Red Enchilada Sauce

This Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce is inspired by the flavors of authentic enchilada sauce recipes. Canned tomato paste and a blend of spicy and savory seasonings are simmered into a flavorful sugar-free enchilada sauce -perfect for paleo and Whole30 Mexican-inspired dishes.

This red enchilada sauce is easy to make and has squeaky clean ingredients for those following a healthy lifestyle.  #whole30 #paleo #vegan

This recipe takes inspiration from authentic red enchilada sauce and is absolutely delicious. Easy to follow instructions will show you how to make enchilada sauce from scratch using canned tomato and spices. Having this stuff on hand during your Whole30 and beyond is a convenient way to add tangy-hot enchilada sauce to your Mexican meals.

Making condiments from scratch is practically a right of passage in the Whole30 community. At first the idea seemed daunting but after a Whole30 or two, I began to really enjoy creating homemade condiments with healthy ingredients.

Enchilada sauce is one of those condiments that comes in handy when you least expect it, so I knew I had to find a way to create a sugar-free recipe that rivals any restaurant. I was surprised by how simple making it from scratch was!

If only I had developed this tasty red enchilada sauce back when I was living in Hawaii and good Mexican food was scarce because this sauce takes homemade enchiladas and Mexican food to the next level.

💗 Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Cleaner than canned enchilada sauce. No need to worry about sneaky sugars and funky preservatives when you make enchilada sauce from scratch.
  • Full of flavor. The mixture of hot chili powder, savory spices and tangy tomato paste create a tangy-hot authentic Mexican-flavor.
  • Quick! Have enchilada sauce ready in a cinch to use in your favorite Mexican dishes.
  • It’s diet-friendly. This sauce pairs perfectly with gluten-free, low carb, paleo & Whole30 Mexican recipes.

🌶️ Ingredients

To make this gluten-free enchilada sauce, you’ll need:

  • Avocado Oil – moistens the tapioca flour to create a roux.
  • Chili Powder – is a moderately spicy, aromatic and flavorful spice common in Tex-Mex style food.
  • Tapioca Flour – is a the starch derived from cassava root. It’s a great grain-free alternative to corn starch for thickening soups, stews and sauces (and it’s paleo and Whole30).
  • Cayenne Pepper (optional) – kicks up the heat a bit. Use more or less to taste.
  • Cumin – adds earthy-spicy-hot flavor.
  • Tomato Paste – is the base of the enchilada sauce. It provides sweet, tangy and umami flavor.
  • Bone Broth (or water) – thins the tomato paste out into a sauce. Using broth will add more flavor.

📖 How to Make Red Enchilada Sauce from Scratch

1️⃣ Make roux:
In a small saucepan, over medium-high heat warm avocado oil until hot but not smoking. Add chili powder and tapioca flour (and cayenne if using). Whisk well to combine.

2️⃣ Add spices:
Add oregano and cumin and continue whisking (careful not to let the spices burn).

3️⃣ Add tomato paste and broth:
To the saucepan, whisk in tomato paste and broth (or water). Continue whisking until mixture becomes a smooth, thick sauce (about 3 minutes).

4️⃣ Simmer:
Reduce heat and simmer on low for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and store for later use or use right away in your favorite healthy Mexican recipes! Enjoy!

👩🏻‍🍳 Chef’s Tips

  • Add subtle notes of warming flavor with a pinch of cinnamon and/or nutmeg to your enchilada sauce.
  • To deepen the flavor, “toast” the spices in a dry pan over medium-high heat for 30 to 45 seconds or until fragrant.
  • The goal is achieve a thick, glupey enchilada sauce that is just dense enough to coat the back of a spoon without immediately slipping off.

🌮 How to Use Enchilada Sauce

  • Make enchiladas: Whole30 enchilada sauce wouldn’t be complete without Whole30 compliant enchiladas. Try my chicken zucchini enchiladas with this homemade enchilada sauce for a healthy Mexican-themed meal the whole family will love!

Don’t let the name confuse you. Red enchilada sauce isn’t just for enchiladas. Check out these useful ways to use this yummy sauce:

  • Make sunken burritos: Pour enchilada sauce over homemade burritos, top with cheese and warm until the cheese is ooey gooey.
  • Simmer sauce for taco meat: brown ground beef, drain and then simmer in red enchilada sauce to make delicious beef for tacos.
  • As taco sauce: drizzle over tacos to add rich and spicy flavor.
  • As a marinade: use enchilada sauce to add spicy-umami flavor to grilled chicken, pork and seafood.

♻️ Storing & Freezing

Storing: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 7 days. It will thicken more as it cools, so you may need to thin it out with a splash of broth.

Freezing: If stored properly in an airtight container, homemade enchilada sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.


Is red enchilada sauce spicy?

This recipe for red enchilada sauce is mildly spicy. You can adjust the spices to your preferred heat level.

What is enchilada sauce usually made from?

Most enchilada sauce is made from blended tomatoes, various chilis and spices.

Is taco sauce the same as enchilada sauce?

The sauces are similar in color and consistency. The different is the in the spices. Enchilada sauce usually gets it’s heat from chili powder while taco sauce is heavier on the cayenne and paprika..

More Homemade Condiments & Sauces

Thousand Island Dressing
Whole30 Honey Mustard
Habanero Ranch
One Minute Mayo (Whole30 Mayo)

👩🏻‍🍳 Did You Enjoy This Recipe? 💗

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Red Enchilada Sauce- keto, whole30, paleo

Red Enchilada Sauce

This recipe for authentic homemade red enchilada sauce is a quick and easy way to add flavor to all your Mexican dishes. By using canned tomato and spices, you’ll be happy with this sauce that is gluten free, paleo, keto and Whole30.
3.73 from 11 votes
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 7kcal



  • Heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add chili powder and tapioca flour and whisk until combined. Add in oregano, cumin and whisk together being careful not to burn.
  • Whisk in tomato paste and broth or water and continue to whisk until it thickens up (about 3 minutes)
  • Simmer on low for 10 minutes and remove from heat.
  • Store in glass jars in fridge for up to 10 days or freeze for later use.


Serving: 1g | Calories: 7kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Sodium: 25mg | Sugar: 1g

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