5 Simple Mexican Sauces

Sauces for the Sous Chef

This post goes out to everyone’s loving friend, Mary and to her readers on Keep Learning, Keep Smiling. A dear ‘long-distant’ friend for a while now, my day would not be complete without reading her happy, upbeat stories and recipes.

The notion of offering to Mary this type of cuisine is the last thing in the world that I would ever think of, until last week. For almost a year, I have followed and learned so much about stir-frying, sweet and spicy Asian sauces, fruits, vegetables and ingredients from her native country, cooking techniques and her culture which all have increase my awareness and appreciation for her way of eating good foods. She is from Sarawak Malaysia. The fact that she now resides in Scotland may sometimes limit her accessibility of certain ingredients, but Mary has a knack of creating her Malaysian home cooking into incredible, flavorful dishes recollecting the foods of her native country. Most things are homemade, not as in unobtainable, but because she knows it will taste better and original to her homeland.

So when, just last week her daughter showed an interest in Mexican foods and Mary quickly stepped aside as mothers often do in nurturing their little sous chefs, both began a love for a cuisine many of us take with a grain of pepper. I do applaud Mary in her effort of learning new tastes but more importantly, she quickly realized that packaged and canned foods are not the way to learn the real taste of a new type of cookery.

Many of the Mexican and western foods I enjoy will often need a sauce, either layering it into the dish while cooking or as a finishing sauce as it is served. There are many - sauces for every type of meat, produce and time of day. Many recipes require a visit to the Hispanic market, an online store or if you are lucky, a well stocked grocer to come up with the needed ingredients. I thought it would be good to give Mary my four basic recipes (plus one in a previous post) all using basic cupboard ingredients that I think she should have no problem finding if not already on her shelves. Hope all of you can use these too. Enjoy!

Western Sauce

This is a simple sauce to make for meats, beans and the likes of enchiladas, relleno stuffed peppers and tamales. Somewhat similar to an Enchilada Sauce but creamier using buttermilk which is an old western custom. This one has been in my collection for many years and we like it a whole lot. Makes a generous amount for an entrée.

4 Tablespoons bacon drippings or corn oil
5 Tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 teaspoons Mexican Seasoning, see below
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 cups of chicken broth
1 cup buttermilk
    In a medium saucepan over medium heat, stir the oil with the next six listings until thoroughly mixed and simmering. Slowly add the chicken broth until heated and then stir in the buttermilk. Cook over medium low heat stirring until it is the consistency of a thin sauce.

    Classic Red Chile Sauce

    Enchiladas with yet another sauce

    This traditional sauce is for any recipe needing a red sauce, is darker and thinner than the one above. Use it with beans, enchiladas, tacos, chilaquiles, tamales ... just about anything.

    10 dried red New Mexican chiles
    1 medium onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    2 tablespoons bacon drippings or vegetable oil
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    3 cups water, divided
      Place the dried chiles on a flat cooking sheet and place in a 200 degrees F. oven for 5 minutes or until the chiles give off a toasted aroma. Be careful not to burn them. Remove and let cool. Remove the stems and seeds.
      In a large saucepan, sauté onions and garlic in oil until soft.
      Place all ingredients in a blender with 1 cup of the water and purée to a smooth sauce.
      Pour the sauce into the saucepan and stir in the remaining 2 cups water, bring to a boil and reduce the heat simmering for an hour. The sauce should be smooth and thick.
      Note: You can use dried California Red, Ancho chile or any mild to medium heat chile.

      Mexican Chili Sauce

      This recipe uses chili powder instead of dried peppers and is a little chunkier, fresh tasting with the addition of the vegetables at the end. An all purpose sauce.

      3 cups rich beef broth
      1 -16 oz can diced tomatoes -with liquid
      3 medium onions -chopped
      8 garlic cloves -peeled
      1 tablespoon Mexican Seasoning, see below
      1 teaspoon sugar
      1 teaspoon ground cumin
      2 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
        Place ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil, reduce heat to low simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Pour into a blender and puree.
        Return mixture to the pot and add:

        1 medium onion -chopped
        1 bell pepper -chopped
        1 green chili pepper -sliced
        1 1/2 tablespoons wine vinegar
        1 teaspoon fresh cilantro -chopped
          Return to a simmer and cook 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

          Taco Sauce

          An easy sauce for more than just tacos; we like it on Mexican salads, chalupas, burritos, tostadas… whatever you put it on, it will make you smile. Makes about 3 1/2 pints.

          2 -28 ounce cans diced tomatoes
          1 medium onion
          1 small green bell pepper
          3 teaspoons chopped jalapeño peppers
          1 -4 ounce can chopped green chiles
          2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice
          1 teaspoon salt
          1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
          1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
          1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds
          1 teaspoon dried crushed oregano
          1/2 teaspoon dried cilantro
          1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
          1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
            Place the tomatoes, onions and peppers in a food processor and chop to a coarse consistency. Add to a large saucepan, add the jalapenos, chiles, lemon juice and simmer on medium low for about an hour.
            Add remaining ingredients, allowing dry ingredients to rest on top of the liquid about 15 minutes to soak in before stirring to incorporate. Simmer for 45 minutes after stirring well.
            Place a spoonful into a dish to cool for tasting. Adjust hotness by adding cayenne if desired.
            For a thinner sauce, add a little water while cooking. Let cool and refrigerate sauce until ready to use.

