Taco Bell Sauce

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Taco Bell Sauce is perfect for Taco Tuesday!! Made with chipotle chili powder and cayenne pepper, it’s spicy, fiery, and flavorful. Use it on a variety of Mexican-inspired dishes or as a dipping sauce for grilled meat. Taco Bell red sauce is made with pantry ingredients and comes together in just 20 minutes… it’s a must-try! 

Titled Image: Taco Bell Sauce Recipe


Taco Bell Sauce

I love Mexican food, so you better believe that Taco Bell™ is one of my favorite fast-food joints!

Now, of course, I realize that it’s not the most authentic — but it’s certainly tasty. 

Longtime readers of the blog know that I love making my own, homemade versions of my preferred takeout meals.

I’ve already shared recipes for Taco Bell Power Bowls, their Mexican pizza, and the infamous Burrito Supreme. Next up? Taco Bell sauce!!

This red sauce Taco Bell copycat packs a punch thanks to the chili powder and cayenne pepper.

Use it as a condiment on a variety of different dishes, from tacos and burritos to quesadillas and grilled chicken or steak!

ingredients for taco bell sauce

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Tomato Sauce – The base of this Taco Bell red sauce recipe is tomato sauce! It adds color and flavor to the overall results.
  • Chipotle Chili Powder – Earthy, smoky, and complex, chipotle chili powder gives your sauce a hit of heat!

    You can play around with the quantities to achieve your preferred spice level.
  • Cayenne Pepper – Same with the cayenne pepper.

    It’s quite spicy, so if you’re after a milder Taco Bell sauce, either omit it completely or use less than is directed on the recipe card.
  • Other Spices & Seasonings – Cumin, onion powder, granulated garlic, and paprika complete the ensemble of seasonings you’ll need for this recipe.

Alternatively you could use fresh garlic or onion instead. Simply sauté them in a little olive oil before adding the other ingredients to the pan.

  • White Vinegar – Adds a touch of tang! It’s sharp and acidic and complements the other ingredients perfectly. 
tomato sauce spices and water in a skillet

Tips for Making Taco Bell Red Sauce at Home

  • Pay attention!

Taco Bell sauce comes together very quickly, so you need to keep a watchful eye on the heat level. 

After you bring the sauce to a simmer, reduce the heat to low. It’s important to maintain a gentle simmer to keep it from burning. Don’t forget to stir too!

  • Do a taste test (or a few).

Taste your Taco Bell sauce periodically as it simmers to see if you need to adjust the seasonings.

If you want it spicier, add more chili powder or cayenne. If it needs more balance, add a splash of extra vinegar. 

Remember: it’s easier to adjust the flavors while it’s cooking than after it’s done!

  • Consider making it a few hours before you need it.

The flavors in this Taco Bell red sauce recipe develop over time, so it’s even more delicious when you make it in advance!

If you have the time, make it a few hours before you’ll need it, then let it rest in the fridge before using. It’ll be a whole lot more flavorful that way!

cooked taco bell sauce

Storing and Freezing Red Sauce from Taco Bell

Make sure that the sauce has cooled completely before placing it in a glass jar with a lid or another type of airtight container. It will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks!

You could also freeze extra sauce for up to 2-3 months. I love the idea of putting it in an ice cube tray to portion it out into smaller servings! 

Or, store a whole batch in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. When you’re ready to use it, let it thaw in the refrigerator overnight.

Kitchen Tools You Will Need

spoon of taco bell sauce

Taco Bell Red Sauce Recipe FAQ

What is Taco Bell red sauce made of?

According to their website, red sauce from Taco Bell is made with water, seasonings, tomato powder, natural flavors, and a myriad of other ingredients that are hard to pronounce. 

My version is a lot simpler, and you’ll know exactly what goes into it. It’s one of the reasons why I love making these copycat recipes!

Is Taco Bell red sauce the same as mild sauce?

There seems to be a lot of conflicting information out there about the difference between Taco Bell’s red sauce and mild sauce. Some say that it’s spicier and some say that it’s actually more mild. 

Well, my version is quite spicy, thanks to the addition of chipotle chili powder and cayenne pepper! I find that their mild sauce is, well, mild… it doesn’t pack as much heat!

What can I use this sauce on besides tacos and burritos?

You have so many options! Use it as a condiment for quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas, scrambled eggs, or grilled chicken. Or, as a dipping sauce for savory snacks like fries or chicken tenders. 

Try it out on a variety of dishes to find your favorite!

closeup of taco bell sauce on a spoon

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closeup of taco bell sauce spooned onto a taco

Taco Bell sauce drizzled on a taco

Taco Bell Sauce

Donna Elick
Taco Bell Sauce makes tacos, burritos, and more so much better!! Make my spicy Taco Bell red sauce recipe to keep on hand for up to 2 weeks!
5 stars from 1 review
Tried this recipe?Please comment and review!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Mexican
Method Stovetop
Servings 12 makes 1 1/2 cups


  • 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar


  • In a medium saucepan, add all of the ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  • Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Allow the sauce to cool slightly before transferring the sauce to a jar or container.
  • Once cooled, the Taco Bell Red Sauce is ready to serve. Use it immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Donna’s Notes

Adjust the spiciness of the sauce by increasing or decreasing the amount of chipotle chili powder and cayenne to suit your taste preferences.
This sauce develops its flavors over time, so its even better when made in advance and allowed to rest in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.
You can use fresh minced garlic and onion instead of the powdered versions. Saute them in a little oil before adding the other ingredients to the saucepan.


Serving: 1 | Calories: 12cal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.2g | Saturated Fat: 0.03g | Sodium: 172mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe’s nutritional value will vary depending on the ingredients used, measuring methods, and portion sizes.

Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Taco Bell Sauce - PIN

Originally published November 2023

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  1. 5 stars
    This sauce recipe is out of this world! So easy to make and absolutely delicious. Donna and Chad’s recipes from The Slow Roasted Italian never disappoint!

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