enchilada sauce in a small jar and spread on a corn tortilla

How to Make Enchilada Sauce From Scratch

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Yes, you can buy enchilada sauce at the store, but it won’t compare to this from scratch recipe. With a few panty staples and simple ingredients, you can create a tasty enchilada sauce the whole family will love.

enchilada sauce in a saucepan with a whisk

Growing up, making enchiladas was a post Thanksgiving tradition. My mom loved to make turkey enchiladas as a way to use up some of the delicious turkey day leftovers. However, I remember it being a whole family ordeal. With a bit of experimenting and practice, this enchilada sauce recipe completely changed the game for me.

A Family Friendly Enchilada Sauce

In our house, we don’t like a ton of spice, so this recipe is great for a family with milder taste buds. We love it for a few reasons:

  • Authentic Mexican flavor without too much heat
  • Easy to make
  • Ingredients are usually all on hand so I don’t have to plan a grocery run to make it
  • It is free of unnecessary processed ingredients you may find in canned enchilada sauces
Enchilada sauce in a mason jar with a spoon on a cutting board next to a corn tortilla with sauce spread out on it

Ingredients

1/2 Cup of vegetable oil

4 TBSPs of flour (all purpose gluten free flour works too)

1/3 Cup of chili powder

One 15oz can of tomato sauce

2 1/2 Cups of water

1/2 Tsp of ground cumin

1 Tsp of garlic powder

1/2 Tsp of salt

Kitchen Tools

  • Non-stick saucepan – if you don’t have a saucepan, you can use a normal pot. A skillet will not be large enough to hold all of the sauce.
  • Whisk

How to Make Enchilada Sauce

1. In a non-stick saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. (You don’t want the oil to get too hot and start to smoke because it will burn the seasonings when you add them. If your burner warms up quickly, heat the oil over medium-low heat until it’s warm.)

2. Once the oil is warm, stir in the flour. Whisk constantly over medium heat until it starts to thicken and bubble.

3. Immediately when it starts to bubble stir in the chili powder until it is completely combined. After about 45 seconds, turn the heat to medium-low.

4. Next, slowly stir in the tomato sauce, water, and seasonings.

5. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for around 10 minutes until it is slightly thick.

6. Remove from heat and use to prepare your enchiladas.

pan of baked enchiladas topped with cheese

How to Store Enchilada Sauce

You can store any leftover enchilada sauce in the fridge in an airtight container. Or you can use leftover enchilada sauce to make Mexican rice, which is a delicious side to serve with enchiladas. If you are looking for an enchilada sauce recipe to can, I suggest looking on a website like freshperserving.com because canning directions vary based on the ingredients.

Yield: Two 9x13 pans of enchiladas

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

enchilada sauce in a saucepan with a whisk

A family-friendly authentic tasting enchilada sauce for mild taste buds.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Cup of Vegetable Oil
  • 4 TBSPs of Flour or Gluten Free Flour
  • 1/3 Cup of Chili Powder
  • One 15oz Can of Tomato Sauce
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Water
  • 1/2 Tsp of Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp of Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Tsp of Salt

Instructions

  1. In a non-stick saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.
  2. Once the oil is warm (not smoking!), stir in the flour. Continue to stir constantly over medium heat till it starts to thicken and bubble.
  3. Immediately, when it starts to bubble, stir in the chili powder until it is completely combined. After about 45 seconds, turn the heat to medium-low.
  4. Next, slowly stir in the tomato sauce, water, and seasonings.
  5. Cook over medium to medium-low heat for around 10 minutes until it slightly thickens.
  6. Remove from heat and use to prepare your enchiladas.

Notes

Air on the side of caution with the burner heat. If you add the flour and chili powder when the oil is too hot, it will burn and your sauce will not thicken properly.

If you like spicy enchiladas, add more cumin or add some spice with red pepper flakes, pepper, oregano, etc.

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