Tex-Mex magic is mere minutes away with this quick and easy recipe for homemade Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce! You can make a batch of this 10-minute enchilada sauce with just 7 ingredients (most of which are pantry staples), meaning a hearty, celiac-friendly, restaurant-style meal is well within reach on even the busiest weeknights!
When it comes to weeknight meals, “healthy” and “easy” are my two go-to adjectives. I recently started to prep a batch of my slow-cooker red chicken enchiladas, only to realize I didn’t have any canned or jarred sauce on hand. Luckily, I figured out how to make this easy enchilada sauce from scratch!
Using just two varieties of canned tomato products, fresh garlic, and a few other pantry staples, I was able to whip up a completely homemade equivalent to a 28-ounce can of mild enchilada sauce that even my toddler loved. Oh, and the best part? It only took 10 minutes from start to finish.
- What Is Healthy Enchilada Sauce?
- What does it taste like?
- Why You’ll Love This Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe
- Ingredients Needed
- How To Make Enchilada Sauce
- Optional Variations & Dietary Adjustments
- Serving Suggestions
- Recipe Success Tips
- Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce Nutrition
- Pricing Info
- More Tex-Mex Favorites
What Is Healthy Enchilada Sauce?
This homemade enchilada sauce is a flavorful and nutritious tomato-based sauce that you can make delicious enchiladas or many other Mexican-inspired dishes like chili colorado. The best part? It’s super easy to make!
My red enchilada sauce recipe only requires 7 simple, wholesome ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen. Despite being delectably thick and viscous, this sauce is naturally gluten-free, making it perfect for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease.
And, since you’re making it from scratch, you have total control over the ingredients. You can be sure it’s free of any additives or preservatives that you might find in store-bought sauces, plus you have the power to make any other adjustments you need.
What does it taste like?
This simple, wholesome sauce has a double whammy of tangy tomato flavor that comes from a smart blend of tomato sauce and tomato paste. It’s perfectly balanced with slightly spicy chili powder, warming cumin, and savory garlic, while the apple cider vinegar adds a subtle touch of acidity that brings everything together. To give the sauce a luxurious texture and body, I add a little low-sodium vegetable broth.
The result is a balanced, mouthwateringly healthy low-sodium enchilada sauce that’s ideal for smothering over your favorite enchiladas or using as the base for rich, meaty stews. It’s the perfect combination of tangy, spicy, savory, and slightly sweet, making it a crowd-pleaser that everyone will love.
Why You’ll Love This Easy Homemade Enchilada Sauce Recipe
This easy red enchilada sauce is bursting with rich, bold flavors that will get your tastebuds tingling. Perhaps more importantly, though, it’s also healthy and suitable for all kinds of diets.
My recipe for red enchilada sauce is:
- Quick & Easy – Open some cans, pour everything in a saucepan, heat and stir. You’ll be done in just 10 minutes!
- Made With Only 7 Simple Ingredients – And most of them are pantry staples.
- Allergen-Friendly – This homemade enchilada sauce recipe is an excellent option for people watching their sodium intake. It also happens to be completely free from any flour or gluten, so it’s perfect for celiacs, too. Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, it’s also nut-free, soy-free, dairy-free, and seed-free to boot.
- Versatile – Yes, this simple enchilada sauce is perfect for pouring over enchiladas. But it’s no one-trick pony! You can also use it as the base for chili, soups, or stews. It also makes for a tasty sauce for Tex-Mex-inspired eggs in purgatory!
As promised, you only need a handful of ingredients to make your own enchilada sauce from scratch! Here’s what to grab:
- Canned Tomato Sauce – The real star of the show. Tomato sauce brings juicy, tangy tomato flavor and a rich, velvety mouthfeel.
- Tomato Paste – For super concentrated tomato flavor that brings a hit of umami.
- Chili Powder – This blend of several varieties of ground chili and warming cumin means you can get a touch of spiciness without needing to process whole dried chiles. Hooray for convenience!
- Cumin – Cumin is an essential ingredient in Mexican-inspired recipes, adding the familiar earthy warmth we all know and love.
- Garlic – Fresh minced garlic adds a bit of spicy kick to the sauce. Feel free to take a shortcut by using jarred minced garlic or frozen garlic cubes instead.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Slightly sweet and tantalizingly tangy, ACV gives this chicken enchilada red sauce an added dose of brightness.
- Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth – Using veggie broth instead of water gives you added depth of flavor without requiring extra ingredients. Opting for a low-sodium version means you’ll have greater control over the final seasoning of your dish.
While I love this restaurant-style enchilada sauce recipe just the way it’s written, you can make any of the following swaps or substitutions you need:
- Canned Tomato Sauce – Feel free to blend fresh tomatoes into a purée as a substitute for canned tomato sauce. You can also use slightly chunkier canned crushed tomatoes — just whiz them in a blender until they’re nice and smooth.
- Tomato Paste – While it’s not a perfect swap, you can use ketchup in place of tomato paste for a slightly sweeter version. You’re also welcome to use ground tomato powder if you can get your hands on it.
- Chili Powder – If you don’t have any on hand, make your own chili powder by combining paprika, cumin, cayenne pepper, Mexican oregano, and garlic powder. You can also use taco seasoning, red pepper flakes, or your choice of hot sauce as a substitute.
- Cumin – If you don’t have ground cumin on hand, toast whole cumin seeds in a dry pan until fragrant (about 45 seconds), then crush them in a mortar and pestle or spice/coffee grinder. Alternatively, try using citrusy coriander or warming cinnamon instead.
- Garlic – Feel free to swap in garlic powder or even onion powder if needed.
- Apple Cider Vinegar – Rice vinegar, white wine vinegar, sherry vinegar, or white balsamic vinegar can all be used instead.
- Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth – If you aren’t vegetarian, chicken or beef broth will also work!
How To Make Enchilada Sauce
This easy recipe for homemade enchilada sauce comes together in a jiffy. Here’s how:
Step 1: Whisk all ingredients together in a medium saucepan.
Step 2: Warm on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until simmering, stirring occasionally.
Step 3: Store in the fridge for up to 3 days, or use immediately!
Optional Variations & Dietary Adjustments
Just because I think this is the best enchilada sauce recipe around doesn’t mean there isn’t any room for experimentation. Here are a few possible ways to customize the recipe to your liking:
- Spicy – Consider adding a whole dried chili or two (with the stems and seeds removed first) to the pot during the simmering step. When it’s nice and tender, blend everything in a high-powered blender until silky smooth. Alternatively, adding some red pepper flakes or hot sauce can give it some kick without adding an extra step.
- Smoky – Try adding some adobo sauce from a can of chipotles to boost the smokiness.
- Extra Protein – Swap in beef or chicken bone broth to give this low-carb enchilada sauce an extra boost of muscle-building protein.
- Super Low-Sodium – Use low or no-sodium canned tomato sauce and paste and stick with low or no-sodium broth.
This recipe makes the equivalent of a 28-oz can of enchilada sauce, without any artificial ingredients or preservatives. Feel free to use it in any dish that needs a burst of spicy and tangy flavor. Here are some of my favorites:
- Slow-Cooker Enchiladas or Baked Enchiladas – As its name implies, this sauce is stellar for making the beloved Mexican casserole.
- Chili con Carne – Use this flavorful sauce as a substitute for regular tomato sauce next time you whip up a batch of chili.
- Tacos & Quesadillas – Drizzle the sauce over your favorite handheld Mexican snacks, or use it as a dipping sauce.
- Grilled Meat – Brush some of this bright, flavorful goodness over your grilled chicken, steak, pork, or shrimp for a burst of flavor.
- Soups & Stews – Replace some of the liquid from your favorite brothy recipes with this sauce for added depth of flavor and a Tex-Mex twist.
Recipe Success Tips
This simple recipe needs no explanation, but I’ve learned a few tricks along the way:
- Taste & Adjust the seasoning as you go. You may want your sauce to be spicier, smokier, or saltier than I like mine!
- For added depth of flavor, cook the tomato paste with a small drizzle of oil first, before adding the other ingredients. Cook till it’s very dark brown — this means the already concentrated tomato flavor will be extra concentrated with a rich, umami undertone.
- Feel free to simmer longer. I developed this recipe to be ready in just 10 minutes because I’m a working mom of two wee ones. Feel free to let it continue to simmer for up to 20-30 minutes if you have the time.
- To make it thicker, use less veggie broth or simmer it longer.
It all depends on the enchilada sauce. Many recipes use flour as a thickener, which obviously adds gluten to the mix. For this recipe, we don’t add any thickeners, so it’s naturally gluten-free.
It’s the combination of tomatoes, chilis, cumin, and garlic that really makes this enchilada sauce sing.
I suggest using your homemade gluten-free enchilada sauce within 3 days of making it if you store it in the fridge. It can also be frozen in freezer-safe containers for up to 6 months.
While you’re welcome to add thickeners like arrowroot powder or cornstarch, I find the best way to create a thicker sauce is to either add less vegetable broth or to simmer it for longer so more liquid evaporates. Simmering longer also has the added benefit of helping the flavors meld.
Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce Nutrition
This enchilada sauce is not only delicious but also quite nutritious. At only 43 calories per serving, it’s a great way to add flavor to your favorite Mexican dishes without adding a lot of extra calories.
The 9 grams of carbs come mostly from the tomato sauce and paste, which are both good sources of fiber. In fact, this sauce has 3 grams of fiber per serving, so you’re looking at just 6 net grams of carbs per 1/2 cup serving.
While enchilada sauce is not a significant source of protein (each serving has just 2 grams), every little bit counts. Feel free to boost the protein content by using bone broth in place of vegetable broth.
The sodium per serving is 560mg, which is 24% of the recommended daily intake. This is why we use low-sodium broth! To cut back the salt even further, opt for no- or low-sodium canned tomato products.
Lastly, the tomato sauce in this recipe is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene. These nutrients have numerous health benefits, such as boosting immunity, promoting healthy skin, and reducing the risk of chronic diseases. Not bad for a condiment, eh?
Total nutritional content per serving is:
- Calories: 43 calories
- Total Fat: 1 gram
- Protein: 2 grams
- Sodium: 560 mg
- Carbohydrates: 9 grams
- Fiber: 3 grams
*This nutritional information is an estimate and calculated based on the ingredients used to create the recipe. The nutritional value of your ingredients may differ slightly. Furthermore, this food is not intended to prevent, diagnose, cure, or treat any disease.
This is what I personally paid to make this recipe:
- 15 oz can tomato sauce: $1.70
- 8 oz can tomato sauce: $0.44
- 3 tbsp tomato paste: $0.25
- 3 tbsp chili powder: $0.29
- 1 tbsp cumin: $0.06
- 3 cloves garlic: $0.15
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar: $0.02
- ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth: $0.63
The total for this recipe comes out to be around $3.53 or roughly $0.51 per serving!
More Tex-Mex Favorites
Tried this recipe? Please leave a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ rating in the comments below! I would really appreciate your feedback!
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- 1 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp cumin
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ¾ cup low-sodium vegetable broth
- Add all ingredients to medium sauce pan and whisk together until combined.
- Warm on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until simmering, stirring occasionally.
- Store in fridge for up to 3 days, or use immediately!