a large jar filled with red enchilada sauce surrounded by jalapenos limes tomatoes on the vine shredded cheddar cheese flour tortillas and a red striped linen towel

Quick & Easy Enchilada Sauce

  • Author: Heidi Clark
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 4 Servings 1x


Quick & Easy Enchilada Sauce that you can whip up in 15 minutes! Save yourself a trip to the grocery store by making this delicious sauce next time the craving for enchiladas hit! 



2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or oil of choice)

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp chipotle chile powder

2 tsp ancho chile powder

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp onion powder

1 Tbsp dutch-process cocoa powder (or natural cocoa)

1 Tbsp light brown sugar

dash cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp dried oregano

15 ounce can tomato sauce

1 and 1/2 cups water

1 Tbsp fresh lime juice


Pour oil into a medium saucepan and add minced garlic.  Place the pan over medium heat.  When the garlic begins to sizzle, cook for one minute.  Add the salt, spices, cocoa, brown sugar, and oregano. Toast the spices by stirring in the oil for 30 seconds (don’t toast the spices for longer than 30 seconds.  The smoked paprika may become bitter if exposed to direct heat too long).  The spice mixture should be moist but clumpy.  Add the tomato sauce and water. Whisk the sauce until there are no clumps of spices and the sauce is smooth. Bring the sauce to a simmer and stir for 10 minutes until thickened.  Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the lime juice.  Let cool and transfer to a jar for storage.


If the tomato sauce you are using is a thin consistency, you may need to cook the enchilada sauce for a few extra minutes to cook the excess moisture off and thicken the sauce.

The addition of light brown sugar helps temper some of the spicy heat from the chile powders.  If you don’t like much spice, feel free to decrease the amount of the chipotle chile powder.  I would leave the ancho chile powder measurement as is.  The ancho chile provides less heat to the dish and more of a sweet, smoky and fruity note with a mild heat depending on the brand chosen

The enchilada sauce can be kept in the fridge for 4 days or frozen for several months.  If freezing the sauce, be sure the jar you transferred it to is freezer-safe.

  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: quick and easy enchilada sauce