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+ servings

Chile Colorado

This Chile Colorado recipe is warm and comforting, hearty, savory, make ahead and freezer friendly and most importantly, layered with complex flavor but is easier to make than you think! It begins with a red chile sauce made of dried ancho chile peppers, guajillo peppers and chiles de arbol that impart an intense, earthy, smoky, complex, authentic flavor profile laced with sweet berry undertones that’s practically hypnotic (with customizable heat!). If you’re intimidated by working with dried chilies, don’t be! They are super easy to work with and this Chile Colorado recipe is the perfect place to start with step-by-step photos and instructions to create an authentic chile sauce unparalleled in flavor. The Chile Colorado sauce is combined with sautéed onions, garlic, beef broth and seasonings then simmered with chunks of beef until fall apart tender. You can serve the Chile Colorado with Mexican rice, beans and warm tortillas, or topped with cilantro, chips, and cheese. It is also makes a fabulous filling for tacos, burritos and enchiladas. No matter how you serve this Chile Colorado recipe, one thing is for certain – it will be a repeat favorite forever and ever!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 6 servings


For serving (pick your favs!)

  • Mexican rice
  • warmed corn tortillas tostadas or tortilla chips
  • beans
  • thinly sliced radishes
  • chopped cilantro
  • chopped avocados
  • Cotija cheese


  • Cut the tops off of all the chilies with kitchen shears. Cut chilies along one edge to open like a book; scrape out all of the seeds. Reserve some of the seeds to finish the soup if you want more heat.
  • Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chiles and briefly toast until fragrant, Cover the chilies with enough water so that they aren't touching the bottom of the pan (careful it will steam a lot). Simmer for 5 minutes, then turn off heat and let the chilies soak to soften while you prep the beef.
  • Trim the beef of excess fat then chop into 1-inch pieces. Whisk together the flour, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper in a plastic bag or large bowl. Add the beef and toss to evenly coat; set aside.
  • Remove chilies to blender along with 1 cup of the soaking liquid and the can of fire roasted diced tomatoes. Process until smooth, leaving a corner of the blender open so steam can escape; set aside. If you don’t have a high-powered blender, then strain the chili sauce through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, using rubber spatula to push the mixture through and discard the solids.
  • Rinse and dry the Dutch oven. Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in the Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of the beef in an even layer and sear; flip the beef over and sear the other side then stir to evenly brown all sides; remove to a plate with a slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining beef.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil if needed to the now empty skillet. Cook the onions over medium heat until softened, scraping up the brown bits, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ground cumin and sauté 30 second
  • Add the beef back to the pot followed by the chile sauce and rest of the ingredients (oregano, coriander, smoked paprika, bouillon, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, bay leaves and broth).
  • Cover and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over LOW for 45 minutes or until the beef is tender, stirring every 10 minutes or so and replacing the lid so the bottom doesn't burn. Uncover, increase heat to medium and simmer an additional 15 minutes (uncovered), or until the sauce has thickened to desired consistency. Taste and season with additional salt if desired or some reserved chili seeds or cayenne pepper for heat.
  • Discard bay leaves and serve with Mexican rice, beans, tortillas and desired toppings.


Tips and Tricks

  • Dried chiles: Can be found at any Mexican market as well as many grocery stores (and many super Walmart’s depending on your location) in either the Mexican aisle or produce section. Many produce stores such as Sprouts and Whole Foods also carry packages of dried chiles. If you can’t find them or simply want a one-click option, then you can purchase them on Amazon here:  ancho chiles, guajillo chiles, arbol chiles.
  • How spicy? Chile Colorado is not spicy but can be made spicy if you want it to be! Using both the ancho chile peppers and guajillo peppers will not make the stew spicy, it is the chiles de arbol that add the heat.  You can omit the chilies de arbol altogether or add 1-3 chilies de arbol; 1 being mild-medium and 3 being very spicy.  You can also skip the chiles de arbol and spice up your Chile Colorado recipe with cayenne pepper to taste.
  • Beef bouillonYou can use bouillon powder, bouillon cubes or better than bouillon.  Add it to the stew without dissolving in liquid first. If using cubes, crush them up and then add directly to the broth then stir to dissolve.  You will need three cubes in this recipe.
  • Cocoa Powder + sugar + cinnamon: Imitate Mexican chocolate and a subtle yet complex dimension of flavor.  I’ve tried this Chile Colorado both with and without the cocoa/sugar/cinnamon combo and HIGHLY preferred it with.  You can omit it to start, taste and add at the end if you prefer.
  • Chuck roastBoneless chuck roast will deliver fall apart tender results due to its rich marbling.   I do not recommend stew meat because it is a hodgepodge of different cuts that require different cooking at different times.
  • Cook until tender. If your beef isn’t crazy tender, then cook on!  It just means the proteins needs more time to break down and tenderize. Even 15 more minutes can make the world of difference between “okay” and melt-in-your-mouth beef.
  • Don’t touch your eyes! When you are prepping the chile peppers, don’t touch your face, especially your eyes.  You may even want to wear gloves if you have sensitive skin.  Wash your hands immediately after prepping the chilies.
  • Toast the chilies.   Take care when you toast the chilies that you toast until fragrant and lightly toasted/browned, about 1 minute on each side.  It is better to underdo it than overdo it – you don’t want burnt chilies!
  • Don’t burn stew meat. Take care you don’t sear the stew meat at too high of temperature and adjust the heat if needed. We want golden bits left behind in the pan and not black bits, otherwise the stew will taste burnt.

Prep Ahead and Make Ahead 

  • Meat: Can be chopped and seasoned.  You can even go one step farther and sear the meat.  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
  • Chile sauce: The chiles can be soaked and blended days in advance. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
  • Everything:  You can make the recipe according to recipe directions up to simmering the soup.  Combine all of the ingredients in the soup pot, cover and refrigerate.  Expect to add 10 minutes extra simmering time.
  • Make ahead:  You can make the Chile Colorado complete in advance because it tastes even better the next day!

How to Store and Reheat

  • Storage: Chile Colorado will last up to 5 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • Freezer: Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months.  Thaw the stew in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  • Stove: Reheat large batches on the stove over medium low heat, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes).
  • Microwave: Transfer individual servings to a microwave-safe dish, cover with a microwave-safe lids or paper towel. Microwave for 1 minute, stir, then continue to microwave for 30-second intervals, if needed.