Enchilada Sauce

Dried Mexican chilies give this delicious red enchilada sauce recipe its vibrant color and bold flavor, making it perfect for making your favorite enchiladas.

This enchilada sauce recipe will have you never reaching for the jarred stuff ever again.

A store bought enchilada sauce is convenient and is great.

Once I realized how easy it is to make homemade enchilada sauce and how much tastier it is- there was no going back. Make this delicious sauce to go with our Chicken Enchiladas!


What is enchilada sauce

Enchilada sauce is a blended sauce consisting of dried chile peppers and water. There are lots of ways to make it but a red enchilada sauce always starts from chiles and water and adds different seasonings from there.

More non-traditional variations make a roux-based sauce. Some form of fat, flour, tomato paste, and broth come together with seasonings to form a red sauce. Personally, dried chiles are bursting with rich flavor (and not that spicy) and I think they make the best enchilada sauce.

There is also green enchilada sauce which I make from tomatillos. This blog post will be all about the red sauce.

How to make homemade enchilada sauce

Wow all your friends and family by making this super easy enchilada sauce.

First let’s talk dried chile peppers. If you are not a fan of spicy, don’t let these big bad dried chiles scare you off- they’re not very spicy. Once blended and cooked, there’s hardly any spice and instead just a beautiful deep flavor.

We use guajillo and ancho chile peppers, two very common varieties in Mexican cooking. You should easily be able to buy these in any major supermarket. 

dried guajillo and ancho peppers

Guajillo is commonly made in sauces, salsas, marinades, and spice rubs. It’s known for its very pronounced, rich flavor and it’s really not spicy.

Ancho chiles are also mild in spice level and sweet. Anchos are the dried version of the green poblano pepper. Poblanos are harvested before ripening (hence why they’re green), but when they ripen they turn red in color and sweet and mild in taste. 

The first step is to prep the peppers by cutting the stem and top off and dumping the seeds out. There are a lot of seeds, so if you miss a couple that’s fine too.

Next, slightly roast the peppers in a hot skillet. This brings out the flavor of the pepper.

After a couple of minutes, remove the peppers from the skillet and place into a bowl. Pour boiling water over the peppers, just enough to cover them and let them sit for about 15 minutes. This is important because it helps them soften and get ready to be blended nice and smooth.

dried peppers soaking in water in a bowl
dried guajillo and ancho pepper soaking in water

Drain the peppers and throw them in a blender with roughly ½ cup of water and all the other ingredients- garlic, cumin, salt and pepper, tomato, and oregano. 

Plenty of Mexican red enchilada sauce recipes don’t include tomato. We like to put a little bit of fresh tomato in because the acidity and sweetness balances nicely with the peppers. Give the sauce a taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.

How long does it last in the fridge

In a sealed container enchilada sauce can last in the fridge for up to 5 days. It also freezes well and can be frozen for up to two months.

red enchilada sauce in a white bowl

Enchilada Sauce

Author: Maddy & JD – Them Bites
Dried Mexican chilies give this delicious red enchilada sauce its vibrant color and bold flavor, making it perfect for making your favorite enchiladas.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 8 enchiladas
Calories 518 kcal


  • Blender
  • fine mesh strainer


  • 4 guajillo peppers
  • 4 ancho peppers
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Recipe Instructions

  • First let’s prep the peppers. Cut the stem top off and dump out the seeds.
  • Roast the peppers in a hot pan, pressing them flat with a spatula. Be careful not to burn them. It will only take a minute or so. Remove from heat and place in a bowl.
  • Add a few cups of water to a pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, carefully pour the water over the peppers, adding just enough liquid to cover them. Let soften for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the peppers, saving roughly 1/2 cup of the water, and place in blender.
  • Add garlic cloves, cumin, oregano, tomato, salt, pepper, and 1/2 cup of water. Blend until smooth. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Place in a sealed container and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for a month.


Make this sauce to go with our delicious Chicken Enchiladas.


Calories: 518kcalCarbohydrates: 111gProtein: 17gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 5gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 145mgPotassium: 2952mgFiber: 45gSugar: 63gVitamin A: 40834IUVitamin C: 50mgCalcium: 115mgIron: 11mg
Keyword Best enchilada sauce, Easy enchilada sauce, Enchilada sauce, Enchilada sauce recipe, Homemade enchilada sauce, Recipe for enchilada sauce, Red enchilada sauce
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