Chile Colorado is a traditional Mexican-style stew of beef and chiles. Everything is simmered in a bold red sauce that’s bursting with chile flavor. Once you try it, you’ll know why this recipe is so special.
I just love a big comforting bowl of stew. Whenever I have a pot of stew simmering away on the stove, I just know it’s going to be a good day! While this chile recipe isn’t your average Texas chili nor is it your typical beef stew, this recipe manages to take the best of both of them adding in an incredible signature flavor.
The sauce is the key. It’s aromatic and full of bold chile flavors coming from 3 different types of chiles! It’s a deep dark red color which is how the stew gets its name – Colorado means ‘colored red’ in Spanish!
The stew will simmer on the stovetop for a couple of hours and at the end, you’ll have a thick and smoky sauce with tender fall apart beef. I love to serve it simply with tortillas and a side of my Cilantro Lime Rice. Sounds amazing, right? This easy recipe for Chile Colorado takes beef stew to a whole new level!
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Make-ahead – This chile will keep in the refrigerator for 3–4 days and it also freezes beautifully so you can make a big batch to enjoy throughout the month.
- Hearty and filling – It’s a comforting stew full of tender beef that will hit the spot and keep you full.
- Budget-friendly – The stewing method means we can use cheaper cuts of beef as the slow cooking time helps to break it down to make it fall apart tender.
Ingredients for Chile Colorado
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Guajillo Chiles. These chiles have a mild heat with a sweet smoky flavor.
- Chiles de Arbol. These chiles bring more heat and a smoky, nutty flavor.
- New Mexico chiles. Another mild chile that smells a bit like onions and gives the stew a subtly sweet and smoky flavor.
- Chicken broth. Homemade or store-bought is fine. If you’re using store bought go for a low sodium variety so you can control the salt level to your tastes.
- Whole tomatoes. I use Roma tomatoes.
- Beef, stew meat. Beef chuck would also be a great option.
- Salt and pepper. You’ll season the stew to taste.
- All-purpose flour. A light dusting of flour on the beef will encourage a brown outer crust to form when searing. This crust will give the beef tons of flavor!
- Canola oil or vegetable oil. I like to use neutral-tasting oil when making my stews.
- White onion. You could substitute yellow onion if that’s what you have on hand.
- Garlic cloves. No need to chop or mince the garlic, they’ll get thrown into a blender to make the base for the sauce.
- Whole oregano. Oregano has hints of pepper and mint and goes well with beef.
- Ground cumin. Cumin adds a warm earthy flavor to the stew and goes great with the smokiness of the chiles.
- Cornstarch. Combined with a small amount of the sauce, this is used to make a slurry which will help to thicken the stew.
- Cilantro. Love or hate it, cilantro is a popular garnish in Mexican cuisine. If you don’t like the taste, you can leave it out.
- Limes. Fresh lime juice brightens up the heavier flavors of the beef stew.
How to make Chile colorado
Follow my step-by-step instructions to make a delicious bowl of Chile Colorado! For the full recipe, scroll down to the recipe card.
- Soak chiles. Boil broth and add chilies to the pot. Remove from the heat and let the chiles soak for 20 minutes. Not only will this help to bring the chilies back to life by rehydrating them, but it will also help to infuse the broth which you’ll use later.
- Roast tomatoes. While the peppers are soaking, roast the tomatoes in a dry skillet until they are slightly charred on all sides. You want to try and remove as much of the skin as possible, as well as the core. Neither of those things blends very well!
The extra step of roasting them adds a smoky flavor to the tomatoes and brings out their sweetness.
- Blend marinade. Chop the stems off the peppers and remove the seeds. Add the chilis and tomatoes to a blender along with some of the reserved chicken broth and blend until the tomatoes are finely chopped. Set this sauce aside.
For a smoother finish, strain the marinade through a fine-mesh strainer, if desired.
- Brown beef. Season the beef and sprinkle with flour. The flour will encourage a seared crust to form on the beef which will give the beef loads of delicious flavor. Cook the beef in batches to not overcrowd the pan. Once browned, set it aside on a plate lined with a paper towel.
- Cook the vegetables, herbs, and spices. Sauté the onion, garlic, oregano, and cumin, and return the beef to the pan plus the chili sauce and the remaining reserved chicken broth. Set to a simmer.
- Make a slurry. A slurry is what we’ll use to help thicken the stew. In a small bowl, add cornstarch to ½ a cup of stew liquid and mix until the cornstarch is dissolved. Pour the slurry into the stew pot and stir until it is blended into the sauce.
