a tablespoon or so of blended chipotle peppers to the sauce when you add the tomato paste and the chicken stock.

Enchiladas with red enchilada sauce in white pan.

Storage

Refrigerate – Allow the sauce to cool for about 1 hour then transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Enchilada sauce will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it cool to room temperature before transferring it to a freezer-safe container.


Tips

  • Chili powder: Look for traditional American chili powder.
  • Chicken stock: You may use vegetable stock instead.
  • Make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free flour blend like Bob’s Red Mill in place of the flour.
Yield: 8 servings

Red Enchilada Sauce

Red enchilada sauce in liquid measuring cup.

This easy red enchilada sauce is made with a handful of spices, chicken stock, and tomato paste. It’s quick, flavorful, and can be made ahead of time!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 18 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups chicken stock

Instructions

  1. This sauce comes together quickly so I suggest having all the ingredients measured and ready to use.
  2. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour and cook for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Add in the chili powder, garlic powder, cumin, oregano, and salt and cook for 1 more minute, whisking constantly.
  3. Whisk in the tomato paste, then slowly pour in the broth while whisking constantly to remove any lumps. Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer for about 10-15 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
  4. Use immediately in your favorite recipe.

Notes

Chili powder: Look for traditional American chili powder.

Chicken stock: You may use vegetable stock instead.

Make it gluten-free: Use a gluten-free flour blend like Bob's Red Mill in place of the flour.

Make ahead tip:

Enchilada sauce will keep well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or, freeze it for up to 3 months. Let it cool to room temperature before transferring it to a freezer bag.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 241mgCarbohydrates: 6gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 2g

The nutrition information provided is for convenience and as a courtesy only. It is not guaranteed to be accurate because nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator and input the exact ingredients you used in the recipe.

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