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Enchilada Sauce

The enchilada is a Mexican dish made from a filling of pork, chicken, or beef that’s wrapped with a corn tortilla and then a sauce is poured on it. One of the things that differentiate an enchilada from other Mexican-style wraps is the sauce. In fact, the name literally means to decorate with chili. The enchilada has been said to be the perfect street food because it has everything in a compact package, carbs, meat, cheese, and a sauce to bring it all together. Enchilada sauce contains very little tomatoes and is loaded with chilis making it unique from the different sauces out there. Some even rank enchiladas based on the quality of the enchilada sauce, and that says a lot for a condiment.

Enchilada Sauce Trivia

  • There is no one gold “standard” for enchilada sauce as each sauce is as unique as the cook that makes it.
  • May 5 is national enchilada day.
  • El Cocinero Mexicano (The Mexican Chef) was the very first Mexican cookbook ever published, has an enchilada recipe. This was way back in 1831.
  • While not as popular today, the very first enchiladas had fish as their filling.

Enchilada Sauce Buying Guide

It’s hard to determine what the “best” enchilada sauce is due to the subjectiveness of what enchilada sauce should taste like.  Objectively though, it is worth noting that most enchilada sauces that are available on store shelves still use artificial coloring and preservatives to keep their product fresh. On top of preservatives, other flavor enhancers are added to make them taste better.

Now back to subjectivity, what we might think is the best tasting enchilada sauce in the bunch might be different from what someone else considers as a good sauce. Now that being said, there are two types of enchilada sauce, red and green. Aside from the fact that both variants are used in enchiladas, red and green enchiladas sauces are different in flavor profile and ingredients.

  • Green Enchilada Sauce – The green sauce has a rather simple flavor with the notes of jalapenos, tomatillos and green chiles being prevalent.
  • Red Enchilada Sauce – Red enchilada sauce is a little bit more complex as it contains red chiles, vinegar, onions, and other ingredients that are close to what you would find in traditional chili sauce.

Enchilada Sauce Production & Farming in Texas

With the popularity of enchiladas in Mexico and Texas, it is not hard to find a local producer that makes small-batch enchilada sauces available for sale. Producers that make enchilada sauces usually produce other local products as well such as salsa and hot sauces. After all, it enchilada sauce shares a lot of common ingredients with both salsa and hot sauce.

A good reason to try these local enchilada sauces is the single fact that they’re made by people with a good background in making (and eating!) enchiladas. The taste is attuned to the local palate, as opposed to some “authentic” enchilada sauce that has been tweaked to appeal to as many people as possible.

As we said earlier, taste is subjective, especially with enchilada sauce. So who better to make enchilada sauce than a local as opposed to some corporate chef somewhere that dictates what the “authentic” taste of enchilada sauce should be.

Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:

While they may be convenient, a lot of the commercially available enchilada sauces have some less than desirable additives that are used to produce these products on a large scale and cheaply as well. Here are some of the additives that we have found in many of the top-selling commercial enchilada sauces in the market.

  • Natural and Artificial Colorings – These do nothing for the flavor of the sauce. These are added to keep the sauce colors bright and attractive even months on the shelves.
  • Gums – Xanthan gum, guar gum, and other gums that help bind the sauce together and to keep it from separating on the shelves.
  • Hydrolyzed Corn and MSG – These are flavor enhancers added to give the product more umami. Some people are sensitive to MSG so it’s very advisable to check the label if anyone in the group consuming the sauce is sensitive to it.
  • Calcium Hydroxide – This reduces the acidity of the enchilada sauce, making it more palatable to a wider audience.


Most commercially produced enchilada sauces are packed in tin cans and usually come in larger sizes. Packing them in tin cans also adds a little bit of a “tinny” taste to the enchilada sauce.

Artisan enchilada sauce by small producers is usually packed in glass bottles.

Enjoying Enchilada Sauces

Enchilada sauce is best on… you guessed it, enchiladas! While it is called enchilada sauce, it can also be used in other dishes. It can be used as a sauce for pulled pork, mac and cheese, Mexican lasagna, and other dishes that use tomato sauce, simply replace half of the tomato sauce with the enchilada sauce to give any dish a Mexican kick.


Since most commercial enchilada sauces are packaged in cans, transfer the leftovers to a glass container before storing inside the fridge. This can be stored for up to a week without any issues. Enchilada sauce can also be frozen for long-term storage. The freezing option is good for homemade enchilada sauce or if you’re buying from a local maker, simply place the entire container (as long as it’s freezer safe) in the freezer for up to six months.

Make your own enchilada sauce:

While this may take a lot more time than opening a can of pre-made sauce, this does taste immensely better than any of the commercially available sauces out there.


Butter, 30 grams
Flour, 2 tablespoons
Red chili powder, 25 grams
Cumin, 10 grams
Garlic Powder, 10 grams
Tomato paste, 6oz can or packet
Water, 500ml
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1:

Make a roux with butter and flour.

Step 2:

Add the rest of the spices and mix well with the roux.

Step 3:

Gradually add the water until the roux is dissolved and everything is well incorporated.

Step 4:

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

Step 5:

Allow to cool and use as you would enchilada sauce.




  • Serving Size: 1 Serving
  • Calories: 24 1%
  • Carbs: 5g 2%
  • Sugar: 4g
  • Fiber: 1g 4%
  • Protein: 1g 2%
  • Fat: 0g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0g 0%
  • Trans Fat 0g 0%
  • Cholesterol 0mg 0%
  • Sodium 520mg 22%
  • Vitamin C 1.2mg 2%
  • Vitamin A 400IU 8%
  • Calcium 0mg 0%
  • Iron 0.4mg 2%

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