Food & Drink Magazine

Easy New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

By Chuck Underwood @brandnewvegan

Red Chile Sauce 2

Don’t ask me why, but yesterday I got a craving for New Mexican Red Chile Sauce.  

Mind you, this is NOT the same thing as those little cans of Enchilada Sauce you see in the stores.  Not even close.  Red Chile Sauce is made from New Mexican Red Chiles, and it’s earthy, pungent flavor is so unique – it’s really hard to explain to people who have never visited the Southwest.

Other than it’s AMAZINGLY good!

I’m serious, in New Mexico?  It’s like ketchup.  It goes on EVERYTHING.  You may be thinking Mexican foods – Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas……well sure…. but….

What about a plain baked potato?  Yummy!
A bowl of rice or beans?  You bet!
Tofu Scrambles?  Oh yeah!
Black Bean Veggie Burgers?  Oh my gosh…stop!

You get the picture.  Anything!  And the best part?

It’s 100% fat-free, low in calories, and full of vitamins and nutrients.  

And did I mention it’s easy to make?  Yes, even way up here in Portland, Oregon.  You just have to know how.  And this morning, I am going to teach you


Super easy and with minimal mess.  One cookie sheet for baking.  One pasta pot for boiling.  And a blender.

Let’s get started!

Easy New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

Step 1:  First step, we’re going to need some Chiles.  

Look in your grocery store’s Mexican food section, where they sell the Pace picante sauce, Taco shells, etc.  They should have a little section of dried spices, usually with corn husks for tamales, etc.  Look for a big bag of dried New Mexican Red Chile Pods.  I know they’re out there as my Walmart here in Portland carries them.

We’re going to need about 20 pods for this recipe so make sure you get the right size bag.  And we want the pods – not the powder.

You may see bags labeled California Chile Pods.  I personally have never tried them and only use New Mexican Chiles.  Although both states grow chiles – the growing conditions around Hatch, NM are such that the chile has a very distinct flavor.

Kind of like buying a store bough tomato compared to one you just picked off a vine.

Sorry California, no offense intended.

Step 2:  Roasting

Pick out about 20 of the best looking pods and arrange them on a cookie sheet.  We’re going to roast them in a 250 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Just enough to bring out the flavor – but not burn them.  Flip them over about half way through the roasting process to heat them evenly.

Step 3:  Cleaning the Chiles

Red Chile Sauce 3

Once they’re done roasting, let them cool to touch and begin to de-stem and de-seed the chiles.  I use kitchen shears to snip off the stem end and dump out all the seeds.

Note:  The seeds and membranes inside chile pods (even dried) contain an oil called Capsicum.  It is very irritating to some, especially if you rub your eyes, nose, or other sensitive body parts.  Wear gloves if you need to – just be careful.  

Step 4:  Rehydrating the Chiles

Once all your chiles are cleaned, add them to a large pasta pot with enough cold water to cover them and bring to a boil.  This is a good time to add 1/4 of an onion and let that soften as well.

Once it comes to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 10 minutes.

The chiles will become puffed up and very soft.  Perfect.

Step 5:  Drain

Now some people will save the chile water to use in the following blending step, and some don’t.

I didn’t as I did not rinse the chiles out of the bag.  I simply added fresh water to the blender.  Either way you’ll need about 2 cups of water in Step 6.  Your choice.  Just make sure to strain out all the seeds.

Now carefully remove the chiles (and onion) from the pot and add them to your blender.

Step 6:  Blending 

Red Chile Sauce 4

To your blender full of chiles, add 2 cups of water (used chile water or fresh), an 8oz can of Tomato Sauce, and 1/2 tsp each of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cumin, and salt.

Also add in 2-3 cloves of fresh garlic.

Now with your hand securely holding the top of the blender, blend on high until smooth.

Note:  Hot chiles and water will create a lot of pressure inside your blender.  Make sure you initially hold that lid on tightly, so we don’t have any explosive accidents.  

Note:  Something else to note here….Red Chile stains.  Clean up spills immediately and you’ll be fine.  Also – speaking from experience….. I really don’t recommend wearing anything white.  

Step 7:  Straining (optional)

Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.

Now at this point some people like to strain their finished Red Chile Sauce through a sieve to make it even smoother.  This removes any small pieces of chile skin or seeds.

I don’t.  It takes a lot more time, it’s very messy, and I personally like it a little chunky.  Besides, it tastes so good at this point I can’t bear to throw any of it away!

Your choice but it does not strain easily.  You’ll have to use a rubber spatula and really work the sauce through the sieve.

Call me lazy, but I like it just as it is.

Step 8:  Devour

The best step!  Enjoy!

Potatoes, rice, beans, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, tofu scrambles, toast, biscuits, corn, vegetables.

Think of it like gravy – try it on everything!

New Mexico is truly an enchanting place.  I lived in Albuquerque for almost 10 years and of all the things I miss……  the food is probably on top of the list, namely the Chiles.

Now you can have a little piece of New Mexico wherever you happen to live.




Save Print Easy New Mexican Red Chile Sauce

Prep time:  15 mins

Cook time:  30 mins

Total time:  45 mins

Serves: About 6-8 cups

Easy New Mexican Red Chile Sauce
Forget those little cans of store bought enchilada sauce, this homemade New Mexican Red Chile Sauce is the perfect condiment for any of your Mexican meals. Ingredients
  • 20 dried New Mexico Red Chile Pods
  • ¼ onion
  • 2 cups water
  • 8oz can Tomato Sauce
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
  2. Arrange 20 chile pods on a cookie sheet and roast for 20 minutes
  3. Flip chiles halfway through roasting process
  4. After chiles have cooled to touch,remove stems and seeds
  5. Add chiles and onion to large pasta pot and cover with water
  6. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes
  7. Strain the chiles if desired, or reserve 2 cups of water for blending
  8. Carefully remove chiles and onion from pot and add to blender
  9. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth

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