Enchilada Sauce

My enchilada sauce is a simple red sauce that is enriched with ancho chile paste and Mexican seasonings.

It is a rich and hearty sauce that I make to top black bean enchiladas, or just about any kind of enchiladas or burritos. It’s also good on meat, from chicken to ribs.

There are many authentic Mexican sauces in older cookbooks by Diana Kennedy, the queen of Mexican cuisine, as well as more recent cookbooks by Rick Bayless, who I consider the king of Mexican cuisine.

The problem with following those recipes is that they contain multiple chile peppers and other ingredients that I cannot get my hands on, so it does no good to use the recipes.

Because of this, I fall back on my “default” enchilada sauce, using home-made ancho chile paste. And it will taste different depending on the chile peppers used in the chile paste.


Enchilada Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
6 – 8 cloves garlic, minced
1 26.46 ounce carton Pomi tomato sauce
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
Grindings of black pepper
2-4 tablespoons home-made Ancho chile paste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and sauté for about five minutes. Turn down the heat if they brown too much. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds or so.


Add the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Mix in the cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, and pepper.


Bring the sauce to a boil gently, then lower the heat and simmer the sauce gently, uncovered, for about 20 minutes, or until isn’t no longer “watery.”

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare your black bean enchiladas by placing refried black beans and Queso blanco, or your choice of cheese on a tortilla. Roll up, place in a greased baking dish, and continue with the remaining tortillas.

Add the desired amount of ancho chile paste to the red sauce and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning.

When you are ready to bake the enchiladas, ladle the enchilada sauce over the enchiladas. Some people like them smothered in sauce, others, like me, like the enchiladas only partially smothered.


Bake for approximately 30 minutes.


Let the enchiladas set for about 10 minutes, then serve.


I love a dollop of sour cream on my enchiladas.


The sauce goes well with any burritos or enchiladas, with or without meat. And it’s fun to use different kinds of cheese in the tortillas.

The good thing about this enchilada sauce is that you can control the amount of ancho chile paste and other seasonings. If you want it smokier you can always add some ground chipotle pepper and paprika. But always use cumin and oregano if you want a truly Mexican-flavored sauce.

By Published On: August 23rd, 201657 Comments on Enchilada Sauce

About the Author: Chef Mimi

As a self-taught home cook, with many years in the culinary profession, I am passionate about all things food-related. Especially eating!


  1. Travel Gourmet August 23, 2016 at 7:40 AM - Reply

    That looks great, Mimi, and I imagine it takes really special with your homemade chilli sauce.

  2. ggstratton August 23, 2016 at 7:55 AM - Reply

    Thanks for sharing. Ironically I was looking for a sauce recipe a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t decide on one. I love the dark color of your sauce. Nice palette of veggies on the side also. :)

    • chef mimi August 23, 2016 at 8:25 AM - Reply

      Thank you so much! The pictures aren’t great, but the sauce is fabulous! You will dip stuff in to it if you have any left over!

      • ggstratton August 23, 2016 at 8:43 AM

        Well of course I would. We never have any kind of sauce leftover :)

      • chef mimi August 23, 2016 at 11:42 AM

        That’s funny! That’s what I always say about wine…

      • ggstratton August 23, 2016 at 2:54 PM

        Ditto 😁

  3. Cocoa & Lavender August 23, 2016 at 8:26 AM - Reply

    I am lucky to be able to get most of the chiles in the Kennedy and Bayless books – but your recipe is just as enticing as theirs! So what kind of monarch does that make you? Enchilada Empress?

  4. Elaine @ foodbod August 23, 2016 at 10:05 AM - Reply

    You know how much I love Mexican sauces :) this looks lovely!

  5. Liz @ spades, spatulas, and spoons August 23, 2016 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    I’ve already pinned the chili sauce, now this one as well. I adore anything Mexican. Thank you.

  6. sippitysup August 23, 2016 at 11:22 AM - Reply

    Looks beautiful. I’ll take a dollop of sour cream too. GREG

  7. ChgoJohn August 23, 2016 at 12:15 PM - Reply

    I’m not one to make enchiladas, Mimi. It;s a lot of work for one person. I will save this recipe, though, and use it with barbecue meats. Delicious! Thanks!

    • chef mimi August 23, 2016 at 2:23 PM - Reply

      I understand. I do a lot of work for just two of us. If you do a lot of meat grilling – check out “The Other Red Sauce” on my blog. It’s also spicy but you can control the heat with the dried peppers. It’s incredible.

  8. anotherfoodieblogger August 23, 2016 at 12:34 PM - Reply

    Absolute YUMM Mimi! I also see you sprinkled some of your dried jalapenos on the enchiladas. Don’t you just love those things? And I agree, the vegetable medley with this looks fantastic too. :)

  9. aodenwalder August 23, 2016 at 1:24 PM - Reply

    What a great enchilada sauce. So much better than the flavorless stuff found in most restaurants. Saving this!

