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Best Substitutes For Enchilada Sauce

One of the tastiest dishes to come out of Mexico is of course spicy enchiladas. You can have all manner of ingredients incorporated into your tasty enchiladas, but you always need that delicious sauce to bring everything together.

Best Substitutes For Enchilada Sauce

In fact, the sauce is such a versatile creation that can be used for a variety of dishes.

So what should you do if you run out of your usual enchilada sauce?

Today we’re going to cover the best substitutes for enchilada sauce to save you that trip to the grocery store when you’re in the middle of cooking your favorite dish.

Some of the best alternatives to red enchilada sauce are tomatillo enchilada sauce, spicy taco sauce, fresh salsa dip, spicy chiltomate salsa, spicy ranchero dip, spicy picante dip, and spicy sofrito dip.

We’re also going to show you how to make your very own homemade enchilada from the comfort of your own kitchen. This will be ideal if you want to closely replicate the flavors of your favorite enchilada sauce!

Let’s take a look at the best substitutes for enchilada sauce so that you can get back to cooking your tasty creations.

The Best Substitutes For Enchilada Sauce

Of course, one of the best alternatives to enchilada sauce will be a homemade variant that we will tell you more about in great detail below.

However, if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, one of the below alternatives will be a great substitute to help you save cooking time.

Here are some of the best alternatives to red enchilada sauce that you can use for crafting your spicy enchiladas.

Tomatillo Enchilada Sauce

One of the best substitutes for red enchilada sauce is tomatillo enchilada sauce. This type of enchilada sauce is very similar in terms of flavor and spice, only it makes use of tomatillos instead of spicy peppers.

That is what gives the sauce its signature green hue. In fact, tomatillo enchilada sauce is often called green enchilada sauce because of this color.

To get even more flavor from this sauce, you can roast your tomatillos in the oven before you make the sauce. You can also add whichever spices you would like to. You can even adapt the heat by using several different types of chili.

This will be a fantastic alternative if you want to adjust the spice of your dish to suit your preferences.

Spicy Taco Sauce

Run out of your classic red enchilada sauce? Then spicy taco sauce makes a fantastic alternative. This particular sauce is usually created using cayenne pepper, tomatoes, oregano, vinegar, cumin, onion, salt, garlic, pepper, as well as a dash of smoked paprika.

This is a versatile sauce that can be used in a variety of recipes. You can of course use spicy taco sauce for tacos, enchiladas, nachos, burritos, as well as other types of dishes that need a spicy tomato sauce.

It’s worth noting that the flavor of spicy taco sauce won’t be an exact match for red enchilada sauce. Even though spicy taco sauce is a tomato based sauce, it uses more tomatoes than enchilada sauce. So it will have a slightly different flavor to enchilada sauce.

Fresh Salsa Dip

Looking for a milder flavor to spicy alternatives? Then fresh salsa dip will be the perfect substitute for your favorite enchilada sauce. You can create your own salsa using fresh ingredients, or you can also find it in a jar at your local grocery store.

This is a versatile dip that can be added to stews, casseroles, and soups as needed. It also makes a great dipping sauce for tortilla chips, or of course a fantastic substitute for enchilada sauce. Salsa can also be used for adding fresh flavor to salads.

Salsa is typically made using chilies, tomatoes, garlic, cilantro onion, pepper, salt, as well as a dash of chili powder. You can also add a lighter touch using some lime or lemon juice. All you will need to do is chop up your ingredients and voila!

You have the perfect substitute for enchilada sauce. You can even blitz the ingredients in your food processor for a smoother salsa.

Spicy Chiltomate Salsa

You may also have heard chiltomate salsa referred to as salsa in its own right. Chiltomato salsa tends to make use of spicy habanero chilies, onion, tomatoes, as well as coriander.

These are often grilled to bring out even more flavor in the vegetables before they are then blended together.

You will find that chiltomate salsa is a spicy alternative to your enchilada sauce. It will have a sweet and tangy taste, too. This salsa is often consumed with enchiladas anyway, so this makes it the perfect alternative to your classic red enchilada sauce.

Spicy Ranchero Dip

Run out of your usual spicy substitutes for enchilada sauce? Then this spicy ranchero dip will give your enchiladas the spicy kick that you need.

This dip usually consists of either jalapeno or serrano chilis, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, onion, olive oil, and salt. It is wonderfully versatile and can be used for a variety of dishes

The only thing to note is that spicy ranchero dip uses a lot more tomatoes than your standard enchilada sauce. So it won’t be an exact match, but it will do the job just fine in a pinch.

Spicy ranchero dip will work well with both chicken and beef, or even just a mixture of crunchy vegetables if you want to make vegetarian enchiladas.

Spicy Picante Dip

Another fantastic spicy dip that you can use as an alternative to enchilada sauce is of course spicy picante dip. This particular spicy dip is made using jalapenos, diced cilantro, tomatoes, onion, cloves, chili powder, hot pepper sauce, salt, lime zest, as well as lime juice.

