I am wanting to know the difference between marinara and enchilada sauce please.

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    They're extremely different. Have you done any research at all... looked at recipes, read any bottles, read any articles... tasted them?
    – Catija
    Feb 20, 2016 at 14:43
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    This is a useful question because it is apparently a common misunderstanding that should be corrected. I don't think it should be closed. Feb 20, 2016 at 18:05
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    @Sobachatina What makes it a common misconception? Granted, I'm from Texas and I'm Italian but I've never heard of anyone mixing up these two sauces before. They are utterly different. Regardless, the OP has done no work to show any understanding of what the sauces are in the first place and has not done any work to explain the sauces being described. There are dozens of "enchilada sauces" based on the region of the country you're in.
    – Catija
    Feb 20, 2016 at 19:07
  • It's not a matter of mixing them up per SE. It's that people don't know that enchilada sauce isn't a sweetish tomato based sauce. It does seem that I did see it less frequently in Texas than further north. Feb 20, 2016 at 19:47

1 Answer 1


On face value this question would seem not useful because the two sauces have very little in common.

I think it's worth answering because I've had too many awful pot luck enchiladas where the cook obviously had the same confusion.

Marinara is primarily tomatoes reduced and flavored with onion and Italian herbs like basil and oregano.

Enchilada sauce (which means 'in chili') is primarily pureed, rehydrated, toasted, dried peppers, flavored with a little tomato, onion, and Mexican spices such as cumin.

Enchilada sauces should not taste much like tomato at all. They should taste like chilies.

Marinara is generally sweeter from the sweet herbs where enchilada is spicier, both heat and spices.

  • There is no one entity called "enchilada sauce"... There's green enchilada sauce, red, mole, creamy, meat... there are tons of different kinds.
    – Catija
    Feb 20, 2016 at 16:28
  • Technically- unless the name is used ironically- they would have to all predominantly feature chilies. I agree that the term is used loosely in Tex-Mex applications. If you walk into any Mexican restaurant in the US and order "enchiladas" with no clarification you will be served the standard, red, chili-based, sauce. Feb 20, 2016 at 18:01
  • I think the usage in Texas is probably big enough to merit a mention, even if technically incorrect. So many of the recipes you'll find online in English are Tex-Mex.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 20, 2016 at 19:06

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