Recipe: Homemade Vegan Enchilada Sauce

July 22nd, 2009 - filed under: The Food » Recipes


First burritos and now enchilada sauce – I’m on a Mexican kick these days! I suppose it makes sense, since I associate Latin flavors with hot weather and carefree evenings. Nothing says summer quite like guacamole and pico de gallo . . . except maybe a mezcal margarita!

I’ve always loved enchiladas, but gave them the boot after reading the back of the canned sauces (think sugar, preservatives, and MSG, for starters). But I missed them too much, and so early this summer I set about testing recipes. And you know what? Enchilada sauce is actually really simple to make.

To me, red sauce always tasted like nothing else did, so I figured it had to have some strange exotic additive, some odd ingredient that would make it impossible to master. But . . . nope. It’s just aromatics, stock, tomatoes, and chilis. And it’s easy!


1 tablespoon oil

1 onion, chopped

a few cloves garlic, chopped

a handful cherry tomatoes

1-2 oz dried whole chilis – I use about 1.6 oz Anchos

1 1/2 cups veggie broth

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

1/4 cup vinegar (white or cider, I use cider)

2 tablespoons flour (use chickpea or rice for gluten-free)

3 tablespoons chili powder – I used 1 each Ancho, Chipotle, and ‘chili spice’

1 teaspoon cumin

salt to taste

1/4 cup Tofutti™ cream cheese (optional)


Place chilis under water in a bowl, allow to rehydrate (an hour or so).

Heat a pan over medium heat, add the oil, and then add the onions and garlic. Sauté until they begin to lighten, then add the fresh cherry tomatoes. Sauté another few minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, bring them to boil, and then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool before transferring to a food processor. Blend until smooth.


For a creamier sauce, which I highly recommend, add the Tofutti™ and re-blend.


The first thing I did with my sauce was – of course – enchiladas! Two small corn and black bean enchiladas, topped with a homemade vegan ‘cheese’ sauce, and cooked up in a bread pan. SO cute!



A few days later I used the leftover sauce in ‘bowls’, which is this sort of trendy and terrific way of dining that’s popping up all around Portland. It’s basically just grain + legume + green, topped with sauce = surprisingly awesome way of eating. In this case I used brown rice + pinto beans + kale + roasted zucchini, topped with the enchilada sauce. Divine!



  • Charley

    My mouth is actually watering, sounds delish!

  • Angela

    Thanks for this. I’ve been looking for a tried and true veg enchilada sauce recipe. I know what I’ll be making for dinner sometime this week!

  • Ero San

    Although not exactly the same recipe I use, I will actually try it someday! looks yummy (and that is comming from a mexican guy, who likes enchiladas as much as anyone else). plus, i like how you replaced the usual onion slices for black olives!

    I dont really get how could you not make a “vegan” enchilada sauce tho… i’ve never heard of a enchilada sauce with meat in it :P

    The bowl in the last photo looks amazing too! (which reminds me: all your photos look terrific, what is the secret? what kind of camera do you use!?)

    I like your site, btw ^_^

  • Shauna

    When are you going to make me dinner? :)

  • Sayward

    @ Charley – Yay, that’s what I like to hear!

    @ Angela – You’re welcome! Let me know what you think.

    @ Ero San – I think a lot of enchilada sauce has chicken stock, no? I know this is the case in many restaurants.

    And I’m glad you like the photos! My husband is a hobby photographer and is slowly teaching me the basics. He has a Canon 5D.

    @ Shauna – When you invite me over! (with a little notice so’s I can prepare)

  • DB

    OOOO this looks yummy. I would love to try it with this a variation of a sweet potato enchilada dish I had at this super vegi/vegan restaurant. It didn’t quite come out the same, but quite tasty. I used a mole sauce with it, but your sauce looks great. Check out Whole Foods website (or app) for the recipe. That is pretty much what I tried to follow, but I would love to see your variation!

  • Liz

    I just made this tonight on black bean enchiladas and it was delicious! Thank you so much for the recipe.

  • Olivia Jean

    You seriously make me hungry all the time!! haha

  • jennyfurlynn

    this is *so* amazing! i didn’t even measure exactly and it still came out great. i haven’t made enchiladas in for-ever b/c of the blah canned sauce.
    so versatile too!!! thanks for the recipe!

  • jennyfurlynn

    p.s. what does your homemade vegan “cheese” sauce consist of?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Woo-hoo! So glad you liked it. =)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Nutritional yeast! With alt milk and some sort of creamy fat, like coconut milk or soaked cashews or Earthbalance margarine, plus spices. Here’s my mac n cheese recipe, the sauce is soooo good:

  • Saturnino Garcia

    Thanks for the recipe. I made this tonight and it turned out wonderfully. I didn’t use the cream cheese as the texture without it was exactly what I was looking for.


  • Saturnino Garcia

    Thanks for the recipe. I made this tonight and it turned out wonderfully. I didn’t use the cream cheese as the texture without it was exactly what I was looking for.


  • Slywlf

    Sounds yummy! I will probably roast my own tomatoes for this, as I no longer trust canned anything, but especially not tomatoes. Happily this is the perfect time of year to roast lots of tomatoes and freeze them for a taste of summer in winter ;-)

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  • M’ryam

    some recipes will have you use chicken stock, hence not vegan. :)

  • Liz

    What size can of tomatoes did you use? the smaller 14oz or the larger 28 oz?

    Edit: Oh snap, I just saw how long ago you posted this. . .Answer if you can! :)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    The smaller 14 oz can! =)

  • Liz

    Guurl, you have the BEST timing! I am JUST about to get my enchilada sauce groove on as my chilis are almost done soaking, and I decided to check for a response, with fingers crossed, and there it was, you goddess among goddesses. :) Thank you! :)

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Haha, YAY! I am jealous, I love this sauce. happy enchilada-ing!

  • Diana

    Tasty with some heat! Trying to figure out how to balance the heat level. I used 1T Chipotle powder and 2T Chili powder(bulk from Whole Foods) and only 6-7 small dried whole red chilies(Morton & Bassett brand). I also broiled Roma tomatoes instead of using canned and used white wine vinegar.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    If it’s too hot for you, you can just cut the spicing in half. You can also try adding a bit of sweetener to balance the spice!

  • Megan Jones

    Do you have to add flour or can you leave it out?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    You’ll need something to thicken it. You could probably use a gluten free flour, like chickpea or sorghum, though I can’t verify how those will work from personal experience.

  • Angela Eick

    I just want to say thank you for this recipe – it’s the only enchilada sauce I eat! And it’s so easy, too!


    Lovely Llorys

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  • Nicolle

    Do you deseed the chiles? : )

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