Pambazos are Mexican sandwiches famous for their signature red-colored bread, made by dipping the bread in a flavorful red chile sauce. This popular street food is filled with a potato and chorizo mixture and is often topped with lettuce, Mexican crema, salsa, and pickled red onions. All these ingredients combined make for an incredibly mouthwatering recipe!
What Are Pambazos?
Pambazos are a savory Mexican sandwich made from telera bread that is dipped in a rich red guajillo chile sauce, pan-fried until crispy, and filled with a mixture of potatoes and chorizo.
The red chile sauce that coats the bread gives this sandwich its signature red color and adds flavor to every bite.
The filling is made from highly seasoned and flavorful Mexican chorizo, diced potatoes, and toppings like lettuce, salsa, Mexican crema, and red onions.
Adding too many toppings to a sandwich can make it difficult to eat because it falls apart, or you don’t get a taste of all the ingredients in every bite. On the other hand, Pambazos are designed to ensure that each bite contains a bit of every ingredient, including the delectable chile rojo, which is one of the reasons why I love them!
Pambazos vs Tortas
A pambazo is a Mexican sandwich similar to a torta. The most significant difference between the two is the type of bread and the filling used.
Pambazos are always made with telera bread, which has a unique flat and oval/round shape. It’s also always filled with a chorizo and potato mixture.
- Bread: Telera bread rolls are needed for this recipe and can be found in most Hispanic grocery stores.
- Potatoes: Russet or Yukon gold potatoes are perfect for this recipe.
- Chorizo: I recommend making your own Mexican chorizo. If using store-bought chorizo, remove the casing before cooking.
- Chiles: I used guajillo and chile de árbol peppers to make the signature red sauce. Feel free to leave out the chile de árbol if you don’t want it spicy.
- Tomato and onion: Roma tomatoes and white onions balance the heat of the red sauce.
How to Make Pambazos
Make the guajillo chile sauce: Rehydrate and soak the guajillo and árbol chiles in boiling water. When softened, blend them with a Roma tomato, garlic, salt, onion, and a bit of water. The sauce should be smooth. I like to strain it to remove any little solids, but if you have a very powerful blender, you may be able to skip that step.
Make the filling: Boil the diced potatoes in water over high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 5-7 minutes until fork-tender. Then, cook the chorizo in a skillet, stir in the cooked potatoes, and set aside.
Fry the telera bread: Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brush the chile sauce all over the top and bottom of the bread. Place it in the hot oil, crust side down, and fry for 1 minute. Flip and fry the inside of the bread for 1 more minute.
Assemble the pambazos: Fill the telera bread with a scoop of the papas con chorizo filling, a drizzle of your favorite salsa, some shredded lettuce, a sprinkle of cotija cheese, some pickled red onions, and a little Mexican crema. Serve and enjoy!
While you can serve your pambazos with only the chorizo and potato mixture, I love adding more toppings and fillings. Here are some of my favorites:
- Thinly shredded lettuce
- Crumbled cotija cheese
- Pickled red onion
- Salsa roja or verde
- Mexican crema or sour cream
- I recommend only brushing the top and bottom crust of the telera bread with the sauce, not the inside. Otherwise, it may get too soggy.
- After boiling the potatoes, you can lightly fry them for extra flavor and crispiness.
- Telera bread rolls should be easy to find in most Hispanic grocery stores.
- If you can’t find Mexican crema, consider making your own! Alternatively, I’ve also been known to thinning out some regular sour cream with a bit of lime juice until it’s a pourable consistency that can be drizzled on the sandwich.
Recommended Tools and Ingredients
- Blender: My favorite blender that can tackle anything.
- Árbol chiles: These add some heat to the red chile sauce. If you don’t want it spicy, you can omit these.
- Guajillo chiles: The signature dried chile used for making the red sauce for pambazos. Adds tons of flavor and a little heat.
Storing and Reheating
I recommend storing the filling and the guajillo chile sauce separately and assembling the sandwiches when ready.
You can store the meat and potato filling in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
The red sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to 4 days and reheated when coating the telera bread.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin.