Homemade Enchilada Sauce

April 23, 2020
Is Homemade Enchilada Sauce worth the effort?  Yes, it absolutely is!   With just a few pantry staples and a handful of spices, you can have amazingly flavorful homemade enchilada sauce done in about 20 minutes.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Image

Awhile back I got to thinking and couldn't help but wonder if going the extra step to make homemade enchilada sauce is worth the effort.

I mean, I have to admit I've always just used the stuff in the can for pretty much my whole life.  But I wanted to know if making your own enchilada sauce from scratch tastes better.

So I set about whipping up a few batches and doing some taste comparisons to let my family's palates decide.  I tried a couple versions of homemade enchilada sauce from scratch versus a couple different canned varieties.  And we tried all the sauces straight from a spoon, and baked on top of simple chicken enchiladas.  

Our palates' verdict?

Oh, it wasn't even close.  Homemade enchilada sauce absolutely  trumped the stuff in a can!  So much so, in fact, I highly doubt the canned stuff will ever grace our pantry again.  The taste of homemade is so much richer and more flavorful, there's no turning back for us now.

With just a few pantry staples and a handful of spices, you can have homemade enchilada sauce done in about 20 minutes.

Now, the other question I was thinking is one you may be thinking, too ... Is homemade enchilada sauce hard to make?

Based on our experience, that's a very simple question to answer, too.

No, making enchilada sauce from scratch isn't hard!  In fact, homemade enchilada sauce is actually very easy  to make.  

Much easier than I thought.  And quick, too.  With just a few pantry staples and a handful of spices, you can have homemade enchilada sauce done in about 20 minutes.

And believe me -- the homemade result is well worth the effort.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Over Rolled Up Enchiladas Image

It did take me a few tries to get the sauce the way I liked it, but below is the simple & quick recipe I landed on.  

Homemade enchilada sauce begins with a simple slurry of melted butter and flour.  To make the slurry, just melt butter in a saucepan and stir in a little all-purpose flour until the mixture thickens into a paste-like texture. 

Then add tomato paste, loads of chili powder, and some other spices.  

How to Make Homemade Enchilada Sauce Image

Stir the spices, tomato paste, and slurry mixture together with some chicken or vegetable broth.

I also found that a few teaspoons of apple cider vinegar "smooth out" the bite of the chili powder and bring on a nice balanced flavor.  So stir that in, too.

Mixing Homemade Enchilada Sauce in Skillet Pan Image

Then simmer the sauce for a few minutes until it's thickened.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Thickened in Pan Image

Once the sauce has simmered and thickened, it's ready to use right away to slather over a batch of enchiladas.  Or, you can store it in the refrigerator for up to two weeks to use later.
Either way, I highly encourage you to ditch the can and whip up your own homemade enchilada sauce from scratch.  
Truly, the 20 or so minutes and little bit of effort it takes is absolutely worth it!

Check out these other tasty "make-your-own" recipes:
Jar of Homemade Enchilada Sauce Image
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Main Dishes
Yield: about 3 cups

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Is Homemade Enchilada Sauce worth the effort? Yes! With just a few pantry staples and a handful of spices, you can have amazingly flavorful homemade enchilada sauce done in about 20 minutes.
prep time: 10 Mcook time: 15 Mtotal time: 25 M


  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 or 3 T. chili powder*
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 2 1/2 c. chicken broth or vegetable broth {or water, but broth will give a richer flavor}
  • 3 tsp. apple cider vinegar


How to make Homemade Enchilada Sauce

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 & 1/2 minutes.
  2. Add chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, oregano, pepper, and tomato paste; stir until well blended. Using a whisk, gradually add chicken broth, whisking constantly.  Stir in apple cider vinegar.
  3. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes until thickened.
  4. Use immediately in your favorite enchilada recipe, or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
  1. * Be sure to use the spice blend sold as "chili powder" or "chili powder blend," not cayenne pepper. Adjust amount to suit personal taste and desired level of spiciness. We like ours with 2 tablespoons chili powder, and find it plenty spicy enough. 
  2. Keep in mind that different brands or varieties of chili powder may produce different flavor, color, and spiciness results. Experiment to see what you like best.
Created using The Recipes Generator

You might also like these other spicy dishes:

Simple Chicken Enchiladas
Spicy Tortilla Lasagna
Tamale Pie Casserole

Hot Corn Dip
3-Ingredient Sausage Queso Dip
Baked Jalapeno Poppers

Homemade Enchilada Sauce ~ With just a few pantry staples & a handful of spices, you can have amazingly flavorful homemade enchilada sauce done in about 20 minutes. And yes, it's TOTALLY worth the homemade effort!  www.thekitchenismyplayground.com

Affiliate links are included in this post. I receive a small amount of compensation for anything purchased from these links,at Amazon.com at no additional cost to you.

This post is linked with Weekend PotluckMeal Plan Monday.


  1. What is a brand of a good chili powder. I have tried quiet a few but not there yet.

    1. Be careful about selecting your chili powder. Many brands include cayenne and lots of black pepper. Pure ground chilies is spicy, but not hot. In South Texas (and we know Mexican food) the favorite is made in San Antonio, TX under the label FIESTA BRAND. The company makes lots of terrific spices. Playground's recipe is a good one, but has more tomato than most of the enchilada sauces in South Texas.


  2. Thank you for sharing at the Thursday Favorite Things blog hop

  3. Love that you made your own enchilada sauce! Totally trying this!

  4. Thank you for bringing this to FF. We are all cooking from our pantry right now and this has the potential of fitting that requirement.

  5. Homemade enchilada sauce is definitely worth the effort! Pinning your recipe. It looks so easy.

  6. Nice! I have to admit I never even wondered what goes in an enchilada sauce. So easy to make, and it SOUNDS like it would be delicious.

  7. I love homemade sauces, and this sure looks good! Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and sure hope you will come back soon!
    Miz Helen

  8. It looks better than the canned stuff! Pinned - Thanks for sharing at the What's for Dinner party. I hope to see you again at tomorrow's party.

  9. Is this something you may can for long-term storage?

  10. Made this tonight and it turned out great! Was super easy too. Thank you!

  11. Wow absolutely love this sauce. My husband says that it's loads better than the kits that we've been buying, so now no more kits. This makes loads, so very cost effective as well as tasty.

  12. Made this and my family loved it! Great recipe! I didn't have tomato paste on hand so I used a can of diced tomatoes and reduced the broth so it didn't get to thin. Blended it with my immersion blender to get rid of the tomato chunks and it turned out great! Have you tried freezing this?

  13. I recently made my own enchilada sauce for the first time using a different recipe. It was really good and similar to yours, but it didn’t have the tomato paste and vinegar that you include. Yours sounds even better, so I can’t wait to try it! I wanted to mention that I can’t have gluten, so I used a gluten-free flour blend, and the lack of gluten didn’t seem to make a difference in the end result.

  14. Looks so rich and bursting with flavor! Thank you so much for sharing at the Lazy Gastronome's What's for Dinner party. Have a fabulous week.

  15. The taste makes the effort totally worth the time. We always enjoy linking with you.


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