This Chilaquiles recipe features crispy corn tortillas tossed in a flavorful red chile sauce and is topped with cheese, Mexican crema, and more! Serve this Mexican comfort food for breakfast or brunch with a fried egg in less than 30 minutes.
What are chilaquiles?
Chilaquiles (pronounced “chee-lah-kee-less”) is a popular traditional Mexican dish made from crispy corn tortillas that are then simmered in a red or green chile sauce. The dish can be served with a variety of toppings, such as cheese like queso fresco or cotija, refried beans, avocado, Mexican crema or sour cream, and fried eggs.
Chilaquiles are often eaten for breakfast or brunch and can be found in many regions throughout Mexico.
Chilaquiles Verdes vs Rojos
Chilaquiles are either tossed in a red sauce or green sauce. The red sauce (as seen in this recipe) is typically made from dried chiles and tomatoes. The green sauce is made from jalapeños, other green chiles, and tomatillos, similar to a salsa verde.
This recipe post shows you how to make the most popular of the two types, chilaquiles rojos. Here’s a recipe for chilaquiles verdes.
What You Need
- Corn tortillas: To make the tortilla chips. I recommend using high-quality and sturdy corn tortillas so they hold their shape while still soaking in the sauce.
- Oil: Use any neutral oil for frying. Canola or any vegetable oil are great.
- Dried chiles: You’ll need guajillo and arbol chiles. These simple chiles add lots of great smoky flavor with a touch of spice.
- Tomato, onion, and garlic: These ingredients add more flavor to the guajillo and arbol red chile sauce.
How to Make Chilaquiles
Step 1: Start by softening and dehydrating the dried chiles in a pot of boiling water over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, cover it, and let the chiles soak for 10 minutes.
Step 2: Once softened, transfer the chiles into a blender with a slotted spoon. Add the onion, tomato, garlic, salt, and some fresh water to the blender. Blend until completely smooth.
Step 3: Make the tortilla chips. Stack the tortillas and cut them into eighths, creating small triangles. Fry the tortillas in hot oil, working in batches. Once the tortilla chips are golden brown, transfer them to a baking sheet lined with paper towels to soak up any excess oil.
Step 4: In a separate sauté pan or skillet, heat a little vegetable oil. Pour in the red chile sauce and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then remove the pan from the heat and add in the fried tortilla chips. Gently toss them together to coat.
Step 5: Top your chilaquiles with shredded cheese, sliced onion, radishes, Cotija cheese or queso fresco, and cilantro. Serve with a fried egg or a side of beans if desired!
Homemade vs Store-Bought Tortilla Chips
While it may take some more work, I recommend making your tortilla chips. They have a more robust corn flavor and are extra sturdy so they won’t turn to mush when you add the salsa.
If you’re using store-bought tortilla chips to save some time, I recommend using thick yellow corn chips to get the closest comparison of flavor.
- Make sure to toss the tortilla chips into the chile sauce off the heat so that the chips maintain their shape and don’t get overcooked.
- When making the sauce, if you still have pieces of chiles or other ingredients, run it through a fine-mesh sieve to make the sauce as smooth as possible.
What completes your chilaquiles are all the toppings! Here are my must-haves:
- Cotija cheese
- chopped cilantro
- Diced white onions
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- Fried eggs
- In a medium pot, add the guajillo chiles, árbol chiles, and enough water to completely cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let the chiles soak for 10 minutes to soften.
- Using a slotted spoon, transfer the softened chiles to a blender. Add 1 ½ cups fresh water, the tomato, garlic, onion, and salt. Blend until completely smooth. If the sauce is not smooth, strain it through a fine mesh sieve to remove any solids.
- Stack the corn tortillas on top of each other and cut them into eighths to create small triangle wedges. Line a large plate with paper towels and set it aside.
- Fill a large sauté pan or deep skillet with about 2 inches of oil and heat over medium-high heat until the temperature reaches at least 350°F. (To test, drop a small piece of tortilla in the oil. If it sizzles, it's ready.)
- Working in batches, add half of the tortillas and fry for 8 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until they are crispy. Transfer them to the lined plate to drain and repeat the frying process with the remaining tortilla wedges.
- In a separate sauté pan or skillet, heat 1 ½ teaspoons of vegetable oil. Pour in the salsa roja and cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add in the fried tortilla chips. Gently toss them together to coat.
- Serve immediately and garnish with cotija cheese, cilantro, onions, and Mexican crema. Top with a fried egg if desired.
- Spice level: The árbol chiles add a little heat to this salsa roja. If you don’t want it spicy, you can leave it out.
- The sauce: I highly recommend you make your own salsa, but if you don’t have time, feel free to use 1 1/2 cups of your favorite store-bought red enchilada sauce.
- Baking instead of frying: If you don’t want to lightly fry the tortilla wedges, you can bake them instead. Simply spread them in a single layer on two greased baking sheets and lightly spray the tops with nonstick cooking spray or brush with olive oil. Bake at 400°F for 10 to 15 minutes until crispy.
- Store-bought chips: I’m not a fan of using store-bought tortilla chips because they tend to get soggy really quickly when mixed in the sauce, whereas homemade chips are sturdier and can withstand more liquid. However, if you do use store-bought chips, make sure they’re thick and sturdy. Many Mexican grocery stores often sell homemade tortilla chips that you can purchase!
- Serving: One of the most popular ways to serve chilaquiles is with a fried or sunny-side-up egg!