            Mexican Seasoning Mix
            Double or triple this recipe to use later. Omit or decrease salt for recipes.

            4 tablespoons salt, optional
            2 tablespoons chipotle chili powder
            1/2 tablespoon black pepper
            1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
            1/2 tablespoon granulated garlic
            1 teaspoon ground coriander
            1 teaspoon ground turmeric
            1 teaspoon ground oregano
            1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
              Mix well and store in an airtight container.



              1. YEah!!! Two mixes without onions I love it!!! Just coming back from Mexico and ate poptarts the whole trip...everything had onions lol, they made me some special dishes...but I love these perfect for me! thanks so much

              2. This is good! I just added a couple of new sauces to my list. Thanks for the post.

              3. I enjoy reading Mary's posts as well. You're really funny Drick, take them as grain of pepper (instead of salt).
                I'm going to make the Western Sauce, as I have some buttermilk left over from last night's Oven Baked Catfish(your recipe). Your Classic Red Chili Sauce, is also a must make,(another husband's favorite). He loves them on enchiladas. You're making my menu planning easy.
                Thank you again for all these wonderful recipes.

              4. I'm drooling Drick! All of those look SO amazing. I love Mexican food anyway and the sauces are a big part of the flavor. Wonderful recipes! I'll be sure to check out Mary's blog as well.

              5. wow....I love this post!! I especially love those tamales in the first image.....what a great set of mexican sauces they are all so very good, and I love that combination of seasonings you have put together, I am copying that down!!

              6. Great collection of sauces, Drick. I am really looking forward to trying some of these.

              7. Oh my goodness...amazing sauces! And a wonderful tribute to Mary (she is the best), loved the post when her daughter made the fantastic fajitas... Hi Mary...We are pretty new to this, but you both are favorites :) P.S. Drick, I am going to have to find "In the Middle" and check it out :) Hugs to you both :)

              8. A terrific post from Mary! And a great collection of flavorful sauces!

              9. Aha, Drick....at last....haha. I was about to ask you for these when you mentioned in my comment box that you would give me.....great timing! :D Really excited to see these. I'm copying all. Have to try.......la la la la la la la :D You'll soon see more Mexican food on my blog! And wow.....so sweet of you for your lovely compliments about me.....blushing here but BIG smiles! :D I'm really learning to cook better so that I can have good food like you...hehe. And thanks lots to @Cook With Madin and @Magic of Spice for their lovely compliments, too :D. Love all the others also. Of course, all thumbs up to you, Drick. You make my day wonderful! :D

              10. ooooh, i love mexican food, i never wuld have known there are at 5 different mexican red sauces they all look so wondeful, and I would love to try and mae them all! Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe!

              11. Oh! I need to print this off! This is going to make taco night much better! Thanks for the helpful info!

              12. Thank you Drick! Those are getting printed and saved. They look wonderful. Happy Sunday!! Kate

              13. Man, I wish I saw this post a couple of days ago!
                I just made a Mexican-style roast in my slow cooker, this post would have been a great reference. Thanks for sharing all these sauces :)

              14. You are right. Mary always has wonderful things to say! This is a terrific resource Drick. I'll be printing this up! I like making my own spice blends. They are so much fresher than the bottles you buy in the store.

              15. Thanks you for some delicious spicy Mexican sauce recipes, I love Mexican food!

              16. Well, you have created a fine dilemma. How can I possibly choose which one to try first?

                A fine dilemma!

              17. I want to try it all. But I think this will come first - Mexican Seasoning Mix

              18. I feel like I don't know enough about Mexican food (especially seeing as I'm from California). Thanks for this tutorial on sauces :)

              19. Oh, Drick! This all looks absolutely delish!

              20. Wow! What a plethora of yumminess. I can't wait to try some of these.

              21. oh I love these sauces, it's always great to have new sauces to try, i love your mexican saturdays!!
                love mary!


              22. Love love love this post!! Thank you

              23. Hey Drick! I used your Mexican Seasoning on the pizza I made. Delicious. Made enough to use again and again. Thanks for the recipe. Posted a link to your seasoning on my blog. Have a wonderful Sunday!

              24. I don't know how in the world I missed this post when your first put it up, but man-oh-man am I glad I've found it now! I've tried for a long time to find a good sauce for enchiladas and never been happy with one, but I feel sure that there's a winner here!! Thanks so much for sharing these great recipes, Drick!

              25. Thank you, thank you thank you! I have been asking my Mexican friends and co-workers for years about how to make homemade enchilada sauce and never got an answer. They all said they use the cans and so do their moms! I have never really found a can one I loved. Now I can make it myself.

              26. Melonie Nelson10/25/2015 8:33 AM

                I feel so lucky to have found you!!! Thanks so much for sharing with everyone!!!!

              27. I like all 5 sauce you shared here. Specially Tacos sauce because Mexican food can enjoy it a lot of tacos variety.


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