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Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce is a simple yet outstanding dinner recipe for the whole family! You'll flip over how easy it is to make homemade red sauce.

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce on a plate

The kids and I were cruising around in the car the other day when I was suddenly inspired to tune into the local oldies station playing hits from the 60s. It used to be a favorite of mine growing up – what can I say, Chubby Checker’s hits span generations. That said, you can imagine my surprise when, instead of hearing something from The Temptations, Beatles, or Beach Boys, RUN-AROUND BY THE BLUES TRAVELER CAME ON.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I specifically remember the first time I ever heard Run-Around, which was at my 7th grade Jr. High mixer. And now I’m hearing it on the local oldies station. Great! Just great. Where’s my night cream.

Unable to accept what I was hearing, I did some digging and it turns out the station switched over to playing classic hits like 20 years ago. So I guess I’m just regular old and not oldies old. Whew?

Anyway, today I’m sharing a CLASSIC recipe that will NEVER get old – Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce! Like a little black dress, this is a recipe that everyone needs on standby. It’s so simple, so scrumptious, and will never let you down. Plus, I pinky promise you will never, ever, ever buy canned enchilada sauce again once you get a taste homemade made from 100% pantry staples. GAHHH, so good!

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce in a casserole dish

I first shared the recipe for homemade red sauce in my Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas recipe and, honest to goodness, I think about this sauce at least once a week. It’s full of warming spices, is thick and luscious, and has such great depth of flavor. The sauce combined with corn tortillas and lots of cheese makes for the most incredible, comforting, meatless, gluten free dinner. I hope you’ll give these a try ASAP.

Fork taking a bit of cheese enchiladas

Tips for Making Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce:

  1. What kind of cheese. The short answer is, any kind you like! The long answer is I typically use a Mexican Cheese blend including Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Asadero, and Queso Quesadilla cheeses. I have also made these enchiladas with Supremo’s Oaxaca and Asadero cheese blend which is fantastic.
  2. What kind of tortillas. Enchiladas are typically made with corn tortillas though if you prefer flour tortillas (which are not gluten free, FYI) then you should go for it! I use Mission’s “super soft” line of GF corn tortillas which are nice and pliable although yes, they still crack a little bit after rolling. It’s ok though because they’re smothered with sauce and cheese and nobody will ever know the difference. If you’re using standard corn tortillas, wrap several in a paper towel then microwave for 15-20 seconds or until warm and pliable before filling and rolling.
  3. Red Sauce ingredients. As I mentioned, my homemade red sauce is made with 100% pantry staples. Chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic and onion powders, salt, tomato paste, and chicken broth. It’s thickened with a little gluten free flour and made in under 10 minutes. Feel free to make several days ahead of time – this sauce also freezes really well.
  4. Hot or not? I use mild chili powder in the red sauce to keep the spice level at a warming 2-3 on a scale from 1-10 with 10 being super spicy. Feel free to use hot chili powder and/or add a pinch of cayenne pepper to spice things up.

Who’s ready to dig into a plate of this deliciousness?!

Inside of a cheese enchilada

How to Make the Red Sauce:

Start the red sauce by heating 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour OR all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour) then whisk slowly and constantly for a minute. Next add 3 Tablespoons chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon each onion powder and dried oregano, a scant 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder and cumin then whisk until the spices are very fragrant, 1-2 minutes.

Add 1/4 cup tomato paste then whisk to combine, and then slowly stream in 2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to make this dish vegetarian,) while whisking to create a smooth sauce. Turn the heat up slightly to bring to a bubble, then turn back down to medium and simmer until the sauce has slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Again, you can make this ahead of time – just warm it back up before using.

Assembly:

Spread 1/2 cup red sauce into the bottom of a 9×13″ baking dish then scoop 1/4 cup cheese blend into the center of a corn tortilla and roll snugly. Place seam side down into the baking dish then continue until the dish has been filled up. You should end up with 14-16 enchiladas.

As you can see, there’s a little bit of cracking and that’s OK! You will never know in the final dish. Next, generously spoon red sauce over the tortillas ensuring they’re completely covered, as any uncovered portions of tortilla will end up tough and hard after baking.

Last step is to sprinkle 1 cup shredded cheese on top of the enchiladas then cover with nonstick sprayed foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Dish the enchiladas up then DIG IN! I hope you love this incredible, comforting, totally tasty gluten free dish! Enjoy!

Overhead photo of a baking dish of Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce

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Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce

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Description

Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce is a simple yet outstanding dinner recipe for the whole family! Easy, gluten free, and meatless too.

Ingredients

serves 4-6

  • 14-16 white corn tortillas (I use Mission GF Super Soft Tortillas)
  • 16oz shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • For the Red Enchilada Sauce:
    • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 2 Tablespoons gluten-free flour OR all-purpose flour (dish will not be GF if using AP flour)
    • 3 Tablespoons chili powder (see notes)
    • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste
    • 2 cups chicken broth

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees then spray a 9x13" baking dish, or two smaller casserole dishes, with nonstick spray and set aside.
  2. For the Red Enchilada Sauce: Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat then add flour and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Add seasonings - chili powder through cumin - then whisk until the spices are toasted and very fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add tomato paste then whisk until combined, and then slowly stream in chicken broth while whisking to create a smooth sauce. Turn heat up to medium-high then simmer until sauce has thickened, 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Cool slightly - can be made up to several days ahead of time. Warm before using.
  3. Assembly: Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce into the bottom of the baking dish then reserve 1 cup shredded cheese and set aside. Place 1 tortilla on a plate or cutting board then add 1/4 cup shredded cheese into the center and roll snugly. Place seam-side down into the baking dish then continue until the dish has been filled.
  4. Spoon enchilada sauce over the tops of the tortillas ensuring they are completely covered - uncovered spots will come out tough and hard - then sprinkle reserved cheese on top.
  5. Cover baking dish with nonstick sprayed foil then bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and sauce is hot and bubbly. Let enchiladas rest for 5 minutes then serve.

Notes

  • I use mild chili powder to keep this on the low end of the heat scale - maybe 2-3 on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being mega spicy. Use regular or hot chili powder to spice things up!

This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.

Photo collage of Cheese Enchiladas with Red Sauce