Mexican Red Chili Sauce

Here is an authentic Mexican red chili sauce, made with dried Ancho chilies or Pasilla chilies. It's perfect making tamales and enchiladas!

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: Makes a little more than 1 cup


Ancho chili for tamale sauce

  • 3 dried Ancho (sometimes called pasilla in the US*) chiles OR 2 Ancho and 2 Guajillo chiles
  • Water
  • 1 large clove garlic
  • 2 whole cloves, crushed
  • 2 black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, more to taste
  • Olive oil

* According to Diana Kennedy, Pasilla chilies are a long and skinny variety of chile, while Ancho chilies (dried poblanos) are shorter and wider. However, in certain parts of Mexico, the Ancho chile is called Pasilla, and because of immigration, is commonly known as Pasilla in many parts of the US.


1 Cut the chiles open and remove stem and seeds: Working on one chile at a time, use a paring knife to cut a slit all the way down one side of a chile. Open up the chile and remove the stem and seeds. Remove as much of the veins as you can.

Reserve a few of the seeds or veins for adding later if you want added heat.

Note when working with chilies, either wear protective gloves or wash your hands very thoroughly with soap and warm water after handling the chilies. Do not touch or rub your eyes if you have been handling chili peppers.

removing chili stem for tamale sauce dried chilis for homemade chili sauce

2 Heat the chiles on a skillet: Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Flatten out the dried chilies as well as you can and place on the skillet to heat.

Press down on the opened chilies and leave for a few seconds. Turn the chilies over and heat a few seconds more.

You do not want to toast or burn the chilies! If they burn, they'll turn bitter. Just heat them enough to draw out more of their flavor.

chilis in pan for red chili sauce

3 Soften the chiles in hot water: Add the chilies to a small saucepan and add enough water so that they are just covered. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit for 10 minutes, until the chilies have softened and plumped up.

(OR pour place the chilies in a small saucepan and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let sit for 15 minutes, until softened.)

how to make chili sauce - chilis in pan

4 Purée with garlic, seasonings, water or poaching liquid: Reserving the soaking water, remove the chilies from the pan and place in a blender. Add the garlic, salt, ground pepper, ground cloves, and 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid (taste the soaking water first, if it seems bitter, use plain water instead).

Purée for 2 minutes, until the sauce is completely smooth. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning. If you want more heat, add in a few of the seeds or veins and purée some more. Add more salt if needed.

tamale sauce in blender

5 Strain through sieve into a skillet, simmer: Pour the sauce through a sieve into a skillet. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the sauce.

Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to maintain the simmer, cook for 10 minutes. Skim off the foam.

Remove from heat. Use immediately or pour into a glass jar (plastic will get stained) and refrigerate.

how to make red chili sauce - putting tamale sauce through sieve boil homemade chili sauce on stovetop

Click on the comments you'd like to print with your recipe. Grayed out comments will not print.


  • Norma

    This sounds delicious…would like to know if there is a process for pressure canning this recipe.

  • Cecilia

    Add chicken bouillon for boiling the Chili’s. Gives it a great flavor!

  • shante

    If you do feel the heat of the hot seeds and juices use lime and suger to make a paste rub. Really helps the burn.

  • Susan Lopez

    My father always used a food mill to puree the chiles after soaking. I use a blender but it’s not as smooth -even after straining. Only lightly roast the chiles or they will burn and taste bitter.

  • Martina McConnell

    My son recently grabbed a hot chili and touched his eyes, he cried so hard I googled a few ways to get the sting out. We found water and alcohol worked fast, Made the sting go away and no longer burnt his eyes when he touch his fingers to eyes or mouth. Gloves are the best but if you need a fast fix it works. We tried Milk also it worked but took longer and still had a little sting.

  • Rosa

    !!Madre de Dios!!
    Frustration City!!!!!!! Bitter chile rojo has been busting my chops for to long. What am I doing wrong?? What am I not doing??
    My best friend’s tastes fine/perfect and mine bittermania! yes I cried a little leave me be…

  • Waters

    Mine came out really bitter the first time, so I added some cumin & some sour cream with the sauce and back into the blender & it was soooo much better. Also, I’m of the impression its the seeds making it so bitter if you leave ANY in at all even a few stragglers. By rinsing the chilies out for a second to get every last seed & vein out its far less bitter.

