Homemade enchilada sauce

Enchiladas are the beautiful type of meal that is hard to mess up. This is why they’re a gem for cooking newbies; just wrap something in a tortilla, cover it with sauce and cheese, and bake it. It will be delicious. It’s kind of like a stir fry: you add whatever you want, and somehow, it works. 


When I first started cooking for our little family, I had a little bit of a rough time. Certain meals didn’t work out very well -and we ended up getting takeout- and it took me eighteen years to chop a bell pepper. Enchiladas were one of the first meals I made that wasn’t a total failure, and they’ve been a staple in our meal rotation ever since. It’s fun to play around with different combos and flavors; any protein/cheese/veggie combo you like. 

Enchiladas with homemade red enchilada sauce

I’ve always been a fan of canned enchilada sauces, since they were easy and inexpensive, but they I went homemade. I’m never going back. It’s very inexpensive to make a huge batch, and you can freeze it to have on hand when the enchilada urge strikes. I was originally going to save this for butternut squash and black bean enchiladas later in the week, until I made this sauce. Enchiladas happened right then and there, for lunch. With margaritas. 

Enchiladas and margarita

I couldn’t figure out why some enchiladas were better (to me) than others, and then it finally hit me. Tomatoes. Some have them, some don’t. I like it better with that little bit of tomato zing. You can skip the tomatoes (and just use broth + some flour) to make a gravy type sauce, but I like the bright color and flavor of the tomatoes.

Homemade red enchilada sauce

What takes this sauce over the top is the soaked chipotle chilies; they add a robust smoky flavor.

Broth in a blender

Next time you want to impress someone, make some of these enchiladas. While they’re not fancy, they have a way of covering your soul in a blanket of happiness. Comfort food at its best! And if your husband is like mine, he won’t speak the entire time he’s eating them. Time wasted speaking is time you could be eating πŸ˜‰

Homemade enchilada sauce

Because of the vibrant color, it’s also a great option for holiday dinner. We usually do enchiladas, tamales, beans and rice at our house for Christmas. 

Hope you and your family enjoy!


Homemade red enchilada sauce

A smoky and bright sauce to use for your favorite enchilada recipe. A thousand times better -and just as inexpensive- than the canned stuff!

  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30


  • 12 dried chipotle chilies, soaked in water overnight
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) of tomato sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • salt to taste (i used about 1/4 teaspoon since my chicken broth was salted)


  1. Blend the chipotle chilies in a high-speed blender with the chicken broth. Set aside.
  2. In a large pot on medium low heat, sautΓ© the garlic in a little butter, just to release the aroma.
  3. Add in your spices and salt, and coat the garlic with the spice mixture.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, and stir in the tomato sauce.
  5. Add the broth mixture and whisk well for a smooth sauce. Cook over low heat for about 10 minutes for the flavors to mix.
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
  7. Use in your favorite enchilada recipe!


  • For these photos, I used the same method to cook the enchiladas as I did in this post: http://fitnessista.com/2009/08/shrouded-in-a-cheese-blanket/ (from four years ago!)
  • I just used this red sauce instead of making the white sauce.

Enchiladas are a staple meal in our dinnertime rotation and homemade red enchilada sauce takes them over the top!




Favorite Mexican food? What does your family usually eat when they get together for the holidays?

Post Navigation:


  1. Erin @ Girl Gone Veggie on November 19, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Josh looooves enchiladas! I’ll have to make this for him sometime! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Jackie on November 19, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Holy yum!

  3. Fit Missy on November 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

    For a long time I was always using store bought tomato sauce but this is even better! πŸ™‚

  4. Court Star @ StarSystemz on November 19, 2013 at 10:48 am

    I love enchiladas and even though I don’t do cheese I enjoy the idea of wrapping up deliciousness in a tortilla and baking it with sauce! I will have to try your sauce out and love how simple it is. Thank you for sharing loads of love C

  5. Lucie on November 19, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Yumm, Enchiladas!! I definitely need to make them soon, maybe even for christmas! I am sick of the meat Fondue anyway!

  6. Sanaz@runforcake.com on November 19, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I love this recipe. I’ve seen so many different options but this is just great. You can also use this sauce on rice with a tiny bit of cheese with beans and/or meat for a rice bowl type of meal and it’s my favorite in homemade mexican pizza!

  7. Alexandra on November 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Do you think it would work/taste as good with veggie broth instead of chicken broth? Thanks!

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 11:32 am

      totally would! xo

  8. Sara @ LovingOnTheRun on November 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

    I actually have never tried making enchiladas – may have to put this on the dinner menu soon!

  9. Alana on November 19, 2013 at 11:17 am

    My go to, crowd pleasing comfort dish is green chile chicken enchiladas (we are a bit obsessed with the GC over here in New Mexico), but your red enchies look awesome and the sauce sounds way easier to make than I was imaging. Hoping you’ll post your butternut and black bean enchies recipe too πŸ™‚

  10. Elizabeth on November 19, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Looks amazing! I am more of a green sauce fan, but when you have a good red sauce, it is amazing!! I like how easy it is to make too!

  11. Holly on November 19, 2013 at 11:24 am

    I love me some enchiladas! And I really hate reading the ingredient label on store bought enchilada sauce so I’m very excited about this recipe!

    Any tips or recipes for green enchiladas? Would it just be some type of green chili instead? I don’t know my chilies very well!

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

      my cheater recipe: i use the salsa verde from trader joes as the sauce. it’s amazing

  12. jodie on November 19, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I have been trying to decide what to make for dinner, problem solved. Awesome!!

