Enchilada Sauce

I love Mexican food.

I also hate canned Enchilada Sauce.

It doesn’t help that I’m really picky about the stuff.  It’s been one of my biggest problems with Mexican restaurants here in Ohio – even the best of them (so far that’s a little hole-in-the-wall joint in Seville, Ohio, of all places) – have crappy enchilada sauce. (The sauce at the restaurant in question tastes like it came from a can of Spaghetti-O’s.)

Because of this, I make my own enchiladas – most notably, Beef and Cheese and Molé – neither of which include traditional enchilada sauce. (Note: If you view the Molé Enchilada recipe, it was written before we changed our diet and I have reversed my stance on lard.)  At any rate, the recipe I am posting tomorrow calls for enchilada sauce, so I had to make it myself.

Most recipes call for flour to thicken them.  I toyed with the idea of thickening mine with a combination of tapioca, rice and potato flours, but in the end decided it would be best if I simply reduced the sauce until it was thick.  I am SO glad I did; reducing served to concentrate the flavor of the sauce – it was simply marvelous.  Far, far tastier than anything you can get from a can, and without any thickeners at all.

I’m so enamored with it that I am going to make enchiladas – with corn tortillas, yup – Sunday for Cinco de Mayo.  I may even throw caution to the wind and make a gluten-free version of Southwestern Spoon Bread and some traditionally prepared black beans.  After all, if you’re going to eat less than optimally, it might as well be with some nomilicious homemade Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo.

The sauce is deliciously Whole30; you can make it vegetarian/vegan by substituting the lard with olive oil and the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

Enchilada Sauce.  So simple and delicious, you will never buy the stuff in the can again.

Enchilada Sauce
Serves: 8
[i]Yields about 2 cups[/i]
  • 2 tablespoons lard
  • 1 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • salt, to taste
  1. Heat the lard in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook the onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent.
  2. Stir in the remaining ingredients except the salt and increase the heat to high. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat once again and simmer until the sauce has thickened enough to coat a spoon.
  3. Season with salt as needed.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 92 calories, 4.4g total fat, 4.8mg cholesterol, 126.7mg sodium, 365.2mg potassium, 10.6g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 5.2g sugar, 2.9g protein

14 thoughts on “Enchilada Sauce”

  1. FINALLY! An enchilada sauce I’ll actually like! 🙂 And yes, I have noticed that the sauce served in Mexican restaurants taste like Spaghetti-O’s sauce – I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but you nailed it! 🙂

  2. While I can get decent enchilada sauce down here I usually don’t. I never know if they have used lard or chicken stock. I just won’t risk the 6 hours in the bathroom and the 4 in the ER waiting room that JR will insist I go to if the restaurant tells me, “No, we don’t use chicken stock or lard.” Sorry to say some of them won’t bother to find out or will lie to you about ingredients.

    but making it at home? Now, that is something I can get behind.

    1. Isn’t that the truth? The list of restaurants I trust, and even most of the dishes at the ones I trust, are becoming slimmer and slimmer. I don’t have a problem with a dry salad but why would I pay to go out to get one?

      Yuck! I’d rather stay at home. (Then again I have a personal cook 😉 )

  3. I agree. FINALLY! I had been using those packaged spices one can buy at Whole Foods, along with tomato sauce and onions, but clearly yours will be better.

  4. I would think for enchiladas one would make a red sauce from fresh red chilis. We used to make this a lot in college because I had a roommate who had an MBA and quit his job at a bank to buy and operate a chili picker(!), this was in Las Cruces, where tons of chili is grown. So he used to bring home lots of fresh red chilis. Anyway, discard the seeds unless you have a macho fixation on hot, throw chilis in a blender then strain out the skin with a fine metal filter, a little salt, whatever, and that’s basic yummy enchilada sauce. Aren’t fresh chilis pretty available around the country these days?

    I do make this type of red sauce here in Prague (well not so much these days) with chili powder my mom sends from NM but I’d expect a hardcore foodie like you Jan to make it from fresh chilis 😉

    1. You’d be amazed at how difficult it is to find fresh red chilis, especially out of season, here in northeast Ohio – if it ain’t Italian or German, good luck finding the ingredients for it. Down in Texas, we swam in them year round, but up here we’re lucky if we can get jalapenos, forget a “specialty” type. Even the two Hispanic markets we’ve found have a dearth of fresh chilis (and what they do carry are often in pretty bad shape); the vast majority of them are dried.

      1. I guess supply follows demand, but I figured that stuff was more ubiquitous these days. So you are practically in the same boat as I am when it comes to the noblest members of the capsicum family. I can actually get canned jalapenos and fresh cilantro regularly here now so at least I can make a decent pace-style salsa.

        1. Unfortunately, yes. We can get bell peppers, of course, and there’s almost always jalapenos at the grocery store – we can even get a decent poblano here and there, but that’s about it. We did get a few serranos out of our CSA last year, but mostly what you’ll find is Hungarian peppers, both sweet and hot banana peppers, cubanelles and cherry peppers up here.

          I don’t think Beloved’s bought any seeds for peppers/chilis yet, so maybe we’ll be able to grow our own. I’ve grown Thai bird chilis in the past with some success.

  5. cinco de mayo is the best!
    I’m going up to Santa Barbara (alone) for the weekend.
    No trip to SB would be complete without a visit to La Super Rica … best food ever!
    : )

  6. Sean, The use of dried chilies is preferred in hispanic cooking for sauces and mole, not because of their availability to fresh or lack there of) but because when the chilies are dried they take on a different flavor composition and complexity which lends itself to a different flavor profile when used in preparations such as enchilada sauce. The chilies are dried for this very reason. I live in California and am surrounded by a large Hispanic community… in the market there is a plethora of fresh chilies and right next to them are the dried varieties, both of which are utilized depending on the type of sauce or mole is being prepared…

  7. Thank you for this recipe! My husband said they were the best enchiladas (and particularly, the best enchilada sauce) he’s ever had in his life! He is very honest with me regarding my paleo recipes, so I would call this hugely successful!

Comments are closed.