I had a bit of a Mexican run of recipes during our lockdown summer of 2020.

And I discovered how much I love Mexican spices and sauces.

There’s always a lovely warmth to the food but not in an overpowering way.

And one of my favourite midweek meals now is enchiladas.

You’re talking 15 mins prep, 20 mins in the oven.

And et voila, you have a very tasty meal for the family.

But I will admit, when it came to the sauce, I either cheated with a store-bought.

I know, the shame… and not as tasty.

But I just found some of the homemade versions a bit ‘faffy’.

Because often they ask for ingredients that you don’t normally have in your cupboard like tomatillos.

And there is an art to making tasty enchiladas, which is the sauce!

So, it’s worth knowing how to make some good ones.

This is why I searched and found two recipes that are quick and delicious.

The basics of an enchilada sauce

In a nutshell, its chilli powder simmered in stock with garlic, onion, tomato paste/sauce and thickened with flour.

There is both red and green enchilada sauce.

Green enchilada sauce is a little less spicy and fresher tasting.

And red enchilada sauce has a little more heat and is earthier.

Red enchilada sauce goes really well with minced beef enchiladas.

And green enchilada sauce is a nice match with chicken enchiladas.

But it doesn’t really matter either way.

Green enchilada sauce

What’s in green enchilada sauce

Green enchilada sauce (aka Verde sauce), is usually made from a mixture of green tomatillos, green chiles, onions, garlic, vinegar, cumin and cilantro.


  • The main ingredient for a green sauce, along with green chillies or jalapenos.
  • They look like green tomatoes but are a small, green fruit with a dry, leafy husk.
  • They taste quite tart, fruity, and slightly herbal.

Green enchilada sauce vs salsa verde

Green enchilada sauce (aka Verde sauce) is the enchilada sauce is cooked.

And need either stock or water.

Whereas salsa verde is raw.

And the ingredients are simply blended together and eaten as is.

What is red enchilada sauce

The red enchilada sauce is made from dried red chilli peppers.

And includes vinegar, onions, garlic, and other spices like basil, oregano, and chilli powder.

You can also use tomato paste or tomatoes as the base.

Authentic recipes will use whole chillies such as Anaheim, Cascabel, Guajillo, Chipotle, and Chili de Arbol.

But chilli powder can be used as an alternative.

Substitute for enchilada sauce

If you don’t have some of the ingredients to whip up your own homemade sauce.

Then a few sauces you can sub in include:

  • taco sauce – main ingredients: tomatoes, peppers 
  • salsa sauce – tomatoes, onion, garlic
  • chiltomate sauce – main ingredients: tomatoes, habanero chili peppers, coriander, onions
  • picante sauce – main ingredients: tomatoes, jalapenos, onion

Homemade enchilada sauce

This recipe comes from Cookie and Kate

  • PREP TIME: 3 mins
  • COOK TIME: 7 mins
  • DIFFICULTY: easy
  • Yield: 2 cups


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp flour (whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour and gluten-free flour blends all work!)
  • 1 tbsp ground chili powder (scale back if you’re sensitive to spice or using particularly spicy chili powder)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp salt, to taste
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional but recommended)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. In a small bowl add the flour, chilli powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt (and optional cinnamon) and keep it near the stove, along with the tomato paste and stock.
  2. Warm the oil over medium in a medium sized pan, until it’s hot enough that a light sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture sizzles on contact.
  3. Once it’s ready, pour in the flour and spice mixture. While whisking constantly, cook until fragrant and slightly deepened in colour, approx. 1 min. Whisk in the tomato paste into the mixture, then slowly pour in the stock while whisking constantly to remove any lumps.
  4. Now, turn up the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer.
  5. Cook, whisking often, for about 5 to 7 mins, until the sauce has thickened a bit i.e. your spoon is a little resistance as you stir. Nb: the sauce will thicken some more as it cools.
  6. Remove from heat, then whisk in the vinegar and season to taste with a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper.
  7. Done!

Homemade green enchilada sauce

This lovely recipe is from GimmeSomeOven

  • PREP TIME: 10 mins
  • COOK TIME: 5 mins
  • DIFFICULTY: easy
  • Yield: 3.5 ccups


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 jalapeño, cored (seeds removed) and diced
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 4 (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper


  1. Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat, then add onion and jalapeño and sauté for 5 mins, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent. 
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1-2 more mins, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
  3. Transfer the onion mixture to a blender or food processor and add vegetable stock, green chillies, cumin, salt and pepper. 
  4. Puree until smooth.
  5. Taste and season with salt, pepper and/or cumin if needed.
  6. Done!

These sauces can be refrigerated for up to 4 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.