  • Ali

    This is a really good, basic recipe. I made the sauce last night and it was my first attempt at making beloved red sauce. I used pasilla chiles (I think? They were labelled as such, here in the UK, but they were much longer than those in the photo)and the sauce came out very dark. I think the key thing here is to taste it at every step, and trust your taste! I added some cumin, and a bit of tomato paste, to brighten up the flavour a tiny bit. I didn’t have any cloves, but I imagine they would be lovely and add nice complexity. The sauce was lovely and rich, almost like a mole. I used the chile boiling water, which wasn’t bitter, and I also added part of a cube of veg boullion.

    I know, I know, I sound like a jerk who says “Great recipe! Here are ALL the changes I made!”, but really, the additions were just to my taste, and it would still be damn good and easy-peasy as it is. Big thumbs up!

    I love reading about people’s modifications to the recipes, thank you for sharing and I’m so glad it worked out for you! ~Elise

    • Dharmadm

      These are good ideas thank you. I too like gathering ideas!

  • Claudine F

    First timer…I used the boiled water and ground gloves and it did come out bitter…but just as bitter as enchilada sauce. I added a pinch of sugar and 1/4 tsp honey and that added some good flavor. I will try using chicken stock next time and ground whole cloves. I am making enchiladas with this and it tastes so much better than canned.

  • Suzi Q

    You do not need a blender or food processor at all.
    The trick is a little more lobor intensive, but worth it because the skin of the pepper is bitter. Just cover peppers with water and bring to boil as directed, Turn to simmer for about 20 minutes. Get a bowl of Ice water ready. Turn off peppers while still hot remove peppers place in ice water. Take each piece of pepper place on cutting board, with a butter knife, scrape pulp from skin (Discard skin) place in mixing bowl, add about equal amount of water and mix with wisk, spoon, or mixer. I use about 4 Chili anchos and about 1/2 cup of water. It will make about 1 cup of Chili ancho paste it should be the consistancy of apple butter.

    Suzi’s Basic Chili Ancho Sauce

    1 cup of ancho paste
    1&1/2 cup of tomato sauce
    1tsp Garlic powder
    1tsp Onion powder
    1tsp Paprika
    1tsp salt
    1tsp cumin powder
    1/2 tsp black pepper
    opt. 1/2 tsp Cayanne pepper powder
    opt. 1/2 tsp ground cloves
    Mix, Now you have basic Chili Ancho Sauce.
    You can, can sauce or freeze it. I make ice cubes of it & store them in a freezer bag.

    To use to dip tortillas for enchiadas;
    Mix equil part of Ancho sauce and water.

    To use for chili;
    1 cup ancho sauce
    1tsp Chili powder
    1/2 tsp Black pepper
    1/2 tsp salt
    opt. 1/2 tsp cocoa powder
    Use this instead of store bought chili packet

    To use as sauce for Enciladas not dipped;
    Place naked enchiladas in baking dish.
    Mix equal parts of ancho sauce and your fovorite salsa. pour over enchiadas.
    place cheese on top and bake.

  • Lee

    Does anyone know if this sauce can be pressure canned? I am about to try this tomorrow. Does anyone freeze this sauce and throw it into recipes?

  • Jan

    When I find that my chile sauce is bitter, I add a spoonful or more of tomato paste to add sweetness, and cook this with the sauce. I suppose you could alternately add a little white or brown sugar also. I think of the chiles like chocolate, which is very bitter on its own, but add a little sugar, and you have magic.

    Other ingredients that I sometimes add to my sauce are:
    A pinch of cinnamon.
    A little piece of semi-sweet chocolate, just at the end of cooking.

  • priscilla

    HELP! Bitter GREEN chile sauce and I am making Christmas Eve dinner for 10 tonight! What to do? is is contaminated from my freezer? I make this all the time and it has never happened before?

