Homemade Enchilada Sauce

No More Canned Enchilada Sauce

I love enchilada sauce. When we go out to our favorite Mexican restaurant, I always order something slathered in it: a burrito, enchiladas or arroz con pollo. But any attempts to recreate these meals at home always fall flat. It’s because of the sauce.

I did my usual online research and discovered that there are about as many recipes for enchilada sauce as there are people who make enchiladas. The common features are as follows:

  • Roux
  • Chili powder
  • Broth (vegetable or chicken)
  • Tomatoes (paste or sauce)

Seasonings and ratios are completely variable.

Here’s the recipe that I came up with, and it tastes pretty similar to the sauce from my favorite restaurant.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Serves 8
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
Total time 30 minutes
Meal type Condiment
Misc Child Friendly, Pre-preparable
Region Mexican
My obsession with enchilada sauce led me on a quest to make my own. This is a pretty reasonable approximation of the sauce at my favorite local Mexican restaurant.


  • 2 tablespoons Olive or grapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons All purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons High quality chili powder
  • 8oz Chicken broth or stock
  • 2 cans Tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Onion powder
  • .5 teaspoon Ground cumin
  • .25 teaspoon Chipotle powder ((technically two shakes, but that's not a measurement))
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Freshly ground pepper (to taste)
  • 1-2 tablespoon White vinegar (to taste)


Step 1
In a medium saucepan heat oil over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook until a nutty smell develops, 2-3 minutes. Add chili powder, whisking constantly.
Step 2
Gradually add broth, whisking constantly. It will start out as a thick, clumpy mess, but it will smooth out. Cook over medium-low heat until the mixture thickens.
Step 3
Add tomato sauce, whisking together to mix. Add garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and chipotle powder. Cook for another minute.
Step 4
Taste the sauce. Add salt and pepper to adjust the flavor. If it still tastes a bit flat, add 1 Tbsp of vinegar. Taste again before adding more. Mine required 2 Tbsp, but I have no doubt that every batch varies slightly.
Step 5
Use immediately or refrigerate for up to a week. It can be frozen, but the texture gets odd.


I used the sauce to moisten the leftover arroz con pollo and enchiladas from a recent meal. Midway through, I noticed that the Tiny Kitchen Assistant was dipping his chips in the sauce and munching away happily. That, my friends, is a big old score in the mom playbook.

The Husband couldn’t believe that I had actually made it myself. He thought that it was the restaurant’s sauce, which I take as a compliment.

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