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Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

by jughandle

This Red Enchilada Sauce recipe was developed by Darlene Myer and I to try to replicate true Mexican flavor in an authentically made enchilada sauce. – Jughandle

Dried Chiles

Some might question the use of dried chiles in this recipe when you can’t swing a dead cat without finding a enchilada sauce made with a roux.

The problem we have discovered through trial and error, is that using dried chiles is the real deal.

When you dry a pepper you are basically removing the water and concentrating the fruit flavors.  Think raisins.  They are dried grapes.  Each one is a concentration of the grape fruit flavors and the sugar.  Same with a pepper.

We use dried New Mexico chiles and guajillo chiles in this recipe.  In reality, you can use just about any dried chile to make this sauce.  Beware, you need to know the properties of the original pepper or you may be in for a surprise.

Source out a pepper that isn’t too hot but has a big bouquet and complex flavor.  Peppers like those will dry with even better flavor profile than when fresh.

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Darlene's Red Enchilada Sauce

Darlene makes great enchiladas, but wasn't happy with the sauce. She and I tweaked and tweaked, borrowing ideas from many chefs. Finally, she was happy with what we came up with here. Hope your are too. - Jughandle
Course Sauce
Cuisine Mexican
Keywords Darlene, Red Enchilada Sauce
Cooking Method Boiled, Pan Fried
Hot/Cold Dish Hot
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 24 Ounces
Author Darlene Myer

What You Will Need:

  • 3 cups water - for reconstituting the dried chiles
  • 2 ounces dried guajillo chiles - stemmed and seeded
  • 1 ounce dried New Mexico chiles - stemmed and seeded
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil divided in half
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion - chopped
  • 1 medium size Roma tomato - seeded and chopped
  • 1 Clove Garlic - pressed or minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
After Cooking To Adjust Flavors:
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar - to take any bitter edge off. Optional
  • .5 tsp Kosher salt - if needed


  • Stem and seed your dried chilies by cutting off the stem, rolling the pod between your hands, then pouring out the seeds.
  • In a heavy saucepan, add 3 c of cold water the prepped dried chiles and bring to a boil.
  • When you achieve a rolling boil reduce the heat to simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Or longer to make the chilies tender.
  • Drain the cooked chiles and reserve the cooking liquid in a measuring cup to use later.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
  • Saute the onion until softened stirring occasionally which should take about 5 minutes.
  • Introduce the tomato, garlic, salt, oregano, smoked paprika, and cumin to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes more.
  • Transfer the mixture to a blender adding the chiles plus all of the reserved cooking liquid. Puree until smooth.
  • Strain the sauce and discard the pulp.
  • After straining you should have 2 cups of sauce.
  • Use water to thin the sauce to 3 cups.
  • Heat the remaining oil in the same pan over high heat.
  • Slowly add the sauce being careful to avoid splattering yourself and the kitchen. If your pan is not large enough to hold the whole thing, do it in batches
  • Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly, don't answer the phone or drink a beer.
  • Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
  • Taste and adjust flavor with the additional salt and vinegar if needed
  • Allow to cool and store in the refrigerator until ready to use or freeze flat in gallon freezer bags for up to 3 months.


You can freeze it flat in large freezer bags for up to 3 months.


Nutrition Facts
Darlene's Red Enchilada Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 23 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 102mg4%
Potassium 75mg2%
Carbohydrates 3g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 980IU20%
Vitamin C 1.7mg2%
Calcium 3mg0%
Iron 0.3mg2%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Related Links:

Authentic Texas Chili Recipe

Mittie’s Favorite White Chicken Enchiladas

Guacamole Dip Recipe

Mexican Tomato Based Salsa Recipe

Pico De Gallo Recipe

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