A Visual Recipe
Use the visual recipe as your guide. Jump to the full recipe below for preparation details. All of the ingredients should be available at your local grocery store.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce Can’t Be Beat
Homemade enchilada sauce beats canned every time. Period. If you have never made it from scratch, you should give this authentic Mexican recipe a try. It is much easier to make than you may think and the results are phenomenal.
Three Different Names, Equally Delicious Results
Depending where you are, red enchilada sauce may also be called salsa roja, salsa roja para enchiladas or mole rojo. Whatever you call it, the results are equally delicious.
How to Make An Authentic Mexican Red Enchilada Sauce
The recipe calls for dried ancho chiles and pasilla chiles. Both are mild chiles with a pleasant fruity taste. Ancho chile translates as the “wide chile” and pasilla chile translates and the “raisin chile” due to its wrinkled texture and raisin like fragrance.
Toast the Chiles
Toasting the chiles enhances the flavor of the chiles and make them more pliable and easy to work with. In a hot comal or pan you toast them for about 10 to 15 seconds per side. If you leave them on the heat too long they develop an acrid taste which you want to avoid. It is quite obvious from the smell that you have toasted them too long. Discard any chiles that are over toasted.
Char the Vegetables
Charring the vegetables is another step that helps develop the flavor of your sauce. You want to blacken them. Char them in a dry pan. Don’t oil the pan. Avoid using a non-stick pan for charring. It’s not good for the pan and it’s difficult to get a good char on the veggies.
Prep the Chiles
Remove the stems, seeds and veins from the chiles. Tear the stems off then using your fingers split the chiles down the side to get to the seeds and veins. Don’t worry if you are unable to remove every last seed from the chiles. A few seeds won’t affect the flavor or texture. Save the seeds. They are edible. You can toast them and use them as a condiment to add heat to a variety of dishes.
Reconstitute the Chiles
Add the chiles and all of the other ingredients to a pan. You are going to simmer the chiles for 15 minutes to reconstitute them and to soften the vegetables. Add just enough water to the pan until the ingredients are nearly covered.
Getting a Smooth Texture
After blending, strain the sauce to give it a smooth texture and to remove the chile skin which is hard to digest. Push down firmly on the pulp to extract as much flavor as possible. Discard the pulp that remains in the strainer.
Fry the Sauce
Once you have strained the sauce, you must fry it. I know frying the salsa sounds crazy but this is the step that most helps it develop a rich flavor. Do not skip this step. Add 2 tablespoons of oil or enough to cover the bottom of your pan and get it really hot. Then you slowly pour the sauce into the hot oil. The sauce will begin to sizzle and the oil continues to sizzle as you pour all of the sauce into the pan. Once you have fried it, which takes about 30 seconds, be sure to turn the heat down to low. (NOTE: The oil tends to spatter. Be very careful with this step to avoid getting burned.)
Time to Start Cooking!
The first batch you make will be really good, the second batch will be excellent and your third batch will be out of this world. It doesn’t take long to learn to make and authentic salsa for enchiladas. Well? What are you waiting for?
Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe
Yield 8 servings
Recipe for an easy red enchilada sauce, also known as salsa roja or mole rojo, prepared with dried ancho and pasilla chiles. Use it as a base for Pozole too.
- 8 ancho chiles (mild fruity dried chili pods)
- 4 pasilla chiles (mild fruity dried chili pods)
- 1 medium onion quartered
- 2 plum tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Salt to taste
- Toast the chiles in a hot pan until fragrant. (about 10 to 15 seconds per side)
- Allow chiles to cool and then remove stems, seeds and veins.
- Char the onion, tomatoes and garlic in a hot pan.
- Place the chiles, onion, tomatoes, garlic oregano and marjoram in a pot with just enough water until the ingredients are almost covered.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer for 15 minutes to reconstitute the chiles and soften the veggies.
- Blend the chiles, onion, tomatoes, garlic, oregano marjoram and the soaking water until smooth. It usually takes about a minute.
- Add water little by little if necessary to blend. You may have to blend in two batches
- Strain the mixture.
- Add two tablespoons of cooking oil to a hot pan add the strained sauce to fry it.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until the sauce has thickened.
- Add salt to taste.
- Allow the sauce to sit for at least 2 hours so that the flavors meld.
- Warm the sauce before serving.
The sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon. If it is a little runny and you need to thicken it just simmer until it has reduced the desired consistency. If it is a little too thick, add water a couple of tablespoons at a time until it has reached the desired consistency. Use any neutral flavor cooking oil to fry. Serving size is about 1/2 cup per person. The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. It freezes very well. Try making a double or even triple batch and freezing the extra into portioned 2 cup bags.
- You can also use this enchilada sauce as the base for red posole or on poached chicken breasts.
Courses Salsa, Sauce
Serving Size 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Total Fat 4 g
Sodium 497 mg
Total Carbohydrates 17 g
Sugars 5 g
Protein 4 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.