Poor planning led to me to try a homemade enchilada sauce recipe the first time. I’d had something healthy and light our dinner menu, but at the last minute got a craving for Mexican food and we were out of enchilada sauce. I’d never tried the freshly made stuff before, so I was surprised at how easy it was to make.
Unlike the commercial stuff, you can adjust the seasonings to suit your family’s preferences. It’s a very forgiving recipe. If you have kids who don’t like spice, reduce the amount of chili powder. Want more spice? Add a pinch of cayenne.
Two ingredients are absolutely essential, though: cumin and cocoa. Together they provide the authentic depth of flavor in quality Mexican food.
Yep. Cocoa is an important ingredient in Mexican cooking and has been for thousands of years. The Ancient Mayans and Aztecs grew cacao trees, so it’s not surprising that their dishes incorporated it.
Xocoatl, the powder made from cacao seeds, was the primary ingredient for their version of hot chocolate — a beverage we can all agree is delicious!
And, of course, cocoa is the secret ingredient in mole, one of the most popular dishes in Mexican cuisine.
This Homemade Enchilada Sauce is not a mole sauce, even though it does include cocoa powder. It’s a rich, thick red sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes.
Tostadas: Bake a corn tortilla until crisp, smear some refried beans on it and drizzle on some of the sauce, then top with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes.
Tex-Mex Shredded Chicken: Pour it over boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a crockpot and let it cook on low 6-8 hours then shred with two forks for an excellent chicken to use in taco salads, burritos, and quesadillas.
Frijole Dip: Pour some sauce over a bowl of refried beans, top with diced white onion, sliced black olives, chopped green onions, and shredded cheese, then bake at 350°F until the cheese bubbles. Scoop with chips or your favorite veggies. Yum!
And, of course, you can use it in enchiladas!
How to Make Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Once you measure out your ingredients, make a paste of them using water. It’s crucial that you mix this paste thoroughly, so the flour doesn’t clump together when you transfer it into the saucepan.
At this point, it will smell like enchilada sauce, but it doesn’t quite taste like it yet. As you heat the sauce, constant whisking will ensure it thickens without clumping. Then you add the tomato sauce.
Now’s the time to start adjusting your seasonings, bumping up the spice or adding salt if you want. I find that the older my spices get, the more chili powder and cumin I need — for some reason, their flavors seem to fade faster than any others in my spice drawer.
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself tempted, as I was, to grab a tortilla chip and give that stuff another taste. It’s okay. Really. No one will blame you. How else are you to know when it’s ready, right?
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 3 cups water
- 8 oz. tomato sauce
- Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add water to dry mix 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring constantly until a paste is formed
- Scoop the paste into a sauce pot and whisk in the remaining water. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly until slightly thickened.
- Add tomato sauce, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
More of my recipes:
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