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An enchilada is a popular Mexican dish. It is one of the most popular dishes that could be bought from a street vendor in Mexico. Hence, it is popularly known as “simple street food”. Enchilada is pronounced as “ehn-chee-lah-thahs”. The term “enchilada” simply means ” dipped in chili”. Here we give you our recipe for authentic red enchilada sauce that makes all the difference between good enchiladas and great enchiladas!
Enchiladas originated in Mexico, where the practice of rolling tortillas around other food dates back at least to Maya times. In the 19th century, as Mexican cuisine was being memorialized, enchiladas were mentioned in the first Mexican cookbook, El cocinero mexicano (“The Mexican Chef”), published in 1831, and in Mariano Galvan Rivera’s Diccionario de Cocina, published in 1845.
Originally, an enchilada was made from a tortilla dipped in chili sauce and stuffed with cheese and beans or chicken and beef, sometimes with spinach. Today, there are different versions of enchiladas served in Mexican restaurants around the world.
The Secret Ingredient in Amazing Enchilada Sauce
The secret to getting it just right? Throw in a small piece of Mexican chocolate.
Unlike many red enchilada sauce recipes out there, this sauce is made without any tomatoes. Instead, all the rich and savory flavors come from only a handful of ingredients – dried chiles, garlic, salt, and Mexican chocolate.
All you need is about an eighth of a circular tablet of Abuelita Mexican chocolate. If you’ve never used it before, I highly recommend you buy a pack because it’s so good! It’s normally used to make hot chocolate, but you can also use it to make various sauces like mole and this enchilada sauce.
It’s most often found in the grocery store’s Hispanic foods section, but if you can’t find it there, try looking in the hot chocolate section. If you prefer shopping online, you can easily find it on Amazon here.
Don’t have Mexican chocolate? That’s okay! A good substitute is a little unsweetened cocoa powder and turbinado/raw sugar.
Dried Chiles for Homemade Enchilada Sauce
For this sauce, we use dried chiles. If you’ve never used them before, don’t worry. They’re easy to use, and once you taste the rich and complex flavor they give this sauce, you’ll never go back to the bland store-bought stuff.
Like Mexican chocolate, dried chiles are often located in the Hispanic Foods section at the grocery store, but you may also see them near the fresh chiles in the produce aisle.
If your local grocery store doesn’t carry them, you can purchase them on Amazon here:
How to Make Enchilada Sauce
- Prepare the dried chiles by removing and discarding the stem. You can also remove and discard the seeds if you’re extra sensitive to spicy foods.
- Rehydrate the dried chiles by placing them in hot water. Let them soak for about 20 minutes.
- Transfer chiles to a blender and puree with garlic, Mexican chocolate and salt until completely smooth.
That’s it! Your authentic red enchilada sauce is ready to go!
What to Make with Enchilada Sauce
Now you’re ready to use the sauce on your favorite enchilada recipe! Here are just a few ideas of what you can make!
- The Best Chicken Enchiladas
- Chilaquiles Rojos
- Chicken Tamale Casserole
- Vegetarian Enchiladas
- Enchilada Style Baked Chicken
There are so many possibilities, you’re going to love it!
I hope you enjoy this sauce as much as I do! If you make this recipe, I’d love to see it. Snap a photo and tag us @rivieramayarevealed on Instagram.
Red Enchilada Sauce
- Large bowl
- Slotted spoon
- 4 dried guajillo chiles rinsed and stems removed
- 2 dried ancho chiles rinsed and stems removed
- 1 dried Arbol chiles rinsed and stems removed
- 4 cups hot water
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1.5 tsp coarse kosher salt
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/8 tablet Abuelita Mexican chocolate (about 12 grams)
- In a large bowl, add dried chiles and hot water. (If you're very sensitive to spicy food, you can also remove the seeds from the dried chiles, if desired.) Cover bowl with a large plate or plastic wrap and let the chiles soak on the counter for 20 minutes.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the softened chiles into a large blender.
- Add in 1 cup of the chile-soaked water, broth, garlic, salt, and Mexican chocolate. Puree until completely smooth. Add more water if the sauce is too thick for your liking.
- Cover and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use, up to two weeks.