As soon as the weather turns cooler, we naturally think of soups and stews (which you can find all my recipes for, right here).
Me though? I’m thinking of expanding my repertoire of enchiladas.
My chicken and spinach enchiladas are REALLY good (no, really!), but I’ve got my eyes on some variety.
But first, I need an awesome red enchilada sauce recipe. Because in my house, enchiladas are saucey!!
Now, if you’re new to this blog, you might be wondering why in the world would I MAKE red enchilada sauce when I could BUY enchilada sauce.
I agree that store-bought enchilada sauce is fairly cheap – about $1.50 per 10 oz can.
But like I teach in my course Grocery Budget Bootcamp, eating real food on a budget isn’t always about the price.
3 Reasons to Make this Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe
My local Kroger has 5 different brands of enchilada sauce. Flip over any can or package of pre-made mix and here’s what you’ll find:
Hydrogenated oils: Hydrogenated oils are created when manufacturers takes an oil, injects it with a metal, and in turn the molecules re-arrange into something that is semi-solid or soil at room temperature. If the idea of that alone doesn’t creep you out, read about the dangers of hydrogenated oils and the types of foods you’ll find it in. (That’s why it’s my number one ingredient to avoid in food!).
Monosodium Glutamate: AKA, MSG. Monosodium glutamate can be “hidden” among many different names, and there are still others that mimic the side effects of MSG. We’re blessed that no one in my family is sensitive to MSG, but I still do what I can to avoid unnecessary additives in food.
Sugar: Honestly, I’m not surprised. The food industry puts sugar in almost every packaged food. My family and I have been on a mission to quit sugar, and we’ve made huge strides. I certainly don’t want to backslide and serve sugar… in enchiladas no less.
This red enchilada sauce recipe has none of that junk!
In high school, I waited tables at a local Mexican restaurant. Their chicken and cheese enchiladas had this AMAZING red enchilada sauce on top, and when I think of enchiladas, I think of those. Although I never saw the cooks make the sauce, this recipe is how I remember it tasting.
Also, it’s apparently really hard to find an enchilada sauce that has minimal ingredients AND tastes good… all the more reason to make this one!
I didn’t think I’d originally include the cost of homemade enchilada sauce as a reason to make it yourself, but when I crunched the numbers, I just couldn’t help myself.
One batch of red homemade enchilada sauce makes about 2 cups. Your total cost out of pocket?
$0.60… FOR THE WHOLE BATCH.
Making it yourself saves 75% over store-bought.
3 More Reasons to Love Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce
1. It’s ready in 10 minutes.
I wish I was kidding, but I’m not.
Even when I took my time, multi-tasked and reheated lunch for myself and my kids, AND took pictures at the same time, the whole process took MAYBE 15 minutes.
Since you probably aren’t taking pictures, you’ll be done in 10 minutes tops.
2. It freezes well.
Unless you’re feeding a crowd, you might not need 2 full cups of enchilada sauce. In that case, freeze the extras!
Or you can make a double pan of enchiladas and freeze half, or you can make a double pan and invite me over for dinner (← I choose this option).
Plus, you already have everything you need in the kitchen.
Unless by some freak accident you forgot about that half can of tomato paste in the fridge and you JUST tossed it yesterday, you should be good to go here.
(PSST! Here’s how to freeze tomato paste so that doesn’t ever happen again!)
3. It’s a beginner recipe.
I love that you don’t have to be an expert home chef to make homemade red enchilada sauce.
You’re just melting butter really, and stirring in the other spices. If cooking flour freaks you out, use a timer. You can never go wrong with a timer!
- 2 Tbsp healthy fat (butter, avocado oil or palm oil)
- 2 Tbsp flour (I used all-purpose, but any flour will work)
- 4 Tbsp tomato paste
- 2-3 Tbsp chili powder
- ½ tsp cumin
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ⅛ tsp cinnamon
- ½ - ¾ tsp salt, to taste
- 2 cups water OR chicken stock
- 1 tsp white distilled or apple cider vinegar
- In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.
- Add flour and stirring occasionally, cook for one minute.
- Add the tomato paste, 2 Tbsp chili powder and the remaining spices. Stir well.
- Very slowly add the water or stock, stirring constantly.
- Bring the sauce to a simmer and the sauce will thicken slightly.
- Taste and add additional chili powder, if more heat is desired.
- Add the vinegar and serve warm!