Chilaquiles are a hearty, delicious, and easy-to-make Mexican breakfast dish that’ll knock your socks off! These budget-friendly bad boys are made with crispy tortilla chips soaked in a flavorful red enchilada sauce and served with loads of toppings. While cheese, cilantro, avocado, sour cream, and eggs are traditional toppings for a Chilaquiles recipe, you can also clean out your fridge and use leftover veggies or meats. Budget win! This recipe is adapted from my friend Yvette Marquez Shapnack’s new cookbook, Muy Bueno Fiestas.
What Are Chilaquiles?
The word “chilaquiles” comes from the Nahuatl word “chīlliaquilitl,” which means “chili-soaked.” The freshly fried tortilla chips that this recipe calls for are lightly soaked in a chili sauce. Traditionally the fried tortillas are cooked in this salsa which softens the chips, but Yvette prefers her chips crunchier, so she drizzles the sauce on them instead. You can top chilaquiles with whatever your heart desires! When I was testing the recipe, I had a little bit of rotisserie chicken left (the back part that no one ever seems to want to eat), and I pulled it and topped my Chilaquiles with it. Delicious!
What You Need To Make Chilaquiles
The best thing about Chilaquiles is that you can top them with whatever you want and adjust the toppings to create a lighter or heartier dish. Yvette’s recipe keeps things pretty traditional. To make these Chilaquiles, you’ll need the following ingredients:
- Tortilla chips – You’ll need thick tortilla chips that can withstand getting soaked in a sauce without getting soggy. This usually means frying your own, which is super easy and budget-friendly. But if you can find really thick, restaurant-style tortilla chips, you can use those to speed up the preparation process.
- Cooking oil- You’ll use this to fry the tortilla chips in, and any neutral-flavored oil will do. Use corn oil, vegetable oil, or canola oil.
- Enchilada sauce – You can find this premade smoky red chile sauce in the Latin section of most grocery stores. Yvette also has a great recipe, which I’ve included in the notes section of the recipe card below.
- Your choice of toppings– For this recipe, we topped our chilaquiles with sliced green onions, fresh cilantro leaves, diced avocado, shredded Oaxaca cheese, and crumbled queso fresco. If you can’t source Oaxaca cheese, use a pre-shredded Mexican cheese blend. We also use Mexican crema, which can be replaced with sour cream. We skipped the eggs in this recipe to keep it budget-friendly, but if you’d like to make it a heartier breakfast, top it with fried eggs.
Tips For Making Chilaquiles
Chilaquiles are delicious and versatile, but there are a few tricks to getting them just right.
- Make sure the oil you are frying the tortillas in is hot enough so they don’t end up soggy. Add a small piece of tortilla to the hot oil. If you’re at the right temperature, it will bubble and sizzle then turn golden in about 40 to 50 seconds.
- Drain freshly fried tortilla chips on a large paper towel-lined plate or sheet pan. The paper towels will soak up excess oil, which helps keep the tortilla chips crispy. Salt the chips while they are still hot.
- Prep toppings before you add sauce to the tortilla chips, so they don’t get soggy while you cut herbs and veggies.
- If serving a larger group, make the tortilla chips in advance. If you’re making the sauce from scratch, make that in advance as well. Instead of topping the Chilaquiles with cheeses and veggies etc., serve toppings in small bowls so guests can create their perfect combinations. It’ll save you loads of time.
What To Serve With Chilaquiles
While chilaquiles can be a stand-alone breakfast dish, you can make them part of a bigger meal by adding side dishes. Serve Chilaquiles with our Cheesy Pinto Beans, Guacamole, Cowboy Caviar, or Tomato Rice. And don’t forget, they’re amazing with Fried Eggs!
- 1/4 cup cooking oil $0.16
- 8 white or yellow corn tortillas (8-inch) $0.07
- 1/4 tsp salt $0.02
- 1 10oz. can red enchilada sauce* $2.49
- 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco $0.50
- 1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese $0.80
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves $0.11
- 1/3 cup sliced green onions $0.35
- 1 avocado, diced $0.99
- 2 Tbsp Mexican crema $0.25
- Line a sheet pan or large plate with paper towels. Stack 8 corn tortillas and cut them into quarters.
- In a large skillet set over medium heat, warm the cooking oil until shimmering. Add two layers of tortilla quarters at a time and fry, turning as needed, until lightly browned and slightly crunchy, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer the tortilla quarters to the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining tortilla quarters.
- Warm the red enchilada sauce* in a large saucepan.
- Divide tortilla chips between two large plates. Divide the warm sauce equally, drizzling it over the tortilla chips on each plate.
- Sprinkle each plate equally with the shredded Oaxaca cheese, crumbled queso fresco, fresh cilantro leaves, sliced green onions, diced avocado, and Mexican crema. Enjoy the ridiculously yummy contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures immediately!
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
1⁄4 lb dried California or New Mexico red chiles
3 cups water
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
11⁄2 teaspoons salt
Olive oil, for cooking
Remove the stems, seeds, and veins from the chiles, then put them into a colander and rinse well under cool running water.
In a saucepan over high heat, combine the chiles with water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Using tongs, turn the chiles over so they will soften evenly, re-cover, and continue to simmer until softened, about 10 minutes longer. Drain well, discard the water, and let cool for several minutes before blending.
In a blender, combine the cooled chiles, water, flour, garlic, and salt and purée until smooth. Pass the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl to remove the skins and seeds. Discard the solids in the sieve. Use immediately, or transfer to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
How to Make Chilaquiles – Step by Step Photos
Line a sheet pan or large plate with paper towels. Stack 8 corn tortillas and cut them into quarters.
In a large deep skillet set over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup cooking oil until shimmering. Add two layers of tortilla quarters at a time (8 quarters) and fry, turning as needed, until lightly browned and slightly crunchy, about 1 minute on each side. Transfer the tortilla quarters to the paper towel-lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Repeat with the remaining tortilla quarters.
Warm the 10 ounces of enchilada sauce in a large saucepan. If you’d like to make your own enchilada sauce, you will find Yvette’s recipe in the notes section of the recipe card.
Divide tortilla chips between two large plates. Divide the warm enchilada sauce equally, drizzling it over the tortilla chips on each plate.
Next, divide the 1/2 cup shredded Oaxaca cheese, 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, 1/3 cup green onions, 1 diced avocado, and 2 tablespoons of Mexican crema. between two plates.
That’s it! I told you it was easy. Enjoy the ridiculously yummy contrasting flavors, textures, and temperatures immediately. Woot! And another one. (Said in my best DJ Khaled.)