Red Chile Sauce

Authentic Red Chile Sauce made entirely from scratch is a thing of beauty — this classic Mexican enchilada sauce is luxuriously rich, you can’t get anything like this out of a can!


Red Chile Sauce is the life-blood of Southwestern cooking

You can’t really pretend to know the cuisine until you’ve made this staple garlic and chile sauce from scratch. The process that transforms dry leathery peppers into a smooth rich sauce is multi-stepped, but simple, and so satisfying.


In the end you’re left with an authentic sauce that is itself the starting point for an endless list of traditional dishes, like enchiladas, tamales, chili, huevos rancheros… I’m looking forward to having a few jars in the freezer this winter.


This recipe calls for New Mexican or California dried chilies

If you can’t find them in your grocery store, be sure to ask, they often stash them in out of the way spots. You can always buy them online, too. They keep forever, so I suggest stocking up for future sauce making. I used the California chiles, which are a little less hot than the New Mexico variety. My sauce had a perfect hint of heat, not overwhelming at all.


The additional flavors in this sauce, like the recipe itself, are simple

Roasted garlic, a few classic Southwestern herbs like cumin, coriander and oregano, and some salt. I added my own kick with a touch of sherry vinegar at the very end to satisfy my taste for a little tang in my sauce. I think it brought it to life.


This red sauce comes from The New Southwest a vibrant collection of recipes that celebrate the culinary melting pot of “Native American, Mexican, Tex-Mex, and classic Americana.”


2.95 from 19 votes

Red Chile Sauce

Yield 4 cups
Author Sue Moran


  • 10 cloves of garlic
  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
  • salt
  • 8 ounces dried New Mexico or California red chile pods stemmed and seeded
  • 5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground oregano preferably Mexican
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper


  • Set the oven to 350F
  • Peel and toss the garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a sprinkling of salt. Wrap them in foil and roast for 30 minutes. The cloves will be softened and fragrant. Place the cloves in the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade attachment,
  • Put the chile pods in a large heavy bottomed stockpot. Heat the pot over a medium flame and stir the chiles until they start to toast and release their aroma. This will take about 2-4 minutes, but watch carefully, they burn easily. Stir continuously.
  • Fill the pot with water, and bring to a boil. Stir occasionally so all the chiles get submerged, and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chilies, but reserve 5 cups of the cooking water.
  • Working in 2 batches, puree the chiles along with the garlic cloves. Run the machine until the chiles are ground down to a smooth, thick paste, and stop to scrape down the sides of the machine if necessary. Process in the reserved liquid and run until smooth. Again, you will need to do this in batches so your machine doesn’t overflow.
  • Strain the sauce through mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Be sure to push the sauce through with the back of a spoon to get all the liquid through. Discard the solids.
  • Set the same pan over medium heat add 5 tablespoons of oil, and then add the flour, stirring until it forms a paste. Add in the spices, and stir continuously until smooth.
  • Whisk in the chile mixture, and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes until the sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Cool the sauce and then store in tightly closed containers in the refrigerator.

Cook’s notes

This recipe is from The New Southwest
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.



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  • Reply
    August 26, 2016 at 7:29 am

    SW cooking rocks my boat! Drat, I have too many favorite dishes to pick just one… just like favorite cookbooks. Winning a copy of TNS would be a treat, but your posts have convinced me I NEED to purchase a copy and cook my way through the recipes.

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