- Simmer. The stew will simmer in the covered pot for 2 hours. Give it a stir occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching from the naturally occurring sugars. The stew is ready when the meat is meltingly tender, and the sauce has thickened.
Tips for recipe success
- Brown the meat in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan. If you overcrowd, the meat will steam instead of sear.
- Wear plastic gloves when handling chiles and be careful not to touch your face until you’ve had a chance to wash your hands thoroughly. Depending on the strength of the chile, the oils can tingle or burn when they come into contact with your skin or your eyes!
- Spice level. Although this recipe isn’t meant to be all that spicy, you could leave a few of the chile seeds in it if you wanted to make it a bit spicier.
- Use caution when blending! When blending the tomatoes, peppers, and broth, they all could still be hot. Start on the lowest setting, then work your way up to avoid hot splatter.
This stew is perfect as is when it’s made the traditional way, but if you’d like to jazz it up a bit, you can try adding some of these suggestions:
- Potatoes – Add in some chopped raw peeled yellow or red potatoes in the last 30 minutes of cooking.
- Frozen peas and carrots – Add these in the last 15 minutes of cooking.
- Pork shoulder or pork butt – These are good alternatives to beef.
- Long grain white rice – Throw some in for the last 10 – 12 minutes of cooking. You may need to add a bit more broth.
- Beans. Black beans or pinto beans would work.
How to Serve Chile Colorado
Storing Chile Colorado
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. This stew also freezes beautifully. It will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Yes! You can make the sauce 3–4 days in advance and keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
The stew will thicken up as it sits in the fridge, so when you’re serving it, you can add a splash of chicken stock or water before reheating to help loosen it up again.
Beef chuck, stewing beef and short ribs are all good options. Cheaper cuts of meat with lots of fat marbling work the best in stews as the cooking process breaks down the fat and keeps the meat tender and moist.
Chile Colorado is a deep red color from dried chili peppers. Chile Verde has a green sauce that comes from green chili peppers and green tomatillos.
Traditionally, it is not meant to be overly spicy. You, however, can customize the spice level to your preferences!
If you love heat and want to kick it up a notch, add more Chili Arbol. 3 of these chilis will be quite spicy. If you don’t want any spice, omit the chile arbol altogether.
When you’re in the mood for a bowl of comfort, give this Mexican Chile Colorado recipe a try! You’ll love it!
- 5 large dried Guajillo Chiles
- 2 dried Chiles de arbol
- 3 dried New Mexico chiles
- 3½ cups chicken broth divided
- 2 small tomatoes I use Roma tomatoes
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, See note 1
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil divided
- 1 cup chopped white onion
- 8 cloves garlic peeled and left whole
- 1 teaspoon whole oregano
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ cup cornstarch (cornflour in the UK)
- Cilantro chopped
- Limes quartered
- In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of chicken broth to a boil. Remove from heat, and add the guajillo chiles, chiles de arbol, and the New Mexico Chiles. Cover the saucepan, and soak the chiles for 20 minutes.
- Take the chiles out of the broth, and save the broth. Cut the top stems off, and remove the seeds by squeezing the peppers over a sink or bowl.
- As the peppers soak, put the tomatoes in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, and roast until they are slightly charred on all sides. Remove as much of the tomato skin as possible and remove the cores. Put the tomatoes and the chiles into a food processor or blender along with ½ cup of the reserved chicken broth. Blend on high for about 1 minute, or until the peppers are finely chopped (strain through a mesh sieve, if desired). Set the marinade aside.
- In a large bowl, salt and pepper the beef to taste. Lightly sprinkle the beef with flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until all of the beef is covered. In a large pot over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and the beef and sear on all sides. (You will need to work the beef in batches so the pot doesn’t get over crowded.) As the beef is finished browning, place it on a paper towel lined plate.
- Once the beef is all seared, add the remaining tablespoon of canola oil to the pot. Pour in the white onion, and cook until it’s translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook for one minute, or until fragrant. Pour in the oregano and cumin, and stir. Heat for about 30 seconds.
- Return the beef to the pan along with the chili sauce, the reserved chicken broth, and the last 1½ cups of broth. Stir together and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer.
- Use a ladle to spoon out about ½ cup of the stew liquid, and in a small bowl, mix it together with the cornstarch. Pour the mixture back into the pot and stir until combined. Cover the pot, and simmer the stew for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. Stew is ready when the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened. Serve with rice and tortillas, and garnish with limes and cilantro.
- Beef chuck, stewing beef and short ribs are all good options. Cheaper cuts of meat with lots of fat marbling work the best in stews as the cooking process breaks down the fat and keeps the meat tender and moist.
- Store leftovers in an airtight in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- This stew also freezes beautifully. It will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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