Homemade Enchilada Sauce {Gluten Free}

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada’s are one of my favorite meals of all time. It was always a favorite when I was a kid (my mom made great enchiladas), and was one of the first dishes I attempted to make on my own after moving out. Enchilada sauce isn’t such a common grocery item in Asia, however!

When I lived in Korea, it was a necessity to learn to make a few condiments and staples from home. There weren’t a lot of foreigners living in Korea, so it made sense that there also wasn’t a lot of imported grocery items.

At least not at regular grocery stores. My godsend living in Korea was Costco! My friend and I used to make a big deal out of a monthly Costco trip — it was about an hour away from where we lived, but we’d ride the subway there, stroll through grabbing our favorites- things like big boxes of oatmeal, bags of almonds, frozen blueberries and salmon, and produce. Then we would share a slice of pizza and have fountain soda (the only place I saw fountain soda in Korea!), and stare incredulously at the Koreans who were putting piles of pickle relish on their pizza and baked chicken wraps. (Koreans eat kimchi with every meal, and at the Costco food court, relish was the closest thing!).

Enchilada Sauce

Now, living in Malaysia is much different. The first few days after arriving here I could instantly tell how much easier it would be to live here than Korea. After my previous experience, I arrived in Malaysia, suitcases full of spices, almond butter, and my favorite teas. I was pleasantly surprised to find all these things were readily accessible here, and that normal grocery stores carry quite a wide selection of imported items.

That certainly doesn’t mean I can get everything. I recently discovered a small grocery store (Ampang Mini Mart) on the other side of KL that sells corn tortillas. And they are good corn tortillas. So, enchilada time?

Time to find a way to make a good homemade enchilada sauce. I certainly prefer enchilada sauces made from chilis rather than tomato based, but that will be another adventure. I don’t have the kind of chilis for that yet!

But this sauce, made with lots of chili powder and other spices, and a tomato base, took only about 15 minutes to pull together, and really blew us away. In fact, I will probably never buy canned enchilada sauce again. Not only is it really tasty– it’s cheaper than buying canned sauce, and it doesn’t include any weird ingredients, preservatives, or potential allergens!

The batch made enough for 2 pans of enchiladas, so I made some this weekend, and froze the rest of the sauce.

Enchilada Sauce

Homemade Enchilada Sauce {Gluten Free}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
An homemade enchilada sauce made with clean ingredients, and easy to pull together in 15 minutes. Most enchilada sauces have flour as a thickener. This recipe calls for arrowroot powder to keep it gluten free.
Serves: 4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken bouillon (I used water + 2 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons molasses sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder + ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  1. In a large saucepan, add olive oil, and diced onion. Saute for 5-7 minutes over medium high heat, until onion is softened.
  2. Add all ingredients through the coriander, and mix well. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add to a blender, and process until smooth.
  4. Return to pan. Add arrowroot powder and water to a small cup, and mix to combine, then slowly pour into the sauce while stirring.
  5. Add the lime juice, and turn off heat.

Enchilada Sauce Recipe

What do you like in your enchiladas?
Have you ever missed any favorite dishes or flavors when traveling abroad?

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