Enchilada Sauce

Authentic Mexican Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada sauce is a Byrd House favorite because our recipe produces both an authentic sauce and one that is quite versatile.

Enchilada sauce is a core Paleo condiment around the Byrd House. We use it on enchiladas, breakfast tortillas and tamales – and just about anything else where a hot chili sauce take things up a notch!

Authentic Mexican red enchilada sauce is made by blending chilies that have been rehydrated in boiling water with fresh garlic, onions, ripe tomatoes and spices, such as dried Mexican oregano, cumin and coriander seeds.

The Chilies

Traditionally, only Guajillo chilies are used because they are mild and impart a bright red color to the sauce.

Since Guajillo chilies are not very hot, we add some Ancho and morita (Chipolte) chilies to the mix to bump up the heat and add complexity.

Ancho and Chipotle Chilies

Ancho and Chipotle Chilies

Prepare the Chilies

First, stem the chilies and remove the seeds and veins. If you are in a hurry, you can opt out of this step because the seeds, stems and skins will be removed through straining the chili sauce in a later step.

Next, most recipes call for the chilies to be slightly roasted in a fry pan or under the broiler, but we’ve never tasted that much difference and the process takes time and can be tricky. (We’ve burned our share of chilies when distracted while frying them!)

So, if you want to then fry the chilies until they blister under medium high heat in a fry pan for about 2 minutes per side.

Softening the Vegetables

Place the chilies, onion and a ripe tomato into a 2 to 4 quart saucepan and fill with water to cover the chilies.

Enchilada Sauce Ingredients Cooking on stovetop

Enchilada Sauce Softening Chilies

Bring to rapid boil and reduce and simmer for 20 minutes, more or less, until the chilies and vegies are soft. If using a canned tomato, wait and add to the blender in next step.

WARNING! We use our handy-dandy induction cooktop for this step setting it up OUTSIDE on our patio because cooking chilies can emit some pretty harsh vapors. If you are brave, or if you need your sinuses cleared, you can do this inside.


Blending the Ingredients

Puree all the ingredients, except the sweetener, along with enough fresh water to give the mixture a decent amount of liquidity (Don’t burn up your blender motor!). Resist the temptation to use the chili water – it is too bitter.

tomale sauce in blender

Blending the Chilies

Next, taste the result. If it is too bitter, add some sweetener. We recommend Swerve or worst case scenario some form of cane sugar. Don’t add sweetener just for the sake of adding it.

Strain the Mixture

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer pressing the mixture against the sides of the strainer to get the most sauce. Puree the residual mixture a second time with some more water and strain again.

The Enchilada Sauce

Now you have red enchilada sauce, which can be further reduced over low heat in order to deepen the flavor and texture.

Red Enchilada Sauce

Red Enchilada Sauce



  • 12 dried red Guajillo chilies
  • 4 dried Ancho chilies [Optional]
  • 4 dried chipotle chilies (chili morita) [Optional]
  • 6 large garlic cloves
  • 1/2 yellow or white onion
  • 1 ripe tomato or 3-4 small ripe tomatoes or 1 canned tomato
  • 1 tbsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 – 3 tsp. Swerve (Erythritol) or other sweetener
  • 2 cups fresh water
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. REMOVE seeds and stems from dried chilies. [Optional]
  2. ROAST the chilies in a fry pan over medium high heat for 2 minutes a side. [Optional]
  3. ADD chilies, onion and ripe tomato to medium saucepan.
  4. ADD fresh water to saucepan to cover chilies and vegetables.
  5. BRING TO BOIL and reduce to simmer for 20 minutes.
  6. TRANSFER chilies to bender. Do not add chili-boiling water!
  7. ADD remaining ingredients, except the sweetener, to the blender
  8. PUREE the mixture
  9. TASTE the mixture for bitterness, and add sweetener in increments to taste.
  10. STRAIN the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a large bowl. Be sure to thoroughly press the mixture against the sides of strainer to obtain maximum output into the bowl.
  11. SAVE AND PUREE balance of mixture left in strainer again with fresh water and repeat straining into bowl.
  12. SIMMER the resulting sauce in a saucepan for 30 minutes on low heat to reduce and deepen flavor.



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