This easy Enchilada Sauce recipe is perfect for last-minute dinner times. It’s a no-cook recipe, so you can mix your ingredients and go! Quickly store a jar of sauce in the refrigerator, or mix it straight into your enchiladas!
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This is our favorite homemade enchilada sauce recipe, and it’s way better than the canned stuff!
Whatever meat or filling you choose, you can’t beat a homemade sauce made with basic pantry staples.
This is a bit different from other from-scratch recipes as there is no cooking involved at all. It’s an easy recipe – simply put all the ingredients in a bowl and stir!
The sauce will cook through when it is heated in the dish, melding the flavors together and saving you time and energy!
We also like Cordon Bleu Chicken Enchiladas, which are made with Alfredo sauce instead of tomato sauce for a creamy enchilada dinner.
Finish it off with my Strawberry S’mores Enchiladas for dessert!
- Tomatoes: use canned crushed tomatoes for this sauce, with no added salt. Plain, unseasoned tomato sauce will work as well.
- Water: simply thins out our sauce to our desired consistency. You could swap for chicken or vegetable broth for added flavor.
- Seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano, and kosher salt will make a flavorful enchilada sauce.
- Spices: use cumin and chipotle powder (or smoked paprika), as well as ground cinnamon for an added warm flavor. Add in some cayenne pepper too for a spicy sauce.
- Sugar: brown sugar will help to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed.
How to Make Enchilada Sauce
This easy red enchilada sauce is quick to make. You’ll find the full recipe in the recipe card below.
- Combine ingredients: Add the following ingredients to a bowl and stir: tomatoes, water, garlic, cumin, onion powder, oregano, salt, and chipotle chili powder.
- Add sugar: Add brown sugar to taste. Add additional spices here if wanting.
- Use: Use sauce straight away, or store it for later.
Enchilada Sauce FAQs
If you don’t have enchilada sauce ready made, this is a great recipe to use. There’s no cooking or heating involved to make it, so it’s ready to go into your Mexican dishes in no time! You can often use Taco sauce in place of enchilada sauce, and salsa is a good substiture too.
Store homemade enchilada sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Allow it to cool to room temperature before putting it in the fridge.
You can freeze this red enchilada sauce in a freezer-safe container or Zip-loc bag for up to 6 months. Since it is so simple to prepare, I don’t usually bother freezing it, but I make sure to have a good supply of canned crushed tomatoes in the pantry so I can make it as and when I need it.
Tips and Notes
- Simmer the sauce on the stove to bring the flavors together before using it if you prefer.
- As this sauce doesn’t require any cooking, I tend to make it as and when I need it. It is a super simple recipe to double or triple for a big batch, and it will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge!
Enchilada Sauce Variations
- Make a green enchilada sauce. Use chopped green chilis and jalapeños instead of canned tomatoes as the base and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Spices and seasonings: Make this recipe your own by adjusting the seasonings to your preference. You can taste as you go.
- Add some heat. Adding red pepper flakes, chili powder, or finely chopped jalapeños depending on your desired spice level.
- Fresh ingredients. Use fresh garlic that you have minced yourself if you prefer.
- Tomatoes: canned crushed tomatoes are my shortcut here, as many recipes use a mixture of tomato paste and water thickened with flour. Use 3 tablespoons of tomato puree paste and 2 additional cups of water or low-sodium vegetable broth. Add a cornstarch slurry to the mix, and cook it on the stovetop or in the microwave to thicken it.
Use this red enchilada sauce in your enchilada recipes using any meat. You can also use it in recipes that call for a tomato salsa sauce, like my delicious Stuffed Pepper Casserole, this Chicken Taco Soup, or my Crockpot Salsa Chicken.
More Sauce and Condiment Recipes You’ll Love
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Easy Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes 798 ml no salt added
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon chipotle powder or smoked paprika
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon optional
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper optional – if you prefer it spicy
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar optional – to balance flavors
- In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients for enchilada sauce: tomatoes, water, garlic, cumin, onion powder, oregano, salt, and chipotle powder.
- Taste and adjust to your preferences add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes if needed. Feel free to add additional spices to suit your tastes.
- *You can simmer this sauce on the stove on medium heat to bring the flavors together if you prefer — I simply add it to whatever dish I'm cooking and it heats through during the cooking process.
- Tomatoes: canned crushed tomatoes are my shortcut here, as many recipes use a mixture of tomato paste and water thickened with flour. If you don’t have canned crushed tomatoes, you can use 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and 2 additional cups of water or vegetable broth. You will also need to add a cornstarch slurry and cook it on the stovetop or in the microwave to thicken it.
- Spices and seasonings: this recipe is an easy one to make your own! Feel free to adjust the amounts of the seasonings to suit your tastes. You can taste as you go.
- Store: Store enchilada sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
- Freeze: Freeze this sauce for up to 6 months in a freezer-safe container. If freezing it in bags, lie the bags flat to save space – it will also thaw quicker this way.
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