Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce

Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce - This red chile enchilada sauce recipe gets it's flavor from dried New Mexico chiles, and is the best enchilada sauce this side of Mexico!

Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce in a glass jar with a spoonful of sauce on parchment paper on a metal baking sheet background.

Ooooooooh my darling foodies!! 

My heart is going pity pat just looking at the photos of this amazing enchilada sauce! 

Just look at that deep red color! WOW uummmm ya, all I can say is WOW!

OK, let me calm down a bit so I can tell you the story about this sauce. *deep breath*

I moved to Southern California when I was 14 and pretty much lived on Mexican food, and I am not talking about American/Mexican food. I am talking about truly authentic, sitting at Abuela's kitchen table with the heavenly smells of machaca or carnitas cooking away, and tortillas hot off the stove. 

That my dear friends is pure heaven.

Actually, when I think about it, my love for Mexican food goes back even further. My babysitter, when I was very young, was a wonderful woman that had been an elementary school teacher in Chihuahua Mexico. 

Ohhhh the food this woman would make. I loved her homemade refried beans, and sopapillas. #drooling

At 4 years old I loved huevos rancheros for breakfast and lived for her chicken tostadas or bean burritos at lunch. She would have me help in the kitchen every day making homemade flour tortillas or stirring one pot or another. 

If I really think about it, she is probably the person that put a love of cooking fresh food in the back of my young mind.

But, as I have mentioned, my Mom wasn't a big cook from scratch kinda gal. We usually ate something from a box, or a can, or the freezer for dinner. So, after I went off to school, those lovely homemade Mexican delights were just a memory. 

Sadly, our enchilada sauce came from a can, and that was that.

Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce ingredients in a food processor

Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce blended in a food processor

Fast forward to now, and my desire to separate myself from as much over-processed food as possible. 

I have mastered the art of mac and cheese sans blue box, make a killer spaghetti sauce, do my amazing beef stroganoff in the slow cooker, make a mean cream of mushroom soup with no can involved, and am quick to the rescue with homemade chicken noodle soup whenever anyone is under the weather. 

I have even ventured into Mexican flavors with homemade chorizo, homemade healthy refried beans, pico de gallo, and one damn good salsa fresca. But just haven't been able to nail down my enchilada sauce. 

Until now.

You will find that the majority of homemade enchilada sauces call for chili powder, and that works alright. But the issue is that any "chili powder" you buy in a store is a blend of different spices that you have no control over or idea about, what they are, how much is used, or how old the powder is. 

Some call for tomato paste, or even ketchup, and I am not knocking them. They work in a pinch and are 100% better for you than the stuff from a can. 

Butttttttttttttttttttt.....and it is a big ol' but, they do. not. taste. authentic. 

So why was that?

Cue the big giant light bulb over my head 

You need to use "real" chiles, not jarred powder.

And the difference? 

Ooohhhhh it is huuuuuuuuuuuge....colossal......ginormous!!

And the proof is in this sauce. 

Oh ya, baby, it brings all of those flavors that I have been dreaming about. The flavors I have tried to find at every Mexican restaurant around. 

I am not going to lie, I cried a little tear when I tasted it  #dontjudgeme

However, I cried quite a few more tears when it was all gone 

Next time I will make a quadruple batch so I can freeze some for later because I do not want to be without this sauce on hand.......EVER!!

P.S. Even Kevin liked it!! 

Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce in a glass jar with a spoonful of sauce on parchment paper on a metal baking sheet background.

Yield: Approx 1 pint

Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce

This red chile enchilada sauce recipe gets it's flavor from dried New Mexico chiles, and is the best enchilada sauce this side of Mexico!
prep time: 40 MINScook time: total time: 40 mins


  • 4 ounces dried New Mexico or California red chiles* See Notes 
  • 2 cups chicken stock *See Notes
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • Kosher salt (to taste)
  • Fresh cracked black pepper (to taste)


  1. Place dried chiles in a large pot of water, and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat, and place a plate or bowl on top to make sure the chiles stay submerged in the hot water. Allow the chiles to steep for 30 minutes.
  2. Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles and place them in a food processor with the remaining ingredients. Process until very smooth.
  3. Pass the sauce through a strainer or double layers of cheesecloth to remove the skins of the chile. Use a rubber spatula (or your hand) to press it well.
  4. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  5. Use immediately or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator or freeze it.


