Does Enchilada Sauce Have Dairy? (Explained By Experts)

If you’re a fan of Mexican cuisine, you’ve likely indulged in a plate of delicious enchiladas at some point. But have you ever wondered what exactly goes into the sauce that makes these savory dishes so irresistible?

And if you’re someone who avoids dairy, you may be wondering if enchilada sauce is safe for you to consume. In this article, we’ll explore the ingredients commonly used in enchilada sauce and whether or not dairy is typically included.

Plus, we’ll share some tips for making your own dairy-free enchilada sauce at home, so you can enjoy this classic dish without any worries. So grab a margarita and let’s dive in!

Does Enchilada Sauce Have Dairy?

Enchilada sauce is typically made from a combination of chili peppers, spices, and tomatoes. While some recipes may call for milk or cream, this is not always the case. In fact, many enchilada sauce recipes are dairy-free, making them a great option for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.

However, it’s important to note that some store-bought enchilada sauces may contain dairy or other animal products. It’s always a good idea to check the ingredients list before purchasing any pre-made sauce.

If you’re making your own enchilada sauce at home, you can easily make it dairy-free by omitting any milk or cream and using vegetable broth instead. You can also use alternative thickeners like cornstarch or arrowroot powder instead of flour.

What Is Enchilada Sauce Made Of?

Enchilada sauce is primarily made up of chili peppers, spices, and tomatoes. The type of chili peppers used can vary, but common options include ancho, pasilla, New Mexico, and Cascabel chilies. Other ingredients often found in enchilada sauce include onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano, and sometimes sugar or other sweeteners.

To make the sauce, the chili peppers are typically rehydrated and then pureed with the other ingredients to create a smooth texture. The mixture is then simmered until it thickens and develops a rich flavor.

While some recipes may call for dairy products like milk or cream to be added to the sauce, it’s not necessary for a delicious and authentic enchilada sauce. In fact, many traditional recipes are completely dairy-free.

If you’re making enchilada sauce at home and want to avoid dairy products, you can simply leave out any milk or cream called for in the recipe. Instead, use vegetable broth or water as a liquid base. Cornstarch or arrowroot powder can also be used as thickeners instead of flour.

Dairy-Free Enchilada Sauce Alternatives

If you’re looking for a dairy-free enchilada sauce alternative, there are plenty of options available. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Homemade Enchilada Sauce: Making your own enchilada sauce at home is a great way to ensure it’s dairy-free. You can use a combination of chili peppers, spices, and tomatoes to create a delicious sauce that’s perfect for your enchiladas.

2. Salsa: Another great option for a dairy-free enchilada sauce alternative is salsa. You can use your favorite store-bought salsa or make your own by blending together tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, and other seasonings.

3. Tomatillo Sauce: Tomatillo sauce is another delicious option for a dairy-free enchilada sauce. It’s made from tomatillos, garlic, onion, and chili peppers and has a tangy, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with enchiladas.

4. Red Pepper Sauce: If you’re looking for a spicy alternative to traditional enchilada sauce, try making a red pepper sauce. You can use roasted red peppers, garlic, and chili peppers to create a flavorful sauce that’s perfect for adding some heat to your enchiladas.

5. Avocado Sauce: For a creamy and delicious dairy-free enchilada sauce, try making an avocado sauce. You can blend together avocados, garlic, lime juice, and cilantro to create a rich and flavorful sauce that’s perfect for topping your enchiladas.

No matter which dairy-free enchilada sauce alternative you choose, you’re sure to love the delicious flavors and textures they bring to your favorite Mexican dish.

How To Make Dairy-Free Enchilada Sauce At Home

Making dairy-free enchilada sauce at home is easy and can be done in just a few simple steps. Here’s how:


– 1/4 cup non-GMO canola oil or your favorite cooking oil

– 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or alternative thickener like cornstarch or arrowroot powder)

– 2 tablespoons New Mexico or California chili powder

– 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

– 1 to 1 1/2 cups water, as needed

– 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

– 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

– 1/4 teaspoon onion salt

– Salt, to taste


1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, stir in the flour (or alternative thickener) and chili powder, and cook while stirring constantly for about 1 minute. You want to cook the flour a little, but do not burn it.

2. Gradually stir the tomato sauce into the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in 1 cup water, cumin, garlic powder, and onion salt continue cooking over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until thickened slightly. If it thickens too much, whisk in more water until it reaches your desired consistency.

3. Remove the stem and seeds from dried ancho chilis. In the same skillet you used, add enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Heat over medium high. Once hot, pour the sauce from the blender back into the skillet and fry the sauce. Cook for 1 minute then turn heat down to medium and cook for 5 minutes. This is frying the sauce and developing a deeper and richer taste. You could skip this step and use from blender, but it’s much better this way.

4. Use immediately or let cool completely and store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 weeks.

By following these simple steps, you can make a delicious dairy-free enchilada sauce at home that is perfect for anyone who is lactose intolerant or vegan. Plus, making your own sauce allows you to control the ingredients and adjust the flavor to your liking. Enjoy!

Tips For Enjoying Enchiladas Without Dairy

If you’re looking to enjoy enchiladas without dairy, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. Here are some suggestions:

1. Use dairy-free cheese alternatives: While traditional cheese may not be an option, there are plenty of dairy-free cheese alternatives available on the market. Look for options made from nuts, soy, or coconut milk.

2. Load up on veggies: Veggies can add a ton of flavor and texture to your enchiladas. Consider adding sautéed bell peppers, onions, and garlic to your chicken filling for extra flavor.

3. Make your own dairy-free cheese sauce: As seen in the recipe above, you can make a delicious dairy-free cheese sauce using cashews, nutritional yeast, and spices. This can be used as a topping for your enchiladas or as a filling.

4. Choose corn tortillas: Corn tortillas are a great option for those avoiding gluten or looking for a grain-free alternative. They also hold up well when baked with enchilada sauce.

5. Check labels carefully: As mentioned earlier, some store-bought enchilada sauces may contain dairy or other animal products. Always check the ingredients list before purchasing any pre-made sauce.

By following these tips, you can enjoy delicious and satisfying enchiladas without any dairy products.