Chilaquiles for Brunch (and Dinner)!
A Mexican cooking pro shares her easy chilaquiles recipe so you can feast on chips, red sauce, and fried eggs any time of day
Food photographs by Brittany Conerly
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Growing up in Texas, Ericka Sanchez would head back to her family's hometown in Mexico every summer to visit her grandma, help out at the tiny family store, and cook. Simmering pots of beans, fragrant fried tortilla chips (homemade from corn tortillas), and a richly flavorful guajillo chile-tomato sauce were some of the constants in the kitchen. “My grandma would keep a jar of the chile sauce to use throughout the week, in enchiladas, with nopales (cactus), and in chilaquiles,” Ericka recalls. “But I didn’t learn to make the sauce until I was a little older — the chiles would make us cough!”
Ericka, who now lives in L.A., draws from those cooking memories for her award-winning blog, Nibbles and Feasts, as well as for quick Mexican dishes like chilaquiles for her own family, now that she’s a mom. Her family-friendly, Yummly original recipe for Red Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs comes together in under 45 minutes total time — and as you might guess, it starts with an easy short-cut: store-bought tortilla chips.
Ericka whips up a red chile-tomato sauce to slather over the chips and adds an array of toppings to create a dish that tastes way more complex than the sum of its parts — one that even feels trendy.
“I love how pretty it looks,” says Ericka. “Fried eggs on top: We used to serve them alongside. This is a more modern look.”
Though Ericka cooks her chilaquiles weekly for brunch or dinner (sometimes chilaquiles verdes rather than chilaquiles rojos), they’re still a treat. “Oh, I’ll be right over,” friends say, when they hear what she’s making. We couldn’t agree more. Read on to get her tips for success.
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Ingredients for chilaquiles rojos
You can pick up nearly all the ingredients for Ericka’s homemade chilaquiles at a supermarket.
• Guajillo chiles. For this authentic chilaquiles recipe, you ideally want to get your hands on some guajillo chiles (aka dried mirasol chiles). Fruity, slightly smoky, and only medium hot, these dried chiles are one of the most popular varieties for Mexican cooking. In L.A., you can buy guajillos at mainstream supermarkets, but depending on where you live, you may need to go to a Latino grocery store. Guajillos are also available online. No guajillos? You can sub in dried New Mexico or California chilies.
• Tortilla chips. Ericka recommends buying thicker or extra-crispy chips so they keep their texture as they cook in the sauce, though opinions vary. “Some people like their chilaquiles soggy — my mom likes them that way,” she says. And it doesn’t matter if you have a freshly opened package of chips versus one that’s a few days old, as long as they’re still nice and crisp.
• Melting cheese. Ericka uses mozzarella, but says you can’t go wrong with muenster, jack cheese, Mexican queso panela, or another queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese).
• Cotija cheese. This crumbly, salty cheese adds a tangy pop of flavor. If you don't have it on hand, use feta.
• Fresh toppings. Sliced radishes, red onion or white onion, and a handful of fresh cilantro add crunch.
How to make red chilaquiles
Creating your own red chile sauce is the only (slightly) time-consuming part of Ericka’s homemade chilaquiles recipe — you're looking at 20 minutes or so for the sauce — and it can be done ahead. Otherwise, this easy chilaquiles recipe has just a few steps and comes together in another 20 minutes.
1. Make the red sauce
To make chilaquiles sauce for chilaquiles rojos, snip off the stems from guajillo chiles and shake out the seeds. Then give the chiles a quick simmer to soften them. Puree the chiles in a blender with onion, garlic cloves, a teaspoon salt, and canned tomatoes. The sauce stores well if you want to make it in batches and keep it in the fridge for a week, or freeze it.
2. Coat the chips in sauce
Once you're ready to eat, cook the sauce in a little olive oil or vegetable oil over medium heat to bring the flavors together. (High heat or even medium-high heat could scorch the sauce, and would make it spatter like crazy.) A heavy cast-iron skillet is perfect for this recipe. Then add the tortilla chips and stir to coat them in the red sauce.
3. Add toppings (and sides, if you like)
Now sprinkle the melting cheese over the chips, cover with the pan lid, and set over low heat.
While the cheese melts, fry up some large eggs in a second pan (nonstick if you prefer). When they’re cooked just the way you like, spoon them on top of the chilaquiles.
Time for garnishes! Add a shower of crumbled salty cotija cheese (or feta, if that’s what you have on hand), then the fresh toppings, and you’re done.
Want to keep going? A big dollop of Mexican crema (similar to crème fraîche) or sour cream would not be amiss, nor would slices of avocado. Add a side of refried beans, pinto beans, or black beans, and you have a hearty Mexican breakfast or dinner — one that's vegetarian and gluten-free to boot — that you’re going to want to put on repeat.
Mexican chilaquiles recipe
Ericka's recipe is one of Yummly's many Guided Video Recipes that are designed so you can cook along, which is especially helpful if this is your first time making chilaquiles.
Keep exploring Mexican cooking
Even the best chilaquiles recipe is open to a little riffing. Another time, maybe you'd like to add a little oregano, or some chorizo to your Chilaquiles Rojos? Or perhaps try Green Chilaquiles made with tomatillos and jalapeños, or Easy Chicken Chilaquiles seasoned with smoky chipotle chile.
Now that you're on a roll, satisfy your craving for Mexican food with additional recipes in this next collection.