  • TZ

    Thanks for the recipe, the cloves sound interesting. I’ll have to try that next time.

    I ran across this page while trying to find a conversion between pods and powder (BTW, it looks like one heaping TBS equals an ancho pod more or less…I guess?). I see recipes ranging from 1/4 to 1/2 cup chile powder for 2 cups liquid depending on the heat you want. Talk about seat of your pants cooking!

    Anyway, Its hard to find good dried chiles here in small town Ohio so I’ve been growing my own (Ancho, Chimayo, Guajillo, Pasilla Bajio et al.) dehydrating them and grinding into powder in the blender for compact storage. The dehydrator gives a fresher, fruitier flavor than storebought because those pods are often left on the plant to dry in the field (the bitterness people find may be from bad pods?) Mixing the varieties gives different flavors. My orignal cookbook recipe called for equal numbers of anchos, guajillos, and pasillas, But I almost never have all three, and often substitute dried anaheim types (Califronia red and New Mexico).

    You can now find Ancho powder in some stores and order New Mexico (Hatch) chile powder online (different from generic Chili powder which is often hot cayenne and/or paprika plus spices).

    When I want to toast the ingredients I heat up a nonstick pan quite hot, and then put in the dry ingredients (powders) and stir. Its very quick and easy.

    If you want to add heat at the table (salt shaker style) without the hot sauce flavor here is what I do.

    Fresh Habaneros cut and deveined-seeded (optional step), air dried or dehydrated. Ground in coffee/spice mill to fine powder (in a well ventilated room)

    Add to equal parts onion powder, garlic powder and powdered salt.

    Put the salt in the spice mill to powder it. As a powder it sticks to the other ingredients rather than separating. The small amount of salt really brings out the flavor of the mix without salting the food. The flavors are fairly generic in this ratio so they don’t alter the flavor of the dish you are eating.



  • Linda

    Thank you Tyson for your simple recipe for red chili sauce:
    4 Tbsp corn oil
    3 Tbsp chili powder
    1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
    3/4 tsp garlic powder
    5 Tbsp flour
    1/2 tsp + pinch kosher salt
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    3 cups water
    The only thing I did different used
    1tbsp. pasilla chili powder and 2tbsp.chili powder. cause I didn’t have enough chili powder.
    The flavor is what I grew up tasting. I would ask my mother how she made it and she would never give me exact measurements. Because she didn’t cook using measuring spoon or measuring cups. So I couldn’t get the right flavors. She has now passed. And every time I go to make this I wish I had more time with her so I could create the flavor for my family. I now have a recipe that I can put in my book for future generations. My mother always made this with chicken. It was her version of chicken and mole. Thank you so much.

  • Jourdain

    I’m of Arab North African descent, and LOVVVVE Mexican food. This particular sauce sounds a lot like a condiment used in Morocco called Harissa.

    For harissa, you soak dried chilies (living in CA, I use ancho and guajilo in concert with some de arbols) in water until they’re soft, and then liquefy/emulsify them into a thick-ish paste with lots of garlic, olive oil, salt, cumin, coriander, and a hint of cayenne (for extra heat). This is used primarily on couscous and in street foods in Marrakech and Fes…

    One of my favorite recipes is incredibly simple: marinade chicken leg quarters in harissa and olive oil (half n half) for a few hours, and then broil…and that’s about it. I serve with kalamata olives, a hummus-like spread, a cucumber and tomato salad, preserved lemon relish, pita, and lots of napkins.

  • Brandon

    To those who are getting a bitter sauce:

    I recently tried an enchilada sauce recipe very similar to this using dried ancho chiles. For those of you getting a “bitter” sauce, it is likely because you are heating/toasting the chiles too long. Even just 30 seconds too much will ruin the chiles, producing a bitter sauce. I recommend heating your oven to 400 deg f, laying the chiles on a baking tray, and roasting for 2-3 min, just until the chiles begin to smell nice.

