The 7 Best Canned Enchilada Sauce in 2020

Enchiladas are a Mexican dish that is made from corn or flour tortillas wrapped around a filling (such as meat) and a special enchilada sauce. Add a sprinkle of cheese on top and you've got yourself a delicious enchilada.

Mexican culture is big on spending quality time with friends and family, and its food can facilitate this. Enchiladas are a great dish to cook up and serve for a family party or dinner with friends. No wonder it's a national favourite in Mexico and utterly loved in Southern states in the US.

An easy way you can enjoy enchiladas at home and easily is by using canned enchilada sauces rather than make it by scratch at home. In this list, we will go through the best canned enchilada sauce and present the different types of the sauce that are available on the market for you to enjoy.

Best Pick

Rosarita Enchilada Sauce

The best pick is the Rosarita Enchilada Sauce. This sauce is mild so it can be enjoyed by everyone, even children who may not be able to handle spice. It also only has 20 calories per serving, is perfect for those on a keto diet and is easy to use and incorporate into many dishes.

Budget Pick

Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce

The best buy is the Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce in Medium Red. This brand of canned enchilada sauce comes in both the red and green version and also offers other degrees of spice so you can cater it to your taste buds. It is also low in calories, sodium and sugar so you can enjoy the sauce without a worry.

Quick Comparison: Top 7 Best Canned Enchilada Sauce

1. Rosarita Enchilada Sauce  

To begin, let's focus on the Rosarita Enchilada Sauce. This sauce has a tomato base which is only mildly hot, making it a great option for smaller children and for those who can't handle spice well.

To use, simply spread on your tortillas and add your fillings as usual. With 20 calories per serving and suitable for the keto diet, this enchilada sauce is guilt-free and safe to consume. It also has zero grams of trans fat and no added sugars.

With only 430mg of sodium and 2g of sugar per serving, the Rosarita Enchilada Sauce is a great option for you to use without worrying about what you are consuming. Lastly, this sauce is made from tomato puree, red chilli puree, canola oil, dehydrated onion, salt, spices and garlic puree. It also has autolyzed yeast extract, guar gum, xanthan gum and carob bean gum. The yeast extract is a form of MSG and the gums are included to thicken the sauce.

Pros

  • This product is suitable for those who only eat keto-friendly foods.
  • Is only mildly spicy which is perfect for smaller kids.
  • Is very easy to use.
  • Is only 20 calories per serving, has zero grams of trans fat and has no added sugars.

Cons

  • May not be as flavourful for those with more developed tastes.
  • Includes MSG.

2. Old El Paso Enchilada Sauce  

The next product in this list is the enchilada sauce by Old El Paso. This canned sauce comes in a variety of types such as green, mild and medium.

The medium option offers a little more heat, offering the best option if you want to experiment with more spice but do not want to go overboard.

This sauce is made from water, tomato puree, sugar, salt, modified corn starch, chilli powder, vinegar, soybean oil, onion powder, hydrolysed corn protein, citric acid, natural flavour and added colours. With 20 calories per serving (which is about a quarter of a cup), 290mg of sodium, 1g of sugar and 4g of carbohydrates. These are all on the lower end and won’t be harmful to your waistline or to your health, as long as you eat it in moderation.

A unique aspect of this sauce is that it can be used in a variety of Mexican-inspired dishes, not just enchiladas. This is great if you like to experiment in the kitchen or like to cook Mexican for you and your family regularly.

Pros

  • Comes in a variety of spice levels and both red and green sauces.
  • Offers a moderate amount of spice which is great if you are beginning to experiment with heat without going overboard
  • Comes with around four servings per can.
  • Is versatile and can be used on other dishes aside from enchiladas.
  • Is low in calories, sodium, sugar and carbohydrates so you can enjoy the sauce without feeling guilty

Cons

  • Includes added colouring.
  • Must keep refrigerated after opening the can.
  • Contains soy which may be harmful with allergies to soy.

3. Las Palmas Enchilada Sauce  

This green enchilada sauce has a deep and spicy flavour which is not too overpowering and harsh, so you can enjoy the heat of the sauce without suffering too much.

It is made from green chile peppers, soybean oil, salt, sugar, jalapeno peppers, corn syrup solids, monosodium glutamate, garlic powder and a few more ingredients.

Made from the traditional recipes of her family, talented housewife Rosa Ramirez began to make and share her enchilada sauce with her neighbours in California in the early twentieth century. From the positive responses of the sauce, she later began to produce the sauce and sold it throughout the country so the authentic Mexican flavour she grew up with could be shared in many homes across the country.

