Enchilada sauce, a staple in Mexican cuisine, has roots that stretch back to the Aztec empire, where it was first concocted to combine rich, earthy flavors with a touch of spice. Making your own enchilada sauce at home not only pays homage to this traditional dish but also allows you to control the quality of ingredients, ensuring a healthier and more flavorful result than store-bought versions.

homemade enchilada sauce

Ingredients You Will Need

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (use gluten-free flour for a GF option)
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder (adjust according to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
  • 1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Prepare Your Cooking Station: Gather all the ingredients and measuring tools before you start. This will streamline your cooking process.
  2. Make the Roux: Heat the vegetable oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir continuously for about 1 minute. This mixture will thicken and form the base of your sauce.
  3. Spice It Up: Add the ground chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt to the roux. Continue to stir for another minute as the spices release their flavors.
  4. Add Liquids: Slowly pour in the broth, whisking continuously to ensure the mixture stays smooth and free of lumps. Then, stir in the tomato sauce.
  5. Simmer: Reduce the heat to low and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened to your liking. Stir occasionally.
  6. Taste Test: Adjust the seasoning if necessary. Some like their enchilada sauce with a bit more kick, so feel free to add more chili powder or a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Tips for Success

  • For a smoother sauce, consider using a blender or immersion blender to puree the sauce until smooth.
  • Adding a small piece of dark chocolate or a pinch of sugar can balance the acidity of the tomato sauce and add depth to the flavor.
  • If the sauce is too thick, simply add more broth until you reach the desired consistency.

How to Store the Sauce

Cool the sauce completely before transferring it to an airtight container. It can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week or frozen for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Alternative Ingredients

  • For a gluten-free version, use a gluten-free flour blend instead of all-purpose flour.
  • To make the sauce vegan, ensure the broth used is vegetable-based.
  • For an extra smokey flavor, try adding a bit of smoked paprika.

Serving Suggestions

Your homemade enchilada sauce is perfect for traditional enchiladas, but it's also great in casseroles, over-grilled meats, or as a dipping sauce for empanadas. Get creative and see where this sauce can take your culinary creations!


Creating your own enchilada sauce at home is a simple and rewarding process that not only brings authentic Mexican flavors into your kitchen but also allows you to tailor the sauce to your dietary needs and flavor preferences. We encourage you to try this recipe and share your experiences with us. Happy cooking!

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