Green enchilada sauce is made with roasted chiles for authentic Mexican flavor. Make this recipe and say goodbye to canned enchilada sauce.
This recipe is the sibling of Easy Red Enchilada Sauce, and if you’re a fan of green chiles, you will love this version. I’ll show you how to make it in in a few simple steps, and in less time than it takes to drive to the store for canned sauce.
Difference between red and green enchilada sauce
The biggest difference between red and green chile sauces is the flavor, which is determined by the color of the pepper. Red chiles are riper than green, and they have an earthy flavor. Spicy green peppers tend to have herbal notes, and the spice level can vary a lot between different varieties.
It may not seem like there would be much difference in the flavor of the enchiladas themselves, but there really is!
Judge it for yourself though; make a pan of Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas and Carnitas Enchiladas and see what you think.
This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but generally, green sauces pair better with chicken and pork than they do with beef.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Substitutes for Anaheim green chiles, Hatch chiles and poblanos are great substitutes for Anaheim chilis. For roasting purposes, you’ll want whole peppers with the seeds and membrane intact. For less spicy flavor, you can wait until after roasting, then remove the seeds and membranes.
- Substitute for jalapeños– Using Serrano chiles will give you a spicier enchilada sauce. If you want your sauce to be milder, omit the jalapeño altogether and just use Anaheims.
Using Authentic Mexican Spices
For authentic flavor, I recommend using Mexican oregano rather than Mediterranean. If you can’t find Mexican oregano, whatever you have on hand will work fine.
Mexican oregano is a relative of Lemon Verbena and is native to Mexico. It has mild licorice and citrus flavor.
Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and most often is used in Greek and Italian recipes. This is what you’ll find in the spice aisle of most supermarkets.
Roasting Green Chiles
Roasted chili peppers are my secret to the best green enchilada sauce. Roasting peppers gives them a smoky flavor from the char on the outside, which increases the spicy heat a tiny bit. More than anything, roasted chiles add loads of extra flavor to the sauce!
VIDEO: How to Make Green Enchilada Sauce
Roasting chiles, onions and garlic is easy to do, and pureeing them together takes very little effort in a food processor or blender. To see the process from start to finish, watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
- Broil and steam the vegetables.
After broiling the green chiles, it’s important to wrap them in foil or place them inside of a paper bag for a few minutes. This allow them to rest and steam, making it easier to remove the skins.
- Combine to create a puree.
When the ingredients are cool and ready to go, add them to a blender or food processor with a bit of chicken stock. Then puree everything until you have a smooth green sauce!
Before the sauce is complete, you’ll want to give it time for the flavors to meld, and for the sauce to thicken a bit.
If the consistency seems too thick, stir in a tablespoon of stock or water at a time until it’s the way you like it.
- Taste and season!
Don’t skip this important step. Your green chili sauce may need a little extra salt, or maybe some vinegar or lemon juice for acidity. You won’t know until you taste it!
Uses for Green Enchilada Sauce
This recipe is a favorite of mine because it’s so versatile. Here are just a few recipes you can use it in:
- Obviously, use it to make the best green chile chicken enchiladas you’ve ever eaten!
- Drizzle it over shredded chicken tacos or grilled chicken tostadas
- It’s fantastic with chilaquiles and on scrambled eggs
- Thin it out to use as a quick meat marinade or salad dressing
If you want to step it up with a more traditional way of making enchilada sauce, check out my authentic red enchilada sauce. It’s a little more work to make, but well worth the time.
If you’d like a spicier sauce, check out my recipe for roasted salsa verde, too. All you do is thin it a bit with chicken stock until you have the consistency you prefer. Enjoy!
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Green Enchilada Sauce + Video
- 8 Anaheim green chiles (See Note 1)
- 2 Poblano chiles
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 jalapeño stem removed (See Note 2)
- 1 large white onion quartered
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano (See Note 3)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup chicken stock
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Peel the outer skins off the onion and garlic and discard.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil and add the green chiles, garlic, jalapeño and onion. Place under the broiler until charred all over, turning over half way through, about 10 minutes.
- Remove from broiler, cover with foil and allow to rest and steam for 5 minutes. Peel and rub the charred skins off of the green chiles as best you can. (See Note 4)
- Place all the roasted green chiles, garlic, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, cumin, oregano, kosher salt and chicken stock in a food processor, blender or Vitamix, and pulse until smooth. If you prefer it a little smoother, then add more chicken stock to suit your needs.
- Pour the mixture into a saucepan with the oil and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Season to taste with salt. Optional: add a teaspoon of white vinegar or lime juice to adjust taste to your liking.
- Hatch Chiles as well as Poblanos can be substituted for the Anaheim chiles. I prefer a combo.
- If you’d like this spicier, substitute a Serrano chile or if milder, omit the jalapeño all together.
- 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.
- If you prefer the sauce to be milder, make a vertical slice into each chile and remove the seeds and membrane.
- Optional: add a teaspoon of white vinegar or lime juice to adjust taste to your liking.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
We made a bunch of carnitas the other day and we use this sauce to make enchiladas with the left over meat. The best enchiladas I have ever had.
Ahhh, thanks Dave, hopefully that carnitas recipe was one of mine! 🙂
Hi Kevin, For some reason the video is not playing for me and I really want to see this one. I have had trouble roasting peppers in the past. Thanks for your great recipes. I am now forwarding them on to my college grandgirl that is loving trying them for her housemates.
Sorry you’re having an issue playing the video. I just checked and it played for me on 2 different browsers? A glitch of sorts for now, BUT all of my videos can be seen on my YouTube Channel for your viewing pleasure!
Hi, how does this do in the freezer if I want to make a large batch and save some for later?
It freezes wonderfully. If you try it let me know how it works out! Thanks!
I’m a green sauce kind of girl when it comes to enchiladas! I definitely need to try your recipe!
This has got to be flavourful with all those delicious ingredients, Kevin! A must try for sure!
I can not stand the taste of cilantro, can I leave out and sub for something else?
If you don’t like it omit it. No need for substitution. 🙂