Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce

In this homemade enchilada red sauce, Roma tomatoes and onions are roasted and pureed with a combination of fresh garlic, oregano and dried spices.

I’ve never been a fan of enchilada red sauce until last week. True story.

Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce l SimplyScratch.com

Remember this no-red-sauce-enchilada-recipe? It was a post where I declared my strong dislike for red sauce and how I was determined to create an enchi-recipe that didn’t call for the blessed sauce.

Well after years of thinking about it, I figured out why I’m not a fan. It’s because it’s from a can and resembles [in my humble opinion] a boring take on tomato sauce. Which then lead me to wondered how it would taste if I made it from scratch. What if I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned? And what if I roasted them? What if I used a combination of fresh herbs and dried, jarred spices? What if it turns out SO good that I find out I actually do like it?

I was on a mission to make a homemade enchilada red sauce.

Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce l SimplyScratch.com

So that’s exactly what I did. I made a homemade-from-scratch-not-your-typical-canned-enchilada-sauce enchilada sauce. Fresh tomatoes and onions are roasted and blended with fresh oregano, garlic and spices. It’s pretty darn easy, maybe not as easy as opening a can but easy enough to make early on and use later that day or week for dinner. Oh and guess what? Me likey.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com halved

Start by halving 10 good-sized roma tomatoes.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com quartered onion

Quarter a medium onion. I’m using a vidalia… but any onion will do.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com arrange

Arrange them on a rimmed, aluminum sheet pan cut-side up.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com olive oil

Drizzle with couple tablespoons of olive oil…

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com season

Season with 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of coarse ground black pepper. Slide this sheet pan of goodness into a preheated 375 degree oven and roast for 40-45 minutes.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com garlic, herbs and spices

While the tomatoes and onions are roasting you can get going on the spice mixture. You’ll need garlic, fresh oregano {which I’m SO glad I planted this year}, chili powder, cumin and cayenne pepper.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com roughly chop garlic

Roughly chop up two medium cloves of garlic.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com olive oil in the pan

In an 8-inch skillet drizzle a tablespoon or so of olive oil.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com garlic with olive oil

Drop in the garlic cloves and sauté over medium heat. Stir the garlic around in the pan a few times until it’s fragrant and very lightly golden.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com fresh oregano

Strip the leaves from a few stems of fresh oregano until you have about two tablespoons.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com oregano in the pan

Add it to the pan with the garlic…

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com add spices

…along with the spices. Depending on how spicy you want it, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the cayenne.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com stir and toast

Stir and return the pan to the stove-top. Cook, stirring often until the spices give off a toasty fragrance. Remove the pan from the heat and set off to the side.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com roasted

Once the tomatoes and onions are beautifully roasted and your kitchen is smelling all kinds of amazing; remove…

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com in the processor

…and carefully scrape the tomatoes, onions and ALL their juices into the bowl of a large food processor.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com add in the herbs and spices

Dump in the garlicky-oregano spice blend…

Homemade Enchilada Sauce l www.SimplyScratch.com lemon juice

Squeeze in the juice of half a large and luscious lemon [or one small]. Season with a teaspoon of kosher salt, more or less to taste…

Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce l SimplyScratch.com

And blend until combined.

Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce l SimplyScratch.com

That’s it! I still have the jars in my fridge and I’ve mad-plans to make simple enchiladas later today before my daughter’s softball game.

So can you only imagine how good this Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce will be after spending some time in the fridge? Time in the fridge will only aid in melding flavors, enhancing an already fabulous enchi-red sauce.

More on that, to come.

If you’re looking for a 15-minute, semi-homemade enchilada sauce, try this recipe.

Enjoy! And if you give this Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce recipe a try, let me know! Snap a photo and tag me on twitter or instagram!

Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce l SimplyScratch.com

My cookbook Simply Scratch : 120 Wholesome Homemade Recipes Made Easy is now available! CLICK HERE for details and THANK YOU in advance!

