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Enchiladas can seem mundane, but if you make your own enchilada sauce they become something special.  Once you have tasted homemade enchilada sauce, you will never want anything else.  Patience is key with this recipe.

Time-1 hour and 30 minutes



1 package of California Chile pods 8 ounce

1  package of New Mexico Chile pods 8 ounce

12 corn tortillas

1 block of cheddar cheese 8 ounce shredded (mild or sharp)

1 block of pepper jack cheese 8 ounce shredded

2 shallots finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon of cumin

Kosher salt to taste

2 tablespoons of lard for frying

Cilantro chopped for garnish and freshness


Fill a large pot of water and and bring to a boil.  Use gloves to remove the stems and seeds from the dried pods as best you can.  Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and add the chile pods.  Allow the dried chile pods to rehydrate and soften.  Do not boil the dried pods just allow them to bathe in hot water.  This process should take about 20-30 minutes.

DSC_0002Add softened chile pods into a blender with 1-2 cups of water and blend until smooth.  Add as much water as needed to give a good sauce consistency.  The sauce can always be reduced if too much water is added.

DSC_0001After blending, force the sauce through a sieve with a rubber spatula to remove any remaining skin and seeds.  This is the time consuming part.  This process will need to be repeated several times depending on the size of your sieve.  Discard paste and seeds left behind and force the sauce through until you have a glistening red sauce.  You may need to occasionally add  water to help force the sauce through a sieve.

DSC_0005Pre-heat oven for 375 degrees.  Add garlic powder, cumin, and salt to sauce at low heat on stove top.  Stir occasionally to achieve desired consistency of sauce.  Melt lard in a small 8 inch non-stick frying pan on medium high heat, and fry the corn tortillas one at a time.  Fry approximately 10 seconds per side to make them pliable for rolling.  Rest corn tortillas on paper towels to soak up excess oil.

DSC_0004Gently lay each side of a corn tortilla on top of the sauce to coat the tortilla with enchilada sauce.  Fill the tortilla with shredded cheese and shallots and roll it loosely.  Repeat this until you have filled casserole dish with enchiladas.  Place an extra ladle of sauce over the enchiladas, and sprinkle cheese over the top.  Heat the enchiladas in oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice and beans immediately.

Cook’s Note

1.  When blending the chile pods, use the left over water from soaking the pods for added flavor.  Be careful adding hot liquid into a blender.  This can blow the lid off your blender and splash sauce all over your face and clothes.  I usually use this chile broth when it is luke warm.

2.  From time to time you will have slightly bitter tasting chiles.  I add no more than a teaspoon of sugar to the sauce to counter the bitterness.

3.  I prefer the mild flavor of shallots instead of onions.  Shallots tends to be more palatable for my kids.

4.  I recently made the switch to lard after discovering its health benefits.  However, you can certainly use canola or vegetable oil if you prefer.

5.  Inevitably you will have extra sauce.  The sauce is versatile and can be used in huevos rancheros, soups, chile colorado, or on burritos.  My husband looks forward to huevos rancheros the next morning.  It’s always a welcome treat when I can make multiple meals out of one sauce.

What is your favorite enchilada sauce recipe?

The Author

First off, I'm not a writer. This should be abundantly clear as you read this bio. I'm not a trained Chef either. I'm a Mother, Wife, Registered Nurse and Fraudulent Chef. Why a blog you ask? Well, I don't want to be a line cook, executive Chef, or a restaurant owner. I just want to cook what I want, when I want, and for who I want. Cooking is a creative outlet for me. I don't even consider myself a blogger because I don't blog often. So advertising dollars and web fame is not my motive. Finding the time to cook, write up a recipe, photograph it while maintaining a job and household is challenging. However, it has given me great joy over the years to see people carrying on dishes that I've developed. It's also an online cookbook that I can reflect on. My cooking is an expression of the strong women in my life and inspired dishes from my favorite restaurants. I'm a recipe impostor of dishes from restaurants I love. Furthermore, many of the recipes are spruced up from my childhood. I'm a Mexican-American, native Californian who has spent time in New York and married a first generation Costa Rican. My cooking reflects all of these aspects. Karen's Kitchen is not a Mexican food blog. As much as I'd like to fit into a pretty little red, white and green box. I find it too limiting and reject the notion of creating a Latino point of view because it makes a blog cohesive. So my recipes are all over the place, with no rhyme or reason. Home cooks never apologize for not graduating from culinary school. You will find that my recipes are easy to follow and geared for the home cook. They look amazing and will make you look like a Domestic God/Goddess in front of your loved ones. It's my hope that you find the love for cooking and make some of my recipes your own. Cheers to cooking, eating and surrounding yourself with lovely people.


  1. Jean Margiotta says

    Hi Karen – Can’t wait to make this recipe. Got a question. Will a strainer work instead of a sieve. What’s the difference. Sorry we missed your New Years party. Sandy said it was fun and the food was excellent. Hope you will invite us again sometime. Let me know about the strainer as I will go shopping tomorrow to buy my ingredients. Thanks, Jean


    • Hi Jean,
      I wouldn’t recommend a strainer. A strainers perforations are to large and would allow skin and seeds to pass through. A sieve is essentially a strainer with a fine mesh that will keep your sauce pure. If you don’t have one and plan on purchasing one I would recommend a large sieve. It will expedite the longest part of the recipe. Enjoy!

  2. Rosemary Loya says

    Your right! There’s nothing like homemade red chile enchiladas sauce! Josh is a lucky man! Yummy Yummy!

  3. Taylor says

    In recent years, as I’ve tried to be a little more healthy, I’ve eliminated the frying of the tortillas. I put some of my sauce in a pan and get it hot before dipping my tortillas straight into the sauce, fill and roll. You have to be kind of quick or they will fall apart, but I do like eliminating the oil/lard. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    • Taylor,
      This is a great idea for those of us who are health conscious. You are right, frying is not necessary for pliability. However, I like the mouth feel of a fried tortilla. I feel it gives the enchilada depth of flavor. When I make taquitos I warm the corn tortilla on a comal before filling and rolling. The tortilla doesn’t crack so I know it would be similar if I tried this with enchiladas. When I’m looking to make my enchiladas healthier I add a lean protein and limit the amount of cheese. The sauce has zero calories, fats, sugars and carbohydrates. I limit my portion to two enchiladas. Thanks for your health tip!

  4. Hi Karen,
    The enchiladas were delicious on New’s Year’s Eve Karen. I plan on making your recipe this week, they will be healthier then mine.


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