This easy red chilaquiles recipe features crispy tortillas in a rich Mexican red salsa. Chilaquiles (pronounced “chee-lah-key-lehs”), are a traditional Mexican breakfast of lightly fried corn tortillas in either a red or green salsa. You can bake the tortillas for a lighter version, but my go-to is always to pan fry them.
Chilaquiles are a delicious and hearty breakfast that are really a vessel for lots of toppings! I serve my red chilaquiles with thinly sliced white onions, crema, cotija, and lots of cilantro. You can also top chilaquiles with a fried egg or two and serve them alongside my instant pot refried beans for a heartier breakfast.
If you’re looking for an easy gluten-free (and vegan!) breakfast recipe, these red chilaquiles are it! I always top mine with a bit of crema and cheese, but you can omit those for an easy vegan breakfast.
Red Chilaquiles: An Easy Mexican Breakfast
Chilaquiles are hands-down my favorite breakfast ever! While I love green chilaquiles (or chilaquiles verdes), red chilaquiles will always be my favorite. There’s just something about the bold and rich flavors of the red sauce.
To make the red sauce, you roast tomatoes, onion, and garlic until blistered and then blend with soaked Mexican chilies and spices. This red sauce is something I always like to have on hand in my freezer because it’s great for making saucy chicken and enchiladas!
If you plan to make red chilaquiles all in one go, plan for a bit of time and prep. However, it’s all worth it in the end! You can prep the sauce several days in advance which makes the cooking process go that much more quickly.
This is one of my favorite breakfasts ever and I’m so excited to be sharing the recipe with you! I know you’ll love it just as much as I do.
What are Chilaquiles?
Chilaquiles are a Mexican breakfast dish of fried corn tortillas smothered in red or green salsa. As with any recipe, chilaquiles usually vary by family. Chilaquiles are often eaten alongside refried beans and are topped with anything from onions and queso fresco, to avocado, eggs, and cilantro.
I grew up eating red chilaquiles, but after I had them in Mexico City I knew I had to recreate the recipe. This is an authentic red chilaquiles recipe as was made by my family growing up.
How to Make Red Chilaquiles
This recipe is so easy to make, but it does require a bit of prep work. I recommend making your sauce ahead of time to cut down on cooking time.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Corn tortillas. It’s best to use stale or dry corn tortillas here, they fry up best and crispiest. I’ve tried making this dish with store bought tortilla chips, but very few work well. The only store bought chips I would use are the “restaurant-style” corn tortilla chips.
- Tomatoes. I like to use roma tomatoes here, but use whatever you have on hand.
- Onion. White onion is traditional here, half goes in the sauce and the other half is super thinly sliced as a topping.
- Garlic. Whole garlic cloves are roasted for the sauce.
- Dried Chilies. Guajillo and arbol chilies are best here but you could use dried New Mexico chilies or another dried red Mexican chile.
- Spices. Cumin and oregano are blended into the sauce and give it so much flavor.
- Toppings. You can top red chilaquiles however you want! I like thinly sliced white onion, Mexican crema, cotija cheese, and cilantro. Other common toppings are avocado, egg, sliced chilies, etc.
- Make the sauce. Toss the halved tomatoes, onion, and garlic together on a baking sheet with salt and pepper and olive oil. Roast at 375 F for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes and onion are soft. While the veggies roast, soak the guajillo chilies and arbol chilies in very hot water until soft. Add the roasted veggies to a blender with the soaked chilies, spices, and salt. Blend until thin enough to pour, using some of the soaking liquid from the chilies.
- Fry the tortillas. Cut the corn tortillas into wedges and heat a thin layer of oil in a large nonstick skillet. Fry the tortillas until crispy in batches, adding more oil as necessary. Transfer the crispy tortillas to a paper towel lined try and season with salt. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the skillet.
- Cook the sauce. Add the sauce to the skillet (careful, it’ll splatter a bit!), and cook for 4-5 minutes over medium heat until darkened in color.
- Add the fried tortillas. Add the fried tortillas to the sauce and toss to coat. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until the tortillas have softened slightly but aren’t soggy. Top as desired and serve immediately.
Baked, Fried, or Store Bought Chips for Chilaquiles
I’m personally always going to opt for fried tortillas for red chilaquiles, but there are other options! If you wanted to bake your corn tortillas until crispy, you can do that too. Brush your tortilla wedges with oil, season with salt, and bake until crispy. Follow the instructions as written afterwards.
If you want to use store bought tortilla chips, you can, but with a caveat. Most store bought tortilla chips are really thin, making them a poor choice for red chilaquiles. That being said, if you wanted to use store bought tortilla chips, my favorite are the restaurant-style tortilla chips from Trader Joe’s because they’re super thick and flavorful.
You could also go to a Mexican market, but again look for thick chips that will hold up to the sauce without falling apart.
How to Serve Red Chilaquiles
Red chilaquiles are best served with all the toppings! You know I’m a toppings gal, so I really like to load them on. I chose thinly sliced white onions, Mexican crema, crumbled cotija cheese, and cilantro. You could omit the cheese and crema and these red chilaquiles are vegan.
Because chips can get soggy fast, red chilaquiles are best served right away! Make sure you have your toppings ready to go before you toss the chips with the red salsa so that serving goes smoothly.
Try serving red chilaquiles alongside refried beans for a hearty Mexican breakfast!
More Mexican-Inspired Recipes to Try Now
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Easy Red Chilaquiles
- 16 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
- neutral oil, for frying
- 4 roma tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 white onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled
- 3 dried guajillo chilies, stem and seeds removed
- 3 dried chile de arbol, stem and seeds removed
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- kosher salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 1/2 white onion, very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
- 3 oz cotija cheese, crumbled
- 1/4 cup Mexican crema
- Preheat an oven to 375 F. Toss the halved roma tomatoes, chopped onion, and garlic cloves with 1 tablespoon of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
- Place the dried guajillo chilies and chile de arbol in a heat safe bowl and cover with very hot water, let them soak for 15 minutes.
- Combine the roasted veggies and soaked chilies in the carafe of a blender with the cumin and oregano and add as much of the chile soaking liquid as necessary to make the sauce smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Heat a thin layer of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Fry the tortilla wedges in batches until crispy on both sides. Transfer the crispy tortillas to a paper towel lined plate and season with salt. Add oil as necessary as you fry the rest of the chips. After the chips are fried, remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the skillet.
- Add the red salsa to the skillet (careful, it'll splatter a little!) and cook over medium heat for 4-5 minutes until darkened in color. Add the crispy tortillas and toss to coat. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the chips have softened slightly but aren't soggy. Top as desired and serve immediately.