Feb 17, 2013

Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce

enchilada sauce top

We’ll be hitting the road for home tomorrow morning and driving through Albuquerque. I am SO looking forward to having some New Mexico chile dish somewhere with my good friend and artist extraordinaire, David Lloyd Stewart! When I lived in New Mexico I became thoroughly enchanted with New Mexico chiles. They are unlike any other peppers with their rich, deep flavors. If you’ve ever had them I’m sure you can agree. They’re magical! 

This recipe is pretty simple. But you MUST use dried chiles. If you can find New Mexico peppers, great, but it will work with any others, too. For this particular batch I used a combination of New Mexico Red and Poblano. The result was not quite as spicy and darker in color than the usual red enchilada sauce.

I must mention here that authentic enchilada sauce does NOT contain tomato sauce, tomato paste or any other form of tomato! It is also almost always made using dried chile peppers. Most people will char the outsides of the chile peppers prior to soaking, but I find that the flavor is just fine without this step.

 Buenos caminos,





Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce

Yield: 4 cups


  • 8-10 dried chile peppers of your choice (modified for your taste regarding the heat factor)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 TBS cumin
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano (find in Latin markets)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 TBS coconut sugar or any minimally processed sweetener
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp tamari or other low sodium soy sauce such as coconut aminos
  • 1¼ cup water


  1. Cut off the stems of each pepper with scissors and REMOVE ALL THE SEEDS. Unless, of course, you want super hot sauce! If you are working with very hot chiles, I recommend wearing gloves for this process.
  2. Place chiles in a pot and cover with water to soak.
  3. Let soak until soft (about an hour is good).
  4. Rinse well! The soak water will be very bitter. Traditional enchilada sauce sometimes retains some of this bitterness. Depends on the chiles you use.
  5. Place chiles into a food processor and process until smooth.
  6. Water sauté onion, garlic and spices until the onions are soft.
  7. Transfer the pepper puree into the pot and stir well. Add the water at this point. Let peppers cook with the other ingredients for about 15 minutes on low heat.
  8. Next transfer everything into a blender and blend until smooth.
  9. Transfer back to the pan and simmer, covered, about one hour so that the flavors really meld.
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2 responses to “Authentic Red Enchilada Sauce”

  1. Deb says:

    I made your enchilada sauce and it is delicious!

    I just soaked the pods until soft and then added the pods and all other ingredients to a saucepan and brought to a low simmer for an hour. It turned out just fine.

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