    Have a great day!!!

  13. Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat on November 19, 2013 at 11:39 am

    I’m sure this sauce is waaay better than store bought! Deeelicious! Well…now I’m craving enchiladas! πŸ™‚

  14. Brittany on November 19, 2013 at 11:40 am

    what is your favorite enchilada? I am always looking for new enchilada recipes!

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 11:41 am

      i love chicken, veggie and goat cheese

      • Brittany on November 19, 2013 at 12:40 pm

        how do you make it? Throw it all in tortillas and cook them?

  15. Livi on November 19, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    yum! this will add some pizzaz to taco night!

  16. Captain Competition on November 19, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I have only used the canned sauce before, but this looks too simple to skip. Does this recipe make enough to save a portion and freeze as you suggest or should I double the recipe for that?

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 12:27 pm

      i like my enchiladas really sauce-y, so it was about 1 1/2 batches worth for me. if you’re more conservative with the sauce, it will make two. i’d probably double it just to be sure

  17. Haley @Cupcakes and Sunshine on November 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Oh YAY I can NOT wait to make these! I am a big fan of enchiladas but I have never made them. I’m always up for easy, delicious meals. Add cheese and its the ultimate winner πŸ™‚

  18. Beverly Aragon on November 19, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    Christmas meal = posole and tamales. Always and forever, and I can.not.wait!!!
    I love enchis but I’m super picky about them and, therefore, don’t have them very often. They must be cheese only, made with Chimayo red chile, stacked instead of rolled, with an over easy egg on top. Deeeeelishhhhh πŸ™‚

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 12:28 pm

      you’re killing me over here. i’m dying for one of those now haha!

  19. Lauren @ The Bikini Experiment on November 19, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    I love Mexican food! The recipe for this sauce looks great. My mom always makes lasagna for family get-togethers. so that’s always a comfort food for me.

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      looooove lasagna!

  20. Taylor @ Singletrackedmind on November 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    I love enchiladas! Haven’t eaten them in forever. That will have to change.

  21. Maria on November 19, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    When we get together for a Mexican Fiesta, my grandma makes enchiladas but with Mole Sauce or tostadas πŸ™‚ I could eat mexican food just about every day!

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      same! so good πŸ™‚

  22. Olivia at ohmy Olivia on November 19, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    This looks delicious! I love homemade enchiladas, we always use our own recipe. Definitely want to try this xo

  23. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance on November 19, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    I have actually never made enchiladas but have definitely made various types of tacos, faijitas and quesadillas! However, my favorite Mexican I’ve ever had was visiting my husband in Mexico City earlier this year and eating at this local restaurant called Pujol. I have no idea what we ate but it was out of this world delicious!

  24. Christina @ The Beautiful Balance on November 19, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Enchiladas have just been added to my list of meals to make this week after reading this!

  25. Shaina Anderson on November 19, 2013 at 3:20 pm

    YUM! I’m totally trying this homemade sauce. I have a recipe for eggplant almond enchiladas that is to. die. for. Even our non-veggie friends go nuts over them.

    • Fitnessista on November 19, 2013 at 4:26 pm

      that sounds amazing!

  26. Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs on November 19, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Yum! I wish I had all the ingredients on hand to make enchiladas tonight — they look so good!

  27. Dominique @ That's What Domi Said on November 19, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    Um, me gusta. Me gusta MUCHO. πŸ™‚
    My most recent cooking “win” has been vegetarian enchiladas lasagna-style! So not really enchis, but all the same ingredients put together like a lasagna. Best of both worlds? Haha. I used canned green enchilada sauce, but I’ll have to try your recipe next time!

  28. Christie @ http://Kissesandkale.blogspot.com on November 19, 2013 at 4:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I LOVE enchiladas and I’ve been looking for a good enchilada sauce recipe so I’m not always using canned sauce.

  29. Jessica on November 19, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    I add a little unsweetened cocoa powder to add a new depth of flavor. I haven’t used dried chilies in mine since my 2 girls don’t like spicy at all. Now I need to go shop tomorrow and make enchilada sauce. πŸ™‚

  30. Elyse @ Lizzie Fit on November 19, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I love enchiladas but I totally agree with you on the sauce! I find them kind of weird tasting when its gravy-like. I have yet to make them at home!

  31. Kim McDevitt, MPH RD on November 22, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    made a few changes to the sauce bc I didn’t have all ingredients on hand and it was still amazing. like seriously amazing. you’re a kitchen wizard

  32. trish on December 23, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    I made a triple batch of this today. I couldn’t find dried Chipoltle’s , so I used canned ones. It worked.

    The best enchilada sauce ever!

    • Fitnessista on December 24, 2013 at 12:06 pm


  33. Catherine on February 2, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    This sauce was excellent in our Superbowl dish of roasted vegetable enchiladas. I used chipotle chilies that had been store in adobe sauce which added a lovely smoke element to the taste.
    We also used the sauce to coat our roasted chicken wings, after they came out of the oven we coated liberally in the sauce then grilled them off for a final charred taste.

  34. Tamara on February 16, 2014 at 3:50 am

    I have just finished eating dinner which was chicken enchiladas with your sauce, and it hands down made the best enchiladas hubby and I have ever had, including dining out! I ordered some chipotle chillies online and they were well worth the wait as they gave an amazing flavour. I made a double batch hoping the sauce would be enjoyable, so glad I did as it was delicious. Thanks for posting : )

Leave a Comment

Recipe rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.