  10. elliebleu August 23, 2016 at 2:45 PM - Reply

    Wow, this looks delicious! I’m always up for veggie enchiladas. Can’t wait to give your sauce a try with my butternut squash and black bean enchiladas :)

  11. Fourth Generation Farmgirl August 23, 2016 at 3:57 PM - Reply

    Looks beautiful! Yum! 💛

  12. Julie is Hostess At Heart August 23, 2016 at 9:12 PM - Reply

    This looks delicious, and I love the simplicity of it too!

    • chef mimi August 24, 2016 at 7:11 AM - Reply

      Thank you. And yes, it has to be simple when I can’t get my hands on twenty different chile peppers!

  13. Michelle August 23, 2016 at 9:21 PM - Reply

    I like improvisation! And good thing, because here in the hinterlands we have to do it often, don’t we?

  14. StefanGourmet August 24, 2016 at 2:20 AM - Reply

    This looks great, Mimi. I’m definitely going to prepare more Mexican food next autumn/winter. Perhaps I’ll order some books by the queen and king you mentioned. I can order a decent selection of dried chiles online and Richard’s stash hasn’t completely run out yet.

    • chef mimi August 24, 2016 at 7:23 AM - Reply

      Thanks Stefan. Richard and I actually discussed cookbooks, and we had many of the same, including the classic by Diana Kennedy. I’ll email you the name. It’s old, no photos, many authentic ingredients, lots of serious recipes – most of which I can’t use. Rick Bayless has a more modern approach, but he has also lived and studied in Mexico, and that’s where his culinary heart is. We went to one of his restaurants in Chicago and it was fantastic.

  15. chefceaser August 24, 2016 at 5:50 AM - Reply

    Reblogged this on Chef Ceaser.

  16. Linda Duffin August 25, 2016 at 4:56 AM - Reply

    Looks lovely. I have Diana Kennedy’s Mexican bible too but I often give up because living in UK the ingredients aren’t always easily available (tho’ there’s always the internet) so it’s great to have a home-made alternative. Thanks, Mimi.

    • chef mimi August 25, 2016 at 8:29 AM - Reply

      I can say the same thing and I live “reasonably” close to Texas and Mexico.

  17. Sumith Babu August 25, 2016 at 7:18 AM - Reply

    The real skill of a chef is on roasting and in sauces. The wide variety of sauces you deliver here are amazing. Remember you asked me once which chilli sauce I like the most. Thanks for this great share chef.

  18. Debbie Spivey August 25, 2016 at 7:29 AM - Reply

    Very nice sauce Mimi!

  19. chezlerevefrancais August 26, 2016 at 5:15 AM - Reply

    These look yummy Mimi. Now I have to make your chilli sauce!

    • chef mimi August 28, 2016 at 7:19 AM - Reply

      Absolutely! You’ll love how versatile it is.

  20. Our Growing Paynes August 26, 2016 at 8:35 AM - Reply

    I love how thick your sauce is. Fabulous. We used to buy canned sauce until I tried to make it and found out how much better it is and easy to put together.

    • chef mimi August 26, 2016 at 3:31 PM - Reply

      Even if it’s not easier, home-made is always the way to go. You’ll get a kick out of my next post…

  21. anna @ annamayeveryday August 26, 2016 at 10:43 AM - Reply

    I am definitely going to try this Mimi!

  22. sallybr August 26, 2016 at 12:07 PM - Reply

    I really should invest some time and energy and making sauces and condiments from scratch. I think it is an area that I neglect in my cooking.

    Oh, well – something to strive for, and when I need inspiration, I know where to stop! ;-)

    • chef mimi August 26, 2016 at 3:30 PM - Reply

      Well you do have a day job.

      • sallybr August 27, 2016 at 9:19 AM

        That is a good point, one that I too often seem to disregard – and get way too tough on myself.. (sigh)

  23. The Sweet Life Squared August 27, 2016 at 11:27 AM - Reply

    I am so happy I found this blog post! Honestly, my enchilada sauce needs work. It is bland at best. I’m going to try this tomorrow night! Thanks!

    • chef mimi August 27, 2016 at 12:48 PM - Reply

      Fabulous! I wish I could give you some ancho chile paste to speed things up!

      • The Sweet Life Squared August 27, 2016 at 1:21 PM

        We have a cultural market down by the Farmers Market. I just called and they have it!

      • chef mimi August 27, 2016 at 2:32 PM


  24. camparigirl August 27, 2016 at 6:27 PM - Reply

    My mom is a big fan of the Pomi tomato sauce too. I always forget to buy it unless she is here to remind me.

    • chef mimi August 28, 2016 at 7:20 AM - Reply

      You don’t have to cook any of their products long to reduce them – sauce, diced, crushed, strained – because they’re not watery. Plus they have real tomato flavor.

  25. Margherita August 28, 2016 at 6:23 PM - Reply

    Coming here around dinner time is not a good idea… I am drooling! Nice to see how popular Pomi is in the States, I didn’t know!

    • chef mimi August 29, 2016 at 10:15 AM - Reply

      It was a long time before Pomi was sold in my local store, but it’s a fabulous product!

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