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Not because I think it is too hard to make, so please don't crucify me, BUT

Is there any decent canned/jarred red enchilada sauce out there? I have not yet undertaken my own taste test or anything, was hoping I might get some guidance here before I resort to that. We have regular chain grocery with large sections of mexican/hispanic foods, plus Whole Foods or Wegman's as options.

It's not that I am against making it from scratch, but husband is super-picky so I don't want to bother wasting my time coralling ingredients and trying out different recipes on him if I can buy a canned sauce, doctor it up, and make him happily eat his enchiladas. He doesn't want mole, he doesn't want green sauce, he doesn't want cream sauce. Plain ol' red sauce enchiladas for this (former) Texan. The less fuss the better for me! Surely someone can tip me off to something that will meet with his picky-yet-not-too-discerning taste. Help please!!

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  1. I have to say that the only canned sauce Ive ever used is Old El Paso. They are passable I suppose. But I did want to tell you about this website in case you havent heard of it. The Homesick Texan. There are some recipes on there you might want to make for him :) Like King Ranch Chicken....sigh. I miss Tejas :)


    1 Reply
    1. re: jenwee

      Funny you mention it. I was all set to make her Sour Cream enchiladas....but he doesn't really want that, he wants red sauce. We're lucky, things like Ro-Tel abound so he's doesn't miss too much. No good BBQ of course but that we can order online if we want to splurge. Enchiladas, however, we are not ordering online. Thanks!!

    2. West Texan chiming in. If he wants plain old red enchilada sauce, it's hard to beat either Hatch brand for a more mellow & slightly richer taste, Old El Paso for more of a bitter bite, and in my house, a blend of the two. I do two versions of red enchiladas - homemade and store bought sauce. So, if it's store bought, I generally mix my meat with Old El Paso hot, but dip the tortillas in either OEP or Hatch medium.

      2 Replies
      1. re: shanagain

        I'm a fan of Hatch too. The medium enchilada sauce is my go-to for easy chilaquiles for breakfast, and the hot has plenty of heat.


        1. re: Rubee

          Third Hatch -- you can buy it at Whole Foods, if you have trouble finding it other places.

          I hate the canned sauces that have vinegar in them: there's invariably way too much. While brightness is good in an enchilada sauce, sourness is not.

      2. We use the Herdez or La Palma brand in SoCal.

        10 Replies
        1. re: Phurstluv

          Does Herdez make a red enchilada sauce? I use their salsa verde all the time for green enchiladas, but have never seen a red ench. sauce.

          1. re: shanagain

            Yeah, I was just wondering that- I don't think I have, either.

            1. re: EWSflash

              The Herdez red sauce I use for enchiladas is labeled Salsa Casera. Ingredients: tomatoes, onions, serrano peppers, salt, cilantro. Simple and delicious!

          2. re: Phurstluv

            I think it was La Palma (or Las Palmas?) that I used in California. They had a red enchilada sauce and a red chile sauce, and they were almost identical. The ingredients were basically red chiles and water! I thought they worked fine.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              Another vote here for the Herdez red Salsa Casera widely available in NYC. Only problem is it can be hard to find in larger size cans.

              1. re: ratgirlagogo

                That's interesting. I've never seen salsa used as an enchilada sauce. (Texas bias showing.)

                1. re: shanagain

                  Eh? Didn't you say above that you "use their salsa verde all the time for green enchildadas?"

                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                    I assumed you knew what I was speaking of. I'll be extra sure to be more clear the next time.

                  2. re: shanagain

                    Herdez makes a wide range of salsas, both canned and jarred. In general the jarred ones tend to be more the fresh chip-dipping type and the canned ones better suited for use in cooking, but their 5-chile jarred sauce is quite smoky (from chilpotles) and excellent for enchiladas. As is the canned Salsa Casera mentioned above.

                    And they're all called salsa, which as you know just means sauce.

                2. re: Phurstluv

                  Herdez also.

                  The small can of red salsa is the base for my guacamole. Learned it from Mexican women.

