The enchilada sauce primarily used for baking the famous enchilada dish can be used for a host of other dishes. It is a very versatile sauce packed with a lot of spice and flavor.
But regardless of their versatility and popularity, you may be seeking good enchilada sauce substitutes for a couple of reasons.
If you can’t tolerate the spicy flavor or strong taste of enchilada sauce, or you are out of stock, you can use something different, some of which you may be unable to tell the difference.
Some of the best substitutes for enchilada sauce that you can use include taco sauce, salsa sauce, ranchero sauce, chiltomate sauce, Picante sauce, etc.
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Best Enchilada Sauce Substitutes
There are a handful of sauces that can be substituted for enchilada sauce. If you can, try to make a homemade version of the enchilada sauce as it is the best substitute you use.
When you make the enchilada sauce yourself, you get to skip the preservatives added to store-bought versions, and you can tailor the spice level according to your tastebuds.
If you can’t make a homemade sauce, then use any of the following options:
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1. Green Enchilada Sauce
Green enchilada sauce has a taste different from the red variant, and this is due to the different ingredients used in their preparation. The green enchilada sauce has a distinctive color with a fresh flavor, unlike the red sauce, which is with an earthy flavor.
Roast the tomatillos, chilies, and the spices you like; this will enhance the flavor of the dish, you can tailor the ingredients to your taste.
You can use the green enchilada seasoning sauce in your recipe instead of red enchilada sauce.
2. Taco Sauce
Taco sauce is typically made of tomato sauce, vinegar, cayenne pepper, oregano, onion, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, and paprika. Meals like tacos, burritos, nachos, and enchiladas pair well with taco sauce as a substitute for enchilada sauce.
Both sauces are spicy and include tomatoes, but their flavor differs slightly. Taco uses a tomato-based sauce, while enchilada sauce has tomatoes as one of its ingredients, and only a small amount is needed.
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3. Salsa Sauce
Salsa sauce is an umbrella term for different sauces. This sauce can be prepared with raw or fresh ingredients and added to soups and stews. Salsa can also be used as a dip or sauce for other fishes.
Salsa is made from a mix of chopped tomatoes, chilies, garlic, onion, cilantro, salt, pepper, and chili powder, tossed together with a few drops of lemon to stop the vegetables from losing color.
Salsa can be served as a salad, side dish, on tacos, and tortillas. The difference in texture between salsa and enchilada sauce can make it difficult to achieve the same flavor and texture when you make a substitution.
4. Chiltomate Sauce
Chiltomate sauce is also under the salsa category. It is made of habanero chili peppers, tomatoes, onion, and coriander.
For intense flavor, the tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions are grilled before they are blended with the other ingredients.
This sauce is a combination of spicy, sweet, and tasty. It is served alongside other Mexican dishes like enchiladas, papadzules, and tacos.
5. Ranchero Sauce
Ranchero sauce includes tomatoes, serrano or jalapeno chili, oregano, garlic, onion, salt, and oil. It can be used as a dipping sauce, base sauce, taco filling, dressing, or mixed with vegetables, pork, beef, or chicken meat.
Ranchero sauce pairs perfectly as a topping for enchiladas, although it uses more tomatoes. This sauce differs slightly from enchilada sauce in terms of taste but makes a great substitute nonetheless.
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6. Picante Sauce
Picante sauce is a blended mixture of tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno chili, clove, chili powder, salt, hot pepper sauce, lime juice, and lime zest.
This sauce has a smooth and thick consistency and can be used for fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, tacos, or as a dip for tortilla chips.
7. Sofrito Sauce
Sofrito means to lightly fry or to fry slowly in Spanish. It is more about the method of cooking than the actual dish. This sauce is typically served alongside other dishes like rice, stews, beans, soups, and stocks or as a filling in empanadas.
The recipe for sofrito varies depending on the location it is made. This means there are a handful of variations of sofrito with differences ranging from colors, ingredients, and flavors.
The Spanish version of sofrito is made from onion, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic cooked with olive oil. There are also certain variations that include chili peppers, coriander, bay leaves, black pepper, cilantro, and other ingredients.
For a spicy enchilada sauce substitute, you can use the Yucatan sofrito sauce, which consists of habanero chilies. Or you can turn up the heat level of any other sofrito sauce by adding chili powder to it.
Homemade Enchilada Sauce
Homemade enchilada sauce is the most authentic substitute you can opt for. In fact, you maybe become hooked on how good and easy it is that you’ll never go back to store-bought sauce again.
Here’s an easy recipe you can follow to make about 2 cups of yummy enchilada sauce.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 tablespoon ground chili powder or to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon salt, to taste
- Optional pinch of cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Start by measuring out the dry ingredients (the flour, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, oregano, salt, and cinnamon, if used) into a small bowl. Also, prep the tomato paste and broth and place it handy as well.
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot over medium heat until it’s hot enough and sizzles when a light sprinkle of the flour/spice mixture is dropped in. This might take a few minutes, so don’t rush the process and keep an eye on the stove!
- Once it’s ready, whisk in the flour and spice mixture, and stir constantly until it becomes fragrant and has a slight color change, this may take about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste into the mixture, followed by the broth; remember to continue whisk constantly to remove any lumps.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and allow the mixture to reach a simmer before reducing the heat, so a gentle simmer is maintained. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes, whisking constantly until the sauce has thickened a bit and offers some resistance when you stir it. Remember that the sauce thickens some more when left to cool
- Remove the sauce from heat, and add in some vinegar, and season to taste with freshly ground black pepper. A pinch or two of salt can be added if necessary, and your delicious enchiladas sauce is ready to be enjoyed!
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