Chipotle Chilaquiles

This is the breakfast I’d eat every day if I could. Oh chilaquiles, how much do I love you?

Apparently quite a bit, as I’ve been on the Chilaquiles Train ever since getting back from Mexico earlier this month. While I’ve always enjoyed them, I’ve renewed my love by eating them a few times a week already and I suppose I’m making up for lost time.

While I won’t go into the variety of regional differences, chilaquiles are basically stale corn tortillas cooked in a sauce and topped with ingredients as a way to use up any leftovers or stale chips. It’s a concept I love even if I can’t quite understand the thought of having left over chips, let alone stale. Aren’t they always eaten until they’re gone? Maybe that’s just me.

Chilaquiles are miraculously adaptable; you can use almost anything you have on hand. I love recipes that are difficult to mess up and these fit the bill. They’ll forgive you if you add too much sauce, they’ll still taste great if you use too much cheese. I’m guilty on both accounts.

I grew up eating chilaquiles’ close relative, the Tex Mex dish called Migas which is comprised of corn chips, eggs, sometimes cheese, sometimes salsa, but always generous scoops of salsa.  I can seriously throw down some migas every day of the week, but for a change I’ve been digging chilaquiles’ use of various sauces to create that moist crunch that lives in that secret place between soggy and crunchy. To me it’s a very happy place.

This chilaquiles recipes is adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless from Food & Wine. It’s a favorite of mine for its use of smoky chipotle flavors and the fact that it’s simply a base from which to personalize. You can add shredded chicken or keep it vegetarian, use almost any cheese imaginable, top it with cilantro or not, and even make your own chile sauce as the base. His recipe uses canned tomatoes which we always have on hand. Like I said, you just can’t go wrong with this recipe.

Chipotle Chilaquiles adapted from a recipe by Rick Bayless

1 can of whole tomatoes (28 oz), drained with ½ cup of the liquid reserved
2 whole chipotles in adobo, from a can found in Latin markets
1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced thinly
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 ½ cups chicken stock
8 ounces tortilla chips (please I implore you to make your own if you have time, it’s easy!)
¼ cup freshly grated cheese (it can be Parmesan or any Mexican crumbly cheese)
1/3 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup cilantro leaves, finely chopped (omit it if you are Cilantro Hater, you know who y’all are and don’t need to tell me about it, jeeeeeeez)
salt and pepper to taste

If you’re making your own tortilla chips, simply fry pieces of corn tortillas in hot oil until golden brown and then drain on paper towel. Don’t crowd them and don’t overcook them. See? I told you it was easy.

In a blender, add the canned tomatoes, half of the liquid and the two chipotle peppers. Blend until smooth.

In a large deep skillet (you’ll need depth as you’ll be adding all the ingredients here), heat the oil and two-thirds of the large onion (not the green!) and cook over high heat until browned, about 5 to 6 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato and chipotle puree and simmer for about 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the chicken stock and boil the sauce over moderately high heat for about 2 minutes. You want the sauce to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Gently stir the tortilla chips into the chile sauce, making sure they’re well coated. You want every inch of the chips to be covered in sauce. Top the chips with the remaining onion, some green onions, a sprinkle of cheese, a dollop of sour cream or crema, and cilantro. Enjoy immediately.


  1. says

    I’m learning so much from this post! “left over chips?” “too much cheese?” I never knew such things existed! 😉 Haven’t had these since I moved from California – love them! Thank you Matt!

  2. says

    Matt, this is absolutely by far my favorite breakfast dish and your photo is making me weep, especially since I now live in Ireland and I’ve yet to find a place that does chilaquiles at all. :( Will have to stop my whining and try your recipe!

  3. Lori says

    Delicious! Any chance you’ve ever posted about Migas? I’ve been looking for a good authentic Migas recipe!

  4. says

    Oh yeah…the list of things I would enjoy every day if I could is a long one. It includes lasagna, donuts and a make out sesh with Brad Pitt.

  5. Brooke says

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…chilaquiles, artful sketches on your gorgeous photo, darling voice, Rick Bayless, salsa, Mexico. That’s just a start. Xxx

  6. says

    I wish I could have tortilla chips. Unfortunately, being Diabetic, they just don’t agree with me anymore. I love the sauce though, so I think I am just going to cook some eggs in it instead, following your instructions. That will hit the spot!

  7. says

    Though I typically would agree with the notion that leftover/stale chips are pretty hard to find (I seriously cannot stop once I’ve had one), I did JUST find a half eaten, poorly closed bag in the bag of my pantry over the weekend. Seems like they have chilaquiles written all over it! Thanks for the recipe and the mouthwatering pictures…

  8. sally cameron says

    Thanks Matt for the recipe! Chilaquiles was what I had for our last breakfast in Mexico a few weeks ago. I had them add eggs. It was so good. With some beans added it could be a great alternative to Huevos Rancheros. I’m with everyone on no leftover chips. Chips and salsa are one my addictions. Now if I could just get an answer on molcajete as a sauce. I have a molcajete (stone mortar and pestle), but in Mexico they had two salsa style sauces out, one red and one green, labeled molcajete. Were they labeled that way just because they were salsas made in a molcajete? Please, enlighten me.

  9. says

    … remember migas from when I lived in Texas – must try the Chilaquiles this weekend – Thanks for the recipe! Also liked menudo and barbacoa on the weekends.