    Thanks for the tip Brandon! ~Elise

  • gowns

    This is so close to a chili my dear wife makes and one we use regularly for brunch on the weekends. My favorite way to have it is with eggs. Simply prepared by heating the chili in a saute pan and cooking egggs over medium in it. She calls it “huevos banados”. Roughly translated to “eggs bathed in chili. Thanks for a nice recipe.

  • Lorena

    Can this be used to make chilequiles?

    Yes. And in fact, we use it in our chilaquiles recipe. ~Elise

  • Joe

    I’ve made this a couple of times now. When used in the intended final dish (enchiladas) it’s been fantastic. Really, really good. A step up from any other sauce I’ve used.

    But….I gotta say this and it sounds weird. The sauce just by itself isn’t good. It’s been bitter and and unappetizing. Yet, when I use it in any other dish it’s magical. I don’t get it. So, I guess one just has to have a little faith.

    Now, I want to make a big batch. Have some on hand for multiple variations.

    Does anyone know if it freezes? Would that work?

    • Melanie

      Joe, This was my question, too, because I have made a different version of this (going to make this one today) and only used it as an ingredient in other sauces, never by itself. For example, I mix one part chile sauce, one part stock, one part tomato sauce for enchilada sauce (plus a few seasonings). It’s also excellent as the chile component in chili instead of powdered chili seasoning.

      As for freezing, that’s exactly what I did with mine. I made a large batch (going to the trouble, might as well, right?) and froze it in 1 cup portions, which I did in vacuum bags which flattened nicely and took up minimal freezer space. They lasted until now, which is why I’m making more. :-)

  • Laurie

    This recipe turned out quite well for me, the second time!

    First time I made it I didn’t throw away the soaking water — even though I tasted it, it was the first time making it, so i wasn’t sure what “bitter” tasted like, based on this recipe. I also used cloves which added a dimension to the sauce I did’t care for.

    Second time I tossed the soaking water and used plain tap water. Delicious base to start with. It was still a little flat, so I added the smallest pinch of cumin with excellent results. By trial and error this is what I discovered:
    – cumin brings out the heat (spicy) dimension
    – unsweetened baking cocoa brings out the meaty dimension
    – ground cloves add zing
    – salt cools the heat
    – olive oil added an “earthy” dimension

    Also: make SMALL changes (small pinches of ingredients). It seems chilis are rather picky. A big change (1/4 tsp of an ingredient) turns the sauce into something inedible.

    Great suggestions, thank you! It does just go to show you how important tasting is. Chiles aren’t uniform, so you really do have to go on taste. ~Elise

  • TheRanch

    I followed this recipe using 4 Guajillo peppers (ancho version came out brown and bitter) and I used the water they soaked in. The sauce is just basic. I roasted three garlic cloves, btw this ingredient list is confusing on the garlic side. 1 lrg clove and 2 crushed?
    Ok so I put everything in the blender then heated it in the sauce pan as instructed. It looks just like the picture except the flavor is lacking something.

  • autumn

    I have a question (not about a receipe) but for a friend. How do you get your hands to stop burning after touching jalapeno peppers.

    If you are sensitive to jalapeños you may consider wearing latex gloves while handling them, or using a sandwich bag over the hand. Directly after handling cut jalapeños you should wash your hands with hot soapy water. If that doesn’t work, try vegetable oil or sour cream. The hot part of the jalapeño is fat soluble. ~Elise

  • Charlie

    I have made red chili meat that is really very good. I have however tasted red chili that goes over the top. Having lived most of my life in Southern New Mexico, I have tried just about all variations. I have tasted red chili that the cook put some spices in cheeze cloth and tied them all up and boiled them in the sauce. I have to this point not figured out what the spices are, The Chili is the best I have ever tasted. I have found this chili in three places in my life and have yet to figure out what it is they put in it. If you have any ideas let me know.

  • Linda7

    On the skillet vs. oven for heating the prepared and flattened anchos: If you do the oven, do preheated 400-degrees for 1 minute, then check. They should be hot but in no way ‘crispy.’ I put mine on a baking sheet bare. Pay attention…4 minutes is a whole pan of ruined peppers! If you are making a single or double recipe, stick with the skillet. The results are the same.

