Mail Order 'powder-Free' Red Enchilada Sauce

"Where I live, decent canned enchilada sauce is not available. Since most recipes for homemade call for 'chili powder' (which is also suspect in these parts) I now buy many varieties of dried chiles via mail order. This recipe is fairly easy and does the trick for me."
photo by Katzen photo by Katzen
photo by Katzen
Ready In:
3-4 cups




  • Wipe off the chiles with a damp cloth.
  • Tear the stems off the New Mexico and ancho chiles, then open them up with your fingers and pluck out the seeds and membranes, making jerky-sized pieces of chile.
  • Heat up the big sauce pan you will need later and 'stir-fry' the chile pieces until they smell nice (2-3 minutes).
  • Dump the toasted chiles and the chipotles into a medium-sized bowl, barely cover with hot stock, then float a smaller heavy glass bowl onto everything to keep the bits submerged. Soak for about 30 minutes.
  • Place the garlic, onion, spices and drained tomatoes into a blender.
  • Add the soaked chiles (including liquid), and puree until smooth.
  • Pour into the saucepan, add the tomato sauce and simmer for 30 minutes, adding stock to get the thickness you like. Season to taste.
  • To serve, I simply POACH corn tortillas right in the sauce for a minute or two (low fat trick), then pull them out one at a time with tongs, roll them around some pre-warmed filling (right on the plate), then smother with more sauce. No baking(impatient guy trick). Finish with a dollop of sour cream and a single black olive if you like.

Questions & Replies

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  1. Excellent recipe. Thank you so much for sharing. I had red chili sauce already prepared and had used this recipe: I keep that sauce, as a base for many recipes as it saves me time. I prefer a very smooth sauce so I pureed the tomato (diced) with the chicken stock (I use better than boullion stock base). This really is a lovely sauce no matter how you how you alter the preparation. Thank you so much for sharing!
  2. This is an intricate sauce, with wonderful depth of flavour - well worth the time to make it, although I didn't find it an unreasonable amount of time for what is an authentic enchilada sauce from scratch! One thing I'd suggest, although I didn't realize this until it was too late for this batch, is to press or mince the garlic and stir it in after the blending is complete - garlic, when processed in a blender or food processor, can impart a bitter flavour - I don't recall the science behind it, but read that on Elizabeth Baird's blog, and since changing that one piece of prep work when I make hummus, have definately noticed a difference. I'd really like to can some of this stuff to keep it handy, and give away to some of my spice-lovin' friends! I did use vegetable stock (homemade) in place of the chicken stock. Thanks for sharing this recipe, SpicyDoc! Made for PAC Fall 2009.
  3. I was looking for a recipe to use a supply of dried chiles I had in my pantry and this one looked wonderful. The sauce was very easy to prepare and I found it very spicy on its own, but when paired with the black bean enchiladas I made it was excellent. The only change I made was to use homemade vegetable stock rather than chicken. Thanks for posting!
  4. Tasty! This is not a recipe for someone looking for a quick enchilada sauce. If you are looking for an authentic style sauce with lots of flavor, this recipe fits the bill quite nicely. I had to salt the sauce to taste (probably because I used low sodium chicken stock). Thanks for the recipe!


I live in a town about 1 hr outside of Toronto. I have 2 toddler sons and a wife (who is past toddling) at home. I like to cook, my wife doesn't so I have a free rein in the kitchen. Cooking is probably my main hobby, except in Summer, when golf dominates. I LOVE spicy foods but DW doesn't, so I either cook separate dishes or make something I can spice up on my own plate. my current favorite cookbook is 'Some Like It Hot' by Clifford A. Wright--my first posting is from this book. My pet peeve is when someone turns up their nose at a new dish before actually trying it--she is getting better tho :) Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the words YUM or YUMMY make my skin crawl.
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