Enchilada Sauce

All, Sauces

You can probably buy enchilada sauce in a can, depending on where you live, but you quickly discover that it doesn’t taste like the sauce in a restaurant. I don’t know why. Once I asked the proprietor of a taco shop, and she told me that they also start with canned sauce, add a little peanut butter (!) to take the whang out of it, and maybe some garlic salt. Well, I tried, but still couldn’t get what I wanted.

Here’s a fairly simple recipe that I found that works well enough for me. It has a rich base so that the chile powder doesn’t overpower the taste. But it doesn’t include peanut butter. Maybe next time….

This sauce starts with a roux (pronounced roo) which is one of the French words you have to learn if you’re going to cook. You make a roux before making many soups, sauces, and gravies.


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons flour
1/4 cup red chile powder, mild
2 cups beef broth, canned, fresh, or powder mix
15 oz. can of tomato sauce
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or more if needed
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Heat the oil in a sauce pan until it is shimmering, but not smoking. Add the flour and stir to break up the lumps. Stir and cook several minutes until the flour turns brown — about the color of peanut butter. Stir in the chile powder and let it cook for a minute. Now take the pan off the heat and let it cool a little, because when you add the liquid it will start to thicken quickly. Add the beef broth, tomato sauce and the spices, stir and replace on the heat. Add the spices and simmer for ten or fifteen minutes. If you’re going to make enchiladas right away, leave some time for the sauce to cool some before you need to use it.

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