  • Linda7

    Instead of flattening the anchos onto a skillet, can I just pop them into a 400-degree oven for a couple of minutes? I want to quadruple the recipe and I’m kind of lazy.

    I would guess no, but if you try it, let us know how it turns out. I would do the skillet method first for comparison. ~Elise

  • Ashley

    Mine came out brown. Tasted fine (although it came out a little thin), smelled AWESOME, but it was brown! Was it my chiles?

    Could be. By the way, if it was too thin, you could simmer it longer until it reduced more. ~Elise

  • BigFishLilPond

    STOP! Search the comments for “bitter” BEFORE you start and follow the suggestion to avoid an inedibly bitter dish!
    I am SO frustrated. What a waste of $9 of dried peppers and 2 hours. I understand now that it was a matter of the peppers I had, but this recipe REALLY needs to be changed to advise to discard the boiling water. I was new to this site and when I looked, didn’t see the link to the comments before I started. Grrrrr!

    Sorry for your frustration (and the wasted time and $). I have made an adjustment to the recipe, though personally it isn’t a problem that I have encountered. ~Elise

  • Shannon

    I’d like to make this soon, but I don’t have any chili’s on hand. Could I substitute chili powder? If so, is there a particular kind you would recommend and how much?

    You cannot simply substitute chili powder for the chiles in this recipe. If I were to attempt to make a red chili sauce using just the powder, I would start with a lot of the chili powder, add enough water to give it a sauce consistency, heat a little oil in a frying pan until quite hot, add the sauce and cook it for several minutes. I have no idea how it would taste though, and personally would not attempt it. It would be an expensive experiment. Chilies, if you can get a hold of them are quite inexpensive. ~Elise

  • Cynthia

    I made this sauce and it was quite bitter. Any idea why? I’m stumped.

    If you read the comments immediately preceding this one, you’ll see a discussion re: bitterness and what to do about it. ~Elise

  • James


    After several days of experimentation, I think I’ve finally hit on a winner using this technique.

    I found a suggestion that said you should taste the water you used to boil the peppers in. If it tastes bitter the suggestion was to discard it and use fresh. I was very hesitant to throw it out because I felt like I would be throwing out some of the sauce flavor, but after a lot of trial and error, it turns out that to keep the sauce from turning bitter, it’s best to discard the water from boiling (I’m still experimenting with using only a small portion of it). Instead of using just plain tap water to replace it, I used chicken stock instead. After I tried that, making great tasting sauce was easy.

    I have experimented with different chiles. On one trip to the market I found some Morita peppers that smelled so good I just had to get them. I also found some New Mexico Red chiles that taste great.

    You suggestion for roasted garlic instead of non-roasted was delicious. I also added some Smoked Paprika (it tastes great in everything spicy!)

    Once again thanks. I hope these suggestions might be of some help.

  • James


    Thanks for this wonderful recipe. I am a culinary student and love trying out new things. I used to live in New Mexico and I miss the wonderful Hatch Red and Green Chile’s that are in everything there. They are actually in season now! (Sept)

    I made this recipe today using 2 Ancho and 2 Guajillo chiles. It is quite bitter on the backend. Is that the way it is supposed to taste or did something go wrong on my end?

    No matter, it is a wonderful technique and I look forward to trying different variations.

    I ordered Diana Kennedy’s book using your amazon link. I’m looking forward to getting it, plus I thought it would be a nice way to support your site. Thanks again.

    With something like this, which is so dependent on the actual ingredients you are using, I think you need to taste and adjust. Sometimes I find that the anchos can be a little unidimensional in flavor, which is why if you have guajillo, they make a nice addition. The bitterness could be the result of just one of your chiles being on the bitter side. If I were trying to adjust for a sauce that was on the bitter side I might add some roasted garlic to the mix. ~Elise

  • helen

    to Steve E…..: yikes!!!! I laughed at you and at myself. I live in northern Mexico, and I roasted and peeled 70, yes, SEVENTY chiles poblanos! with no gloves. Pain? nahhhhh, of course! Two weeks with my hands swollen and of course, pain! and then I said, gloves! Yes, I did not make the same mistake twice. Oh! and the blender? I did that too. And now I don’t hang curtains, less to clean.

    and onc comment on this sauce, if you use Anaheim dried red chile, is milder and Guajillo or Ancho chiles.

