I proudly present: the best Red Enchilada Sauce. Homemade enchilada sauce might sound daunting to make, but this quick recipe is beyond easy, ready in 15 minutes, and uses common ingredients you can find at any grocery store.
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Why You’ll Love This Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- Way Better Than Canned. Not only does this easy red enchilada sauce beat the pants off of whatever you’ll find on a store shelf, but you’ll also feel great knowing what’s in it. It has significantly less sodium and simple ingredients. It is the BEST enchilada sauce!
- Easy to Make. This red enchilada sauce is made with tomato sauce, garlic, basic seasonings, and smoky, spicy chipotles in adobo, all simmered together and then blended. So flippin’ easy!
- Adjust the Spice Level. The flavor is delightfully smoky, and you can adjust the spice level to your taste. While it might not be the most authentic enchilada sauce recipe per se, this speedier version still boasts classic, restaurant-style enchilada sauce flavor, and it’s completely attainable on a weeknight. WIN!
- It Makes LOTS of Sauce. This sauce recipe yields a good amount (3 1/2 cups, or the equivalent of nearly three 10-ounce cans or two 14-ounce cans). You can use it in recipes that call for a larger amount of sauce or freeze it in individual portions, then reach for one whenever a recipe calls for canned red enchilada sauce.
5 Star Review
“This sauce is easy to make — I appreciate the short list of ingredients. It is also very tasty and made the house smell wonderful while cooking.”— Scott —
How to Make Red Enchilada Sauce
- Tomato Sauce. The base for our easy red enchilada sauce. It brings a rich, developed flavor, helping to make this a quick enchilada sauce that tastes like it has been cooking for hours.
- Canned Chipotle Peppers. For smoky flavor and spice!
- Adobo Sauce. This is a bonus and comes in the can with the chipotle peppers. It’s spicy, earthy, and gives the sauce a unique, memorable flavor.
- Simple Seasoning. I used a mixture of garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Coconut Sugar. Or brown sugar. The subtle sweetness and caramel flavor complements the heat of the chipotles. The sauce isn’t sweet; the sugar is here for balance.
- Mix. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan.
- Cook. Simmer until thickened.
- Finish. Transfer the cooked red enchilada sauce to your blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. ENJOY!
- To Store. Refrigerate leftover red enchilada sauce in an airtight storage container or jar for up to 1 week.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop over medium-low heat.
- To Freeze. Portion the sauce into individual containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight or (if you are in a big hurry) reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove.
Ways to Use Red Enchilada Sauce
- Recipes That Use Enchilada Sauce. Use your sauce in this Crock Pot Mexican Casserole, Vegetarian Enchiladas with Butternut Squash and Black Beans, Chicken Enchilada Skillet, and all of these other delicious recipes.
- With Quesadillas. Add a drizzle of this sauce on top of a Freezer Breakfast Quesadilla, Sweet Potato Black Bean Quesadillas, or any quesadillas you like to make. It would also be tasty over these Breakfast Tacos.
- With Pasta. Stir this sauce in with some cooked pasta and your favorite enchilada ingredients (black beans, ground meat, avocado, and melted cheese would all be tasty!). If this sounds delicious, check out my Taco Pasta for a similar dish.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Immersion Blender. An easy way to make smooth enchilada sauce.
- Mason Jars. Both this smaller size and larger size would be great for storing and freezing leftover sauce.
- Small Whisk. The perfect size for mixing sauce ingredients without splashing everywhere.
Recipe Tips and Tricks
- Know What to Expect. Note that this homemade red enchilada sauce won’t taste exactly like the kind you may be used to in a can. I’d argue it is much, much better, but if you don’t care for the smoky flavor of chipotle, this is probably not the sauce recipe for you.
- Blend Carefully. If you don’t have an immersion blender, place a thick layer of paper towels over the top of your blender before you turn it on to protect your kitchen (and yourself) from hot splatters.
- Make It Your Own. Add more chipotle to make your sauce extra spicy or mix in some cayenne for heat without the smokiness. Roasted Garlic is a delicious addition too. Feel free to get creative!
Red Enchilada Sauce
- 2 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce
- 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce use two individual peppers for a spicy sauce or one if you prefer medium heat; if you like mild, try omitting the peppers and adding just a few teaspoons of the adobo sauce to begin; you can always add more sauce later for additional heat
- 1 tablespoon adobo sauce from the can of chipotle peppers in adobo
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup water or low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon coconut sugar or brown sugar
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the tomato sauce, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, garlic powder, water or broth, salt, pepper, and coconut sugar.
- Bring to a steady simmer, then reduce the heat to medium low. Cover the pan and let simmer gently until thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a blender or food processor and blend until very smooth. Tip: Place a thick layer of paper towels over the top of your blender before you turn it on. Hot liquids in blenders love to splatter—don’t ask me how I know. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
- TO FREEZE: Portion the sauce into individual containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight or (if you are in a big hurry) reheat gently in the microwave or on the stove.
- Because of the chipotle peppers, the flavor of this sauce is deep and smoky (deliciously so!). If you prefer a more classic, right-from-the-can taste, I’d suggest seeking a different recipe. (I don’t have a specific one I recommend, as this is the recipe I always use.)
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