1. You can use dried New Mexico or California chiles. I have used both, and a mix. The California chiles are just a tad milder than the New Mexico chiles.

2. Water is traditional in this recipe but I use stock to add a bit more flavor. You can, of course, use water, or vegetable stock, to make this vegetarian.
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Authentic Homemade Red Chile Enchilada Sauce - This red chile enchilada sauce gets it's flavor from dried New Mexico chiles, and is the best enchilada sauce this side of Mexico from


  1. I feel like there are some steps missing from this recipe. When and where do you add the chicken stock? The spices? I have been searching for an authentic enchilada recipe. I wish I could use this one.

    1. Please see step 2. That is where you add everything together in the food processor. I hope you get a chance to make this, it is amazing!

  2. Alison nekojyuunishi@yahoo.comJanuary 12, 2017 at 4:06 PM

    Can regular oregano be used instead of Mexican oregano? Does it make a big difference? Can vegetarian soup stock be supplemented instead of chicken? Been craving enchiladas can't wait to try this w your enchilada recipe!

    1. "Mexican Oregano's taste is a bit more citrusy; with subtle hints of lime that really enhance the flavor of chiles and paprikas. It is frequently called for in chili powders, chili con carne, and various spicy/hot dishes, especially the traditional Mexican and Central American moles and rojos. Mexican Oregano is also outstanding in flavoring beans, burritos, enchiladas, fish, pork, salsas, soups, stews, tacos, tomato based sauces and as an ingredient in seasoning blends. Some spices that it partners well with are cumin, chili powder, dried Mexican chiles, garlic and pepper." But if you can't find it, you can use regular.

  3. I like to add a tablespoon of white vinegar to enhance the flavors. It's something my mother-in-law taught me. If you don't like the flavor of vinegar you can do without of course. :) This recipe is yummy! My husband loves it.

    1. Oh what a terrific idea! I love how vinegar and jazz up the flavors. I am so glad that you like the recipe :)

  4. 4 ounces of chiles is like a whole bag of chiles. Did you mean 4 chiles? Or is this a recipe for nuclear enchilada sauce :)

    1. I know it seems like it would be hot, but it really isn't. I make a Chile de Arbol salsa/hot sauce with about 20 chiles in it and it isn't very hot. The Mr is having me double the chiles so he ca have HOT sauce LOL

  5. This says it makes about 2 cups. I am making your enchiladas and wanted to make this sauce with it. In your enchilada recipe is 2 cups equil to 2 cans of canned sauce?

  6. Made this last night and it was a little hard to get all the seeds out after seeping for 30 mins. Maybe remove the seeds before hand? We love spice on this end but it sure seems to have a kick to it. Maybe because I gave up trying to get every little seed out and just tossed them in the blender. I did strain everything to keep the seeds and skins out of the sauce and it is still amazing just a tad bit spicy, Im thinking because I blended the sauce with seeds? Anyways making enchiladas tonight and can not wait to have them with this homemade sauce! Thank you!

    1. Yes, you could always remove the seeds before and it would bring the heat down a bit. I am really glad that you like it though!! Sometimes my salsa or sauces that I use dried chiles in seem really spicy when I first blend them up but, once they have sat in the fridge for a day or two seem milder.

    2. Made enchiladas last night and the sauce was to die for! Only mine seemed a bit thick and the tortillas seemed to soak up almost all of it and make them kind of mushy. Made huge batch of sauce and I am going to try and add a bit more chicken stock to it and thin it out a little. Still a big hit!

    3. Awesome!! I am so glad you liked it 😀 and thanks for coming back to let me know.

    4. Hi Bobbi. I came across your recipe on Pinterest. My mom is from Mexico and I grew up eating authentic enchiladas that she made frequently. She is from the northern part of Mexico and most people associate this sauce in the US as New Mexico style. She removes the stems and seeds before boiling the chilies. Also her sauce only has fresh garlic and salt to taste. If she makes asado which is a pork dish with red chili sauce she adds oregano. The difference between her asado sauce and enchilada sauce is simply the oregano. You might try it without all the extra spices you might be surprised to that it can even be more simple. She does not use chicken stock simply water. If she needs to thicken the sauce she makes a roux. To thin it she simply adds more water. -Jessie

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