This particular enchilada sauce has a zesty flavour that is unique to other enchilada sauces. It is also versatile and works great with other dishes such as casseroles, soups, lasagne or even as a topping over a delicious bowl of macaroni and cheese.

Each serving size is around a quarter of a cup and it comes with 25 calories, 340mg of sodium, 3g of carbohydrates and 0g of sugar which is fantastic.

Pros

  • Made with jalapeno peppers for an authentic and hot Mexican flavour.
  • Is versatile and can be used over many types of dishes including lasagne, casseroles and soups
  • Has a unique zesty flavour.
  • Low in calories, sugar, carbs and sodium.

Cons

  • Contains soy which could cause problems for those with soy allergies.
  • Contains corn syrup solids which can be linked to diabetes and weight gain if over consumed

4. Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce - Mild  

Another fantastic canned red enchilada sauce is by Hatch. If you aren’t particularly great with spice or prefer milder sauces and flavours, Hatch Enchilada Sauce may be a great option for you. This is also a great option for those who cannot eat spicy food due to health issues.

This sauce is made from ground chile peppers and can be used both for enchiladas and as a marinade for many other dishes. 

To use as a marinade, spread onto meat or vegetables, let it sit for a few hours, and then grill as usual. If you worry that you won’t get authentic flavours through canned goods, you’ll be pleased to know that the Hatch Red Enchilada Sauce is made in New Mexico by third-generation farmers who harvest chiles.

Tomato puree, modified corn starch, citric acid (which can be used both as a preservative and as a flavouring), garlic powder, salt, soybean oil, sugar and yeast extract among a couple more ingredients. Each can have around seven servings, with each serving offering 25 calories, 260mg of sodium and 3g of carbohydrates.

Pros

  • This enchilada sauce can also be used as a marinade, making it versatile and unique
  • It's a great option for those who do not like very spicy food or have health issues that prevent you from eating spicy food
  • Is low in calories, carbs and salt.

Cons

  • Contains preservatives and soy products.

5. La Victoria Traditional Red Enchilada Sauce - Mild  

Another canned red enchilada sauce is the mild La Victoria Traditional Red Enchilada  Sauce. This product is Kosher certified which is a great option if you are Jewish and is also gluten-free, making it suitable for those with celiac disease too.

Made from water, red chile peppers, California chile peppers, soybean oil, distilled vinegar and salt to name some, this canned sauce has only 25 calories per serving, 460mg of sodium, 1g of sugar and 3g of carbs.

Be careful with the packaging of this product, however, as you may find that it is flimsy and could cause the sauce to spill or leak out.

Pros

  • Is mild in spice so you can serve it for everyone and even add your chiles to experiment with
  • Is suitable for those who are Jewish and who eat a Kosher diet.
  • Does not include any gluten.

Cons

  • This product contains soy.
  • The packaging may be insufficient and slightly problematic.

6. La Preferida Green Chile Enchilada Sauce  

Jalapenos are fantastic for adding some heat to any meal and they are known to be associated with the tastiest Mexican food. This is why La Preferida chooses to use jalapenos and a secret blend of spices for its unique flavour.

This particular product is a great in-between level when it comes to spicy food, making it a great option to serve up during dinner parties.

This sauce offers 80 calories per serving and also includes controversial artificial colours and caramel colouring that could cause some impacts to your health.

Pros

  • This enchilada sauce is not too mild and not too spicy. It’s the perfect balance in the middle
  • Uses real jalapenos for an authentic flavour.

Cons

  • Has 80 calories per serving which isn’t excessive, but can be considered a lot compared to some other brands of enchilada sauce
  • Contains caramel colouring and artificial colours.

7. La Preferida Red Chile Enchilada Sauce - Mild  

Just like its green counterpart, the red version of the sauce is also one to look out for. Made from chile paste, tomato paste and spices, this product is on the milder side but still packed with flavour.

To use, heat up the sauce in a pan before spreading onto your enchiladas. In fact, you could also use this sauce for other dishes such as burritos, tacos, chicken, omelettes and even on hamburgers.

Just like the previous La Preferida enchilada sauce, the mild red version also has 80 calories per serving. On top of this, it had 5g of fibre and 2g of protein. The cans itself are made out of BPA-free can linings which may offer you some peace of mind.

Pros

  • Full of flavour despite being mild in spice.
  • This sauce is versatile and can be used on hamburgers, tacos, burritos, and more.
  • The cans are lined with BPA-free materials.

