December 22


Monika’s Molecular Meals: Restaurant-Style Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce

By Monika Knapp

December 22, 2021

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Easy & Delicious Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce

Monika’s Molecular Meals: Restaurant-Style Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce

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A piping hot plate of rich, cheesy enchiladas is not complete without one thing:

The sauce.

Perhaps even more important than the enchiladas themselves, a proper enchilada sauce should at once cut through the richness of the cheese, meat (or veggies) and tortilla, while also adding a nice spicy kick to round out the flavor—making for a sublime bite of food, when done right.

And while you could just order takeout from your favorite Mexican restaurant… making your own enchilada sauce at home is actually really simple!

If you’re gluten-free, it’s probably safer to make at home, too.

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That’s because lots of store-bought enchilada sauces contain some form of wheat-based thickening agent. So if you want to buy it at the store, you might be stuck staring at labels with a magnifying glass for an hour.

Fortunately, you do NOT need gluten to make a delicious, rich, enchilada sauce with a mouthfeel to match up with your favorite Mexican restaurant’s (or your favorite grocery store brand).

This red enchilada sauce has a little heat, a lot of flavor, and comes together in just about half an hour.

Here’s how it’s done:

Monika’s Molecular Meals: Restaurant-Style Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce

FTH’s Restaurant-Style Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce

Equipment Needed: mortar & pestle, coffee grinder, blender or food processor; large saute pan or Dutch oven; fine mesh sieve

Recipe Time: 30 minutes

Makes: About 4 cups


  • 4-5 dried pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed (see Recipe Notes)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 28-ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes, or whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 Tbsp Paleo Taco Seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
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1) Toast the chiles.

Place the chiles in a microwave-safe bowl, and cover with about 1 inch of water. 

Microwave on high for about 15 seconds, or just until the chiles are steaming and pliable.

Cover them with plastic wrap and let steam for 2-3 minutes.

2) Blend the sauce.

Add the chiles and their soaking liquid to a blender or food processor, along with the garlic, tomatoes, and spices.

Blend until a smooth sauce forms.

3) Strain, cook, and serve!

Place a large saute pan or Dutch oven on the stove and heat the oil over medium heat until shimmering.

While holding a fine mesh strainer over the pot, strain the sauce directly into the pot.

Stir and taste, and add salt and sugar as needed. Then cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the sauce is about the consistency of tomato paste.

Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 10 more minutes.

Turn the heat off, then taste and adjust with more salt and/or sugar as needed.

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Recipe Notes

  • Most grocery stores sell dried chiles, and so does Amazon—but if you can’t find dried pasilla chiles, guajillo, ancho, or morita chiles would also work.
  • If you want to make this vegetarian-friendly, just use veggie stock instead of the chicken stock.
Monika’s Molecular Meals: Restaurant-Style Gluten-Free Enchilada Sauce

3 Ways To Use Up Leftover Enchilada Sauce That DON’T Involve Enchiladas…

You’ll almost certainly have leftover sauce if you’re not serving a crowd… so here are some fun and creative ways to use leftover sauce that don’t involve making enchiladas once a week for the next month (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course!):

1) Add to roast veggies

If there’s anything roast vegetables always need more of, it’s flavor. So after roasting whatever veggies you happen to have, try drizzling enchilada sauce on them and serve them burrito bowl-style with some rice!

You could also toss raw veggies with some sauce, then roast until golden brown and crispy.

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2) Use in other sauces

Is your tomato sauce tasting a little bland? Try boosting it up with a tablespoon or two of this enchilada sauce!

You could also add it to hummus, use to dress nachos, or even add to your favorite BBQ sauce for a subtle hint of spice and way more flavor.

3) Huevos rancheros

By far my favorite way to use up leftover enchilada sauce is making huevos rancheros on the weekend.

Simply add 1-2 Tbsp of avocado or coconut oil to a pan, then add in whatever leftover sauce you have. When it’s hot and bubbling, dip tortillas in it, then plate with a fried egg on each tortilla, plus more sauce.

Garnish with sliced avocado, cotija cheese, and cilantro, and you have a delicious, nutritious and super quick gluten-free breakfast! (And it’s pretty Instagram-worthy too, for all you foodie photographers!)

And the best part is, even though this dish tastes rich and indulgent… it’s actually secretly slimming, and can help you lose weight faster!

That’s because of the eggs, which are PACKED with protein (one egg provides 6-8 grams of protein at only 70 calories)… and studies show that adding just a little bit of protein to your diet, can help you burn more calories naturally, without exercise.

If you know me, you know I’m always looking for diet “hacks” that don’t involve major restrictions, cutting an entire food group out of my diet, or otherwise sacrificing the delicious foods I usually like to eat (it’s just not happening)… and this one has got to be my favorite. 🙂

Especially because there are SO many delicious, protein-packed foods out there… like cheese(!), nuts, and of course, meat. 

So if you want to know exactly how much protein to add to your diet to burn hundreds more calories the next day (up to 441 more if you eat the right amount!!)… 

Plus two more of my personal favorite “hacks” that can help you avoid the “quarantine 15,” and stay trim without exercise or starving yourself…

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Monika Knapp

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