  • happy girl

    My family makes their “Mole” as we call it with dry ingredients.

    Powdered chile (sold at most grocery stores. I use California Chile Powder)
    garlic salt
    chicken broth

    in a large pan, pour oil, and flour. Brown the flour then slowly pour in the chicken broth to desired amount of sauce. Sprinkle Chile powder to desired color/taste. Season with garlic salt, salt, and pepper.
    * You must constantly stir as you add the chicken broth to avoid lumps. Continue stirring until all lumps are gone.

    Add more flour/ chicken broth or water depending on desired consistency.

    • Erin

      Can you give measurements or ratio of broth to amount of chili powder? I presume the flour to oil is like any roué. Thanks

  • Diane

    The postings happened last year but I just saw the recipe and wanted to add my comments. First, I would like to know how to use the recipe that Mark sent in. At first I thought it was for pickled chiles, like you can buy canned in the grocery stores, but since everything is blended together into a sauce, I’m not sure what it would be used for and what kind of taste it would add. Also, I live in Tucson, Arizona and I have never heard of adding cloves to red chile sauce. Also, here we can buy the red chile ground or in a paste so you can get a head start. To me, it also needs a lot of salt to bring out the flavor!!

  • Karen Hughes

    I also was taught to make it this way, with one slight addition, lard or veg. shortening. Just a tablespoon or so to add a nice gloss to it.

  • Elise Bauer

    Thanks everyone, for the recipes, please keep them coming!

    Hi Amanda – my mom’s chicken enchiladas recipe is a great use of the red chili sauce, just use it instead of whatever sauce is called for in the recipe.

    Hi Debbie – you only get hurt if you rub your eyes, or if you have a cut on the skin of your fingers. I just wash my hands really well after working with chili peppers. If you wear contacts however, as mentioned by Dan above, you will definitely want to wear gloves. We have some thin, non-latex disposable gloves that work great.

  • Mark

    I grow hot peppers and each fall we make hot sauce. It’s really hot! Just a few drops are all you need to add to your recipe. I use a combination of Habanero, Jalapono and Tobassco peppers.
    Remove stems from the peppers.
    Course chop the peppers.
    Put a one inch layer of the chopped peppers in a wide mouth jar.
    Cover the peppers with a dusting of course salt.
    Continue layers of peppers and salt until the jar is full.
    Cover the top with cheese cloth and put in the fridge for 1 week.
    After a week cover the peppers in the jar with white vinegar up to the top and return to the fridge for another week.
    After that week liquefy the entire contents of the jar in a blender.
    Strain the seeds from the mixture and return the mixture to the jar and put back into the fridge for one more week.
    Skim the clear vinegar that will rise to the top of the jar.
    Bottle the remaining contents of the jar and enjoy.
    This year we are going to experiment with adding garlic, fruit, etc for something new.

  • Amanda

    Could you make some suggestions on how to use this in making enchiladas?
    I noticed you have some beautiful sounding enchilada recipes, but I’d love to incorporate this sauce properly and not mess things up :-)
    (In fact, any recipes incorporating this sauce would be fabulous.)

  • Kirsten

    Hi Elise!

    I made a guajillo chili sauce this weekend that was SO good (but hot) so I think my sauce was much more of a hot sauce, and this is a versatile milder sauce.

    I also used vinegar and garlic, adding a few other dimensions of flavor beyond the pure chili.

    Here is the link:

    I really adore all chili sauces, thanks for the recipe! :)

  • Kelly Mahoney

    I like to fire-roast fresh chilies first. It adds a smokey quality that isn’t as overwhelming as something like liquid smoke.

