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Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

5 from 1 vote

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A simple, delicious homemade enchilada sauce! This is enough sauce for a batch of enchiladas, approximately 16 enchiladas with a good amount of sauce coverage.

I grew up loving and eating Mexican food, and this Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe is a delicious and versatile sauce!

Jar of Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe surrounded by red peppers

My mom was always told that her family heritage was “Texas” and nothing else. And while my family roots are really California and Colorado, the Mexican food love runs deep.

So you can bet that Mexican food is a staple in the house and has been since I was a kid. Enchilada night was a regular meal!

My favorite way to use this keto enchilada sauce is in Ground Beef Enchiladas, which was the classic at home growing up.

Why You Will Love This Recipe

This Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe is SO easy and fast to make! Having an easy enchilada sauce in your back pocket is perfect for Mexican night at the house.

It is always a hit, no matter how I serve it, and beats what you get in a can.

This gluten free, vegan enchilada sauce recipe can be used for more than just enchiladas.

I love to drown a smothered burrito in red enchilada sauce. It is also great to toss meats in for salads, or even as a taco sauce.

Skip the sugar to make it keto low carb. The sugar helps balance the acidity, but is not required.

Beef enchiladas made with Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe


These are the ingredients you need for homemade enchilada sauce:

  • Tomato Sauce
  • Ground Cumin
  • Chili Powder
  • Yellow Onion
  • Oil
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Water
Close up of Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

Instruction Overview

Heat the oil in the small pot.

Add the spices and cook briefly.

Toasting the spices helps bring out the flavors!

Add the tomato sauce and water.

Simmer until ready to use, ideally at least 15 minutes.

Jar of enchilada sauce

Modifications and Substitutions

Make the enchilada sauce as thick or thin as you like by adjusting the amount of water you use.

I prefer it a little on the thicker side because I am a big lover of sauce in general.

If you want it thinner like what you would find in a can, just add more liquid.

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe on a towel with wooden spoon

Kim’s Tips

I love to use great quality chili powders for this recipe because it is very noticeable. Anything from New Mexico or the southwest is typically amazing. 

Just watch the heat level! The fresh powders can be spicier than what you get in the store, since the store aims for a specific heat versus whatever the peppers want to do.

Any chili powder works, though!

Enchilada Recipes

Enchilada Recipes

Pin image of Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe in jar with title at bottom

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

A simple, delicious homemade enchilada sauce! This is enough sauce for a batch of enchiladas, approximately 16 enchiladas with a good amount of sauce coverage.
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Condiment, Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: 30 Min or Less, Gluten Free, Keto/Low Carb, Vegan, Vegetarian
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 batch
Calories: 214kcal



  • Heat oil in a small pot over medium heat.
  • When oil is heated, add the onion and saute until translucent but not brown, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, approximately 30 seconds.
  • Add the cumin, chile powder, salt, and sugar. Stir to combine and toast the spices until they are fragrant to open them up, approximately 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the tomato sauce and 1/2 cup water. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and let the sauce simmer for at least 15 minutes. The longer the better, so if you can start this earlier than the flavors will continue to develop and make a more robust tasting sauce.
  • Add additional water as desired as sauce continues to cook to get your desired consistency. Use in your favorite enchilada or Mexican recipe.


  • The heat for this recipe is mild to medium. For a very mild heat, use just 1 tablespoon of the chili powder. For a spicy sauce, use 3 tablespoons of the chili powder or add some cayenne.
  • Keep in mind that the exact powders that you use can vary greatly in heat level.  If you are worried about heat, it is best to start off with less chili powder and add more as you need to than to end up with a sauce that is too hot!
  • The longer you can let this sauce cook, the better it will taste.
  • You can skip the sugar to make this keto, but it helps round out the acidic and sharp flavors that can come with tomatoes.


Serving: 1batch | Calories: 214kcal | Carbohydrates: 44g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3092mg | Potassium: 1944mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 6662IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 193mg | Iron: 11mg
By on September 27th, 2020

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

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