Chilaquiles, a traditional Mexican breakfast, utilizes tortillas from the previous day as a base for various toppings. The tortillas are chopped or torn into triangles and then fried in oil until golden brown and crunchy. After the chips have cooled, they are slathered in a sauce that can range from mild red to fiery green chile to any version of mole, and then topped with crema and crumbled salty cheese.
What Exactly Are Chilaquiles?
The Nahuatl language gave us the name chilaquiles, which literally translates to “chilies and greens.” The recipe for the traditional dish served in Mexico made its way to the United States in 1898 when it was published in The Spanish Cookbook by Encarnación Pinedo.
Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican dish made of lightly fried corn tortillas tossed in salsa verde (chilaquiles Verde) or red chile sauce (chilaquiles Rojo) and topped with queso fresco and Mexican crema. They are often served with a fried egg and refried beans, but you can also add sautéed onion, shredded chicken, or avocado for a different taste.
Why I like this recipe:
Red AND Green Sauce: Chilaquiles are usually made with either red or green sauce, but I like the taste of both, so I mixed them together. The result was the BEST chilaquiles I’ve ever had! They taste SO real and are simple to make from scratch.
Versatile: They can be served at any meal, but I like them best with a fried egg on top for breakfast or brunch.
Easy Meal to Make Ahead: This recipe is EASY, but it does take some time, so I like to make the sauces and fry the tortillas ahead of time so that it’s easy to put together when we want to eat. Find my instructions for making things ahead of time in the notes on the recipe card.
Chilaquiles: How to Make Them
- Pan-fry corn tortillas by cutting them into six wedges and letting them dry on the counter for a few hours or overnight (or, use older, stale corn tortillas). On medium heat, heat an inch of vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Put the corn tortillas in the oil and turn them over once or twice. Cook them until they are crisp. Move to a bowl with paper towels on the bottom.
- To soften dried chiles, cut them open with scissors and pull out the veins and seeds. Put dried chiles in a pot and add enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for 20–30 minutes, or until they are soft.
- Mix Green Sauce: Put 1/3 cup chicken broth, garlic, oregano, and cumin seed in a blender. Blend well. Add tomatillos and a small handful of fresh cilantro and blend until smooth.
- Simmer Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion slices and cook for another 3 minutes. Put the onion on a dish. Put the green salsa from the blender into the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring every so often.
- Blend Red Sauce: Once the red chiles have softened, take them out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and put them in the blender with 1 cup of chicken broth. Mix until it’s smooth.
- Mix the red and green sauces together. Pour the red chile sauce into a fine mesh strainer set over the green sauce pot. Press it through the strainer and into the pot with a spoon. Add salt and let it cook for 10 minutes. Put in another 2/3 cup of chicken broth. Simmer for 20 minutes. Taste it and if it needs it, add a pinch of oregano or ground cumin.
- Mix the fried tortillas into the sauce until they are well-covered.
- Serve the chilaquiles by putting a pinch of queso fresco, a few sautéed onions, and a drizzle of Mexican crema on each plate. Serve with a side of black beans that have been cooked in oil and a fried or sunny-side-up egg.
Instructions for Preparing Food in Advance:
You can make the red and green sauces and chips a few days ahead of time. Put sauces in the refrigerator. When it’s time to eat, heat the sauce in a saucepan and add the chips. Mix to coat, then serve as directed. Both sauces could also be frozen for up to 3 months in a container that could go in the freezer.
Can store-bought tortilla chips be used in chilaquiles?
I don’t think it would work as well to use tortilla chips instead of corn tortillas because tortilla chips soften more quickly and will get mushier when mixed with the sauce. If you want to use tortilla chips in chilaquiles, choose ones that are thick and made from organic ingredients for the best results. Use my method for baking corn tortillas instead of frying them if you don’t want to (see recipe card notes).