Friends, this recipe for vegan enchilada sauce is the easiest one you’ll find! Though there are countless recipes on the web for homemade enchilada sauce, this one is as uncomplicated as it gets! In under 40 minutes – including the prep time, cook time, and cooling time – you’ll have a family-friendly flavorful – yet mild- enchilada sauce to add to your favorite Mexican recipes!
The enchilada sauce you use when putting together a recipe can honestly make or break your favorite enchilada dish. Whether you are making enchilada soup, Mexican casserole, or classic enchiladas, if the sauce isn’t right then the whole dish can be ruined.
I learned that lesson the hard way when I first made my veggie-filled black bean enchiladas. I thought it would be a quick and easy thing to just open a jar of store-bought enchilada sauce and pour it on. Oh boy was I wrong! Too much cumin! Too much spice! Too much…yuck!
I’m sure it’s fine if you happen to find an enchilada sauce you really love…but I wasn’t willing to make my enchilada recipe multiple times just to find the perfect enchilada sauce and so I did some digging on the WWW and decided to make my own.
Soooo complicated! Soooo spicy for my wimpy family! But honestly- too much work…
No, at the end of a long day when the dinner inspiration finally hits, I'm not going to take the time to roast the peppers, chop the garlic, dice the onion AND cook everything. Enough is enough!
You’ll love this easy enchilada sauce for its simplicity, mild flavor, and deliciousness that will perfectly complement any dish that calls for enchilada sauce!
Ingredients needed to make this easy vegan enchilada sauce
This is a quick and easy recipe. You won’t need to chop, dice, slice, or saute anything! You might notice a large number of seasonings used. You won’t need very much of any of them – but please don’t leave any out. Every tiny bit adds an amazing depth of flavor to this easy enchilada sauce.
- olive oil – I use robust flavored extra virgin olive oil.
- 2-3 Tablespoons chili powder. This is where you get to adjust the seasonings to your taste. Start with the smaller amount. You can always add more after it’s cooked and taste to adjust.
- all-purpose flour – The flour acts as a thickener.
- vegetable broth – Use homemade vegetable broth or purchase at the store. If you are concerned about sodium then look for low-sodium vegetable broth.
- crushed tomatoes – I use canned crushed tomatoes. You can use fresh tomatoes if your tomato is very tasty (sadly, not all tomatoes taste great). But before adding them to this recipe, cook the fresh tomatoes in a pan over the stovetop while you are crushing until they have softened. You will need to add that time to the total minutes listed in the recipe card below. If you purchase canned tomatoes (like I do), look for fire-roasted tomatoes if you can find them. Fire-roasted tomatoes add a certain depth of flavor to any recipe using canned tomatoes.
- ground cumin
- cocoa powder – Use the unsweetened kind, not sweetened chocolate milk powder.
- granulated sugar
- onion powder
- garlic powder
- salt – You are using only a little bit in this recipe, but if you are concerned about the sodium then leave it out while cooking and add the salt after tasting.
- ground black pepper
- a pinch of cinnamon – Really, just a pinch to add to the depth of flavor.
How to make the easiest enchilada sauce ever!
There isn’t anything easier than opening a can of store-bought enchilada sauce. Am I right? And if I could find one I actually liked then I’d probably do that. But I haven’t and so I was so glad when I tested and made this yummy red enchilda sauce.
The exact ingredients with measurements can be found in the recipe card below along with more concise abbreviated instructions. Read on for more details, tips, and tricks so that you will feel confident making this recipe.
First step – cook the oil, flour, and chili powder
When we cook the oil and flour together, we make a sort of “roux” which allows the flour to cook (no yucky raw flour please) and infuse with the fat (in this recipe – the olive oil). Roux is typically made as a thickening paste for thick creamy soups and sauces.
I add the chili powder in this step so that it gets nice and toasted. Remember how I mentioned that this recipe is customizable? If your family does not appreciate the spiciness of sauces made with chili powder, then start with two tablespoons. You can always add more at the end.
Also, be aware that some brands of chili powder naturally carry more heat than others. It’s a good idea to know the chili powder you are using before making this recipe.
In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the flour, chili powder, and oil. Cook for about one minute, stirring constantly. Let your nose be your guide on this one. If you can still smell that “raw flour” smell then you should cook it another 30 seconds longer. Your mixture will be nice and thick and resemble a paste at this point.
Remaining steps – add the rest of the ingredients and cook
Remove the mixture from the heat while you add the remaining ingredients. First, Add the vegetable broth and tomatoes and whisk everything together so that the chili powder, flour and oil mixture incorporate into the broth. Stir well so that there are no lumps remaining.
Now add the cumin, cocoa powder, sugar, coriander, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon. Give it a good stir to combine the ingredients, turn on the heat to med-high, and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring often.
After you bring the mixture to a boil then turn it down to low and allow the red enchilada sauce to simmer uncovered for another five minutes. It should be nice and thickened now.
Finally, remove it from the heat and allow your homemade enchilada sauce to cool for about 20 minutes before using it in a recipe.
This is a really good time to do a taste test and add adjust the seasonings to your taste. You can add more chili powder, salt, pepper, or other seasonings.
If you have accidentally used too much chili powder then cool the spicy heat by adding plain tomato sauce one tablespoon at a time.
Using and storing your homemade enchilada sauce
Use the cooled enchilada sauce immediately in a recipe like veggie filled black bean enchiladas or tofu enchiladas (coming soon), or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.
The printable recipe card
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Easy Vegan Enchilada Sauce (Red Sauce)
- medium-sized sauce pan
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 Tablespoons chili powder see notes
- 2½ Tablespoons all purpose flour
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt see notes
- ¼ teaspoon coriander
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk the flour, chili powder, and oil. Cook for about one minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove the mixture from the heat while you add the remaining ingredients. Add the vegetable broth and crushed tomatoes. Whisk and stir so the flour and oil mixture is well incorporated and there are no lumps.
- Next, stir in the cumin, cocoa powder, sugar, coriander, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper, and a pinch of cinnamon. Give it a good stir to combine the ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring often.
- Lower the heat to low and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove from the heat and allow cooling for 20 minutes.
- Use the cooled enchilada sauce immediately in a recipe or store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to five days.