Red Enchilada Sauce

Red Enchilada Sauce

The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 12 servings
Yield: 6 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
45 Calories
1g Fat
8g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 45
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 1mg 0%
Sodium 100mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 8g 3%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 109mg 544%
Calcium 26mg 2%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 267mg 6%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Use this delicious red chile sauce for enchiladas or anywhere else you need a red chile sauce. This red enchilada sauce can be mild, medium or spicy, depending on the chiles you use. You can also use a combination of different chiles to perfect your enchilada sauce.


  • 2 pounds chili peppers, fresh, red

  • 4 pepper chili peppers, dried, red

  • 1 tablespoon lard, or cooking oil

  • 1/2 small white onion, peeled and finely chopped

  • 6 cups water

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Red Enchilada Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Boil 8 cups of water and let the dried chiles soak in it, for about 15 to 20 minutes.

    dried chiles and water in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Roast the fresh red chiles over high heat (or in the broiler or on a grill) often turning, until the skins are blackened and blistered.

    Roasted fresh red chiles on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. Remove the fresh red chilies from the heat and let them cool to the touch. Peel the blackened skin off as well as removing the stems and scraping out the seeds. Roughly chop the remaining flesh and set aside.

    diced red chilies with the skin and seeds removed

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Remove the soaking dried chiles from the water, remove the stems and seeds and cut them into pieces. Set aside.

    diced chilies on a cutting board

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Add the oil to a large pot and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and cook it for 5-7 minutes or until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, and all of the red chiles to the pot. Continue to stir while you add the water, slowly and carefully. After the water is in, add the vinegar, oregano, cumin, and salt.

    Red Enchilada Sauce ingredients in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Cover the pot and simmer the sauce for 20 minutes over low heat.

    Red Enchilada Sauce cooking in a covered saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. At this point, if you have a hand-held blender (stick blender) you can put it directly in the sauce and blend until smooth. If you plan on using a standard blender (pitcher style), then you need to let the sauce cool quite a bit, nearly to room temperature, before attempting to blend it.

    Red Enchilada Sauce blended in a saucepan

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

  9. After the sauce is completely blended (this takes a minute or two) you can use it as-is, or you can pour it through a strainer to make it smoother.

    Red Enchilada Sauce in a bowl

    The Spruce / Maxwell Cozzi

    Use Caution When Blending Hot Ingredients

    Steam expands quickly in a blender and can cause ingredients to splatter everywhere or cause burns. To prevent this, fill the blender only one-third of the way up, vent the top, and cover with a folded kitchen towel while blending.

Glass Bakeware Warning

Do not use glass bakeware when broiling or when a recipe calls to add liquid to a hot pan, as glass may explode. Even if it states oven-safe or heat resistant, tempered glass products can, and do, break occasionally.