Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Mexican Red Sauce

These Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Mexican Red Sauce are the real deal. When I go to a Mexican restaurant, I sometimes flirt with the idea of trying something different as I peruse the menu, but I know my eyes will eventually land on the enchilada section and that’s it. I’m done. Everything about them makes me swoon: their smell, the softness of their corn tortillas, their flavorful beef filling, their signature red sauce and their blanket of lots and lots of melted cheese. I love all the little side items too: the beans, rice, finely shredded lettuce, and sour cream. Can you tell it’s one of my favorite meals? Here’s how I make my homemade beef enchiladas.

Beef Enchiladas with Homemade Mexican Red Sauce

It’s no secret that I love cheese — it just makes me happy. Melted cheese has a particularly special place in my heart. It can improve my mood instantly; it completes me. So many of my favorite things to eat involve gooey, melty cheese, and at the top of the list are beef enchiladas. I crave them, I love them, I need to eat them regularly. Obviously, I had to figure out how to make them at home frequently, and I’ll admit, with no shame, that I had always used canned enchilada sauce. I don’t have anything against it, in fact I think it’s pretty darn delicious.

You Say Tomato, I Say Dried Chile Pepper

But, one day I started to wonder… How do they make that stuff? Not surprisingly, the ingredient list on the can has some slightly mysterious items, so I began googling and found tons of “authentic homemade” enchilada sauce recipes. I ruled out one after another, finding lots of tomato-based sauces, thickened with flour. The only thing I really knew was that a true Mexican red sauce was based on dried red chile peppers, so this was the ingredient I looked for. I found three really great, authentic sounding recipes and combined my favorite elements to come up with this sauce. It was so fun and easy! You just need a blender, and other than the dried chile peppers I bet you have everything else you need for the recipe. You can also find my sauce recipe on along with lots of other great recipes and articles!


For Mexican Red Sauce:

  • 8 dried ancho chiles (also called California chiles, as I discovered while emergency-googling in the international aisle at Wegmans)
  • 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 tbs salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbs cumin seeds (or ground cumin)
  • tiny pinch of ground clove (traditional, but optional)
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups soaking liquid (from soaking the peppers)
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil

For Beef Enchiladas:

  • 20 soft corn tortillas
  • 1 ½ lbs ground beef
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 cups shredded cheese; I like a mixture of sharp cheddar and monterey jack
  • 3-4 cups of enchilada sauce


Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 20 Enchiladas

For full recipe and instructions go to Wild Thistle Kitchen.


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