Panela Cheese Enchiladas with Red Enchilada Sauce
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4.34 from 30 votes

Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe

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.
Prep Time35 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Salsa, Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: How to Make Red Enchilada Sauce, Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 113kcal
Author: Douglas Cullen


  • 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.


Preparation Notes
  • The sauce is ready when it coats the back of a spoon.
  • To runny? If it is a little runny and you need to thicken it just simmer until it has reduced the desired consistency.
  • Too thick? If it is a little too thick, add water a couple of tablespoons at a time until it has reached the desired consistency.
  • Too bitter? Add only one of the following to reduce bitterness: 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 to 2 teaspoons agave syrup.
  • Use any neutral flavor cooking oil to fry.
  • Serving size is about 1/2 cup per person.
If you are unable to find the ingredients at your local store, you can order them online through Amazon or Mexgrocer.
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.
Alternative Uses
  • You can also use this enchilada sauce as the base for red posole or on poached chicken breasts.


Serving: 1/2 cup | Calories: 113kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 4g | Sodium: 497mg | Sugar: 5g