Quick and easy, deeply flavored, rich red in color with wonderful earthy flavor. This quick enchilada sauce recipe is perfect for not only enchiladas but tacos, burritos and beyond. Ready in under 30 minutes. Let’s take a look.
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This recipe was first published October, 2018 and updated January 2021 to include step by step photos and instructions.
About This Recipe and Why it Works
Well here I go again, calling something “the best.” I don’t like doing it. Everyone’s tastes are different, it’s always a matter of opinion.
It’s subjective. But in my book, this is the best homemade Mexican enchilada sauce that I’ve found.
It comes compliments of our friend Greg, who served it over pulled pork enchiladas. A rich brick red saucy blanket slathered over pulled pork enchiladas. Oh-my…g-o-o-d-n-e-s-s good.
And if you don’t dally, it comes together in just about 20 minutes. Which means, you can easily ditch the canned versions from the store.
It’s rich in texture and flavor and this recipe will become your go-to for your Mexican recipes.
This is an easy sauce to make. One pan, stovetop, and with ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. And the secret to its richness, is to make enchilada sauce with cocoa powder.
Let’s take a look.
- The Roux: To make this thick and luxurious, we’ll make a roux with flour and water.
- Spices: This homemade enchilada sauce gets it’s ‘ole from a good quality Chile Powder. We prefer a New Mexico version such as Chimayo chile powder. Ancho Chile powder will work also. Garlic salt, Mexican Oregano, and the secret ingredient, Cocoa Powder. Nothing fancy, I just use Hershey’s Cocoa.
- Seasoning: Chicken Bouillon gives this enchilada sauce just the salty savory kick it needs.
- Tomato: Every enchilada sauce needs a tomato component. For this recipe we’ll use Tomato Sauce.
- Cocoa Powder: Natural Unsweetened Cocoa Powder tastes very bitter and brings a deep chocolate flavor to this enchilada sauce. It’s your secret ingredient to make enchilada sauce a very special enchilada sauce.
Note about chile powder: The recipe calls for three tablespoons of pure chile powder. As opposed to chili (with an i) powder. The later is a blend of ground chile peppers with added seasonings. It’s used to season soups like Chili with Beans.
With a broad range of pure ground chile powders available, you can make this as spicy or as tame as you want.
Ancho chile pepper is a milder powder that delivers lots of chile flavor. I like using any red New Mexico Chile powder.
Chimayo chile powder is my favorite, which can be quite spicy. I’d test the waters if I were you, adding a tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go, until you reach the spice power you’re looking for.
Other Ingredients You Can Use
- Make it a gluten free enchilada sauce: Simply switch out the all purpose flour with gluten free all purpose flour. A high quality like Bob’s Red Mill is a good choice.
- Mexican Chocolate: I’ve used a deep rich flavored cocoa powder for this recipe. If you want to make this a more authentic Mexican Enchilada Sauce, use Mexican Chocolate in place of cocoa powder.
- Make it smoky: In place of the New Mexico Chile Powder, use Chipotle Chile Powder. Chipotle chile powder is made purely from dried chipotle peppers. Chipotle chile peppers are dried smoked jalapeno peppers. It has a sweet smoky flavor and packs a little heat, so be careful.
- Mexican Oregano: I prefer Mexican oregano for all Mexican food recipes. With slightly citrus notes, it pairs well with the flavors in Mexican recipes. If you don’t have Mexican oregano, just use regular oregano.
- Tomato Paste: Don’t have tomato sauce on hand, but you do have a can of tomato paste? Perfect. A substitution that will work well. Just mix 1/4 cup tomato paste with 1/4 cup water.
How to make quick enchilada sauce:
- Step 1: In a bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients. Simply stir them with a whisk to combine.
- Step 2: Stirring constantly, slowly add enough of the water to the dry ingredients to make a thin paste.
- Step 3: Pour the mixture into a sauce pan and add the rest of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in tomato sauce and stir until the mixture is hot.
Voila! Done! Now that’s some quick enchilada sauce! We love this sauce and I’m certain you will too.
Storing Enchilada Sauce
Once the enchilada sauce has cooled to room temperature, pour it into an air-tight container. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks.
You can also freeze enchilada sauce and it will keep in the freezer for about 3 months.
Ways to use Enchilada Sauce
Here’s this Mexican enchilada sauce in action. I’ve made beef and bean burritos and generously bathed them with the sauce before heaping on plenty of cheese and baking.
Recipe for Quick Enchilada Sauce:
I hope you give this Mexican enchilada sauce recipe a try, and if you do, please come back and give the recipe a star rating. I appreciate the feedback and always love hearing from my readers.
And if you have a favorite way to use enchilada sauce, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
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The Best Homemade Quick Enchilada Sauce
- 3 tablespoons chile powder good quality. New Mexico or Ancho
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder Hershey's is what I use
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt or granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano or regular oregano
- 3 cups water
- 8 ounces Canned tomato sauce
- Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Using a whisk, stir to blend.
- Stirring constantly, slowly add enough of the water to make a thin paste. It should be the consistency of gravy.
- Pour into a sauce pan and add the rest of water.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. About 5 – 10 minutes.
- Stir in tomato sauce and continue to heat until the tomato sauce has blended and the enchilada sauce is hot. About 2 minutes.