Yield: about 4 cups

Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce

Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce
Roma tomatoes and onions are roasted and pureed with a combination of fresh garlic, oregano and dried spices for a better-than-canned version of enchilada sauce.
Cook Time 45 minutes
Additional Time 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 10 large Roma tomatoes, halved (about 3 to 4 pounds total)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered (root-end removed and discarded)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1-3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, smashed, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • juice of 1/2 a large lemon


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Arrange the tomato halves {cut-side up} and onion onto a rimmed, aluminum sheet pan. Drizzle with two tablespoons of olive oil and season with 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Roast for 40-45 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile; heat a tablespoon of olive oil and garlic over medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until garlic is fragrant and lightly golden.
  4. Remove off of the heat and add in the oregano, chili powder, cumin and cayenne. Return back to the heat, stirring often until the spices give off a toasty fragrance. Remove the pan from the heat and set off to the side.
  5. Add the roasted tomatoes, onions and all their juices to a large food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Next add the garlic and spices, lemon juice and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Blend until smooth.
  6. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 1-2 weeks.
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32 Responses to “Homemade Enchilada Red Sauce”

  1. #
    Tom @ Raise Your Garden — July 14, 2014 at 7:16 am

    Being a guy, I thought enchilada sauce just came from a can. Didn’t realize you could (ok, my wife or mom then) make it was scratch.

    I actually have all these ingredients growing in my garden. (Ok, my wifes garden) but I’m going to work with her to see if we can make this. Looks great!!!

  2. #
    Rebecca Messina — July 14, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Could you do a post on how to make the enchiladas?

  3. #
    Lydia — July 14, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    If you make the sauce from dried chiles instead of tomatoes, it will taste even better!

  4. #
    Julia — July 14, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! I’m going to be whipping up some veggie enchiladas soon and wanted to make a homemade encho sauce (which I’ve never made before, eeeek!) SO excited to use your recipe for the sauce!!! Hope you had a great weekend, lady!

  5. #
    Kelly M — July 14, 2014 at 4:38 pm

    Looks so yummy! I am convinced that the reason we don’t like certain foods/meals it’s because we’ve had a less than stellar version of it in the past and then applied that dislike to all food in that category. I used to feel that way about mushrooms until I had them prepared excellently in a tapas restaurant a few years ago. So now I try to say things like “I haven’t had a mushroom prepared in a way that I liked” instead of declaring all mushrooms as bad. Of course there are exceptions to that, though!

  6. #
    Rachel Cooks — July 15, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    WOW! This looks phenomenal, girl! I have a enchilada sauce recipe coming up too but mine is much less fancy and much less healthy, haha

  7. #
    Rachel Cooks — July 15, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    oh I forgot to mention — that photo of the tomatoes being washed!!!! WOW! So gorgeous.

  8. #
    Julie @ Table for Two — July 15, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    I didn’t make homemade enchilada sauce til earlier this year soo there’s that, haha – your photos are seriously stunning. I love love the step by step – I think I say this in every comment I leave lol…anyway, beautiful sauce and it sure beats can!!

  9. #
    cheri — July 15, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Love this sauce, I make my own red sauce with pasta, I should make my own enchilada sauce as well.

  10. #
    Meredith — July 17, 2014 at 10:03 am

    So gorgeous! Making this soon.

  11. #
    Julie — July 25, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I’ve never made enchilada sauce- this looks so fresh that I have to make it!

  12. #
    Dorothy — August 9, 2014 at 9:14 am

    can this be canned and if so how many pints jars would you get?

  13. #
    Julianne — August 17, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I second Dorothy’s comment. I would love to know if the sauce could be canned.

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — August 18th, 2014 @ 11:21 pm

      Hi Julianne! I honestly am not a canner. I “think” it could be if a little more lemon juice was added 🙂

  14. #
    Rebecca — September 2, 2014 at 12:56 am

    So, I just made this sauce and used it in my vegan enchiladas. My kitchen smells incredible right!! It’s a bit spicy for me but, I didn’t make this dish for me. They’re for my husband who loves, loves, loves spicy! I will indulge a little just to taste how they turned out.

  15. #
    Jennifer — September 4, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Did you peel the tomatoes? Or just leave the skins on? Also, about how many pounds of tomatoes do you think you used? I’m going to use what we have from our garden. Thanks! Looks delicious!

