Our rich, robust Slow Cooker Enchilada Sauce recipe is subtly complex blend of spicy, sweet, and smoky, and all comes together with just 15 minutes of hands-on prep time. You may never buy canned sauce again.
What's the Story Behind this Recipe?
I don't know about you, but I am not a fan of canned enchilada sauce. Sure, it's convenient, and... yeah, I can't think of anything else I like about it.
This recipe came about after we made some pan-fried rockfish, seasoned with this amazing dry rub recipe. When it was all said and done, there was a fist full of various ground chili peppers leftover, which got Mr B and I thinking about how we could use all those savory sweet spices in other dishes.
Homemade enchilada sauce was the first thing that came to mind.
It took a little experimenting, but we finally came up with a combination that wallops the pants off every canned enchilada sauce we've ever tasted. Now I'm not claiming it's better than (or even as good as) your abuela's sauce, but it'll beat anything you can buy off the shelf by ten miles.
I cannot believe how good this stuff turned out - and it's so easy to make! It only takes about 15 minutes to throw together; after that, the slow cooker does all the work.
How to Make Enchilada Sauce in a Slow Cooker
For easier clean-up, spray your slow cooker with non-stick cooking spray before adding any of the ingredients.
Heat butter in a medium skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until onion becomes translucent and begins to turned light golden brown. Add minced garlic and sauté 30 seconds more.
Put sauteed onion and garlic mixture along with all the remaining ingredients into a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours, or HIGH for 2 hours.
Sauce is ready to use immediately.
If you prefer your enchilada sauce smooth, use an immersion blender to puree it right in the slow cooker. (This is totally optional.)
FAQs & Expert Tips
You can find ground pasilla pepper and ground New Mexico chili pepper in the Mexican/Hispanic foods aisle of most grocery stores (in my area, Winco, Freddy’s, and Safeway all stock them) or in your local Hispanic Mercado (i.e., Su Casa Imports, El Mercado, etc). I found the ground chipotle pepper in the bulk section at Winco. All of the dried ground peppers are very inexpensive, and a little goes a long way. You can also find all everything you need at your local spice shop.
This recipe freezes very well. It can also be canned in a pressure canner. (Use 10 lbs. for 50 minutes for pints and 60 minutes for quarts.)
More Slow Cooker Recipes
Ways to Use Homemade Enchilada Sauce
If you enjoy our Homemade Enchilada Sauce, be sure to check out our recipes that use it as an ingredient, including Chicken Enchilada Pie, Huevos Rancheros, and Chicken Enchilada Soup!
Love homemade tortillas, too? They are so easy to make! Check out our easy Homemade Flour Tortillas recipe.
Slow Cooker Enchilada Sauce
- 1 Immersion Blender optional
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups chicken broth or vegetable stock
- 14 ounces canned tomatoes
- 12 ounces tomato paste
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoons ground pasilla pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground New Mexico chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- Heat butter in a medium skillet over MEDIUM heat. Add chopped onion and sauté until onion becomes translucent and begins to turned light golden brown. Add minced garlic and saute 30 seconds more.
- Put sauteed onion and garlic mixture along with all the remaining ingredients into a slow cooker.Cook on LOW for 4-6 hours [or HIGH for 2 hours].Sauce is ready to use immediately.
- OPTIONAL STEP: If you prefer your enchilada sauce smooth, use an immersion blender to puree it right in the slow cooker.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. You are solely responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information provided is accurate, complete, and useful.
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Mary @ Vindulge says
This sounds like a great recipe! Never thought to make enchilada sauce in the slow cooker before. Just pinned it to try out w/my family! Thanks for the idea 🙂
Looks delicious. I think people need to utilize the crockpot more often for sauces... that slow, low heat is GREAT for sauces! Next time I have chiles on hand this is happening.
There are too many mystery ingredients in store-bought enchilada sauce. I'm making this recipe next time!
Renée ♥ says
You are so right, Catherine. In fact, I'm not sure that the ingredients are even from the same food families as those in a real sauce.
Erin @ Platings and Pairings says
What a great idea to make enchilada sauce in the slow cooker - It sometimes seems like a daunting task to make the sauce by scratch, but I'll bet it's SO much better! Can't wait to give this a try!
Renée ♥ says
It is so much better - as in, the canned stuff doesn't even compare. It may sound like a lot of extra work, but really, it's quite easy. One thing I do to make my life easier: whenever I make basic sauces at home, I make a double (or triple) batch and freeze the extra. Then next time I need some I just have to pull it out in the morning before work, and it's defrosted and ready to pour by the time I get home.
Very cool!!! I have never ever thought to make enchilada sauce (or enchiladas, actually) but I love the idea of making sauces at home! I'm sure it's much better than any store-bought!!
Renée ♥ says
Enchiladas are one of our go-to workday meals, Suzannah. They are so easy to make! I'll be posting a delicious (and pretty!) enchilada pie this Friday, so stay tuned.