7 Amazing Substitutes For Enchilada Sauce

You are making enchiladas for enchilada night, and you’ve got all the ingredients but the sauce! Of course, you know that the enchilada is only as good as the sauce that is slathered on the top, so what can you use around your kitchen as a good substitute with just as much warm and rich flavor? Here are some enchilada sauce substitute options that might be closer in your kitchen than you might think!

What Is Enchilada Sauce Made Of?

Enchilada sauce is traditionally made from chilis (typically ancho/cascabel, pasilla, or New Mexico) chilis, onion, tomatoes, broth, and spices. You can often find two types of Enchilada sauce called “Red Enchilada Sauce” and “Green Enchilada Sauce.” The red sauce is red and warm, and a bit sweet, and is made from the above chilis.

However, the green sauce is made from green chilis, hatch chilis, or even jalapenos. It is often a bit spicier and tangier when compared to the red sauce. Both are very delicious, and which one is better really depends on your personal preference. 

How Is Enchilada Sauce Different From Other Sauces?

Enchilada sauce is different from other sauces, such as taco sauce and salsa, and the main difference is the inclusion of chilis. While most other sauces are tomato based, and often come with different flavors because of that difference, the chilis as well as how they are used in the enchilada sauce, really make the difference.

What Can I Substitute For Enchilada Sauce?

If you have run out of Enchilada sauce and don’t have time to get more, then you can look at the ingredients that make up enchilada sauce. Those ingredients also make up a lot of different sauces, and in the right proportions, you will find the answer in one of them when you ask ‘what can I substitute for enchilada sauce?’

Salsa Sauce

Salsa sauce (or just salsa) is a type of sauce that is primarily made from tomatoes, onions, peppers, and various other seasonings and spices. You can find salsa all over the world, in various flavors and heat levels as well, and in some cases, the salsa might even be milder than the enchilada sauce. 

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But depending on the type of salsa you use for your enchiladas, you might want to either adjust the recipe or thicken the salsa up in order to make it more like a traditionally thick enchilada sauce.

Taco Sauce

Taco sauce is often made with a tomato base, along with spices, vinegar, and sugar as well. While the sauce is traditionally used to garnish a taco, it can also be substituted for enchilada sauce as well. It is also often made to be mild (though this can vary depending on the brand you purchase), so if you don’t like things super hot, then a bottle of taco sauce could be the savior that you need.

Ranchero Sauce

While you might have only heard of ranchero sauce with the popular dish ‘Huevos Rancheros’, the ranchero sauce does go beyond that. It is an onion and tomato based sauce that is also blended with jalapenos and chipotle peppers, and it is a mild sauce that not only brings out the tomato flavor, but it also enhances the flavors of whatever it is put on. 

It is a great sauce that you can easily substitute for enchilada sauce, especially if you are a fan of tomato based sauces anyway.

Green Enchilada Sauce

If you happen to only be out of the red enchilada sauce, but you have a can of the green version lying around, then use that. The only thing that is really different about them is the flavor that the sauce brings to the table because they are made from different chili peppers. Plus, it often tastes a bit spicier and fresh. Give it a try and you might find yourself eating the same old enchiladas in a new way!

Picante Sauce

Picante Sauce is a type of salsa that is made out of finely chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and spices. It is smoother than most other chunkier salsa types that you might find, making it much more like a traditional enchilada sauce if you enjoy the smooth taste and texture. Don’t be afraid to purchase a bottle, just be aware that the jalapenos will bring some heat to your enchiladas! 

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Chiltomate sauce

If you want a very rich and almost smoky salsa that you can really dig into flavorwise, then Chiltomate sauce is one of the best options that you can use. The tomatoes, habanero peppers, and onions are roasted before they are blended together to form a thick and someone chunky salsa. 

If your enchiladas have been covered in rich enchilada sauces that make the meal themselves, then substitute your enchilada sauce with Chiltomate sauce will still give you a sauce that is the star of the meal!

Your Own Homemade Enchilada Sauce

This might not be the best time-intensive option, but if you have the time to make your own enchilada sauce, you might as well! In order to make a nice thick sauce, then you just need to combine flour and spices with tomato paste, and allow it to thicken over medium heat. Chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper can help to mimic the flavors of your favorite store-bought enchilada sauces. 

If you find the perfect recipe and have the time to make your own sauce, go for it! You might even choose to customize your sauce once you get it down and replace the store-bought sauce entirely!

Summing It All Up

There are plenty of different sauces you can use to replace traditional enchilada sauces, and the best thing that you can do is pick a sauce and experiment. The best thing is that it is a sauce you are choosing to replace, so the enchiladas underneath are going to taste amazing no matter what!