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — September 5th, 2014 @ 5:39 pm

      Hi Jennifer! I did not peel them and I really wish I would’ve thought to weigh the tomatoes {duh!}. If I had to guess {and this is a big-time major guess} I’d say 2 pounds? Sorry I’m not much help! Enjoy! 🙂

  16. #
    Kristina Davis — September 5, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I used the base version of this but added a spice mix I had lying around and a ghost chili (which may or may not have been a good idea). Ultimately, the roasting was just what was needed to really use up a lot of my bumper tomato crop. Thanks for the recipe. Tastes delicious. I like that you don’t have to throw away all the seeds and skin to make this.

  17. #
    Jennifer — September 6, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    thanks! I ended up using about 2 – 2 1/4 lb tomatoes. Turned out great! I’ll definitely make this again!

  18. #
    E — September 10, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Umm….I hate to be the ignorant here but… what is enchilada? Sorry, in Canada and have not had the pleasure yet to try! Could you use the sauce for something else, like pizza, or pasta? Forgive my ignorance please:)

  19. #
    E — September 10, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    Forgot to say: the recipe looks super yummy and I will try it tonight as I have a whole bunch of tomatoes that I need to use up. I’m sure it’ll be great, everything I tried from you so far has been! You rock and I can’t imagine my life without some of your recipes!

  20. #
    Jenna Krueger — September 26, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Enchiladas are a Spanish/Mexican dish that involves wrapping meat, veggies, beans, and or cheese in corn (or flour) tortillas and covering them with sauce and baking them like a casserole. Think of it like a chile sauce or salsa. You could put it on pasta but it would taste very different than Italian pasta. I have a bunch of tomatoes to use up so I’m going to try this!

  21. #
    JB — October 3, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    made this tonight with tomatoes from my garden. it is delicious! thank you!

  22. #
    Tessa — February 22, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    Can this sauce be frozen?

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — February 25th, 2015 @ 9:58 am

      I don’t see why not. 🙂

  23. #
    Christabel @ Two Nomads One World — August 1, 2015 at 9:41 am

    I’ve been looking for a red sauce recipe that used fresh tomatoes instead of canned, and it was challenging to find a recipe until I stumbled upon your blog! Love the recipe – I just made it for dinner tonight, and the flavors are incredible! Pinning for future reference 🙂

    • Laurie McNamara replied: — August 6th, 2015 @ 11:55 am

      I’m so glad Christabel! Thanks for stopping by and leaving an awesome comment and review! 🙂

  24. #
    Laurie Thompson — August 27, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Made this last night and WOW. I’m a believer! I will never buy canned sauce again. I did add one quartered pablano to the roasting pan, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. I used it to make an enchilada casserole with layers of whole wheat tortillas, low fat shredded cheese, ground chicken, and this sauce. Knocked my socks off. Thanks Laurie!

  25. #
    Deepa Kumar — September 3, 2015 at 11:54 am

    This was a great recipe just be careful to line your pan when roasting the tomatoes and onions and watch timing. I think 30 minutes at 375 is sufficient in my oven. Love the flavors. With a garden full of tomatoes, this recipe hit the spot.

  26. #
    Kathleen — October 23, 2015 at 1:48 pm

    This has an excellent flavor. I wanted a tomato based enchilda sauce for a lasagna type enchilada casserole and this will be perfect! I made it a day early so the flavors can meld. I also make a delicious dried chili enchilada sauce and although that is delicious, it is nice to try new healthy recipes. Thanks for posting!

  27. #
    H Diaz — July 31, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you for this recipe. I’m planning to try it. I always have tons of tomatoes from the garden and looking for ways to use them up. Fresh and homemade is always better for you and usually just as tasty or more so. Do you think a lime would work in place of athe lemon?

  28. #
    H Diaz — July 31, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    Btw, I found a fresh roasted salsa recipe and it was my first time ever making salsa. It was such a big hit with everyone, I won’t need to look for another recipe to try. Hope the same goes for this enchilada sauce

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