Authentic New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

Authentic New Mexican red chile recipe makes a smooth and flavorful sauce that is often mistaken for enchilada sauce. Simmer the sauce a little longer to make Colorado Chile sauce. Enjoy on top of enchiladas, burritos, huevos rancheros, tamales and so much more!

Hand holding a jar of New Mexico red chile in a mason jar.

New Mexico cuisine is synonymous with chile sauces. The most well-known sauces are red and green chile. While the sauces vary in flavor, they are made using the same pepper!

In Colorado, where I live, green chile sauce is all the rage. It is practically state food. However, its counterpart, red chile sauce, is easier to make and richer in flavor.

What is New Mexican Red Chile Sauce?

New Mexican Red chile sauce is typically made with hatch chilies that have ripened from green to red. The chiles are then fire-roasted, which intensifies the flavor. The sauce level can vary by pepper, but you can select your desired heat as a consumer.

Additional ingredients are added, and then the chiles are blended into a smooth sauce easily poured on top of enchiladas, burritos, tamales, etc. In our house, it is poured on top of almost everything or used as a dip for grilled cheese.

How to Select Which Type of Chile to Use

A picture of the three different types of red chiles commonly found at stores.

Red chiles come in four forms: dried, frozen, fresh, and powder. Of the four options, fresh and frozen are my favorite. The sauce comes out richer in flavor and thicker in texture. However, those options might not be available to you.

FormNotes
Dried Chile PodsAvailable at most grocery stores in the Hispanic section. Look for dried chili pods in clear packaging and hanging by their label.
FrozenThe frozen red chilies are sold in a white plastic tub. You might have to search your store to find them. But if you can find them, it is worth it. They have been roasted, and peeled. They are very easy to make a sauce with.
Fresh Fire RoastedIn some larger cities in the west, you can find roadside stands in the early fall months where the chiles are fire-roasted on site. You can also order them online.
Dried PowderI do not recommend using dried red chile powder. The sauce will be very thin.

Ingredients

Ingredients used in making the recipe.

New Mexico red chile peppers – choose one of the following types:

  • Dried chile peppers – 10-12 peppers
  • Fresh fire-roasted – 20-24 peppers
  • Pureed red chiles – 14 ounces, the equivalent of one 14-ounce tub of Bueno.

Extra Virgin Olive oil – Adds a rich flavor to this recipe. You can substitute it with any neutral-flavored oil.

White onion – Use a standard white onion. You can also use a yellow onion. I do not recommend using a red onion.

Salt – Salt enhances the overall flavor of all the ingredients. I typically use a table or sea salt. You can also use kosher salt.

Fresh garlic – Fresh garlic adds the pop of flavor you want to this sauce. You can substitute it with 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder if you do not have fresh garlic.

Vegetable Broth – I keep this recipe vegan and use vegetable broth. However, for this recipe, you can also use chicken broth. I do not recommend using pork or beef stock. The flavor is too strong for this sauce.

Honey or Blue Agave – (optional) – I like to add a small amount of blue agave to offset any bitterness.

Read Before Working With Fresh Chiles

Fresh chile oil is hot and can stay on your hands for a day or two. I strongly recommend removing your contacts and wearing gloves. In my experience, this oil can stay on your hands for several days.

Spooning red chile.
New Mexican Red Chile on the left and Chile Colorado on the right

Instructions

Step One: Prepare the Chiles – Follow the correlating instructions for the chile type you are using:

  • Option #1: Fresh Fire Roasted Chilies – Wearing gloves, use kitchen scissors to remove the stems and seeds. If there is a lot of char from the fire roasting, I also recommend removing that.
  • Option #2: Frozen Chilie Puree – Allow the puree to thaw before moving to the next step.
  • Option #3: Dried Chile Pods – Preheat oven to 350°F and heat 3 – 5 cups of water. Break the stems off and shake the seeds out from the pods. Place peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 2 to 5 minutes or until you smell the chilies roasting. Remove from oven. Place the chiles in the pot with hot water. Remove from heat and let the chiles soak for 30 minutes.
Chilies on a baking sheet.
Pre-roasting dried red chile pods
Breaking open a dried pod.
Removing stems and seeds
A pot of soaking chiles.
Soaking the chiles
Diced onions that have been sautéed.

Step Two: Prepare the Onions

Heat the olive oil in a saute pan until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the diced onion and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute for one minute. Set aside.

Sauce that has been blended in the blender container.

Step Three: Blend –

Place the peppers, broth, and onion mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Add a teaspoon of honey or blue agave if the sauce is too bitter.

Sauce that has been poured into a strainer.

Step Four: Strain –

Place a mesh strainer or sleeve over a bowl and pour the chile sauce into the strainer to remove any seeds, onions, etc. Use a wooden spoon to help push as much sauce through the strainer as possible.

Examples of red chile and chile colorado (chile that has been simmered)

Step Five: Deeper Flavor/Chile Colorado-ish (Optional) –

Place the sauce in a medium-sized saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes or until you reach your desired thickness.

