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The Complete Guide To Canning Homemade Enchilada Sauce

4.43 from 7 votes

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Canning your own made to order enchilada sauce makes it easy to whip up a Mexican fiesta in no time. Learn how to can homemade enchilada sauce with this step-by-step guide.

tomatoes and peppers on wooden table

My current quest is actually to replace all of the things that I threw out of my pantry with healthy, real food alternatives.

Well, OK, so maybe not everything. I’m not sure that anyone could come up with a healthy version of sweetened condensed milk. Le sigh.

While some things have been relatively easy, some things have presented me with more of a challenge.

Especially the mixes and boxed meals I used to use on THOSE nights.

You know the ones I mean.

I know that if I had those available I would be less likely to hit a drive through on the way home or slap a PB&J on the plate and call it dinner.

*cue dramatic music and announcer with really deep voice* And thus the quest was begun. *more dramatic music*

As I come up with replacements for those cans, boxes, and packages I will share them with you.

Pinky promise.

To get this thing kicked off I’m sharing my homemade enchilada sauce. Cuz, you know, Mexican food is my favorite food group! 

And we love this homemade sauce because it is so much better than store bought sauce!

I love having this sauce on hand, because I use it in a lot of Mexican recipes. Beef enchiladas, chicken enchiladas, plain ole cheese enchiladas.

I also add it to beans and ground beef for a quick chili, and put it on tacos in place of taco sauce.

I chose to make a ridiculously large quantity so I could pressure can it and keep some on hand. Feel free to scale it (way) down. Or up.

NOTE: This red enchilada sauce recipe needs to be pressure canned.

jars of home canned enchilada sauce on counter

Homemade Enchilada Sauce


  • 20 pounds ripe tomatoes
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large head of garlic
  • 5 Tbsp Chili powder (use more or less to your liking)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
  • hot peppers (optional) 


Coring and Removing Skins

The first thing you’ll want to do is to slip the skins from the tomatoes. It takes a little time, but it makes it easier later on.

Put water in a dutch oven and bring to a boil. Put cold water in your sink and add some ice.

I keep old milk bottles filled with water in the freezer for things like this. When you’re finished with it just re-freeze it.

When the water comes to a boil, put some tomatoes in it. Don’t crowd them. Leave them in for a slow count of 30.

tomatoes in pot of boiling water
heatin’ them up

Then put them in the sink or bowl of cold water.

tomatoes in sink of ice water
coolin’ them down

When they’re cool enough to handle, get your cool little corer gadget and take out the cores.

coring tomatoes
easy as 1…
coring tomatoes
coring tomatoes

Next, slip the skins off. Just grab them and pull. If you’ve gotten most of the core they should come off easily.

slipping skins of tomatoes
slips right off

Quarter the tomatoes and put them in a large stockpot. Use a potato masher or some similar device and smash a bunch of them in the bottom of the pot.

You want to make sure that you have enough liquid in the bottom so that they don’t stick and burn. Cuz sticking and burning is bad.

layer of cut up tomatoes in large stock pot
no sticking here!

Next, take your onion and chop it up. Just a rough chop. Everything is going to be pureed later. Then peel the garlic cloves.

chopped onions and garlic
ready to go in the pot

Throw them in the pot. Well, not really throw because throwing food is not allowed in the house. So place them gently into the pot.

If you are using peppers, now is the time to add those guys too. 

You can use a variety of your favorites here: mild, medium, or hot, green chilis, red chilis, Hatch chilis, jalapeno peppers, and any other red chili peppers you can name to come up with the perfect flavor just for you. 

Remember to use gloves when chopping and seeding hot peppers.

And don’t touch your eyes with your hands while you’re chopping those suckers up! It hurts BAD!

I actually don’t use any extra peppers in mine. I’m kinda wimpy when it comes to hot spicy stuff.

But you spice it up as much as you want. 

Now, bring it all to a boil over medium high heat.

tomatoes, onions, and garlic boiling in pot
really hot veggies!

Cooking & Pureeing

After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Leave the lid off so that some of the liquid boils away.

Take the pot off the heat and allow the tomatoes and stuff to cool for a few minutes.

Because now you’re going to put it all in the blender to puree it.

And if it’s too hot when you turn the blender on, the top of the blender will shoot off into the air with a sonic boom and the force of an atomic explosion and splatter tomato insides all over your ceiling.

Or so I’ve heard.

So, please, let it cool a little.

blender with tomato mixture
post blending with lid intact

If you want to take the seeds out, now is the time to do it.

Pour it into a food mill and press it into a clean stockpot to get all the seeds out and make it smooth.

food mill with tomato seeds
so may seeds…!

Or you can just get out your handy dandy immersion blender and leave everything right there in the pot. Which means lots less washing up to do!

