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How To Thicken Enchilada Sauce ⋆ 8 Of The Best Methods ⋆

Have you noticed that your enchilada sauce appears to be too runny and thin? Wondering what you can do to save it and give it some additional consistency? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’ll be walking you through a few of the best techniques to salvage this rich sauce. 

So, how do you thicken an enchilada sauce? The most basic approach to thickening your enchilada sauce is to simmer it over low-medium heat. The use of thickening substances is another effective approach. Roux (flour and butter), kneaded butter (beurre manié), starches (corn, potato, tapioca, arrowroot), tomato paste, and pureed vegetables are all agents you can use.

The flavor of your enchilada sauce might change slightly depending on the ingredients you use for thickening; just remember that.

And at the same time, keep in mind that you don’t want to drastically change the flavor. 

The technique you use will also depend on the type of sauce you make; for example, you will not use tomato paste for a green enchilada sauce.

When choosing a method, personal preferences, time limits, and the availability of extra ingredients are all aspects to consider.

But before you get on to thickening your enchilada sauce, I’m sure you’re perplexed as to why your enchilada sauce is so thin and runny, to begin with? 

Let’s delve into it. And hopefully, that way, it should not happen again!

Why Is My Enchilada Sauce Thin?

Your enchilada sauce is likely too thin and runny because too much liquid/ broth was added. It could also be thin because the sauce was not cooked for a sufficient time. Other possibilities include cooking the roux for longer and using improper substitutions. The use of tomatoes with a high-water content can also give you a thin sauce.

There is a little bit of science and art involved in making a good enchilada sauce.

An enchilada sauce must be reduced at low heat to evaporate any excess liquid and achieve the desired thickness.

As the enchilada sauce cooks, it will thicken, so be patient and wait for it to reach the desired consistency.

Because everyone’s tastes differ, you must find a recipe that works best for you.

You may find that others even come out runnier than you’d like.

And in canned or jarred branded options, you may find some that are naturally thicker than others! 

How Thick Does A Enchilada Sauce Be?

The consistency of enchilada sauce may range from thick to thin, depending on your personal preferences and the ingredients used. But most people like it thicker and creamier. It flows and pours nicely, even though it has a thick consistency.

If it is extremely fluid, it will not adhere to your food effectively and make your enchiladas soggy.

This sauce is rich, robust, and smoky, and it’s quick and easy to make. It freezes nicely, and you can adjust the heat and consistency to your liking.

So, how will you know whether your enchilada sauce is thick enough? You can easily gauge the thickness with the help of a spoon.

When you dip the spoon into the sauce and then lift it out, the back of the spoon should be nicely coated with sauce.

That is the level of consistency you seek each and every time!

What Can You Use To Thicken Enchilada Sauce?

Whether your enchilada sauce is canned or homemade, you can thicken it easily using one of two approaches or even both: heat and time or thickening ingredients.

You might try cooking it for a longer time to evaporate the liquid in the case of the former.

For the second approach, specific thickening agents such as flour and butter (roux or beurre manié), starch (cornstarch, potato, or tapioca starch), tomato paste, and pureed vegetables can be used.

You may have these in your pantry already, or you could always buy them straight from Amazon 👇

With so many options, you’re bound to discover one that suits you best.

It does, however, take a certain amount of patience.

Start slowly and add ingredients in little increments, regardless of the method you select.

How To Thicken Enchilada Sauce – All Of The Options

Below, you’ll find several different thickening techniques. 

Each method has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but you will be able to select the one that best meets your needs.

Thickening By Reducing

Allowing the sauce to thicken on low heat will aid in the thickening of the enchilada sauce.

It’s the magic of heat and time that will do the work for you. You must monitor it, though.

This is the most straightforward way to decrease your sauce without requiring any additional equipment or materials.

You must ensure to stir the contents frequently, though, to avoid burning.

Even if your sauce has been on the stove for the time specified in the recipe, I suggest you cook it for a few extra minutes without covering the pan.

Furthermore, do not increase the heat; a low heat allows the flavors to marinate better and prevents burning while still allowing the water to evaporate.

If you’re in a rush, I recommend not using this procedure because simmering takes time.

The time will vary depending on the quantity of the sauce and how thick you want it to be.

This procedure is commonly combined with the use of thickening agents.

Thickening With Roux

A roux is used to thicken a variety of sauces and gives great results for thickening enchilada sauce as well.

A roux is a mixture of equal parts flour and butter, and its main purpose is to thicken and make the sauce creamier.

Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat till it starts to bubble.

Add in the flour and whisk continually for 1 to 2 minutes, or until it turns light brown and has a baked aroma.

Start adding the roux to your sauce in small increments while stirring it all through, till it reaches the desired consistency.