  10. sally pasley says

    Matt, Can’t get enough of these either, or should I say, my Mex-Am hubby can’t, so we’re eating them a lot more since I came back from Mexico. Will have to try with chipotle–I’m lazy so often use ancho chile powder, and puree the tomatoes with onions, etc and a couple of tortilla chips and then cook the way you do. If I’m ambitious I’ll make tomatillo salsa same way. I also use unsalted chips a lot; though they’re really better with fried tortillas–never any leftover tortillas no matter how many packages I buy. Even try hiding them sometimes. This is on my list for Sunday, if I can get the the guys in the family to take a break from chips and beer. Bring on the migas recipe!

  11. Cary Bass says

    Dude! I made a massive batch of Bayless’s salsa roja last night … amazing … and now I MUST make this … I usually have done it with stale corn tortillas … but now because of the impending ice storm, the grocery stores are packed and being stripped clean … waaaa!! … and .. I … may … have … to do … WITHOUT!!!

  12. says

    Matt, thanks for this… I’ve been craving them since we all got back from Mexico. I’ll have to figure out how to make this vegan. It’s gluten-free, so that’s a great start!

  13. says

    Hola! And thanks, Matt! I just got back from a week in Akumal about 30 miles south of PDC where your food blog conference was held a few weeks ago. (Wish I hadn’t been as swamped with work that week; thank goodness there’s always next year.) Ate chilaquiles every morning, along with a healthy scoop of guacamole and the 1/4 inch dice of fresh cut tomato and onion, kissed with lime, cilantro and jalipeno salsa. Am so glad you gave us this recipe so I can make it at home. Think I’ll opt for one whole chipotele, to see how much heat there is. But the thought of all that tasty sauce, bits of gooey cheese, bursts of cilantro and the earthy taste of the corn tortillas are making my mouth water. And I just had breakfast!! Will find out if it will still taste the same while looking at six inches of fresh snow. Would druther the palm tress, warm breeze and turquoise waters. But what better way to remember the soothing visuals than via my taste buds. Thanks again!

    Hey Stephanie, just find a vegan tofu cheese that melts well, and put under a broiler for 30-40 seconds if you need to if it doesn’t melt as well. And perhaps sub in caremelized fried onions or caremelized fried cabbage (or both) for the chicken. But the plain recipe ought to still be divine.

  14. Tammy N. says

    My husband’s aunt has a Mexican boyfriend. A few times a year we drive to visit them, and he makes this for breakfast. He serves a big pile of messy, tortilla chilaquiles with a fried egg on top. It’s sooo spicy, and it always me look forward to visiting them. Thanks for a great recipe1

  15. Payal says

    Thanks so much for the Chilaquiles recipe! I will be making them tomorrow using this recipe. I have been thinking about it ever since I read the post. I have been looking for that Chilaquiles recipe that calls out for me for about a year and I think I have found the one :)

  16. says

    Working in kitchens around Southern California,this is one of my favorite breakfasts. We like to top our Chilaquiles with an over easy egg. It’s something about when you crack that yolk and it blends with the salsa. These breakfasts are usually thown together at the last minute. For the sauce we use any salsa we have on hand, it’s usually a chili de arbol salsa. Roasted tomatillo salsa (salsa verde) also works great for something a little different.

  17. says

    This is great, back in Provence and trying to initiate the French with Mexican food! Have already made David’s Carnitas and Elise’s Enchiladas, and will make this for the entree for the Rugby match Wales versus England TV supper tonight!

  18. says

    Hey Matt, I came across your blog recently and I had to let you know that I simply adore it! Thanks so much for your kind ciritique on my work. It sure helped me figure out the problems with my photograph. I feel so honored to have received feedback from a talented professional and wonderful blogger like you! Your pictures are all so beautiful and so perfect; your passion and enthusiasm a real inspiration to others, especially amateurs like me.

    Oh, your chilaquiles looks perfect for a winter morning!

  19. says

    I just ate, but I couldn’t help but drool over the keyboard just a bit. These look like a fabulous breakfast, mid-morning snack, lunch… Gorgeous, Matt!

  20. Payal says

    I made the chilaquiles with your recipe. They were delicious! Also, it’s the blood oranges season again and I’ve already made 3 batches of your blood orange caramels :) Thanks so much for sharing the love!

  21. says

    Re: cilantro-haters. Matt, I think we should cut the poor people some slack, they can’t help it. Really, they can’t. From some reading I’ve done on the subject I’ve learned that some people have an innate inability to taste cilantro, to them it tastes like either ashes or soap. This is a genetic “condition” and possibly runs in families (apparently Dominicans and Mexicans are immune to it).

    Poor, poor people. They never had a chance.

    And I am so trying that, thanks for sharing.

  22. Julie Lindgren says

    oh the food memories. costa de oro hotel in the golden zone of mazatlan. the rising sun, the malingering of last night’s tequilla and the remedy for it all – Chilaquiles! what a glorious time to remember (35 degrees and snow threatening here). Thanks Matt!

  23. says

    Words cannot express how much I love chilaquiles. The chilaquiles verde topped w a fried egg are my standard order at my favorite (semi) local Mexican restaurant. I’ve made a different-very tasty but more involved Bayless recipe. Am psyched to try this one now!

  24. says

    They are so beautiful! I recently made some with a vegetarian chili. They were so sloppy and un-refined. Very delicious but not half as pretty as yours! These look so scrumptious!


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