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.
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.