And I’m telling y’all, since I got my immersion blender I will never go back to a food mill!

Bring it all back to a boil and reduce the heat again so it is just simmering. Simmer until it is the consistency that you want.

The time it takes to simmer down will depend on a couple of things.

Enchilada Sauce simmering in large pot
simmering down

The first is, are you using regular tomatoes or Roma or other paste type tomatoes? Regular tomatoes have more liquid in them than the paste tomatoes do, so they will take longer to thicken up.

And second, exactly how thick do you like your sauce? I like mine fairly thick, because I use it for other things besides enchiladas. So, when I go to make my enchiladas I usually thin it our a little.

If you are using pasty type tomatoes and you like your sauce on the thinner side, it might be ready for you as soon as you have pureed it.

On the other hand, if you are using regular tomatoes and you like your sauce thick, it could take and hour or so to get it to the right consistency.

But whichever way you like it, which it gets to the thickness that you are looking for, it’s time to add the chili powder and salt.

Now give it a taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking.

When the sauce is perfect, it’s time to put the enchilada sauce into pint sized canning jars. I use pints because that gives me roughly the same amount of sauce as a can from the store.

You can store it in the freezer or can it. If you are going to freeze it, leave about an inch and a half headroom so the jars don’t crack. If you are going to can it, follow the instructions below.

If you’re new to canning or just need a refresher, you can go here for information and general safety guidelines.

Canning Enchilada Sauce

Canning enchilada sauce is pretty straight forward. For this recipe you need to use a pressure canner. Can in pint jars.

Process your lids as directed by the manufacturer.

Wash and rinse your jars and keep hot til needed.

Ladle the hot enchilada sauce into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch of headspace.

Wipe the rims with a clean damp cloth and seat the lids.

Put on the rings and tighten finger tight.

jars in pressure canner
in the canner they go

Process at 6lbs pressure for 20 minutes, following the directions that came with your canner.

And be sure to adjust the pressure for your altitude using this chart.

After processing, allow the canner to cool down on it’s open. Then remove the lid and life the jars straight up and out of the canner with your jar lifter.

Put on a layer of towels to cool, undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. After 24 hours, check the seals.

Anything that isn’t sealed goes in the fridge to be used within 2 or 3 days. Everything needs to be washed, labeled, and put in a cool, dry, place out of direct sunlight.


Frequently Asked Questions About Canning Enchilada Sauce

How long does canned enchilada sauce last?

Home canned enchilada sauce will last for years if properly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sun. Most people suggest you use it within 2 years for best nutrition.

Can I freeze this sauce instead of canning?

Absolutely! Put in freezer containers or canning jars to freeze. If using jars, leave an inch or two of headroom so it can expand without cracking the jar.
To thaw, leave on the counter at room temperature for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge.

How can I fix bitter enchilada sauce?

If your enchilada sauce is bitter, you can add just a smidge of sugar to correct it.

Can I waterbath can this enchilada sauce?

No. This sauce does not have the correct pH to safely waterbath can. It must be pressure canned.

More canning recipes you should try:

Canning Homemade Enchilada Sauce

This sauce is great for either freezing or canning, and the fire-factor is whatever level you want it to be.
4.43 from 7 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Course Pantry Staple
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 8 pints
Calories 231 kcal


  • 20 pounds tomatoes
  • 1 large onion roughly chopped
  • 1 large head garlic peeled
  • 5 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp sea salt
  • peppers (optional)


  • Slip the skins on the tomatoes.
  • Core and quarter and add to stockpot.
  • Using a potato masher, mash some of the tomatoes so there is liquid in the bottom of the pot.
  • Add chopped onions, peeled garlic, and seeded and chopped hot peppers if using.
  • Bring to a boil, stirring frequently so it doesn’t stick.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Don’t cover the pot so it can start to reduce.
  • Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes.
  • In batches, place in a blender and puree.
  • If you want to remove the seeds, pour into a food mill and press into a clean stockpot.
  • Return to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer until it is the consistency that you want.
  • Add chili powder and salt. If you like to heat things up, you can add any peppers that you want at this time. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  • Put in pint jars and process at 6 pounds pressure for 20 minutes. Remember to adjust for your altitude.


This enchilada sauce can be canned or frozen.  If you don’t add the chili powder, it makes a great tomato soup.
As written, this recipe needs to be pressure canned. To use a waterbath canner, add 1 Tbsp bottled lemon juice to each pint jar before filling with sauce. Then process for 35 minutes.


Calories: 231kcalCarbohydrates: 50gProtein: 11gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2320mgPotassium: 2827mgFiber: 16gSugar: 31gVitamin A: 10929IUVitamin C: 158mgCalcium: 142mgIron: 4mg
Keyword canning recipe, enchilada sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
By on March 25th, 2022

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