Add the sauce to the mixture and stir for 2 minutes, or until it reaches a thick consistency.

The shorter you cook your roux, the lighter in color it will be, and the thicker your sauce will be. 

It also shouldn’t impart a distinct flavor to your sauce.

The longer you cook your roux; the thinner and nuttier your sauce will be. 

Thickening With Beurre Manié

Beurre manié is very similar to roux but is not as tricky as a roux.

This is simply kneaded butter. Take equal parts of flour and softened butter in a small ball and combine them well using a fork. 

This will give you a smooth paste. Using your hands, make small balls with this paste.

The balls are then added one by one while the sauce is constantly stirred. 

When the sauce has been simmering for a long enough time, it will begin to thicken.

Remove the sauce from the stove once the desired thickness is reached.

Thickening With Starch

Thickening with starch is a great method that produces good quality thickened sauces.

You can use any starch you might have in your cupboard – cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot, etc.

In a mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with a cup of water and vigorously stir to form a slurry.

Slowly incorporate the slurry into the sauce. 

Pour only a little slurry into your sauce, rather than all at once.

Keep stirring until the sauce has thickened and all the ingredients have been thoroughly combined.

Do not add the starch directly as a powder, as it will result in clump formation. Always make a slurry before using it. 

Add the slurry just before the cooking process is about to finish and give it one rolling boil and let it simmer for the starch to swell up and absorb the excess liquid.

Starches tend to mask the flavor of the sauce, so always taste test in the end to adjust the salt and seasonings.

Thickening With Tomato Paste

Since enchilada sauce is tomato-based, you can easily incorporate tomato paste to thicken it. 

Since most enchilada sauce recipes have a few tablespoons of tomato paste as part of their recipes, adding a bit more tomato paste won’t alter the taste of the sauce drastically, but it will thicken it.

You can use crushed tomatoes for a thicker, chunkier sauce if you like.

You will need to taste the sauce and adjust it accordingly to account for the extra tomato paste added.

Tomato paste is added at the beginning of the cooking process, which cuts down on cooking time.

If you add the tomato paste at the beginning of the cooking process, then it will not take you very long to thicken.

Thickening With Pureed Vegetables

Boiled and pureed vegetables can be added as a thickener to your enchilada sauce.

Quickly combine the puree with the rest of the sauce over low heat.

Potatoes, squash, carrots, and other vegetables can be used.

The addition of vegetables will thicken the enchilada sauce while also increasing the nutritive value.

Other Suggestions To Avoid A Watery Enchilada Sauce

Don’t worry if your sauce is still too thin; simply repeat any of the ways mentioned above.

You might also want to try digging deeper to find a method that best suits your requirements with some additional strategies suggested below.

Follow The Recipe

When thickening your enchilada sauce, it’s critical to stick to the recipe or instructions; otherwise, you risk burning it or failing to achieve the desired thickness, wasting time and materials.

Also, getting hands on a good recipe is equally important.

Let It Cool

Remove your sauce from the heat and set it aside to cool slightly once you’ve reached your desired consistency. 

Cooling will thicken your sauce further.

To expedite the process, place the sauce in the refrigerator for a few minutes.

Adding Dairy

If you like a cheesier or creamier sauce, try adding some cheese or heavy cream to increase the thickness of your sauce. 

Dairy is usually added when you are almost ending the sauce-making process to avoid curdling and breaking out of the sauce.

Adding Lentils

Adding a couple of teaspoons of cooked red lentils to your sauce would help it thicken slightly.

Lentils will absorb the extra liquid and add bulk to your sauce.

This might slightly change the flavor, but the end result won’t be bad as enchiladas contain beans as well.

Avoid Cooking The Roux For Long

For making enchilada sauce, the roux should be light in color. 

It should be cooked for only 2-4 minutes at low heat, depending on the quantity. 

But if the cooking time for the roux is longer, the roux will lose its thickening ability.

Patience and Practice

Do not get impatient. It’ll take some time for the sauce to thicken, especially with reduction. 

And your timing and technique will only get better as you keep practicing.

Lastly 

Enchiladas and Tacos are taken to the next level if your sauce is smooth and thick.

But it can be quickly destroyed if it’s too runny and causes that undesirable sogginess. 

Thankfully, thickening your sauce isn’t as difficult as it may appear.

You can choose any method you like if you keep in mind the amount of time and the ingredients you have on hand. 

Whether it is store-bought or homemade – you can apply the same principles. 

And now that you are equipped with the knowledge of thickening your sauce, you can get going.

Don’t let me keep you any longer! 

Want to learn how to thicken any type of sauce? Then check out my definitive guide: