Does Enchilada Sauce Have Red Dye? (Answered)

Enchiladas are a popular Mexican dish made with tortillas. They are typically filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, and veggies while also being covered with a flavorful sauce. One of the most common types of enchilada sauce is the red sauce, which is made with tomatoes, chili peppers, spices, and other ingredients.

Given the red color of the sauce, many people wonder if it contains red dye. Below we inform you of whether red enchilada sauce commonly has red dye in it.

Is There Red Dye in Enchilada Sauce?

It depends on the brand of enchilada sauce regarding whether it contains red dye. Most brands rely solely on natural ingredients to achieve the desired color. Furthermore, some brands use natural ingredients for coloring such as black carrot or oleoresin paprika. Lastly, some enchilada sauces contain synthetic red dye such as is found in the La Prederida brand featured below.

Here is a selection of store-bought red enchilada sauces and information on whether each brand contained red dye at the time of this article. As you can see most had natural coloring or no added coloring with La Preferida being the exception.

Enchilada SauceRed Dye (Yes or No)?Coloring
Old El Paso – Red Enchilada SauceNoBlack Carrot and Paprika Extract
La Preferida -Mild Red Chile Enchilada SauceYesRed #40
Rosarita – Enchilada SauceNoOleoresin Paprika
La Victoria – Mild Red Enchilada SauceNoNone
Siete – Red Enchilada SauceNoNone
Frontera – Red Chile Enchilada SauceNoNone
Hatch – Tex-Mex Style Enchilada SauceNoNone
Gebhardt – Enchilada SauceNoOleoresin Paprika
McCormick – Enchilada Sauce Mix NoNone
La Tortilla Factory – Red Enchilada SauceNoNone
Las Palmas – Mild Enchilada SauceNoNone
Great Value – Mild Red Enchilada SauceNoNone

If you are concerned about consuming red dye in your enchilada sauce, you can check the ingredients list on the label to see if it contains any artificial colors. The sauces you buy at most grocery stores in the United States are required by the FDA to list the dyes used in them. Rely only on the ingredients listed on the label to make your buying decisions related to ingredients.

It is worth noting that red dye is a commonly used food additive that has been approved by the FDA for use in food products. However, some studies have suggested that consuming artificial colors (especially in large amounts) may have adverse effects on health, such as allergies and hyperactivity in children with ADHD (source).

A great way to ensure that you avoid red dye is by making your own enchilada sauce at home using fresh ingredients. Our favorite homemade sauce is this Cookie + Kate recipe but we’re confident there are numerous other tasty options out there if you prefer one with different ingredients.

We encourage you to check out our article on the Best Canned Enchilada Sauce for our taste test pick. Our top choice had no red dye at the time of this article so it is likely an option for you if you are avoiding red dye!

Final Thoughts

It ultimately depends on the brand/product as to whether enchilada sauce contains red dye as an ingredient. If you are concerned about consuming artificial colors in your food, you can check the label and choose a brand that uses natural ingredients. Alternatively, you can make your own enchilada sauce at home using fresh and natural ingredients.