our everyday life

How to Substitute Taco Sauce for Enchilada Sauce

by Susan Lundman, studioD

Whether you prefer authentic Mexican tacos and enchiladas, classic American styles with shredded iceberg lettuce and cheddar cheese or contemporary varieties made with any and all ingredients, you aren't confined to a single type of sauce as a topper. With a bit of alteration, all taco sauces, from spices in a foil packet to salsas to a simple dash of hot sauce, can form the base for a smooth, tomato-based enchilada sauce with Mexican spices or a slightly chunky, white enchilada sauce with bits of green chilies.


Since tacos need only use a tablespoon or two of sauce, as opposed to 2 or 3 cups for a pan of enchiladas, you need to increase the amount of taco sauce in order to use it for enchiladas. Use two or three packets of dried taco powder or cans of taco sauce, and add additional liquid, either tomato sauce, tomato paste, chicken broth or salsa. Taste the sauce as you go to see if you should add more chile powder, garlic powder, cumin, cooked chilies, salt or pepper.


While enchilada sauce is sometimes smoother than taco sauce, the consistency is really up to you. You need enough liquid so the tortillas in the enchiladas can absorb the sauce and so that sauce remains on top of the dish, but chunkiness gives the sauce a more interesting taste and texture. For more texture, add salsa straight from the carton, a few tomatoes, a small onion, a clove of garlic and cooked chilies and pulse them in a blender for no more than 20 seconds.

Red Sauce

To increase the quantity of red taco sauce and turn it into a flavorful sauce for enchiladas, put the taco sauce into a blender and add an entire can of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce as well as additional spices to taste. Add enough water, broth, or tomato sauce so you have enough sauce to spread in the bottom of the enchilada pan and to cover the enchiladas with enough sauce so it fills the spaces between the enchiladas.

Green Sauce

Even if you begin with a red taco sauce, you can still make a green salsa verde or green tomatillo sauce -- the additional ingredients will turn the sauce green. Add commercial green salsa to the taco sauce along with chicken broth, or add cooked tomatillos, canned green chilies and six or seven sprigs of cilantro and pulse the ingredients for about 20 seconds in a blender or food processor.

White Sauce

A white, cream sauce is the traditional topping for enchiladas Suizas. Turn the taco sauce into a green sauce and stir in plain, unsweetened yogurt or sour cream to get the consistency and quantity you need. Warm the sauce slowly at low heat before pouring it on the enchiladas, made with tortillas already softened by frying. Bake the enchiladas, sprinkled with a white cheese such as Monterey Jack, in a 400-degree-Fahrenheit oven for only 10 minutes.


About the Author

Susan Lundman began writing about her passions of cooking, gardening, entertaining and recreation after working for a nonprofit agency, writing grants and researching child development issues. She has written professionally for six years since then. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images