Spicy Red Enchilada Sauce

Smoky and bold…

You can’t go wrong with a delicious smoky and spicy red enchilada sauce. Whether you want to layer it atop of your enchiladas prior to baking or simply use it as a dipper side to the plate, it provides a ton of flavor to any enchilada type. This recipe makes enough sauce for four enchiladas (1/2 cup each of sauce) if you’re going the baking route. Adjust up if you’re baking more.

Chipotle peppers provide both heat and smokiness here, with additional spiciness coming from cayenne pepper. Of course, adjust as you need based on your spicy food tolerance. The cayenne pepper can be removed completely without a change to overall flavor (beyond the spiciness).

spicy red enchilada sauce

Spicy Red Enchilada Sauce

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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings


  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can tomato sauce 15 ounce can
  • 1/2 chipotle pepper mashed into a paste, from chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon adobo sauce from chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano


  • Heat the oil in a high sided pan or pot over medium heat.
  • Add the all-purpose flour and mix to combine with the oil.
  • Add the chili powder, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce, salt, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano. Mix well while allowing the ingredients to heat for 30 seconds.
  • Add the chicken broth and tomato sauce. Stir well to combine.
  • Continue to stir often until the sauce thickens to your desired consistency (5 to 10 minutes). 
  • Use immediately with enchiladas or as a dipping sauce. 


Want more heat and smokiness? Add more chipotle pepper. Want just more spiciness? Substitute in an additional 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (or more, but start there) to the recipe and remove an equal portion of the chili powder. This will provide a bump in heat with a more neutral flavor profile than chipotle pepper. 
Did you make this?Mention @PepperScale or tag #PepperScale so we can see what you made!

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on April 8, 2021 to include new content.
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