Fellow enchilada enthusiasts, I’m so pleased to introduce this green enchilada sauce. This recipe is inspired by the green chili sauces I’ve enjoyed on recent trips to New Mexico. While the real-deal sauces often feature elusive New Mexican chili peppers, this flavorful sauce is easy to make with basic grocery store ingredients. It’s a pretty ideal alternative.
Try this green enchilada sauce in place of red enchilada sauce the next time you make your favorite enchilada recipe.
To make this recipe, I experimented with combinations of readily available chili peppers, tomatillos, broth, and flour with disappointing results. Finally, I found a great shortcut that yields the best flavor, thanks to a tip from Rick Bayless. This green enchilada sauce recipe takes advantage of store-bought salsa verde! And yet, the end result tastes much nicer than store-bought enchilada sauce.
This green enchilada sauce requires only three basic ingredients—salsa verde, sour cream and cilantro. I love how simple it is to make, especially since enchiladas are always a project. This recipe is gluten free, too, if that is a consideration for you. Let’s make some.
Green Enchilada Sauce Ingredients
You will need only three simple ingredients to make this lively green enchilada sauce. Here they are:
1) Salsa verde
Salsa verde, which is green salsa made from tomatillos, forms the backbone of this green enchilada sauce. Since salsa verde is bursting with flavor already, this sauce doesn’t need many additions.
You could make your own salsa verde for the freshest results, but since easy is the name of the game today, I suggest using store-bought. Choose a mild or medium option so your sauce doesn’t overpower the dish. For these photos, I used Whole Foods 365 brand of salsa verde, which is on the spicier side of medium.
2) Fresh cilantro
Adding a handful of cilantro to the blender ensures that your salsa mixture tastes fresh and vibrant. Since it’s all blended together, there’s no need to chop the cilantro before using.
3) Sour cream
After cooking down the salsa mixture, we’ll stir in some sour cream (or heavy cream or crème fraîche). The dairy rounds out the flavors and make this sauce lightly creamy. I love the subtle tanginess provided by sour cream or crème fraîche, but heavy cream works as well.
Of the three, sour cream requires one tiny extra step. Sour cream can curdle when it comes into contact with a hot mixture. To avoid curdling, simply temper the sour cream by stirring some of the warm salsa mixture into the sour cream. Then it’s ready to use.
If you are following a dairy-free or vegan diet, I believe you could use my vegan sour cream to make this recipe work for you.
Watch How to Make Easy Green Enchilada Sauce
Uses for Green Enchilada Sauce
It goes without saying that this green sauce is perfect for enchiladas. Since it is essentially warm, smooth, creamy salsa verde, it has other uses as well! I love to serve it as a warm salsa with tortilla chips or quesadillas. Drizzle it over your nachos, burritos, scrambled or fried eggs.
Green enchilada sauce goes particularly well with recipes featuring sweet potato or butternut squash, red bell pepper, spinach, black beans or cilantro. These enchilada recipes are perfect candidates for this green sauce:
Please let me know how your enchilada sauce turns out in the comments! I really love hearing from you.
Easy Green Enchilada Sauce
- Prep Time: 8 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 2 ⅓ cups 1x
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Gluten Free
This green enchilada sauce is so easy to make with three simple ingredients! It will take your enchiladas to the next level. Recipe yields about 2 ⅓ cups.
- 24 ounces (3 cups) mild to medium salsa verde, either jarred or homemade
- ⅓ cup fresh cilantro leaves (some tender stems are ok)
- ¼ cup sour cream, heavy cream or crème fraîche
- In a blender, combine the salsa verde and cilantro. Blend until smooth.
- Transfer the mixture to a large skillet and bring it to a simmer over medium heat. Continue simmering, stirring often, for about 5 to 7 minutes, until the mixture is reduced by about one-third.
- If you’re using sour cream, temper it by mixing about equal parts warm salsa with the sour cream, then stir it into the sauce. ( Or, if you’re using heavy cream or crème fraîche, you can stir it directly into the warm sauce). Use the enchilada sauce immediately, or let it cool to room temperature then refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Recipe adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless.
Make it dairy free/vegan: I haven’t tried to be sure, but I believe that my vegan sour cream would work well in place of conventional sour cream.
Would Greek yogurt work as a substitute for the sour cream?
Yes, I think so!
Your enchiladas look so festive with both green and red in the same pan. Great idea. I love green enchilada sauce…I’ll check it out soon! Happy Holidays!
I hope you love it!
I’m whole-food plant based so I’m going to try using Kite Hill almond yogurt UI make this. I’m very excited this could be so easy!! Mite add diced avocado to it after blending!!
Let me know what you think once you try it!
Please don’t post unless you have actually made this recipe….by posting 5 stars then talking about how the recipe “looks good” you are skewing the search results for people who are actually looking for great recipes. Thanks
Makes me want to eat Mexican. This looks too easy to be good, but having tried a couple of your other recipes, I will believe that it is. I had a friend who made some enchiladas with some canned stuff and grated cheese. It wasn’t Mexican but is was very tasty. Thanx!
Honestly, it’s great sauce! Thanks, Jay. Hope you love it.
Neil & Bhavini
Absolutely FANTASTIC recipe! Just like the enchiladas verdes from my hometown of San Antonio, Texas. We have two boys–a 4 year old and a 2 year old–who are picky eaters, but this was a TOTAL hit with them! We paired this sauce with your Veggie Black Bean Enchiladas recipe and topped them with pepitas before baking. Before serving, we garnished with cilantro and drizzled them with a touch of sour cream. What a hit! Thank you Cookie & Kate for another masterpiece. We found your blog at the beginning of the pandemic, bought your cookbook, and have tried so many of your recipes, all of which we adore. Thank you so much for sharing your talent to those of us who are novices in the kitchen!
That sounds delicious! Thank you for sharing, Neil. I appreciate all your support and following along.
Fellow KC girl here, now living in NM. I love using salsas as a shortcut to enchilada sauce! ps. love that you show Christmas enchiladas in the last pic – best way to eat them!
I would love to make this sauce but I live in the UK and I can’t buy fresh tomatillos (sad face!). Other than buying the ready made jar version, do you have any suggestions for a substitute?
Hi! I don’t have another version other than Homemade Salsa Verde or this recipe. Sorry!
Just made this tonight and I can confirm it’s terrific! I used full fat Greek yogurt and the results were great.
I used it with the sweet potato and poblano recipe from Love Real Food, and I liked it even better than the original sauce. You get a lovely bite from the tomatillos.
Word of caution that my jar of salsa was 1.75 cups only (I compensated with a jar of NM chiles and water) – you may need 2 jars for 3 cups of salsa.
Hooray! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I love that idea and creativity. I will need to try it!
I am from New Mexico and live in New York now. I still have family there so I carry the frozen green chile with me when I visit. For last two years Costco (seasonal, around this time of the year) has been selling flame roasted green chile and it’s really good. It’s spicy so I mix it with cream of mashroom to make the sauce. One jar, so many ways to use it….
Thank you for this!
I enjoy all your recipes. This one was a simple yet Yummy sauce. I’ll be making this for my green enchiladas from now on!
You’re welcome, Currer! I appreciate you taking the time to review.
Would Greek yogurt work instead of sour cream? I have been substituting it in everything I make that calls for sour cream, partly because I always have it on hand.
You can try it. I prefer sour cream here. Let me know what you think!
Great recipe! I used Rick Bayless’ jarred roasted tomatillo salsa and heavy whipping cream with a couple tablespoons cream cheese for the tang. Worked great with our roasted zucchini enchilada casserole!
Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it.