This red enchilada sauce is tasty enough to use as a dip and really quick and easy to make. Make a batch in minutes and never use canned sauce again.
Sometimes called Salsa Roja, Mole Rojo, or simply Mexican red sauce, red enchilada sauce is a must-have staple in any well-stock pantry.
This recipe is my down and dirty, quick version of enchilada sauce, but if you are looking for an authentic Mexican version, try my authentic red enchilada sauce recipe!
A combination of tomato paste, chicken broth, chili powders, and seasonings, this recipe comes together in just a few minutes and you’ll have a hard time resisting using it as a dip as you watch it thicken to perfection on the stovetop.
Just wait until it’s cool, then dip away, because this stuff is delicious. Or try it on Carnitas Enchiladas or Ground Beef Enchiladas. All you steak and potato lovers, try it on Potato and Beef Enchiladas. You’ll be happy you did.
Ingredients for Red Enchilada Sauce with Roux
- Lard – I use lard because it gives this recipe a more authentic texture and flavor, but olive oil can certainly be substituted if you prefer.
- Flour (or Masa Harina) and dry seasonings – The flour or masa harina, of course, is the thickening agent that achieves that beautiful viscosity, and this blend of common seasonings adds great flavor to the finished product.
- Mexican Oregano – This is the ingredient that sets this recipe apart. It’s a little harder to find than other types of oregano but well worth searching out. By using Mexican oregano you’ll get a uniquely authentic flavor, but if you don’t have any on hand, use whatever oregano you do have.
*See my notes below about the different varieties of oregano.
- Cayenne Pepper – I prefer to keep this enchilada spread on the mild side, but feel free to add a little extra cayenne if you enjoy the heat.
- Marjoram – As oregano’s herb cousin, this seasoning adds a special flavor. Don’t have any on hand? That’s okay. In a pinch, just add a little extra oregano, since these are similarly tasting herbs.
- Tomato Paste – This is the dominant flavor to smother your enchiladas in, and a little goes a long way. Just take your time to really whisk this in until smoothly blended.
- Chicken Stock – As your liquid base, chicken stock will help smooth everything out and add additional flavor.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – After the Mexican Oregano, this is my other stand-out ingredient. After you’ve cooked everything up, this adds a little brightness of flavor to the mixture.
How to Make Mexican Red Sauce
This simple Mexican Red Sauce couldn’t be easier to make, and it cooks to the perfect thickness in under ten minutes.
- Whisk together the dry ingredients.
- Melt lard in a saucepan and whisk dry spice mixture into the lard then stir in the tomato paste.
- Whisk the chicken broth in next and allow to simmer until thickened.
- Remove from heat and stir in apple cider vinegar.
- Serve and marvel at the delicious ease of this recipe.
A note about oregano:
While I always use Mexican Oregano in my Latin dishes, it can sometimes be harder to find than other kinds. Purchase some here.
Mexican Oregano is related to lemon verbena and is native to Mexico. Pungent in flavor and aroma, Mexican Oregano has notes of mild licorice and citrus.
Mediterranean Oregano is the variety most often found in grocery store baking aisles. Similarly pungent, Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and is commonly used in Greek and Italian cooking.
*For complete instructions and a demo, refer to the full recipe card below and be sure to watch the video!
Recipe notes and tips
- Using lard will give your sauce a more authentic flavor, but feel free to use oil instead.
- If you enjoy spice, increase the cayenne to ½ teaspoon
- Distilled white vinegar can be substituted for Apple Cider Vinegar if you prefer
How to Freeze Red Enchilada Sauce
The sauce will keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container for 5-7 days, and it freezes well too!
To freeze, let it cool completely, then transfer to freezer-safe glass jars, (it will stain plastic) or freezer bags. Label and date.
Place it in the freezer and be sure to use it within three months. When you’re ready to use it, thaw completely in the fridge before reheating.
Add chicken stock or water if needed to restore consistency.
Red Enchilada Sauce
- 1/4 cup lard (Crisco) or olive oil
- 1/4 cup flour (or Masa Harina)
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp dried Mexican oregano (See Note 1)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne powder (See Note 2)
- 1/2 tsp marjoram
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (See Note 3)
- In a small bowl whisk together the flour (or masa harina), chili powder, cumin, garlic and onion powders, oregano, cayenne, marjoram and salt.
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat add the lard or oil. After a minute add the flour spice mixture and whisk to coat with oil, cooking for a minute or two.
- Whisk in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the chicken stock, breaking up any lumps and cook on high for 5-6 minutes. Sauce will bubble and thicken.
- Remove from heat and whisk in the vinegar. Season to taste with salt and use immediately. If using later, allow to cool and note in airtight container, or freeze.
- I like to use Mexican oregano in my Latin cooking as it has a more authentic flavor. If you can’t find Mexican oregano, please, by all means use whatever oregano you have on hand. You are going to love this red enchilada sauce! 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.
- If you like a little more kick like I do, double the cayenne to 1/2 teaspoon.
- Feel free to substitute with distilled white vinegar.
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.