New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

It’s not that I’m a stickler for “authenticity” or anything. But I figure you should have some notion of the real deal before messin’ with the recipe.

This may or may not be your cup of tea. This is very Mexican. It ain’t no Tex-Mex.

It’s not as hot as you might expect, rather it’s mouth warming, rather than burning.

You can substitute chiles here. There are a host of different dried varieties and so do experiment. Check your heat levels and try this out. It can be a bit harsh, so feel free to soften with a bit of honey.

I’m told that traditional enchilada sauces don’t contain any tomatoes. But several of the “authentic” recipes I located included small amounts. I think it does help to soften the taste a bit.  Try making 1/3 recipes until you find the right combo of chiles you like.

I have found another enchilada sauce that I like much better than this one. Feel free to try this, but I recommend Final Destination Enchilada Sauce as a replacement.


  • 20 ancho chiles, dried, seeded. These are poblanos and fairly tame. Use also New Mexican chiles, and guajillos.
  • 1 small onion diced roughly
  • 2-6 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1-2 tsp oregano (Mexican if you can get it)
  • 1 tsp cumin (ground if using seeds)
  • salt to taste


  1. Place all the veggies into a large cast iron skillet and warm until you start to smell them. Don’t burn. (I did this and it definitely makes the sauce much harsher). You just want to toast things.
  2. Place 6 cups of water into a large sauce pan and when it gets warm, add the veggies, and bring to a boil. Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. When it is done, get the old blender out, or food processor. Filling the container only 1/2 full, working in batches, pureeing the contents of the sauce pan. Puree each time for 2 minutes! Then transfer to a bowl, until all is done.
  4. Either put through a sieve, or food mill if necessary to remove any skins if your blender doesn’t whirr them up completely.
  5. Add the herbs and then simmer the sauce for 15 more minutes.

Serves: 3-4 cups.

We found that you don’t want to pour a lot of this on your enchilada or burritos. Best to ladle it at the table. We did flour tortillas, refried beans, ground meat seasoned with “taco seasonings” (salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic and salt powder, cumin and oregano) and then ladled a couple of tablespoons down over it, and wrapped it. I then did cotija mexican cheese and avocado slices. We found them very tasty, although we thought the sauce was harsh on its own. I plan to play with this sauce over time, especially with other chiles.