Chilaquiles for Brunch (and Dinner)!
A Mexican cooking expert shares her easy chilaquiles recipe, so you can feast on chips, red sauce, and fried eggs any time of day.
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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 homemade tortilla chips, and a richly flavorful guajillo chili-tomato sauce were some of the constants in the kitchen. “My grandma would keep a jar of the chili 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 chilies 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 chilaquiles 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 chili-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 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.
Essential ingredients for red chilaquiles
Creating your own red chile sauce is the only (slightly) time-consuming part of Ericka’s chilaquiles, and it starts with getting your hands on some guajillo chilies (the name for dried mirasol chilies). Fruity, slightly smoky, and only medium hot, this dried chili is 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.
For the sauce, snip off the stems from the chilies and shake out the seeds, then give the chilies a quick simmer to soften them. Purée the chilies in your blender with onion, garlic cloves, a teaspoon salt, and canned tomatoes; and then cook the sauce in a little olive oil or vegetable oil over medium heat to bring the flavors together. (High heat could scorch the sauce, and would make it spatter like crazy.) The sauce stores well if you want to make it in batches and keep it in the fridge for a week, or freeze it.
What about the tortilla chips?
Ericka recommends buying chips that are thicker or extra-crispy 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.
Toppings and sides: yes, please!
Once you’ve coated the chips in sauce and cooked them for a few minutes, it’s time for the toppings. First comes a melting cheese. Ericka uses mozzarella here, but says you can’t go wrong with muenster, jack cheese, Mexican queso panela, or another fresh Mexican cheese. Sprinkle it 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). Once they’re cooked just the way you like, spoon them on top of the chilaquiles. Add a shower of crumbled salty cotija cheese (or feta, if that’s what you have on hand). Next comes sliced radishes and red or white onion for crunch, plus a handful of fresh cilantro, 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—both handy to cut the heat, in case you got carried away with the guajillos. Add a side of refried beans or pinto beans, and you have a hearty Mexican meal (one that's vegetarian and gluten-free to boot) that you’re going to want to put on repeat.
Red Chilaquiles with Fried Eggs
Ericka's recipe is one of Yummly's many Guided Video Recipes that are designed so you can cook along!