Cons

  • Best to heat up the sauce in a pan before using it. This may not be convenient to do each time
  • Has 80 calories per serving which is much more than many other enchilada sauce brands

Things to Consider Before Buying Canned Enchilada Sauce

Enchilada sauce is a big part of Mexican cuisine and is massively popular in modern America. If you've never had an enchilada before, they are rolled tortillas with a typically meaty or fish fillings with cheese sprinkled on top.

Now they come in varieties that include using refined beans, all types of meats such as pulled pork, chicken, beef and even seafood such as shrimp, prawns, and even vegetarian options that are stuffed with vegetables such as potatoes. Though newer versions do not need enchilada sauces to complete the meal, we recommend using canned enchilada sauce for an authentic taste and convenience.

Rolling tortillas around other types of food was part of Mexican food all the way back in 1800 B.C when some Mexican people began to roll corn tortillas around small fish.

Since then, thanks to the popularity of it in Mexico today and presumably because there was an influx of immigration where Mexican people settled in America, the dish has expanded in popularity and become a favourite for many families.

In this section of the article, we will be discussing certain factors you should consider before you go out to buy your own can of enchilada sauce. We hope you find this informative and insightful.

Red or Green? 

The first thing you should ask yourself before buying a can of enchilada sauce is whether you should go for the red version of the sauce or the green one.

The main difference between the two types is the main ingredients that they are made from. Red enchilada sauce is typically made from tomatoes and water - forming a tomato puree base in the sauce. The green version typically uses green peppers and jalapenos for a more zesty flavour.

To make choosing a little easier, try to think of which sauce base sounds more appealing to you. You may prefer the slightly sweeter aspect of tomatoes or perhaps you prefer a more tangy flavour. Whatever floats your boat, give the sauce with the most appeal a try.

Both types of sauces are great for when you have guests over for dinner. You may want to invest in both sauces for a little bit of variety.

Though both sauces are great with all types of fillings, enchilada sauce can oftentimes be versatile and used in other Mexican-style dishes. If this is the case, consider which types of meals and dishes you will use the sauce with aside from enchiladas. If you think a tomato base would work well in soups or a jalapeno bass with work for a tangy macaroni and cheese, choosing between the two sauces may be easier to do.

Ingredients 

The next important aspect to consider is the ingredients. This will not only determine how the sauce will taste, but it will also warn you of any ingredients that could cause allergies or lead to health problems.

Before buying a can of enchilada sauce, we recommend that you read through the ingredients list and to see if it is suitable for your needs, especially if you are planning on using the sauce to cook for other people. If your friends or children have certain dietary requirements this is especially important. Though we will go over this fully in the following section, checking the ingredients list is also great to determine whether a product is Kosher, Halal, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.

Mexican food is known to be spicy but taking care to go through the ingredients list will also determine the level of spice within the sauce. Perhaps you don’t enjoy spice perhaps you cannot eat it due to specific health conditions. Going through the ingredients list will help you make the right decision for you that you won’t regret.

There are a couple of ingredients we recommend that you look out for, though. Perhaps you should think twice about its products that include preservatives as this could lead to health issues such as weight gain if consumed in large quantities.

Versatility 

Enchilada sauce is essential to enchiladas as they offer a great authentic flavour that is essential for a truly appetising meal. However, a lot of enchilada sauces - both the red and green options - can be used on other Mexican-inspired meals too. Such meals can include over nachos either as a topping or a dipping sauce, in tacos, pozole which is a hearty soup and tortas, a type of grilled sandwich that could work really well with the hot kick from enchilada sauce.

Canned enchilada sauce is one of the easiest ways to get Mexican flavours at home without having to compromise your health or your bank to get a hold of the desirable Mexican flavours. Yet this is not just limited to Mexican food. Depending on the brand and type of enchilada sauce, you can add it onto macaroni cheese, all types of soups, many different types of casseroles and even on American style pizzas - either as a topping or as a dipping sauce.

Another way you could enjoy the sauce is by using it as a dipping sauce for vegetable spring rolls. Creating an enchilada sauce fondue or as great party food.

Look out for flavour, consistency and whether you can eat the enchilada sauce straight from the can or if you have to heat it up beforehand to help you decide which can to go for.

How to Use

Most canned enchilada sauces can be eaten straight from the can without any prior preparation. This is great for how efficient and convenient it is to use, which is one of the biggest appeals of canned enchilada sauce, to begin with. Though you could always choose to make your own version of the sauce with your own tomatoes and chillies but there may be problems with this. Not only will it take up some of your time but it also means that you may not get the result you wanted. This could be gooey and raw tasting tomato pastes or really thin sauces that do not match how a  perfect enchilada sauce should taste like.

Reading the packaging of the can before you buy it will tell you how to use the sauce and prepare it if you need to. Be mindful that some meals should be served warm so you may need to heat up the sauce in a pan or a microwave to fit this.

