A popular Mexican stew, Chile Colorado includes tender pieces of beef simmered in a bold, flavorful red chile sauce made from dried Mexican chiles, broth and spices.
You may hear the name “Chile Colorado” and think this is some sort of chili based out of the state of Colorado. Not quite! Try reading the name of the dish again with your best Spanish accent; “Chile color-ado”…it takes on a different meaning! Colorado in Spanish translates to “colored red,” so essentially Chile Colorado is a Mexican style stew made with a red chile sauce.
I think of it as similar to Chile Verde, but with a red sauce instead of green.
About the chiles:
Dried chile peppers are the star of this dish and they are essential to this recipe to achieve the authentic taste and color of Chile Colorado. Depending on your location, you may find very inexpensive dried Mexican chiles in the Mexican isle at your local grocery store, or try a local Latin/Mexican market. Amazon sells all types of Mexican dried chiles as well (including dried ancho and guajillo peppers for this recipe), but I’ve found they’re more expensive than at my local stores.
How to Make Chile Colorado:
1. Cook the chiles: Remove the stems (and seeds if you want, for milder heat) from the dried chiles, rinse them under cold water, place them in a saucepan, and cover them with broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
2. Prep the meat: Cut the meat into ½ inch cubes and season it on all sides with salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour. Brown the meat in hot oil until browned on both sides.
3. Blend peppers and onion: sauté the onion and jalapeño and add them and the cooked chiles to a blender (along with the broth). Blend until smooth and set aside.
4. Add to pot: Return browned beef back to the pot, strain the chili sauce from the blender through a fine mesh strainer, into the pot. Add oregano, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and stir well. Add bay leaf.
5. Simmer: Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour, or until the meat is tender. Uncover and stir in lime juice and cornstarch slurry. Cook for a few more minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
How to serve Chile Colorado:
- As a stew, with tortillas for dipping and a side of Mexican rice and Refried Beans.
- Inside enchiladas or burritos.
- As a “bowl” with rice, beans, lettuce and toppings.
- For breakfast on a corn tortilla, topped with a fried egg.
Make Ahead And Freezing Instructions:
To make ahead: Make Chile Colorado first thing in the morning or prep it a day or two ahead of time. Store leftover stew in the fridge for about 2-3 days depending on the freshness of the beef. Reheat on the stove.
To freeze: Make the dish as instructed and allow it to cool completely. Add to a freezer safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and rewarm slowly on the stove. For best results, make and freeze the sauce only and brown the beef, simmering it in the sauce, the day of.
- Different Meat: feel free to substitute pork shoulder/butt.
- Add beans: for a more American chili feeling add 1-2 cans of black beans or your favorite chili beans.
- Vegetarian Chile Colorado: omit the beef and add 4 yukon gold potatoes, cubed (and any other desired veggies, like carrots, mushrooms, onions). Simmer in sauce until tender.
- Instant Pot Chile Colorado: Add prepared sauce and seared meat to the instant pot and cook on high pressure for 35 minutes, with a natural release.
- Slow Cooker Chile Colorado: Add prepared sauce and seared meat to slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours.
- 4 dried ancho chiles , or pasilla or mulato
- 5 dried guajillo chiles , or New Mexican chiles
- 4 cups chicken broth , divided
- 1 small onion , chopped
- ½ of a jalapeno , minced (optional, for more heat)
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked Paprika
- 2 ½ lbs stew meat , or cubed beef shoulder/butt roast*
- Salt and pepper
- 3 Tablespoons flour
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 bay leaf
- Juice from 1 small lime
- Cornstarch slurry (1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1 Tablespoon water)
For serving (optional):
- Tortillas , corn or flour
- chopped fresh Cilantro , for garnish
- Sliced radishes
- Mexican rice
- Remove meat from fridge and cut into ½ inch cubes. Set aside.
- Remove the stems (and seeds if you want, for milder heat) from the dried chiles while rinsing them under cold water. Place chiles in a saucepan and cover with broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare the meat. Season on all sides with salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour. Add oil to a skillet over medium high heat. Once hot, add meat and cook until browned on both sides. Depending on the size of your pan you will need to do this in a few batches to keep from overcrowding.
- Remove meat to a plate and set aside. Add onion and jalapeno to the pan and saute for several minutes.
- As the onions cook, pour the softened peppers and the broth into a blender. Add the sautéed onion and jalapeno and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Return browned beef (and accumulated juices) back to the pot. Strain the chili sauce from the blender through a fine mesh strainer, into the pot. Add oregano, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and stir well. Add bay leaf.
- Bring to a slow boil, then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour, or until the meat is very tender.
- Uncover and stir in lime juice and cornstarch slurry. Cook for a few more minutes, until the sauce has slightly thickened.
- Serve as a stew with tortillas for dipping and a side of Mexican rice and beans.
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