Red Enchilada Sauce

Dry Red Chili Peppers

Mark Schaffer / EyeEm / Getty Images

Prep: 30 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 12 servings

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, see below for types)
  • 4 chili peppers (dried red, see above link for types)
  • 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.

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

  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.

  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.

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

  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.

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

  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.

  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.

    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.