How To Make Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce – This easy gluten-free red enchilada sauce recipe is made from pantry staples and tastes AMAZING!
I definitely–DEFINITELY–do not make everything from scratch at this phase of my life, but there are a few things I usually make myself. And those are usually the easiest ones.
Salad dressings (I’m especially looking at you, homemade ranch!) can be mixed up in about 2 minutes, guacamole comes together in a flash, and enchilada sauce is another that’s totally worth the effort for me.
Homemade gluten-free enchilada sauce is simple and easy to make with pantry staples I basically always have on hand, and it adds such delicious, warm, savory flavor to every dish it touches. It’s worth the few minutes it takes to mix up!
Here’s what you need to make our gluten-free red enchilada sauce…
Our Gluten-Free Red Enchilada Sauce Recipe, At A Glance:
Here’s What You need To Make Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce:
- Oil. We thicken enchilada sauce with a roux, so we’ll need both a fat source and a thickener. Some recipes use butter, but I gravitate toward neutral oil (like avocado oil) for its more neutral flavor. I’ve also used olive oil and grapeseed oil. (I just don’t recommend coconut oil)
- Cornstarch or Gluten-Free Flour. Next up is the thickener. My favorite way to make gluten-free enchilada sauce is with cornstarch because it creates a velvety smooth, glossy enchilada sauce. If you prefer using flour, use a gluten-free measure-for-measure flour.
- Warm Spices. Then, we add warmth to the sauce with a blend of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder. Warming up the spices for a minute or two helps wake up the flavors as they “bloom.”
- Salt. Then comes some kosher salt. You can add more or less, depending on your taste.
- Chipotle Chili In Adobo. My childhood friend Laura taught me that this is the magic ingredient for especially lovely enchilada sauce. Smoky chipotle chiles in adobo sauce can have a lot of kick, so feel free to start small and work your way up. I recommend starting with half a tablespoon. Be sure to use a gluten-free brand! We like La Costeña.
- Tomato Sauce. Next is tomato sauce. Some folks use tomato paste, but I find that tomato sauce gives me a better texture overall. Feel free to use low-sodium or no-sodium added as needed–my favorite is Muir Glen (great flavor!).
- Water Or Broth. Then, to get the sauce just the right consistency, you’ll need a little water or broth. I almost always just use water, but vegetable broth or chicken broth can add great flavor, too. I do recommend low or no sodium added, since you don’t want the enchilada sauce too salty.
How To MAke Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce, Step By Step:
- Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cornstarch (or gluten-free flour blend), chili powder and cumin. Cook 1-2 minutes, stirring often.
- Add garlic powder, onion powder, salt, chipotle chili, tomato sauce and water.
- Whisk to combine and bring the sauce to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 8-10 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened.
- Use in your favorite recipes or store in a jar or airtight container in the refrigerator up to 5 days. (Or, freeze it for later!)
Delicious Ways To Use Homemade Enchilada Sauce:
- Enchiladas! Of course, gluten-free enchiladas are at the top of the list! Use these in your favorite cheese or beef enchiladas, veggie enchiladas, or chicken enchiladas. This red enchilada sauce is naturally dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian, so it works with all kinds of enchiladas!
- Chicken Enchilada Skillet. Or, deconstruct the enchiladas and turn it into a skillet recipe!
- Tex-Mex Quinoa Stuffed Peppers. Delicious stuffed peppers with a Tex-Mex twist. You’ll love these flavors together!
- Enchilada Pasta. Try it with gluten-free pasta!
- Enchilada Quinoa Bowls. Another yummy skillet dinner!
FAQ + Tips And Tricks For The Best Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce:
Read carefully. When making this sauce, note that the recipe calls for half to one TABLESPOON canned pepper not half to one CAN of peppers. Your sauce will be mouth blistering if you use a whole can!
Is Enchilada Sauce Gluten-Free? Many store-bought enchilada sauces are NOT gluten-free, as they are often thickened with flour. You must use brands or recipes thickened with cornstarch, arrowroot, or gluten-free flour to make sure the enchilada sauce gluten-free.
A Tip For Storing Leftover Chiles In Adobo. When I buy a can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. I use what I need for a recipe then freeze individual chiles on a plate covered with waxed or parchment paper for about 20 minutes or till set. Then, I transfer the chiles to a freezer zip-top bag to store. They will keep well this way for about 3 months.
What Store-Bought Enchilada Sauce Is Gluten-Free?
We’ll always recommend our homemade gluten-free enchilada sauce, but if time’s tight or you just need something easy, here are a few brands of gluten-free enchilada sauce to try:
- Old El Paso (Our choice) – Thickened with cornstarch and does not contain gluten ingredients. Comes in mild, medium & hot varieties. (We stick with mild)
- La Victoria – Certified gluten-free, with decent flavor and availability.
- Siete is certified gluten-free & made from VERY high quality ingredients. It’s the most expensive, but you can find the best price in stores (Kroger) or on their website.
- Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce – certified gluten-free and comes in mild and medium heat.
- Simply Organic – This can be tricky to find, but Simply Organic sells packets of enchilada sauce seasoning mix that you combine with water and tomato sauce. It’s thickened with cornstarch + is certified gluten-free.
NOTE: Ortega enchilada sauce is NOT gluten-free (contains wheat)