8 Best Enchilada Sauce Substitutes

Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada which means “spicy” or “to be spiced” in Spanish, is a Mexican chili-based sauce usually used as a dip and baking sauce for enchiladas.

However, it is also a common ingredient in other dishes like casseroles, soups, tamales, burritos, tortillas, nachos, beans, vegetables, and many other dishes. If you don’t have enchilada sauce, or you run out of it your can use some other sauce to add flavor to your dish.

Let’s learn more about each substitute, ratio, and other interesting facts.

Enchilada Sauce Substitutes

The best enchilada sauce substitute is the one you make at home. You can make it without preservatives add the spices you like and adjust how spicy your sauce is going to be.

However, you can also use some of these sauces as a substitute for enchilada sauce:

1. Green enchilada sauce

Green enchilada sauce

Green enchilada sauce is made with different ingredients than red enchilada sauce. Therefore, it has a different flavor from red enchilada sauce. The green one has a fresh flavor while the red sauce is with an earthy flavor.

For a better flavor, you can roast the tomatillos, add the spices you like, and use as many chilies you like. It all depends on your taste. You can give it a try and use the green enchilada sauce in your recipe instead of red enchilada sauce.

2. Taco sauce

Taco sauce usually consists of tomato sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper, oregano, onion, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. You can use it in different meals like tacos, burritos, nachos, enchiladas, and other dishes as a substitute for enchilada sauce.

They don’t have the same flavor. But they are both spicy and include tomatoes in their content. Taco is a tomato-based sauce while enchilada sauce has tomatoes as an ingredient but in a smaller amount.

3. Salsa sauce

homemade salsa

Salsa sauce is not just one sauce. There are many sauces under this name. They can be prepared with raw or fresh ingredients. You can add this sauce in soups and stews. However, you can also use it as a dip or sauce for other dishes.

Salsa includes tomatoes, chilies, garlic, onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, and chili powder. Just chop them and mix. You can also add a few drops of lemon to lighten up the mixture.

You can use salsa as a salad, side dish, on tacos, and tortillas. If you use salsa as a substitute for enchilada sauce you will not get the same flavor and texture. But you can always experiment with the flavors in your kitchen.

4. Chiltomate sauce

Chiltomate sauce is one of the salsa sauces. It consists of habanero chili peppers, tomatoes, onion, and coriander. Tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions are grilled for better flavor. Then, they are blended with the other ingredients.

This sauce is spicy, sweet, and tasty. And people often consume it with Mexican dishes like enchiladas, papadzules, tacos, and many other dishes.

5. Ranchero sauce

Ranchero sauce consists of tomatoes, serrano or jalapeno chili, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, and oil. You can utilize Ranchero as a dipping sauce, base sauce, taco filling, dressing, or mixed with vegetables, pork, beef, or chicken meat.

Ranchero sauce an excellent topping for enchiladas but has more tomatoes. Although they don’t taste the same you can utilize ranchero sauce instead of enchilada sauce.

6. Picante sauce

Picante sauce consists of tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno chili, clove, chili powder, salt, hot pepper sauce, lime juice, and lime zest.

All ingredients are blended into a smooth and thick mixture. You can use this mixture as a sauce for fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, and tacos. Or as a dip for tortilla chips.

7. Sofrito sauce

Sofrito is more a way of cooking than sauce or dish. In Spanish, sofrito means to lightly fry, or to fry slowly. This sauce is a common ingredient in dishes with rice, stews, beans, soups, and stocks. Or as a filling in empanadas.

There are many different recipes for sofrito depending on the territory where it is made. Thus, there are variations of sofrito with different colors, ingredients, and flavors.

The Spanish version of sofrito includes onion, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic cooked with olive oil. However, there are also variations with chili peppers, coriander, bay leaves, black pepper, cilantro, and other ingredients.

Yucatan sofrito sauce consists of habanero chilies if you want to use spicy sofrito as a substitute for enchilada sauce. Or you can just add chili powder to any other sofrito sauce.

8. Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada Sauce

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

How do you make Mexican enchilada sauce from scratch? Well, the first step is gathering the next ingredients. The best substitute for enchilada sauce is to make yours at home. So, let’s get to work.


  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper to taste


    1. First, warm the oil in a pan over medium heat.
    2. Add the flour and the spices and cook the mixture constantly whisking for about 1 minute. Or until it slightly changes its color.
    3. Add the tomato paste and slowly pour the broth with constant whisking.
    4. Let it simmer for a few minutes, or until it gets thick.
    5. Take off the pan from the heat.
    6. Lastly, add some vinegar, salt, and black pepper.

Interesting Facts About Enchilada Sauce

There are two main types of enchilada sauce. Red enchilada sauce is also known as salsa Roja or mole Rojo, and green enchilada sauce.

The key differences between these two enchilada sauces is the content, their preparation, and the flavor they add to the sauce.

Red enchilada sauce usually consists of different types of red chilies, onion, vinegar, garlic, broth, chili powder, oregano, and cumin as the main ingredients.

There are some versions of red enchilada sauce that contain tomato paste or tomatoes as a bas. But they are not a necessary ingredient in the traditional version of red enchilada sauce.

These ingredients are mixed and cooked to form a thick sauce. The red enchilada sauce includes mild, medium, and spicy chilies like Chili de Arbol, Chipotle, Guajillo, Cascabel, and Anaheim.

Green enchilada sauce is also known as Verde sauce consists of green chilies, tomatillos, garlic, onion, vinegar, cilantro, and cumin.

Tomatillos are green small fruit with slightly herbal, fruity, and tart flavor used as a staple ingredient in Mexican cuisine. They give the green color in the green enchilada sauce together with the green chilies like serrano and jalapeno.

Which sauce you are going to use depends on the ingredients in your dish. Green enchilada sauce pairs well with chicken meat. Red enchilada sauce, on the other hand, is the perfect match with ground beef. However, you can use any sauce you want according to your taste.


Can I substitute salsa for enchilada sauce?

You can substitute salsa for enchilada sauce. However, you will get a different flavor and texture in your dish.

What is the difference between enchilada sauce and salsa?

Salsa and enchilada are two different sauces. While tomatoes in salsa are a base ingredient, in enchilada they are one of the ingredients.

Is enchilada sauce the same as taco sauce?

Enchilada sauce is not the same as taco sauce. Although they both have some same ingredients enchilada is a chili-based sauce. Taco, on the other hand, is a tomato-based sauce.

Final Thoughts

These are some of the sauces you can use as a substitute for enchilada sauce. You will get a different flavor and texture, but maybe you will like that new flavor in your dish.

Try some of the products mentioned in today’s article. Also, let us know if they worked as a good substitute for enchilada sauce in your favorite dish or not.

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