Leave the canned stuff on the store shelves and whip up a batch of this simple, smoky vegan enchilada sauce. With simple spices and ingredients, this sauce is the ultimate level up to your enchilada game.
Since starting a plant-based diet, Mexican-style food has become a staple. Quesadillas (of every kind), tacos, burrito bowls...
And of course enchiladas!
This recipe was born out of an enchilada craving where I 100% forgot to buy a can of sauce. But, since making my own, I'll never go back!
The best thing about this recipe is that you can truly tailor it to your tastes. If you like spicy, add a little extra cayenne. Don't like the smoky flavor? Use regular paprika instead of smoked. It's versatile, easy, so tasty, and comes together in 15 minutes.
- Chili powder
- Tomato paste
- Spices: cumin, smoked paprika (can use regular paprika), garlic powder, cayenne powder, salt
- Cocoa powder
- Apple Cider Vinegar
If you're forever throwing out half-used cans of tomato paste, check out my tomato paste hack to always have it on hand and never waste it again!
- Optional (but recommended) heat the water in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and vinegar then stir to dissolve. Set aside.
2. Heat your oil over medium heat in a small saucepan.
3. Add the flour and chili powder. Whisk together, stirring consistently for 1 minute, until flour is cooked.
4. Add the tomato paste, water, vinegar mixture, spices, and cocoa powder. Whisk until no clumps remain. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, and let simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld, stirring occasionally.
5. Take off heat and let cool until use.
- Regular Paprika - If you don't like the smoky flavor, feel free to use plain paprika.
- Vinegar - If you don't have apple cider vinegar, white vinegar will work.
- Less heat - You can leave out the cayenne completely if you want less heat.
While this will go perfectly with your enchilada recipe, why not try it with my sweet and spicy vegan enchilada casserole?!
Once the sauce is done, cool completely. Store in an airtight jar for 2-3 days in the refrigerator. If it's too thick when you want to use it, just heat and add water 1 tablespoon at a time until it reaches the desired thickness.
Top tips for the BEST vegan enchilada sauce
Don't burn the flour! It's not an exact science, but the taste and texture can be thrown off if you don't cook the flour enough or if you burn it. Stirring consistently for about 1 minute over medium head usually works out perfect.
If you can't seem to whisk out the lumps, an immersion blender works great to get a smooth consistency. A few small clumps are OK and won't affect the final dish.
Vegan Enchilada Sauce
- small saucepan
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 2 cups water
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper more or less depending on desired spiciness
- ¼ tsp salt
- Heat oil in pan over medium heat. Once oil is hot add flour and chili powder. Stir continuously for 1 minute until everything is sizzling and flour is cooked.
- Add water, tomato paste, vinegar, and remaining spices. Whisk together to remove clumps and bring to a simmer.
- Let simmer for 10 minutes or so until sauuce is thickened. Remove from heat.
- Optional (but recommended) heat the water in the microwave for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and vinegar then stir to dissolve.
- For easier prep:
- Measure and combine the spices and cocoa powder in a bowl.
- Measure and combine the flour and chili powder in a bowl.
- Small clumps are OK, but if you can't whisk out some large clumps, an immersion blender works great!
Looking for the perfect enchilada recipe to use this with? Try my Sweet and Spicy Vegan Enchilada Casserole!