Mexican Red Chile Sauce

"Salsa de Chile Rojo. This is based on a recipe from Sunset's Mexican Cook Book. Sunset recommends mild dried chiles, ones that are large and dusky-red. Use as an enchilada sauce."
photo by PaulaG photo by PaulaG
photo by PaulaG
Ready In:
2hrs 20mins
3 1/2 cups


  • 6 ounces whole dried chilies (ancho, pasilla, or California green chiles, about 10 to 12 chiles, in any combination)
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 14 cup tomato sauce (or tomato paste)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced (or pressed)
  • 14 cup salad oil
  • 1 12 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon oregano leaves, crumbled
  • 14 teaspoon ground cumin


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place chiles on a baking sheet. Toast lightly in oven, 3 or 4 minutes, until they give off a mild aroma. Do not burn, otherwise, chiles will be very bitter.
  • Remove chiles from oven and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  • Remove and discard stems, seeds, and any pink pithy materials.
  • Rinse chiles in cool water, drain briefly, then cover with hot water and soak for an hour.
  • Process chiles in blender with enough of the soaking water to obtain a nice, blended consistency.
  • Add remaining water, tomato sauce, garlic, oil, salt, oregano, and cumin. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for later use.

Questions & Replies

  1. What gives this sauce it's consistency? I made it and it was more like a watery soup than a thick sauce. With 3.5 cups of water and just blended chilis and a 1/4 cup of tomato paste to add body, I'd expect a watery result. What am I missing?


  1. THIS IS DA BOMB. Dh refused to go get me a can of sauce saying that I could make better. Lo & behold, this recipe was attached to the stacked enchiladas recipe o was making. I dug around & found mostly anchos. Folks, i cannot tell you how amazing this sauce is. It is easy, it has depth of flavor that you can NEVER buy. We were completely blown away which isn't easy to do. THANK YOU, MERSAYDEES for sharing this recipe. Made as a bonus while you were VIP of the Veggie Swap 10/09.
  2. I used Hatch, New Mexico dried red chile, 2 garlic cloves and 2 tablespoons oil along with the other ingredients and my Vita-Mix to make this delicious, thick and rich sauce in under 15 minutes. The sauce was used to make enchiladas.
  3. Fabulous red chile sauce recipe!!! We have a variety of dried peppers that we used for the recipe. I served it over Recipe #292128 292128, and it literally made the recipe. Thanks for posting this keeper!
  4. Well, I did Ancho, Pasilla, and Guajillo chilies. I used less oil (olive) and a bit more tomato sauce, because it was to thick. Put it on the heat. It was still a bit bitter (didn't clean the chilis enough?), so I added some honey. It was still a bit more bitter than I like, not to bad, but... So I thought, "no more sugar...hmm". IDEA Baharat. It's an Arabic spice with Cumin, Coriander, Clove, Cardamom, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, and stuff. When cooked it tends to partake a sweet aromatic flavor. Well, it's more of a Mole now, but it aint bitter. I don't think the chilis were in the oven for even 90 seconds before I could smell them. One factor could be that they were pliable before roasting. I can get some pretty fresh dried chili's in AZ from the ranch market. Maybe I didn't clean them well enough. OH well. Either way, this is an easy recipe, and one of many I have tried. One of the best yet. I'll do this one again.



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