Unlike some other salsas and dips, this particular picante dip is a much smoother substitute for enchilada sauce. This is because all of these tasty ingredients are usually blended until smooth to give you a versatile base sauce.

You can use spicy picante dip as a base sauce for enchiladas, fajitas, tacos, as well as burritos.

Spicy Sofrito Dip

If you’re familiar with Spanish and Mexican dishes, you may be aware of the fact that sofrito technically refers to a specific cooking technique. This usually means to slowly fry your food.

However, over time spicy sofrito dip has also become a tasty treat in its own right. In fact, this is a popular dip to have with stews, rice, beans, stocks, empanadas, and soups.

Just like fresh salsa, there can be many varieties of spicy sofrito dip. Spicy sofrito dip tends to vary from region to region, and it can have several different flavors as a result.

The most popular variant tends to be made using peppers, tomatoes, onions, and minced garlic. This is then fried in olive oil to make a tasty dip.

You can also add spicy chili peppers, cracked black pepper, and diced cilantro to give your sofrito dip more of a spicy kick.

To give your spicy sofrito dip even more spice to make it the ideal substitute for enchilada sauce, try using habanero chilies when you make it. You can also use chili powder if you don’t have any fresh chilies to hand.

How To Make Your Own Enchilada Sauce

How To Make Your Own Enchilada Sauce

While the above substitutes can make a great addition to your enchiladas in a pinch if you don’t have your usual jar of red enchilada sauce, undoubtedly the best alternative will be to make your very own homemade enchilada sauce.

This will arguably even be better than your usual jar of enchilada sauce because it will make use of fresh ingredients.

Here is a fool proof recipe for making your very own homemade enchilada sauce for your favorite enchiladas.


  • 3 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 tbsp of plain flour
  • 2 cups of vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp of tomato paste
  • 1 tsp of white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of chili powder
  • 1 tsp of ground cumin
  • ½ tsp of oregano
  • ½ tsp of garlic powder
  • ½ tsp of onion powder
  • Pinch of salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a saucepan, warm your 3 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat. Next, add the spices and flour, making sure to constantly stir these with a wooden spoon to prevent them from catching in the pan. Fry this mixture of dry ingredients for around a minute, or until it starts to change color slightly.
  2. For the next step, you will need to add the vegetable stock and the tomato paste. Keep stirring with that wooden spoon until the mixture is well combined. Allow the sauce to simmer for several minutes over a medium heat, or until the sauce starts to thicken.
  3. Remove your saucepan from the heat, then add the vinegar, salt, and pepper. Give the enchilada sauce a final stir to incorporate the sauce, then use this in place of your usual jar of red enchilada sauce.

The great thing about this homemade enchilada sauce recipe is that you can make it well in advance of when you need it. You can also freeze it ready for when you will next make your enchiladas.

Simply wait for the enchilada sauce to cool completely, then place it in an airtight container. This enchilada sauce can keep in your freezer for up to 6 months, or in your refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Alternatives Can I Use For Enchilada Sauce?

The best alternatives to use for enchilada sauce are tomatillo enchilada sauce, also known as green enchilada sauce, spicy taco sauce, fresh salsa dip, spicy chiltomate salsa, spicy ranchero dip, spicy picante dip, and spicy sofrito dip.

You can also make your very own spicy enchilada sauce to use whenever you need it.

Is There A Difference Between Salsa And Enchilada Sauce?

Yes, there is a distinct difference between salsa and enchilada sauce. Whereas enchilada sauce tends to be quite smooth, salsa is on the chunkier side because it typically uses diced ingredients which may have been blitzed in a food processor to make it slightly smoother.

Salsa typically features tomatoes as one of the main ingredients, whereas enchilada sauce makes use of a small amount of tomato paste instead.

Are Taco Sauce And Enchilada Sauce The Same Thing?

While taco sauce and enchilada sauce are very similar, they are slightly different from one another. This mostly comes down to where the two different sauces get their spicy kick from.

Enchilada sauce tends to use actual chilies for its spice, whereas taco sauce mostly relies on the addition of cayenne pepper to give it its spicy kick.

In Summary

And there you have it! Even though red enchilada sauce is a popular base sauce in many dishes, you may not always have a jar of this to hand when you get cooking.

So if you have started making your favorite dish of enchiladas and find that you have run out, you can easily use some of the alternative sauces that we have mentioned in more detail above.

Some of the best substitutes to use in place of red enchilada sauce are of course tomatillo enchilada sauce, spicy taco sauce, fresh salsa dip, spicy chiltomate salsa, spicy ranchero dip, and spicy picante dip.

You can of course make your very own homemade enchilada sauce to give your enchiladas a fresh alternative.

Jess Smith