This Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce is made from scratch using dried chiles, onions, tomatoes, garlic and herbs. I’ll show you step by step how to make it and you’ll never used canned again. Toasting in a pan, boiling and a quick purée and you’re ready to make enchiladas.
Not too long ago I made a down and dirty, How to Make Easy Red Enchilada Sauce that was tailored for the everyday cook who might not have the time to do the authentic route. It’s super easy to make, and you probably already have all the ingredients on hand like chicken stock and warm spices. You can make in about 10 minutes and it does the job.
This caused a bit of a stir on social media where 50 percent of people loved the simplicity of it and the other 50 percent were people who were shocked I’d make it that way and schooled me on the proper way to make a red enchilada sauce.
Believe me I know how to make a authentic red enchilada sauce, but this site is here to help introduce the everyday home cook to try new things and new flavors. Once we build on that we can then go to the more authentic and detailed way of making some things.
Now, if you’re thinking that you’d like to learn the traditional way, then my Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce is your go to recipe for that.
First we start off by toasting the chiles to make them more pliable and release their essential oils. I prefer to use ancho and pasilla dried chiles. These are mild, not a hot chile, and have a earthy, fruity taste.
Pan roasting the tomatoes and onions in a dry pan adds a little char flavor and in go the herbs like Mexican oregano (a must!). This then gets covered with water and brought to a boil.
For that authentic flavor PLEASE use Mexican oregano.
A little information for you on the two different oreganos: Mexican oregano is a relative of Lemon Verbena and is native to Mexico. Similar in that it’s pungent like Mediterranean oregano, Mexican oregano has notes of mild licorice and citrus. Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and most often is used in Greek and Italian recipes. Mediterranean oregano is the one most found in spice racks and supermarkets.
Next the entire mixture (veggies, chiles and water) get puréed and then strained to remove any solids
Be sure to scrape the bottom of the wire wash sieve, too. That stuff is golden (watch the video below)!
Be sure to fry the sauce in hot oil and then simmer to cook this through. This makes about 4 cups total.
Then you’re ready for whatever you like to use red enchilada sauce on like my Potato and Beef Enchiladas, eggs and chilaquiles.
For other sauce ideas try my Pan Seared Salmon with Apricot Jalapeno Butter Sauce recipe, this Apricot Chipotle Sauce that’s great on meatballs, baked or grilled chicken and ribs, or these Tender Beef Tips in Red Wine Sauce.
Serve your enchiladas alongside my Authentic Mexican Pickled Carrots, too. Enjoy!
Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce
- 4 ancho dried chiles
- 4 pasilla (negro) dried chiles
- 1 onion (large, trimmed and cut lengthwise)
- 2 Roma, plum tomatoes (cut lengthwise)
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp Mexican oregano (See Note 1)
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- sugar (optional)
- Toast the chiles in a hot, dry skillet for about 30 seconds per side. Allow chiles to cool and then remove stems, and shake out as many of the seeds as you can.
- In the same hot, dry skillet char the onion, tomatoes and garlic.
- Place the chiles back in skillet with the charred onion, tomatoes, garlic and add the Mexican oregano, marjoram and salt. Add enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Carefully remove boiled chiles, vegetables, herbs and the water and put in a blender. Purée until smooth. If too thick, add a little water to blend completely.
- Strain chile vegetable mixture through a sieve into a bowl and be sure to scrape bottom of sieve to get all the pulp.
- Heat the skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. Quickly and carefully add the strained sauce to fry it. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened stirring often.
- Add salt and or sugar to taste.
- Mexican Oregano A little information for you on the two different oreganos. Mexican oregano is a relative of Lemon Verbena and is native to Mexico. Similar in that it’s pungent like Mediterranean oregano, Mexican oregano has notes of mild licorice and citrus. Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and most often is used in Greek and Italian recipes. Mediterranean oregano is the one most found in spice racks and supermarkets.
- Cool completely, cover and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.