Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce

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Dive into the world of homemade enchilada sauce, a fresh, flavorful condiment that will make store-bought sauce seem super boring. A deeply satisfying meal is never far away if you have a jar of this easy enchilada sauce in the fridge.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce | @HealthyDelish


What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • Full of Flavor: The fire-roasted tomatoes and ancho chiles give this sauce a flavorful kick
  • Healthy Choice: Made from scratch with nutritious ingredients, it’s low sodium and free from preservatives
  • Saves Money: It’s far more economical than bottled sauces and twice as tasty.

Guide to Making The Perfect Enchilada Sauce

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. This homemade enchilada sauce is earthy, 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
Pork Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce

Ingredients You’ll Need

Ancho Chile Peppers: The rockstar ingredient! They bring a mild, sweet heat to our enchilada sauce. When buying, always select chiles that are flexible like a raisin as this indicates freshness.
Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes: One of my absolute favorite ingredients! They add a smoky depth to our sauce. Substitute with regular canned tomatoes if you like – just remember, you’re compromising on the smoky flavor.
Garlic: Because what’s a sauce without garlic, amiright? Trust me on this, use fresh garlic here – it really makes a difference.
Cumin: The flavor boss! It’s smoky, earthy, and warm and blends perfectly with our chiles. No substitutions for this one!
Low Sodium Chicken Stock: Thins out the sauce while adding flavor. Vegetarian? Use vegetable stock instead.
Apple Cider Vinegar: This brings a tangy edge that balances the earthiness of other ingredients. Sub it with white wine vinegar if you need to.
Salt: To taste – we leave this up to you based on your dietary needs, but remember that salt enhances the flavor of other ingredients and isn’t just to make things taste salty.

Recipe Tips

  • It’s always good to have a bit of extra chicken broth or water on hand when reheating this sauce, since it thickens with time.
  • Freeze leftovers in ice cube trays for individual portion sizes.
  • If you can’t find Ancho chiles, try substituting with other mild dried chiles. Guajillo is a great option!

More Recipes You’ll Love:

Chicken Enchilada Sweet Potato Noodles
Chicken Enchilada Sweet Potato Noodles
Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce 1

Homemade Enchilada Sauce

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Servings: 8 servings


  • 4 dried Ancho chile peppers stems and seeds removed
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 can 15 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 clove garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ cup low sodium chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • salt


  • 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.
  • Add the peppers, tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and 1 cup of the cooking liquid to a blender container. Cover and blend on high until smooth.
  • 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.


Small packets of dried ancho chili 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.
Sauce will keep refrigerated for about a week or can be frozen for several months
Tried this recipe?Mention @HealthyDelish or tag #HealthyDelish!

Hi, I'm Lauren!

I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie. Read more...


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16 thoughts on “Meatballs in Homemade Enchilada Sauce”

  1. Wow! That sauce was awesome!! So easy to prepare as well. I used premade meatballs because it was what I had on hand. This was really flavorful. Thank you so much for sharing your recipe!

  2. I just made this sauce, so easy, so good. It yielded 2 pints. I’m using some in my super bowl chili and salsa. Very nice and surprisingly simple, I’m so glad I finally tried dried chilies.

  3. You and I share the DIY spirit. It’s so great to know you’ve made it exactly the way you like it, isn’t it? I’m going to give your enchilada sauce a try and shortly thereafter MEATBALLS. Because meatballs will always be a hit with five sons!

  4. I adore meatballs, but never thought of combining them with enchilada sauce! Now I will be thinking of this yummy entree all day long!

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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