Enchilada Sauce vs Taco Sauce

Sauce can be an important part of livening up any food. In Mexican food, sauce is an integral part of adding flavor to dishes. Personal favorites vary from person to person, and while enchilada sauce and taco sauce sound like they could be similar, they are two very different things.

The difference between enchilada and taco sauce lies in the spices used to make them. The spiciness of enchilada sauce comes from chili peppers, while taco sauce typically uses paprika or cayenne pepper.

Taco Sauce

Basic taco sauces only need a few ingredients, and less than enchilada sauce. Typically, a taco sauce will contain tomato sauce, cayenne pepper, and paprika. Other ingredients may be added, like garlic or onions. But taco sauce is taco sauce because of the three key ingredients.

Hence the name, taco sauce is most commonly used for tacos. It is also a crowd pleaser for a dip for nachos. It is comparable to salsa, as the same main ingredients are used for both. The difference between taco sauce and salsa is that for taco sauce, it will be pureed until its texture becomes smooth.

Salsa can be used as a substitute for taco sauce, though, because of the similar ingredients. Taco sauce can be easily made at home. It is also quite accessible at grocery stores because of its immense popularity. Mexican food tends to be spicy, but many types of taco sauce exist that are not very spicy at all, because of the American demand for taco sauce.

Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada sauce contains more ingredients than taco sauce does. In addition to the tomato paste and garlic, enchilada sauce will also have chili powder, vegetable or chicken broth, and fresh chilies in it. Authentic enchilada sauce is more time-consuming to make than taco sauce.

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There are also a couple different types of enchilada sauce that depend on the type of chili used to make it. This could be red or green enchilada sauce. Taco sauce does not have any subtypes. 


Taco sauce and enchilada sauce are somewhat similar. They share many of the same ingredients, and are both used often in Mexican cuisine. Enchilada sauce is usually used for main course dishes, and taco sauce more often is used for appetizers.

Often, enchilada sauce will be more spicy than taco sauce, but it really depends on what ingredients were used and how much. If a lot of chili peppers were used in your enchilada sauce, it is going to be spicy. This flavor variation is not so common in taco sauce, as its ingredients are much more simple.


As discussed, these sauces are pretty similar. They can be used interchangeably, and some people may even get them confused for one another. One thing to note is the quantities needed. Since taco sauce is used for smaller plates, you won’t need as much.

It takes less sauce to put in a small bowl for dipping than it does to cover a whole batch of enchiladas. So, when substituting, keep in mind that you will need to reverse the quantities. If you are using enchilada sauce instead of taco sauce, go easy on the chilis and chili peppers.

Dipping sauces do not need to be wildly bursting with flavor, which is why taco sauce is the more traditional dipping sauce. Enchilada sauce can be used as a dipping sauce, the ingredients will just need to be tweaked since it would be used for a simpler dish.

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Taco sauce and enchilada sauce have some similarities. They are both made with many of the same ingredients, but enchilada sauce calls for more ingredients and takes more time to make. Enchilada sauce is mostly used for main dishes, as it has a lot more flavor than taco sauce usually does. 

The two can be used interchangeably, when changes are made to the ingredients to fit the flavor of the food they will be paired with. Both sauces contain spices, but enchilada sauce is typically more spicy than taco sauce because of the chilis and chili peppers.