Enchilada Sauce from Dried Chiles

Make your own homemade Enchilada Sauce from Dried Chiles for the best enchiladas ever. No need to buy canned sauce when you can make your own. This sauce is easy to make, freezable, and keto-friendly!

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enchilada sauce in a bowl next to dried chiles and dried chile powder

I absolutely LOVE Mexican food and enchiladas are at the top of my list of things I order at Mexican restaurants. I also love making enchiladas at home because you can use left-over meat, make them vegetarian, make your own sauce, and add any toppings that you like. This sauce is from my recipe for Easy Chile Relleno Enchiladas which is another dish I love to make at home.

How to Make Enchilada Sauce From Dried Peppers

  1. In a food processor or blender add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic and blend until smooth. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the flour and whisk for 45-60 seconds to make a roux. Slowly pour in the broth, whisking the entire time.
  3. Add the chile powder, salt, cumin, and cinnamon and continue to whisk to combine. Add the blended tomato mixture, tomato paste, and soy sauce (or Worcestershire sauce for non-vegetarian) and fully combine. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Carefully pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You can serve immediately or allow the mixture to cool before storing.
homemade enchilada sauce spooned into a bowl

How to Grind Your Own Dried Chile Powder

Take each dried pepper and cut off the stem. Take out as many seeds as you would like, this is where any of the heat will be. I usually take out most of them for a milder sauce. Cut the pepper into small pieces that will fit in your coffee/nut grinder or small food processor. Pulse and grind until you get a powder. The longer you grind, the finer the powder will be. To get 4 tbsp powder, you will need to grind 7-10 dried peppers. Store any unused powder in a sealable container.

Here is the grinder I use for all of my cooking. It’s a small, inexpensive coffee/nut grinder and works well for grinding chiles like in this recipe, nuts, other spices, and more. Check out my post about 5 Things You Can Do With Your Coffee Grinder for more ideas.

What kind of Dried Peppers to Use

I like to use Guallijo peppers in my dried chile mix because they are mild and have a slight smokiness to them. Other variations work great for this spice mix as well. I find a New Mexico pepper and a California pepper at my local grocery store that I also use. The great thing about making your own ground dried chile mix is that you can use any dried pepper that you like or mix more than one together.

What if I don’t have a grinder?

You have a few options if you don’t have a grinder to make your own chile powder.

  1. Buy one! They are inexpensive, don’t take up a lot of room in your cabinets, last for a long time, and will come in handy more often than you think. I also see these little gadgets on the shelves at second-hand stores.
  2. You can reconstitute the dried chiles and use them. Place 6-8 dried chiles into a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then remove the pan from the heat. Allow the peppers to sit in the hot water for 25-30 minutes. Drain the chiles, remove the stems and as many seeds as you would like, and add them to the blender with the tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
  3. Use store-bought chili powder.

How to Add Some Heat to This Enchilada Sauce

I typically don’t make my recipes too spicy. One because I’m not a huge fan of super spicy foods and two, most of the meals I make are going to be for my son as well. But, enchilada sauce can still have a hint of spice and you can always add more if you really like the heat. Here are a few options on how to add heat:

  1. Add some canned chipotle peppers to the tomato and onion mixture before blending. These are just dried jalapeños that have been smoked then canned in an adobo hot sauce. These can definitely add some heat, so be mindful of how much you are adding. I would say 1-2 whole peppers would be perfect.
  2. Add some cayenne pepper. You will do this when you add the chile powder. Start with 1 teaspoon and go from there. You can always add spice but you can’t take it away!
  3. Add a jalapeno or habanero pepper to the tomato and onion mixture before blending and adding it to the sauce.

Can I use Store-Bought Chili Powder?

You can use the powdered chili powder found at the grocery store, but I highly recommend making your own from dried chiles. It’s very easy to make and has a more authentic flavor.  

Can you Freeze Enchilada Sauce?

