Authentic Chile Colorado (Mexican Stew)

3 mins read

This authentic Chile Colorado (Mexican Stew) has fall-apart tender chunks of beef in a bold red chile sauce made from dried chiles, broth and warm spices. 


What is Chile Colorado?

Chile Colorado is a Mexican beef stew, made with tender chunks of beef in a red chile sauce. 

The broth of the stew is made with dried ancho and guajillo peppers that are roasted with onion and garlic to give a smoky, earthy flavoring. Combined with beef broth, and traditional spices the end result is bold, flavorful and complex.

Slow cooking the meat in the chile broth creates tender, juicy bites of meat that can be served in the stew, or used to make burritos.

Ingredients Needed

  • Garlic, Tomato and Onion: fresh ingredients used in making the sauce. (check out these garlic substitutes if needed)
  • Cumin, Oregano, and Bay Leaves: flavorings to season the broth. If you are able to get Mexican Oregano that is highly preferred for this recipe.
  • Beef Broth: using unsalted or low sodium will allow more control over the seasoning of this recipe.
  • Masa Harina: used to thicken the broth, can be subbed with another thickener of choice if needed.

About the Chiles

Dried chiles are the star of this dish, similar to making Birria and Texas Chili. The most common chiles used in Chile Colorado are guajillo and ancho peppers.

These are both dried chiles, and can be found at most local markets, either in the produce section or in the Mexican food aisle or spice aisle. If you are not able to find them at your local store, try a Mexican market or you can find them online at Amazon or other specialty retailer. 

What Beef is Best to Use?

Thanks to simmering the meat until it’s fall apart tender, it’s possible to use a less expensive cut of meat.

  • Stew Meat: this is roast that has been chopped up already and packaged.
  • Chuck Roast: if purchasing a roast, be sure to chop the meat into chunks approximately 1 and 1/2 inches.

How to Make

  1. Toast the dry peppers (stems and seeds removed), tomatoes, onion and garlic.
  2. Sear the beef briefly on all sides in the same dutch oven or large pot you will be cooking in.
  3. Blend the toasted peppers and veggies with some broth to create a smooth Chile sauce. This is the flavoring blend for the stew.
  4. Add the Chile sauce and additional broth to the seared meat add additional seasonings, bring to a simmer, cover and cook on low for at least an hour until meat is tender and fall apart.
  5. Mix in the masa to thicken the stew at the end, let this simmer for several minutes until thickened.

Serving Ideas

  • Stew: serve this simply as a stew in a bowl with some fresh flour tortillas on the side for dipping. 
  • Bowl: spoon on top of some rice (cilantro lime rice or mexican rice) and a side of beans if desired, like these charro beans. 
  • Burritos/Tacos: use the meat as filling for burritos or tacos with any of your other favorites. Save the sauce to serve with tortillas or eggs for breakfast or another meal. 

Substitutions and Variations

  • Meat: instead of beef you could use a pork roast.
  • Chiles: switch up the chiles to change the flavor and spice level. For more heat add some chile de arbol.
  • Vegetables: add extra veggies or potatoes.
  • Pressure Cooker: use the sauté setting to roast the peppers and veggies, and to sear the meat. After adding all ingredients, cook on high-pressure for 35 minutes, naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release any remaining pressure.
  • Slow Cooker: sear the chiles and veggies to make the red Chile sauce, and sear the meat in a skillet over the stovetop. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours until the meat is tender and fall apart.


Why is it called Chile Colorado?

Colorado translates to red in Spanish. The recipe Chile Colorado got it’s name due to the iconic, beautiful deep red color of the broth from the red chiles used in the recipe. 

Is Chile Colorado spicy?

The spice level of this Chile Colorado is Medium. It could be lower by leaving out the

Can I make Chile Colorado in the slow cooker/pressure cooker?

Yes! This recipe can easily be adapted to be made in either the slow cooker or pressure cooker. Both methods would yield incredibly tender bits of meat.

Make Ahead and Storage Information

  • Storage: store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. This recipe can be made a couple days in advance and reheated before being served. 
  • Freezer: store in a freezer safe container or bag. Store for up to 3 months. To thaw, remove to the refrigerator overnight. 
  • Reheating: add to a medium size pot and heat over medium heat on the stovetop while stirring until warmed through. 

Recipes Tips

  • Searing: sear the beef in batches to avoid over-crowding the pan, this allows a nice sear on the meat. Over-crowding causes the meat to steam instead of sear. 
  • Broth: add some beef soup bones in for simmering when making to create a hearty, nutritious bone broth. 

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