Who says enchilada sauce needs to be used only for enchiladas? This DIY Pasta Bar with Creamy (cheesy!) Enchilada Sauce is great for family dinner and entertaining!

White bowl of pasta with sauce and red peppers, garnished with cilantro.

This isn’t your normal enchilada sauce.

This is waaaaaaaay better. Way.

Because, cheese. And butter. And milk. Usually I use skim milk for this type of thing but lately I’ve been using whole because I have it in the fridge for N. And because it’s better. (Duh.)

When Anolon* approached me and asked me to “Start from Scratch” with a pasta and pasta sauce, I decided to think outside the box a bit. Because…cheese. Wait, does that not work here? Anyways, enchilada pasta is one of my favorite things and I decided to make it a fun DIY pasta bar to keep things interesting and appeal to all tastes.

Clear glass bowl containing enchilada sauce, with saucepan in background.

Before we talk pasta, let’s talk about “Start from Scratch” for a minute. You’ll see a cake mix and a prepared ingredient here and there on my blog (ummm….toddlers!), but for the most part, I try to start from scratch. Because it tastes better AND it’s better for you.

This enchilada sauce is pretty simple to make. It’s a basic white sauce, “enchilada-fied”. Start with butter, melt it, whisk in flour, chili powder, salt, pepper….whisk in milk…thicken…add cheese.

5 ingredients plus salt and pepper. EASY. DELICIOUS. As always, my two favorite words.

Front view of enchilada sauce in small clear glass bowl, with spoon inserted. Sauce pan in background.

Before I get too far, I have to add that this sauce also doubles as an amazing dip for chips. A little too amazing. Break out the fat pants amazing.

Okay, now that we got the whole chip-situation out of the way, let’s talk pasta bar. I think this is such a fun idea for anyone really, but it’s great for a family or even better for entertaining. Each person can assemble their own pasta dish, exactly how they like, made to order.

Overhead view of fixings for pasta bar, including shredded chicken, tomatoes, chopped green onions, and cilantro.

Makings of a pasta bar:

  • Cheesy enchilada sauce, kept warm over low heat
  • Cooked pasta – whatever you like , or try gluten-free zucchini noodles
  • Shredded chicken (or steak…or tofu…or pork…or shrimp)
  • Sautéed peppers and onions
  • Toppings:  Toppings are always the best part of everything. What’s a sundae without sprinkles and hot fudge? What’s a taco without cheese and tomatoes? What’s enchilada pasta without green onions and tomatoes and all sorts of goodies? The options are endless — diced avocado, crisp tortilla strips, fresh cilantro — whatever you like!

Close up of pasta bowl containing creamy enchilada pasta.

Once you have everything set up, you just heat up a pan over medium heat, throw in your pasta, enchilada sauce, and whatever hot ingredients you want included. Cook it for just a couple of minutes until everything is heated through. And then let your family/friends/party guests top it however they like. It is so fun!

Creamy enchilada pasta in white bowl.

P.S.:  You can buy the whole beautiful set of Anolon Advanced Nonstick cookware. Or buy it for me if you want. Housewarming gift maybe? Anolon pans are some of my favorites. Perfectly nonstick, perfectly heavy. Heavy enough to handle one-handed whisking but not so heavy that you’re going to pull a muscle getting them out of the cupboard. They’re durable and reliable. I kinda love them.

White pasta bowl containing creamy enchilada sauce and pasta.

Creamy Enchilada Sauce + Pasta Bar

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Who says enchilada sauce needs to be used only for enchiladas? This DIY Pasta Bar with Creamy (cheesy!) Enchilada Sauce is great for family dinner and entertaining!

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese

For the DIY pasta bar

  • Cooked pasta (or zucchini noodles!), of your choice
  • Cooked shredded chicken
  • Sautéed red peppers
  • Sautéed red onions
  • Garnishes
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Fresh green onion, diced
  • Crisp tortilla strips
  • Chopped avocado

Instructions

  1. For the sauce, in a 3.5 Qt. Anolon® Advanced Straining Saucepan (you could cook your pasta in this pan as well!), melt butter over medium heat. When melted, whisk in the flour, chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes. While whisking, slowly stir in the milk. Continue whisking until milk begins to thicken and bubble. Remove from heat and whisk in cheese until melted. If using for a DIY pasta bar, keep warm over low heat, whisking occasionally.
  2. In a large skillet, add 1/2 cup creamy enchilada sauce with one cup of pasta, chicken, peppers and onions. Toss together in pan until all ingredients are combined and heated through. Top with desired garnishes.

Notes

  • Nutrition information is for sauce only.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 of 4
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 185Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 5gCholesterol: 41mgSodium: 332mgCarbohydrates: 7gFiber: 0gSugar: 0gProtein: 8g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

You can also find the Creamy Enchilada Sauce recipe on Anolon.com. And remember, enchilada sauce is better with cheese.

*Disclosure: I was compensated by Anolon Gourmet Cookware for my time to develop and photograph this recipe but all opinions are my own, as always.