A healthy, authentic vegan enchilada sauce—made without oil or butter—that you can whip up in about 15 minutes.
Why I love a good enchilada sauce
Mexican food is a staple at our house. I find it’s one of the easiest and most satisfying ways to enjoy a whole food plant-based diet. Especially if you’re working on getting 3 servings of beans and legumes a day, which we do. And, which isn't that hard with recipes like my vegan Mexican breakfast casserole!
Having a tasty, spicy sauce at my fingertips makes serving up these dishes easy as uno-dos-tres.
In fact, according to research, there’s an “Hispanic Paradox” in regard to health and nutrition (among other factors.) Hispanics in the U.S. eating traditional diets tend to live longer, with fewer chronic diseases than the white population.
Turns out corn (non-GMO), tomatoes, and of course beans, are all quite healthy for us.
How to Make Enchilada Sauce without Oil or Butter
Enchilada sauce is basically a gravy made with a roux (a mixture of fat and flour). But rather than make our roux out of white flour and butter or oil, in this healthier plant-based recipe, we use a whole grain flour (blended with spices), plus tomato paste to stand in for the fat.
After that, the steps are the same as in most other gravies or enchilada sauces. You simply whisk your broth into the hot 'roux' a little at a time until you have a thick and bubbly sauce.
This vegan enchilada sauce is super simple, but following a few tips will help ensure a perfect result.
Choose your chili powder wisely. I used a relatively mild store-bought chili powder blend (chili pepper, cumin, oregano, coriander, etc.) for this recipe. Don't substitute very hot chili powders (such as 100% chipotle powder) unless you like your enchilada sauce VERY hot. Or, swap about ½ teaspoon of hot chili powder for ½ teaspoon of the regular chili powder if you enjoy a little heat.
Avoiding lumps. It's easier to produce a nice smooth sauce if the broth is hot. Also, don't use a non-stick pan as the coating might scratch--you're going to want to whisk quite vigorously to break up any lumps.
Safety first! To be safe, don't add flour to a dry pan and be careful not to spill it onto an open flame. It's flammable!
I hope you love this authentic tasting, but quite healthy, vegan enchilada sauce. Pour it over enchiladas (obvs!), my Mexican Breakfast Casserole, or anything that would taste better with a zesty, spicy tomato gravy.
Oil Free Vegan Enchilada Sauce
- 3 tablespoon flour WFPB compliant flour like whole wheat pastry flour, use gluten free flour if desired.
- 2 tablespoon chili powder see notes
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- pinch cayenne optional
- pinch cinnamon optional
- 3 tablespoon tomato paste (low sodium)
- 2 ½ cups low sodium vegetable broth see notes
- Sea salt to taste
- Mix the dry ingredients (flour and spices) in a small bowl, stir to combine, and set aside.
- Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat, and add the tomato paste. Stir to heat through, about 30 seconds.
- Add the flour and spices mixture, and stir well to combine and heat through, about 1 minute.
- When the mixture in the pan is hot and bubbling, begin adding the veggie broth a little (about ½ cup) at a time, whisking vigorously to break down any lumps. When the sauce is hot and bubbling, add more veggie broth and whisk. Repeat this step until all of the broth has been added to the pan.
- Cover and simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes to allow the flavors to marry.