New Mexico Red Chile Sauce

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New Mexico Red Chile Sauce recipe by Barefeet In The KitchenFor years, I avoided red sauce with my Mexican foods. I was certain I just didn’t like it. In a pinch, I would use a store-bought red sauce, but I typically stuck with my favorite green chile in place of red.

While visiting my sister in New Mexico, she gave me red sauce from her freezer to use in the enchiladas that we were making. That was when I discovered the difference between a homemade sauce and a canned version.

This sauce is incredibly flavorful with as much heat as you desire; just purchase mild, medium or hot dried chile pods.

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As soon as we unpacked and settled back home, I called her for the recipe. Making red chile sauce was much simpler than I expected. I’ll definitely double this recipe next time I make it. I love being able to freeze it and keep it on hand for future meals as well.

New Mexico Red Chile Sauce recipe by Barefeet In The Kitchen


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NM Red Chile Sauce

New Mexico Red Chile Sauce

5 from 4 votes
Recipe adapted from and with thanks to MJ's Kitchen
Servings: 6 servings


  • 40 dried red chile pods
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves I use Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Optional: plastic gloves


  • Over a large mixing bowl, break the stems off the pods and shake out the seeds. Break the pods into smaller pieces and drop the pieces into a waiting strainer. Once all the pods are broken, rinse with water and then place in a large pot. Add the water, the onion, garlic, oregano and salt.
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 10-20 minutes, until the pods are softened. Remove from the heat and let sit, covered, for an additional 10 minutes. Puree using an immersion blender, a food processor or a blender. If you are using a blender, puree in batches, until the consistency is smooth. Transfer to a waiting bowl and puree the next batch.
  • For a smoother texture, blend the sauce again after it sits for half an hour or so. As an alternative, you can press the sauce through a sieve for the smoothest texture possible. If I am using the sauce immediately, for enchiladas or burritos, I don't bother with the sieve. If I am freezing it for use as a topping or for an undecided future use, the sieve is my preferred option. It takes a little longer, but it is worth the effort.
  • Divide into 1-2 cup portions and freeze what you won't be using in the next few days. Enjoy!
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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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48 Comments Leave a comment or review

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  1. Monet says

    Gorgeous. I always avoid red sauces at Mexican restaurants too. Obviously, I need to rethink my approach! I will be making this as soon as I can. Such a rich red hue!

    • Mary says

      I used dried Hatch red chile pods. I have no idea how the others would work. Good luck! I'd love to hear about it if you try the others.

    • Anonymous says

      I canned mine 20 minutes at 10lbs pressure. We are at sea level so you'd need to make adjustments for your altitude. It was superb. I did not make near enough =)

    • Mary says

      I've never canned mine. A reader made the above suggestion. I simply portion ours into Ziploc bags and freeze until ready to use!

  2. Jane says

    I love this recipe for red Chile. It’s the real New Mexican deal…..I moved to NM after living in CA 35 years. The sauces are totally different.

  3. Frann Todd says

    Suggestion . . . instead of water, how about “Bold and Spicy Bloody Mary” mix?? Would the addition of the Worcestershire sauce in the mix be off=putting??

    • Mary says

      I have no idea how that would work. It sounds kind of tasty. However, it definitely won’t be a traditional red chile sauce. If you do try it, let me know how it turns out for you.

  4. Dj says

    We always wash then light roast the red Chile pods for just a bit in the oven at 250 (just until you get a subtle aroma). Then the recipe here… adds a little extra flavor.

  5. Stephen Brandt says

    This sounds wonderful and I am planning on using your recipe in the coming days; thank you.

    Is the cumin in your recice seeds, or powder?

    Thank you!

  6. Tessa says

    Greetings! I’m actually from New Mexico and loved reading this article. Thanks for the NM love. I am not sure if they sell it in all states, but in the freezer section they sell red chile in a container. It is the same red chile and water mixture, except already done. You just add about one cup of water and your own seasoning. It’s a great time saver, especially around the holidays. Also, if you really like red chile sauce try it on some creamy mash potatoes. Super yummy 😍5 stars

  7. glen warren spencer says

    Hello my name is Glen I’m thinking about changing my enchilada sauce recipe and I’m wondering what chillies does she use to New Mexico red Chili’s or guajillo thank you