  • Natanya

    I grew up watching our housekeeper who was from the interior of Mexico make her red sauce and this brings back wonderful memories. Preeta’s question made me think back to how she prepared the sauce without a blender. She used a ricer to grind the wet chiles into a paste and then added reserved liqued to make a sauce of whatever consistency she needed. I think a mortar and pestle, or probably better a molcajete, would work instead of a blender.
    I’ve always added cumin to my sauce, probably because it is my absolute favorite spice. My mother-in-law once joked that I bought more cumin in bulk every 3 months than she has used in a lifetime. This sauce is the perfect base for two of my favorite dishes: cheese enchiladas (with onions, but no meat please) and chile con carne (plenty of meat here). Even though it’s 95 degrees outside here in Texas, I think I’m going to break my summer “no cooking in the oven” rule and whip up a batch of enchiladas.
    For those who love traditional Mexican cuisine, I highly recommend Roberto Santibanez’s new cookbook, Rosa’s New Mexican Table. Roberto is the brilliant chef behind the Rosa Mexicano restaurants, and I was lucky enough to take a cooking class with him earlier this week. It was amazing.

  • Tyson

    This is a simple one I’ve used for quite a while. I use ground New Mexico chillies, but you can use what you prefer.

    4 Tbsp corn oil
    3 Tbsp chili powder
    1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
    3/4 tsp garlic powder
    5 Tbsp flour
    1/2 tsp + pinch kosher salt
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
    3 cups water

    Heat oil in medium sauce pan over medium heat. When hot, add dry ingredients and mix well. Stir for about one minute. Add water and continue stirring until thickened to a thin gravy.

  • Dan

    When I was taught to make red chile sauce (in New Mexico), I learned to make a roux to thicken the sauce in the last cooking step. I agree with Steve about the gloves, *especially* if you wear contacts like I do. If you take them out after cooking chiles, you’ll think someone pepper-sprayed you the next morning. Ouch! I buy bulk food prep glove boxes and use them whenever I cook with chiles.

  • Elise Bauer

    Hi Merd – care to share your recipe with us?

    Hi Steve – great point about the gloves. I don’t usually use them myself, but one must take care. You should let the chilies sit in the hot water for no longer than 15 minutes. Otherwise the chilies may lose too much flavor. The soaking water will still be pretty warm. If it is an issue with your blender, then I would suggest holding the top of the blender on while you blend.

  • Steve E.

    I did this for the first time and made two mistakes which I will NOT repeat. First, I chose not to use gloves when picking the seeds out and handling the peppers. PAIN. Next, I did not let the chili mixture cool completely when I put the slop in the blender. The heat and steam forced the top off and my curtains are still splattered with red. I got very lucky that the stuff didn’t fly towards me. Shudder. It’s a very labor intensive dish, but even with all of that, it was still densely flavored and luscious. I chose to serve it in some Chile Colorado.

  • Chigiy

    I love the color of this sauce.
    Mike (Donna Thomas) is trying to get me to do more scratch Mexican cooking. Maybe when I get more time, like when the boys are in college.

  • Emily

    There’s really no excuse for not making your own! I learned mine from a Mexican colleague, Jose, and it’s almost the same as yours — only I add a good bit of cumin, and boil the peppers with a whole onion, in large chunks. For a nice tanginess I’ll also put in one or two tomatillos, but my standard is just peppers, onion, garlic, comino, and salt.

    Now I got a craving. Heeee!

  • merd

    Nice! I have my green chile recipe down to a science, but I modify the spices slightly each batch in search of perfection or depending on the “flavor mood” I am in when I make it. Although I love green (pork) chile, red chile is preferred over enchiladas for me at least. It will be nice to not buy canned. I will have to try this out. Thanks!

  • Preeta

    This looks fabulous — so rich and smooth! Do you know — Elise or any readers out there — if this would traditionally have been made with a mortar and pestle? If so, I’m guessing you would grind the solid ingredients and then stir in the water as needed, right? I’m eager to try this but I’m doing without a blender or food processor at the moment….