21 Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce: A MUST for Cinco de Mayo Recipes!

This is a rich, creamy tomato based sauce that you can adjust the heat level from extra mild to please your pickiest eaters or to lip smackin' hot for the "seasoned" eaters in your family.

In Hispanic cooking, this is liquid gold, a.k.a. Enchilada Sauce.

This recipe comes from my friend who lived in Mexico for a few years and can attest to its authenticy.  You can get it from a can or make it in 15 minutes flat. 

Really.  It's easy.  Watch....it only takes six ingredients.

Use this secret ingredientKnorr's Caldo de Tomate.  This is a tomato/chicken bouillon with a blend of spices that are popular in Mexican cuisine.

I use it in my Tacquitos, Chicken Enchiladas, Tamales, Cheese Enchiladas and Mexican Rice.

You can find it at Walmart in the Hispanic aisle.  Don't be nervous about my ginormous 2.2 pound size container.  It does come in a smaller bottle for about $3.  It keeps well in the fridge for a long time.

1 Tablespoon is all you need.  Add this to some canned tomato sauce.

Another secret ingredient.  Dark Chili powder.  Yes, the color makes the difference...

this is where you adjust the heat....1 Tablespoon for mild, up to 5 Tablespoons for extra hot!

Fresh garlic.  Gotta have it.  I freeze it, peels easily and press it in a garlic press...

add some all purpose flour for a thickener.  This is where having a blender or an immersion blender is handy; it mixes all the lumps out and makes a very smooth sauce.

Add chicken base.  It's like a thick, bouillon paste.  If you don't have chicken base, you can add 2 cups of chicken broth.

Here, I add 2 cups of water because I am using the concentrated chicken base.

Blend away!

I really like this whisk from Pampered Chef.

It reaches all the corners of the pan and ensures a lump-free, smooth and creamy sauce.

Add 1 Tablespoon of canola or vegetable oil to the pan.  Add the enchilada sauce and turn the stove to medium-high.

Stir for about 5 minutes or until thick and bubbly.

There you have it.  The best enchilada sauce ever, because it was made by YOU!

Feliz cinco de Mayo!!

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Red Enchilada Sauce
This enchilada sauce is almost as easy as opening a can, yet tastes so much better! You can adjust the level of spiciness, or heat, by adjusting the amount of chili powder used. Caldo de Tomate is a tomato/chicken bouillon that can be found in the Hispanic or International aisle of your grocery store.
  • 1/2 cup of tomato sauce (half of an 8oz can)
  • 1 Tablespoon of Caldo de Tomate* powder (I use Knorr's)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons - 5 Tablespoons dark chili powder (I use 1 Tablespoon for mild)
  • 3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon chicken flavor Better than Bouillon** (chicken base)
*If you cannot find Caldo de Tomate, use 3-4 Tablespoons mild chili powder, 1 small onion, chopped, and 1/8 teaspoon cumin powder.
**You can use 2 cups of chicken broth in place of chicken base and water.
1. Put all ingredients in a blender. Mix till smooth.2. In a medium sauce pan, put 1 Tablespoon of oil.3. Put saucepan over stove set on medium-high heat.4. Pour the sauce mixture into the pan.5. Cook until bubbly and thick, stirring continually, for about 5-7 minutes.
Use in recipes that call for enchilada sauce: soups, enchiladas, tamales, etc.
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: 2 cups


  1. This sauce has been on my list to make for awhile now! This post makes it look sooo good- it's moving up to the top of my list!

  2. I've been wanting one of these but I've been too lazy to look for it. Its nice when great things just present themselves like this.

  3. I made enchiladas last night and was thinking I should find a new sauce recipe because last night's was unimpressive. Thanks :)

  4. Oh my! I must try this. Looks great.

  5. I've been thinking about a new recipe for this sauce, I'm gonna try this!

  6. Looks like a must try recipe.

  7. As I clicked on your blog, I thought you had caramel sauce. I thought to myself, wow, that's interesting. Ahh, but it's enchilada sauce. Yummy. Makes much more sense too!!

  8. That looks wonderful. Great pictures. Cannot wait to try this out on some enchiladas!

  9. AnonymousMay 04, 2011

    Thank you! This looks so easy to make that I wonder why I've been buying enchilada sauce!

  10. I saw this today at the grocery store - and I wondered what in the world I would use it for. Thanks for the tip! I'll have to try this one. Great idea!

  11. I needed a nice enchilada sauce recipe!
    This looks fab!!!!

    mucho bueno!

  12. I just finished making this sauce for a dish tommorow and it tastes really good. I only used 1T of chili as its going to be eaten by some kids but next time if its for me I will definetely kick it up a few notches. I doubled the recipe but wondering if It will be enough for a good size pan of enchiladas, I may do another batch just to be safe.
    Thanks for sharing this great dish...

  13. So glad you enjoyed the sauce! 1 T. of chili powder is a good place to start for mild eaters, and feel free to kick it up however you wish! Hubby likes to douse his portion with Frank's hot sauce. This recipe makes a little more than 2 cups, perfect for a 9x13 pan of enchiladas, if that gives you a reference point.

  14. I have never made my own sauce, I know I should. My mom tried it once, and it wasn't very good, so I haven't done it. But this sounds wonderful! I am printing it now!

  15. THANK YOU for this recipe! I've tried a few others that weren't so great. This is exactly what we were looking for. Made a great dish with your chicken enchilada recipe and a new recipe for Corn/Wheat tortillas!

  16. You are SO welcome!! I'm thrilled you made a from-scratch meal, start to finish and that it was enjoyed by all!

  17. Thank you so much for this recipe! I love enchiladas but often can't stand the flavor of the canned sauce...so tinny! This is perfect! Can't wait to make this.

  18. This looks sooooo amazing!! You should add this recipe to my new linky party called "Fit and Fabulous Fridays". Please add one of your amazing recipes to share.:) Have a great weekend!

  19. I found the Knorr's Caldo de Tomate at Publix this week. Can't wait to make the sauce!

  20. I made this sauce last night. Being from San Antonio Texas I know a few things about enchilada sauce. This sauce is wonderful. Such a great flavor. No need to mess with the recipe. It was so good I am going to have enchiladas again tonight lol. Great job.

    1. I could have enchiladas EVERY night! Thank you for the kind review ~ you can use this sauce in tamales or in a pork barbacoa as well. Enjoy!


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