Red Chilaquiles: A Favorite Mexican Breakfast Dish

Stephen Chavez

This morning I woke up hungry and craving red chilaquiles: fried corn tortilla strips that are crispy to the crunch, red chile sauce that burns on the way in and on the way….well, you get the point, onions, and cheese. I’m talking lots and lots of cheese.

Now, typically for chilaquiles people use more pungent cheeses. I have even heard of people using feta cheese. For this recipe we’re using Queso Asadero. Queso Asadero is a fresh, slightly dense cheese. It doesn’t quite melt, but softens in the chilaquiles and so when you take a bite, you’ll taste the full flavor of the cheese.

Queso Asadero (Keh-so Ahs-ah-dehro) can be crumbled, sliced or cut into cubes. The cheese is great for filling chile rellenos or even on sandwiches.

Chilaquiles are a popular breakfast item in Mexico and the Southwest. There are numerous recipes available, but probably none as good as your abuelitas. This version is one I learned years ago and have modified to taste as I grew older and craved more heat. Serve this dish with scrambled eggs or eggs over easy for breakfast and you’re set to conquer the day. 


2 cups corn or vegetable oil
24  6″ day-old corn tortillas, cut into sixths, triangular in shape
1 1/2  lbs. (about 3 large) ripe tomatoes
6 dried New Mexico dried red chiles
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 chipotle chiles from a small can
1 large white onion, peeled and sliced into half moons
Leaves of 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. Knorr chicken broth powder, optional, but I like the added layer of flavor it gives to the red chile sauce
3/4 cup crema or sour cream
8 oz. Asadero cheese, crumbled


Heat 1 1/2 cups of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, fry tortilla segments until crisp, about 2 minutes per batch, flipping them after a minute. When crisp, drain on paper towels.

Discard oil. Wipe the skillet clean with paper towels and set aside. 

Make sure to fry your tortilla triangles in batches. Have a baking dish lined with paper towels to capture the oil. I like mine EXTRA crunchy.

Put tomatoes, dried New Mexico red chiles, and garlic into a medium pot. Set aside 1/4 cup of the onions for garnish, then add half the remaining onions to pot.

Fill pot with water and boil over medium-high heat until tomatoes are very soft, about 20 minutes. Add half the cilantro and cook for 1 minute more. Strain tomato mixture in a colander, saving some of the water.

Stem the chiles then put all the ingredients plus the chipotle chiles from the can into a blender. Add some of the water from the pot and the chicken bouillon. Blend until mixture  is a smooth sauce. Salt to taste. This makes about six cups. You can make the red chile sauce one or two days ahead of time. I like making an extra batch for other dishes, such as enchiladas or to add to my broth in soups. 

We love the smell of the chiles, onion, garlic, and tomatoes cooking on the stove top. In this recipe, we used chiles that we purchased in New Mexico on our trip to Colorado last Thanksgiving to visit Art’s familia.

Heat remaining oil in the skillet over medium heat. Add a 1/4 cup of onions and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir in red chile sauce and increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Add tortillas and gently mix in the sauce until well coated. Simmer until tortillas are tender and chewy, about 3 minutes.

Chop remaining cilantro and set aside. Transfer chilaquiles to a warm serving platter, top with Mexican crema and lots of queso asadero cheese, and garnish with cilantro, sliced radishes, and reserved onions. Serve hot.

Serve your chilaquiles in a pretty, warm platter and make sure to garnish it with sliced radishes, cilantro, and drizzle with quality crema to enhance the flavor.


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