                3. I would bet you will find a mercado in your town if you do some searching. It should have what you want.

                  1. I know you didn't mention it being near you, but if you have access to Trader Joes I really like their red enchilada sauce. I use it whenever I make enchiladas and people love it ... although none of them are Texans :-)

                    1. I agree OEP is pretty good. Othewise, chili gravy from chili powder is not to hard to make. If you can make gravy it's very similar.
                      My recipe is:
                      2Tbsp. lard (or shortening)
                      2 Tbsp. flour or wondra
                      3 Tbsp. chili powder or ground chiles Pasillas used bagged chili powder not the jar stuff.
                      3 Cups warm water
                      Salt to taste
                      1/4 tsp onion powder
                      1/4 tsp garlic powder

                      Melt lard in skillet. Stir in flour. Make a light roux. Add ground chile, water,salt and powders.. Cook until thick around 10 to 15 min, stir frequently on low fire so it doesn’t burn or clump.

                      The perfectionists that make the sauce from dry chili pods, I do what is easy for me and what taste good. I make 10 times the amount listed above for my tamales

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Cinnabon

                        I gotta chime in. I made tamales a week ago and made a delicious 'gravy' or sauce for the tamal meat. I simmered a pork roast in onion and many different types of dried chiles, including the pasilla and ancho, plus a few fresh peppers. The result was a thick, rich red broth that I put through a blender. After running through a sieve, I had a nice almost creamy sauce that was a bit spicy and could be used for a lot of purposes. Certainly enchiladas and chili.

                        The effort was minimal. The time was a factor, but I drank beer the entire time so no wated effort there. I gave away the remaining 'broth' to a friend who did indeed make enchiladas and claimed it to be her very best ever. That and home made corn tortillas (which are ever so gallantly simple).

                        I would freeze the remaining sauce up for future endeavors.

                        1. re: DallasDude

                          Or try this:

                          Combine 2 diced, dried chipotles (stems & seeds removed), 4 lg. cloves garlic, minced, 2 1/2 t chili powder, 1 1/2 t gr. cumin, 2 c chicken broth and 3 c tomato sauce (or any of the canned sauces mentioned above) in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and simmer 15-30 minutes or until desired thickness.
                          It seems to keep my half-Mexican hubby happy.

                        2. re: Cinnabon

                          Yup - this is mine, my mom's and grandmother's enchilada recipe. Roux+Gelbhardts+Chicken broth. Easy, works a treat and is tasty too :)

                        3. Well, we made some chicken enchiladas tonight. I bought a few different sauces from the store and then I also made Robb Walsh's chili gravy. We did a blind taste test and ultimately went with a blend of the chili gravy (which was good but a bit bitter), Hatch medium enchilada sauce, which had pleasant heat, and frontera red enchilada sauce which had a nice brightness and complexity. About 2 parts gravy to 1 part each of the store-bought sauces.

                          FYI - our least favorite was the Old El Paso - just bland, tasted more like tomato soup than anything remotely Tex-mex.

                            1. re: jules1026

                              The best canned is El Pato salsa para Enchiladas - not always easy to find.

                              1. re: FoodDee

                                I love using el pato in homemade salsas. But have never seen in as "para enchiladas" here in so cal. Will have to look around - thanks!

                            2. No crucifixion here- I jazz up the canned myself. I read through this thread, and I think you will do just fine if you use Old El Paso, Hatch, or Las Palmas, or (!) a combination of two or more. Anybody ever do a taste test?
                              I can't speak for El Pato or Herdez red chile because I haven't tasted either- which is weird because I like Herdez brand goods in general.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: EWSflash

                                Yes we did end up doing a blind taste test, see above. Neither Las Palmas nor Herdez brands were available at any of our 3 different grocery stores.

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  I just made chilaquiles using Las Palmas Medium Red Chile Sauce, and much prefer the Hatch. I wouldn't buy the Las Palmas again.

                                  1. re: Rubee

                                    WE don't get Hatch here, Rubee, just Herdez & Las Palmas & El Pato. Do you guys get El Pato, it's pretty good.

                                    1. re: Phurstluv

                                      I don't think I've tried the Herdez or the El Pato yet. Thanks for the suggestions Phurstluv!

                                2. Here's another poster whose never seen salsa used as an ingredient in enchiladas. Not saying it couldn't work; just never seen it.

                                  And cinnabon's recipe for ranchero sauce looks like a good 'un to me.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    I've never had a good authentic red chile (as opposed to chili) that had any tomatoes in it either. I dont think I'd care for it, but you never know. i've liked good chili with tomatoes or without.

                                  2. love either Religious Experience red enchilada sauce or Hatch's. I have never been able to make my own that tasted as good as pre-made but my (Canadian of all things) dad makes terrific enchilada sauce from scratch! I ask for his recipe, he gives it to me, it does not turn out the same.

                                    I say go with the premade.