Note: This sauce thickens surprisingly quickly, and I recommend watching it closely.

Different Ways To Enjoy Chile Sauce

Spicy red chile sauce is used on almost everything in my house. My husband uses it instead of hot sauce; I put it on almost anything I eat. Here are some of our favorite dishes to use this sauce with.

  • Breakfast Burritos
  • Burritos Casseroles
  • Chili
  • Eggs
  • Empanadas
  • Enchiladas
  • Frito Pie
  • Huevos Rancheros
  • Potatoes
  • Tamales
  • Tostadas
Fresh red chiles.
Fresh Red Chiles

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Red Chiles Spicy?

In the spectrum of chiles, the red ones are mild. However, spice is really up to personal preference. If you are concerned about spice, purchase mild peppers and only add half the recipe amount. You can add more peppers to increase the heat to your desired preference.

Is Your Recipe Vegan?

This recipe can be made vegan by replacing honey with blue agave.

Is It Chili Or Chile?

The two are often confused. I have even confused the spellings within this blog. However, the two are very different. Here is the best way to keep them straight.

Ending with an E – The spelling with an “e” in the United States refers to the pepper. This pepper is the main ingredient and seasoning in green chile.

Ending with an I – The spelling with an “i” in the United States refers to the stew. That stew is not made with chile peppers. Instead, it is seasoned with a variety of seasonings.

How do I Store Red Chile Sauce?

Refrigerator Storing Instructions: Store in a glass container or a mason jar for up to one week.

Freezer Storing Instructions:- Store in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to three months.

Hand holding a jar of New Mexico red chile in a mason jar.

New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

New Mexican red chile sauce is a staple in southwestern cuisine. Similar to enchilada sauce, this red sauce is spicier and made without tomatoes. Try it on top of burritos, quesadillas, enchiladas, huevos, eggs, and so much more.
5 from 11 votes
Print Rate
Course: American
Cuisine: Mexican, New Mexican
Servings: 32 ounces of sauce
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes

Equipment

  • Blender
  • Medium-sized pot with lid (optional)
  • Baking sheet (optional)

Ingredients

  • New Mexico red chile peppers* See notes for types and measurements.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ white onion, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

Instructions

  • Step One: Prepare the Chiles – Follow the correlating instructions for the chile type you are using:
    Option #1: Fresh Fire Roasted Chilies – Wearing gloves, use kitchen scissors to remove the stems and seeds. If there is a lot of char from the fire roasting, I also recommend removing that.
    Option #2: Frozen Chilie Puree – Let the chiles thaw before moving to step two.
    Option #3: Dried Chile Pods – Preheat oven to 350°F and heat 3 – 5 cups of water. Break the stems off and shake the seeds out from the pods. Place peppers in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 2 to 5 minutes or until you smell the chilies roasting. Remove from oven. Place the chiles in the pot with hot water. Remove from heat and let the chiles soak for 30 minutes.
  • Step Two: Prepare the Onions – Heat the olive oil in a saute pan until the oil starts to shimmer. Add the diced onion and saute over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and a pinch of salt. Saute for one minute. Set aside.
  • Step Three: Blend Place the peppers, broth, and onion mixture into a blender and blend until smooth. Add a teaspoon of honey or blue agave if the sauce is too bitter.
  • Step Four: Strain Place a mesh strainer or sleeve over a bowl and pour the chile sauce into the strainer to remove any seeds, onions, etc. Use a wooden spoon to help push as much sauce through the strainer as possible.
  • Step Five: Deeper Flavor/Chile Colorado-ish (Optional) Place the sauce in a medium-sized saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes or until you reach your desired thickness.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Types and amounts of red chiles to use with this recipe. Choose one of the following:
  • Dried chile pods – 10-12 peppers
  • Fresh fire-roasted – 20-24 peppers
  • Frozen Pureed – 14 ounces, the equivalent of one 14-ounce tub of Bueno.
Red chile is perfect on top of many dishes, including burritos, enchiladas, tamales, huevos rancheros.  
Refrigerator Storing Instructions: Store in a glass container or a mason jar for up to one week.
Freezer Storing Instructions:- Store in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to three months.
 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
New Mexican Red Chile Sauce
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
8
Calories from Fat 4
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.4
g
1
%
Sodium
 
132
mg
6
%
Carbohydrates
 
1
g
0
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
0.2
g
0
%
Protein
 
0.1
g
0
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This was excellent! Just like I have had in New Mexico. I did add a can of roasted tomatoes to add some brightness and acid. It was perfect! I made chilaquiles with it and I’m craving it again today. Saving this as my go to recipe.

    1. Awe, thank you so much Angela! I am so happy you liked it and are saving it as a go to recipe! It is a staple in our home.

    1. Hi, David,

      Thank you so much for your comment, you made my day! I am going to have to make this with honey. That sounds better than sugar.

      Ruth

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