A deeply satisfying meal is never far away if you have a jar of this easy-to-make homemade red enchilada sauce in the fridge.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce | @HealthyDelish Pork Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce | @HealthyDelish

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A few weeks ago, a friend asked me why I like to make things like enchilada sauce from scratch. My simple answer? Because I can. Of course there are added benefits like knowing exactly what’s in it, being able to control sodium levels, or the fact that is usually ends up tasting way better. But really, I do it for the simple satisfaction that it gives me to know I can make it myself.

I’ve been making my own green enchilada sauce for a few years, but I just started experimenting with red versions. I’m kicking myself for waiting so long, because this sauce is ridiculously good – I’m not sure if I’ll be able to go back to canned sauce. It’s earthy and smokey and perfectly balanced. The flavor is big and bold, but not spicy (although you can add a pinch of cayenne pepper if you want more heat). It’s also really easy to make – even easier than marinara! And the satisfaction you’ll get from making your own enchilada sauce? Priceless. 

I’ve been on a meatball kick lately, and adore cooking them in this sauce and serving them over soft polenta. It’s equally as delicious over spinach, poblano, and cheese enchiladas.

Pork Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce | @HealthyDelish

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Homemade Enchilada Sauce Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Small packets of dried ancho chile peppers can often be found in the spice or Mexican section of your grocery store. I've also had good luck finding them in bulk bins.

10 minPrep Time

15 minCook Time

25 minTotal Time

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  • 4 dried Ancho chile peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can (15 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt
  • 1 pound ground pork or turkey
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, minced
  • 1 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups homemade enchilada sauce (recipe above)


  1. In a large pan set over high heat, toast the peppers 1-2 minutes or until warm and fragrant. Add the water and reduce the heat to low. Cook 10 minutes, or until peppers are soft and plump.
  2. Add the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and 1 cup of the cooking liquid to a blender container. Cover and blend on high until smooth.
  3. Return to the pan and add the chicken stock. Bring to a simmer; cook 10 minutes. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and season to taste with salt.
  4. Add the pork (or turkey), onion, carrot, garlic, and jalapeno to a mixing bowl. Use your hand or a sturdy wooden spoon to combine. Mix in the breadcrumbs and egg.
  5. Gently roll the mixture into 16 balls (about 2 inches each) and arrange in a large pan. Pour the enchilada sauce over top. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook until the meatballs are cooked through – about 15 minutes.


Sauce will keep refrigerated for about a week or can be frozen for several months.