Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

You’ll love this quick and easy Red Enchilada Sauce! Ready in 10-minutes and the perfect topping to drizzle over your favorite Mexican food dish – cheese, beef enchiladas or tamales!

This recipe uses all-natural ingredients and contains no fillers, preservatives, additives or colorants and believe it or not, it has no tomatoes!

It comes together in 10-minutes and is delicious served over your favorite nachos, enchiladas or tamales!

Red Enchilada sauce being drizzled over enchiladas
Quick and easy restaurant-style Red Enchilada sauce it ready in 10-minutes!

This Texan loves her Tex-Mex and this red enchilada sause, or “salsa roja” is just like you get at your favorite Mexican restaurant-only better!

Why you’ll love it!

Once you make this, you’ll never buy canned enchilada sauce again!

The flavor is similar to national brands like Old El Paso™ , La Victoria™, La Preferida™ and Las Palmas™ enchilada sauces-but with no additives, preservatives or fillers. 

  • Quick and easy -takes 10-minutes to make
  • Stores well in the fridge or freezer – make a big batch to add later to your homemade chili!
  • All-natural ingredients – no additives, preservatives or yucky stuff
  • Contains no tomatoes! No tomato sauce or tomato paste.

It’s flavors are derived directly from the chili powder and cumin.

I like to make this in big batches and freeze it so I have it on hand anytime I want to put a Mexican or South of The Border spin on my tacos, enchiladas or tamales.

Ingredients and how to make it:

Simple, all-natural ingredients are the secret to this recipe!

First, you’ll make a roux of oil and flour, then add in the dry seasonings (chili and garlic powder, cumin, oregano and a pinch of salt.)

Finish it off with chicken broth and cook it on low until the sauce sticks to the spoon, like this:

Enchilada sauce dripping off wooden spoon
Cook sauce until it thickens enough to stick to a wooden spoon

Make it as mild or spicy as you like! If you want to add a little heat to it, start with a little more chili powder and/or ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper. 

The difference between red and green enchilada sauce

Red is derived from chili powder and has a warm and smoky flavor. It is generally milder than green.

Green is derived from green chiles, and has a somewhat more tangy, acidic flavor. It is typically a bit more spicy usually due to the inclusion of jalapenos. 

Each sauce is cooked and has its own unique flavor profile. (As a side note, “salsa verde” is not cooked; it is derived from pureed raw ingredients.)

How to thicken the sauce:

You can make this as thick or thin as you like. I prefer a thin sauce, but if you want to thicken it, add a slurry of flour at the end.

Use a flour-based slurry to thicken  it. (Since flour contains gluten, this sauce is not gluten-free.) 

Pour one cup of warm water into a measuring cup; add 2-3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour; whisk until there are no lumps; add to sauce and allow to cook for a few minutes.

How to thin it:

If you prefer a really thin sauce, add more broth and adjust seasonings according to your palate.

Too spicy?

If you accidentally make it too spicy, add more broth or add a little cream or half-n-half to it. The dairy will reduce the heat.

Refrigeration and storage:

Store in a secure container in the fridge for up to a week or, freeze it for up to 3-months.

I usually freeze it in a plastic storage bag so when its time to heat it up, all I have to do is place the bag in warm water.

Red Enchilada sauce drizzled over enchiladas

Serve this quick enchilada sauce as a topping for your favorite enchiladas, tamales, or as a warm dip for quesadillas!

Related recipes:

If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a rating and comment! I love to hear from you!

Red Enchilada sauce drizzled over enchiladas

Easy Red Enchilada Sauce

Homemade red enchilada sauce made with all-natural ingredients! Better than canned!
5 from 8 votes
Print Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep Time: 0 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 4 cups
Author: Anecia Hero


  • ¼ cup oil , canola or vegetable
  • ½ cup flour , all-purpose
  • 6 tablespoons chili powder , ground (¼ cup + 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin , ground
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • salt to taste


  • In a medium saucepan on medium low heat, add oil; whisk in flour
    ¼ cup oil, ½ cup flour
  • Add dry ingredients: chili powder, garlic powder, oregano and cumin; combine well
    6 tablespoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon oregano, 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Stir in chicken broth; cook for 5-8 minutes until sauce thickens and stick to the spoon
    4 cups chicken broth
  • Serve or refrigerate for later
    salt to taste


  • No oregano? substitute with marjoram
  • Note: this recipe yields 4 cups of red enchilada sauce; nutrition is calculated for one cup. It's unlikely anyone would consume a whole cup of sauce, so for more accurate nutrition info, divide by 4, allowing 1/4 cup sauce per person.
  • Divide by 2 for 1/2 cup per person.
  • Want it spicier? Add more chili powder and/or cayenne pepper?
  • Want it thicker? Add a flour slurry at the end: 1 cup warm water with 2-3 tablespoons of flour; whisk together, pour into sauce; cook a few minutes until thick

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 231kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 4gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 1059mgPotassium: 458mgFiber: 5gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 3571IUVitamin C: 17mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 4mg
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5 from 8 votes (8 ratings without comment)

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