Small Batch

How to Make Enchilada Sauce at Home

January 23, 2015

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Ashley McLaughlin of Edible Perspective shares a deceptively easy recipe for an enchilada sauce that's so good you'll want to make a double batch to keep on hand.

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Like making lasagna or anything completely from scratch, cooking enchiladas can be intimidating: There are a lot of moving parts and both can be time-consuming to prepare. I know adding another task to enchiladas like making homemade sauce seems daunting but  I'll prove that it's not only worth your time, but that it won't actually take much of your time at all! This sauce comes together in a snap and takes little effort. You'll swirl some ingredients together in your blender, and then stir them around in a pot. I think you can handle that.

The best part is that this sauce freezes extremely well, which means that you might as well make a double batch. That way, you'll be one step closer to enchiladas the next time you need a comforting, crowd-pleasing recipe. And since this sauce works for the meat and non-meat eaters alike, all of your friends and family will be amazed with your homemade sauce-making skills.

Easy Enchilada Sauce

Makes 3 to 3 1/2 cups

1 to 1 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 to 2 1/2 tablespoons canned chipotle adobo sauce, divided
One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons mild chili powder
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon onion granules (not powdered)
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste

Tip: If you can't find adobo sauce you'll need to sub in chipotle seasoning. Adobo sauce adds a lot of flavor, so if you skip it you'll definitely need to add something in it's place. Add the chipotle seasoning in small amounts until it's to your liking.

To begin, add all ingredients to your blender, starting with 1 cup vegetable broth and 1 1/2 tablespoons adobo sauce (You can add more broth and adobo sauce while the enchilada sauce is cooking to doctor the consistency and taste.) Blend, starting on low speed and working up to high speed, for about 30 seconds.

Pour the mixture into a medium-sized pot and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 12 to 18 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the flavors have deepened. Stir every few mintues -- cover the pot with a splatter screen if needed. Taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper as needed. (Salt amounts will vary depending on sodium in your broth.) Add more adobo sauce to your liking for a smokier and spicier flavor. If the sauce thickens too much, add more vegetable broth to thin it out.

Once the sauce is thick and flavorful, remove it from the heat and pour it over enchiladas (or over the other dish you're using it for) and proceed with that recipe. Or, let it cool then place in a sealed jar and store in the fridge for 10 to 14 days in the fridge.

To freeze the sauce, let sauce it cool fully, then portion it into freezer bags however you like. Squeeze the air out of the bags and let them flatten on the counter. Place the bags on a flat rack in your freezer and freeze them for up to 3 months. When you're ready to use the sauce, either thaw the bag in the fridge the night before or run it under warm water. Reheat it in a pot before using.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Ashley McLaughlin 

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  • Millie | Add A Little
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  • Rebecca @ Bring Back Delicious
    Rebecca @ Bring Back Delicious
  • scruz
Hello! My name is Ashley, and I'm the photographer + writer behind the blog, Edible Perspective. LOVE // the husband // family // cooking for others // farmers markets // the first winter snow // cycling // snowshoeing // snowboarding // bluegrass // architecture // our pups // farm fresh eggs // mountains // boxed wine // breakfast // biking to breweries // clean sheets // traveling


Millie |. January 25, 2015
So easy and looks delicious!
bookjunky January 24, 2015
This looks good although not really authentic. It's not that difficult to make using dried chiles. This recipe is the best I have found and it blows canned sauce out of the water.
claire January 23, 2015
My understanding about red enchilada sauce, based on sources from the Tucson barrios, is that there is no tomato in the sauce. Rather, a much larger quantity of red chili powder is used to make the sauce. I use a Santa Fe cooking school recipe, as well as chili powder from Chimayo N.M. and it is superb
Rebecca @. January 23, 2015
Thanks! Maybe I'm overlooking it then. I'll have to keep an eye out for some! Not that I have ANY room in my spice cabinet. I may have to buy an outdoor shed. Obviously out of pure necessity...
Ashley M. January 23, 2015
Of course! And if you only have the powdered version (it looks white typically) just use half and then add more if needed. :)
scruz January 23, 2015
i've made my own using the Bayless recipe using dried chili peppers and it is very good. But, when I'm in a hurry and want some red sauce for enchiladas I will use the canned Ha*ch brand which is really a good time saving product. Either the red or green sauce is excellent. I have no financial interest (or any other in the company) other than to say how good it is and to recommend it to more home cooks as a time saver. Good luck in the kitchen!
Rebecca @. January 23, 2015
The first time I made enchilada sauce at home, it came out so good and it was so easy I wondered why I hadn't heard of more people doing it. Finding the ingredients is probably one reason and being lazy or not knowing it can be so much better homemade are probably the other reasons. I appreciate convenience like everyone else but this is so worth it!

I also wanted to ask where you find granulated onion and why you use that as opposed to raw onion or onion powder.
Leslie S. January 23, 2015
Granulated onion is carried in most spice aisles, you just have to take a close look to find it!
Ashley M. January 23, 2015
Hi Rebecca,

I didn't use raw onion here because of the blender method I used. I didn't want the onion flavor to be harsh from not sauteing the onion first. Granulated onion should be just as easy or easier to find than onion powder. Many times people call for onion powder but really mean the granulated version and the same goes for garlic, so I was just trying to be extra clear. It's just tiny granules vs. the straight powder form which is much more potent. There are 3-4 forms you'll commonly see dried onion and garlic come in: flakes, minced, granulated + powdered -- Hope this helps clear up any confusion! :)