Yes, enchilada sauce can be frozen. Make sure the sauce has completely cooled before storing and freezing. Use a sealable, freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Make sure you leave room for the sauce to expand when frozen. Enchilada sauce will last for 6 months in the freezer.

homemade enchilada sauce in a black pot

More Mexican-Inspired Recipes You Might Like

homemade enchilada sauce

Enchilada Sauce

5 from 16 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 5 cups
Calories: 29kcal
Author: EmilyFabulous

Equipment

  • medium saucepan
  • food processor or blender

Ingredients

Enchilada Sauce

  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • 1 small onion, cut into quarters
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons ground dried chile powder (can sub chili powder)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (you can sub chicken or beef broth if not making vegetarian)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce (use soy sauce for vegetarian)

Optional ingredients to add heat/spice to the sauce (choose 1)

  • 1-2 whole canned chipotle peppers
  • 1 jalapeno or habanero pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Instructions

Ground Dried Chiles

  • Take each dried pepper and cut off the stem. Take out as many seeds as you would like. I usually take out most of them for a milder sauce. Cut the pepper into small pieces that will fit in your coffee/nut grinder or small food processor. Pulse and grind until you get a powder. The longer you grind, the finer the powder will be. To get 4 tbsp powder, you will need to grind 7-10 dried peppers. Store any unused powder in a sealable container.
    dried Mexican chiles ground in a grinder

Enchilada Sauce

  • In a food processor or blender add the tomatoes, onion, and garlic and blend until smooth. Set aside. *This is the step where you would add canned chipotle peppers or some jalapeno or habanero pepper to add some heat to the sauce (see notes).
    tomato, onion and garlic pulsed in food processor
  • In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the flour and whisk for 45-60 seconds to make a roux. Slowly pour in the broth, whisking the entire time. The mixture will quickly thicken so keep whisking!
    olive oil and flour in a pan for enchilada sauce
  • Add the chile powder, salt, cumin, and cinnamon and continue to whisk to combine (if you are adding cayenne pepper for heat, this is where you will add it). Add the blended tomato mixture, tomato paste, and soy sauce (or Worcestershire sauce for non-vegetarian) and fully combine. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to simmer. Stir the sauce occasionally as it simmers for 15-20 minutes. Taste and add salt and/or pepper if needed.
    homemade enchilada sauce on stove
  • Carefully pour the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. You can serve immediately or allow the mixture to cool before storing. Once cool, store in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 2-3 days, or you can freeze for up to 6 months.

Notes

*Here are a few options on how to add heat to the enchilada sauce:

  1. Add some canned chipotle peppers to the tomato and onion mixture before blending. These are just dried jalapeños that have been smoked then canned in an adobo hot sauce. These can definitely add some heat, so be mindful of how much you are adding. I would say 1-2 whole peppers would be perfect.
  2. Add some cayenne pepper. Start with 1 teaspoon and go from there. You can always add but you can’t take it away!
  3. Add a jalapeno or habanero pepper to the tomato and onion mixture before blending and adding it to the sauce.
 
If you don’t have a grinder to grind your own chile powder, you can reconstitute the chiles in hot water or use store-bought chili powder. 
To reconstitute the dried chiles, place 6-8 dried chiles into a saucepan with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and then remove the pan from the heat. Allow the peppers to sit in the hot water for 25-30 minutes. Drain the chiles, remove the stems and as many seeds as you would like, and add them to the blender with the tomatoes, onions, and garlic.
Enchilada sauce can be frozen. Cool the sauce has completely before storing and freezing. Use a sealable, freezer-safe container or plastic bag. Make sure you leave room for the sauce to expand when frozen. Enchilada sauce will last for 6 months in the freezer.
 

Nutrition

Serving: 4tbsp | Calories: 29kcal | Carbohydrates: 2.9g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1.8g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Sodium: 211mg | Potassium: 111mg | Fiber: 0.8g | Sugar: 1.1g | Calcium: 8mg

Any nutrition calculations are only estimates using online calculators. Please verify using your own data.

homemade dried chile enchilada sauce
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