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Jun 19, 2011 08:58 PM

What Makes an Enchilada Sauce? [moved from General Topics]

I am looking for a good recipe for a traditinal style red enchilada sauce and I cant make heads or tails of how it is different for other mexican sauces, like chili sauce.

What is the difference, there are so many variations most of which all contain onins, garlic, chili powder, tomato sauce as a base. Some hot, some not, some red some green, Is it just a lable?

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  1. I don't know what a Mexican "chili sauce" is but most red enchilada sauces do not use chili powder but rather ground dried chiles and only some use tomatoes.

    1. Just saying "enchilada sauce" is as amorphous as saying "pasta sauce". There are many kinds of flavors and colors.

      You are probably looking for a traditional rich reddish brown spicy sauce. It has no (or very little) tomato, but dried ancho chili's instead. In my red sauce- I use several kinds of dried chili (lots of ancho and maybe a chipotle or chiles de arbol), chicken stock, onion, cumin, garlic (and sometimes chocolate). I will use a scoop of tomato paste if it needs it. There are as many special recipes as hispanic grandmas, but I think the dried chili is what makes the difference to me.

      1. Traditionally, enchilada sauces are very smooth and rather thick: most recipes have you put cooked sauce in the blender and then send that through a sieve for maximum smoothness.

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          1. This recipe is very easy and actually produces a thick, flavorful sauce. The trick is to use very good chili powder (aligned with your taste preferences.) It's from an Emeril site:

            • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
            • 1 tablespoon flour
            • 1/4 cup chili powder
            • 2 cups chicken stock
            • 10 ounces tomato paste
            • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
            • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
            • 1/2 teaspoon salt
            In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Adjust the seasonings.

            1 Reply
            1. re: penthouse pup

              I make a similar one. However, I saute all the spices with the flour and oil to bring out the oils. I don't use tomato paste, but rather add a can of tomato sauce and simmer until it is thick. I prefer this type to the dried chile sauce which is too bitter to me.