Level of Spice

Mexican food is known for its spice. This is most likely due to the fact that Mexico geographically and agriculturally produces many chillies and peppers that can be used in many of their dishes.

Though this is a key part of Mexican cuisine it is also important to recognise that Mexican food has a wide range of flavours aside from solely being spicy.

Before purchasing your own can of enchilada sauce, we highly recommend that you deeply consider how much spice you can handle and how spicy a particular can of enchilada sauce claims to be. This is especially important if you are cooking for other people.

There are many health benefits of spicy food. It has been known to improve metabolism, curb sugar cravings, boost your immune system and may even reduce symptoms of depression. However, some people should avoid eating spicy food too often or altogether.

Foods that are too spicy can harm your stomach, especially if you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome inflammatory bowel disease or dyspepsia which causes pain in your abdomen. As a general rule of thumb, if you find that when you eat spicy food you end up having some pain in your stomach, then you may want to be cautious of eating it too often.

It will often be specified on the can of any enchilada sauce how spicy it is. Luckily, many brands and options of sauces offer a variety of spice levels from mild, medium to very hot.

If you find that you have accidentally bought a can of enchilada sauce that is too mild for your liking you can always tweak it by adding your own chillies or hot sauce to the mixture.

Calories and Nutritional Value 

The number of calories, sugar, salt, trans fat and carbohydrates is another area that you may want to consider before buying any food-related product. This is especially important if you are on a diet, like to watch your weight or are trying to be more conscious about what you are consuming.

Enchilada sauces are typically low in calories, sugars, salt and carbs. A typical serving size is around a quarter of a can have around 25-30 calories on average. They will also typically have around 200-500mg of sodium, 2-3g of sugars and 3-4g of carbohydrates. These are all fairly low which means you can enjoy most cans of enchilada sauces without any worry.

Of course, this isn’t the case with all products. Some provide either less or more of these components. You may wonder why some cans of the sauce can have as much as 80-100 calories per serving when most of the ingredients are found in similar cans of enchilada sauce.

Be careful of the types of carbohydrates that are used if this is the case and how much of it is used in one can. This can seriously impact the number of calories you will be consuming.

Some nutritional benefits come with enjoying canned enchilada sauce. These can include antioxidants and vitamin C - especially from red enchilada sauce. This is great for boosting the immune system. Some of the antioxidants that are found in tomatoes are beta-carotene and lycopene which are fantastic for preventing both breast and prostate cancer. Both vitamin C and antioxidants are also great for keeping your skin and hair youthful.

We suggest you familiarise yourself with the daily recommended serving sizes and amount for each food group, that way you can enjoy a balanced diet filled with delicious food and take care of your body at the same time.

Is it Kosher or Gluten-Free?

The last thing to look out for is if the product is suitable for your allergies and specific dietary requirements. Though we previously briefly touched upon this, it is never bad to make sure you check that the food you consume is okay for you to eat.

Of course, if you have certain allergies or dietary requirements, you may already be mindful about checking if certain food products are okay for you to eat. Despite this, we wanted to offer you a reminder to check if a can of enchilada sauce is Kosher or Halal depending on your religious beliefs. The majority of the canned enchilada sauces on the market today are made with products that contain soy such as soybean oil. This ingredient will typically not be labelled at the front of the can so be careful to always check the ingredients list if you are intolerant to soy.

Most canned enchilada sauces are vegetarian and gluten-free, but it won't harm to check. With this being said, we hope that you find a can of enchilada sauce that is not only delicious but won't cause you to run to the emergency room in the middle of the night when you wanted to have a relaxing night in.

Conclusion

If you haven’t tried Mexican food or feel too guilty for paying for Mexican take out or worry that you won’t know how many calories you are consuming, buying a can of enchilada sauce is the easiest and cheapest way to get the authentic Mexican flavour that you are craving. It also makes experimenting in the kitchen much easier, and the versatility of the sauce makes it so you can vamp up many types of meals with this simple product.

Though most cans of enchilada sauce are very easy to use and do not require much (if any) preparation, we think it's very important to check the can for any preparation instruction. This sauce comes in both a red and green version and offers varying degrees of spice, which come with its own health benefits by offering you a large number of antioxidants and vitamin C. Getting a very spicy version of the sauce may cause problems in your stomach if you are particularly sensitive in the region.

We hope that through this article you have learnt about the different types of enchilada sauces on the market, what nutritional benefits they offer, what to look out for to make sure you get the best-canned enchilada sauce for your needs and how else you can use the sauce in other meals.

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