Our Mexican red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos makes a popular Mexican comfort food eaten for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or supper. Invented to make use of stale corn tortillas, it’s easy to prepare, versatile, and this version is vegetarian. If you enjoyed our green chilaquiles recipe with shredded chicken for chilaquiles verdes, you’ll love this, too.
I have to confess that when I first fell in love with Mexican chilaquiles – which are homemade tortilla chips, called totopos in Mexico, made from frying stale corn tortillas, which are then cooked in salsa, and served with Mexican cotija and crema – it was chilaquiles verdes or green chilaquiles with shredded chicken to which I’d become completely addicted. Oh my, it was so good.
It was at the retro charmer Café la Blanca in Mexico City back in the mid- to late-1990s and I also became smitten with their red chilaquiles or chilaquiles rojos, cooked in a red salsa or salsa roja. The sauce was a lightly-spiced tomato-based salsa made with fresh jalapeño chillies at the time.
Now by ‘addicted’, I mean that something drove me to Cafe la Blanca day after day, and when presented with the menu I felt compelled to order chilaquiles verdes time and time again. I wonder if knowing the history of Mexican chilaquiles influenced my decisions. Because the back-story is a big part of the pleasure of eating for me, and in this case, it was about getting a taste of a dish with a long history.
Chilaquiles is a pre-Hispanic Aztec dish, pronounced chee-lah-KEE-lehs, which comes from the Nahuatl word for ‘chillies and greens’. Did knowing that green chilaquiles was closer to the origin dish guide me? Is it just me or does the history of a dish affect your taste buds too? I’d love to know.
Backstory aside, this Mexican red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos still makes an incredibly delicious dish and takes me back to Mexico City every time we make it. It’s also a great chilaquiles recipe for vegetarians as I don’t think it needs the shredded chicken in the way that green chilaquiles do.
You be the judge. You can certainly add chicken to these red chilaquiles. And instead of a runny fried egg or two – you could top it with poached eggs or even scrambled eggs. All are acceptable in Mexico and are muy delicioso! (Forgive me, it’s not often I get to use my limited Spanish in Cambodia.)
This classic Mexican red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos is the latest recipe in our Weekend Eggs recipe series on quintessential dishes with eggs from around the world.
If you’re dropping by for the first time, we launched our Weekend Eggs series way back in 2010 when we launched Grantourismo with a 12-month global grand tour focused on slow, local and experiential travel. We settled into each destination for a couple of weeks at a time, staying in apartment rentals and holiday houses to get an insight into how locals lived their lives.
In each place we stayed, we explored the local food, engaged with local cooks and chefs, and learnt to cook local specialties, which we also shared in another long-running series called The Dish, for which Terence shared the recipes of quintessential dishes he’d learnt to cook in each place.
Now before I share more about our red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos, I have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve enjoyed our recipes or other content on the site, please consider supporting Grantourismo. You could buy us a coffee and we’ll use that donation to buy cooking ingredients for recipe testing or contribute to our epic original Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon.
Another option is to use our links to book accommodation, rent a car or campervan or motorhome, buy travel insurance, or book a tour on Klook or Get Your Guide. Or purchase something on Amazon, such as these James Beard award-winning cookbooks, cookbooks by Australian chefs, classic cookbooks for serious cooks, cookbooks for culinary travellers, travel books to inspire wanderlust, or gifts for Asian food lovers, picnic lovers and travellers who love photography. We may earn a small commission but you won’t pay extra.
You could also shop our Grantourismo store on Society6 for gifts for foodies, including fun reusable cloth face masks designed with Terence’s images. Now let me tell you all about our red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos.
Red Chilaquiles Recipe with Fried Eggs for Chilaquiles Rojos con Huevos Fritos
This classic Mexican red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos will make you another one of Mexico’s fantastic, filling comfort foods, popularly eaten for breakfast, but which can really be eaten at any time of day.
Homemade tortilla chips – called totopos – are made from stale corn tortillas, which are cut into triangles and fried, then cooked in a salsa, plated up, sprinkled with Mexican cotija, doused in Mexican crema, and, if you like (we like!), topped with a runny fried egg – or your egg of choice.
Dished out simply back in the day, in a rustic fashion you might call ‘home-style’, with little else except perhaps some raw onion slices and refried beans (frijoles) on the side, these days modern chilaquiles might feature avocado slices, fresh coriander (cilantro), Mexican pickles, and sliced chillies.
We serve our chilaquiles with the lot, including the addition of a range of homemade pickles, lime quarters for squeezing the juice onto the avocado, and additional hot sauces so guests can customise their chilaquiles to their liking.
Now this particular Mexican red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs makes the chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos that I used to enjoy for breakfast or supper back in the Nineties at my favourite old-school Mexico City haunt.
I was in the capital as a research student at the end of a year-long trip in Latin America and was missing Terence and my family terribly. My daily meals at Café la Blanca provided the sense of familiarity and the comfort food I was seeking. The warm welcome and friendliness of the staff was a bonus.
In the mornings, I’d slide onto a stool at the counter that wrapped around the busy open kitchen and order a cortado to sip as I watched the old cooks make plate after plate of chilaquiles. It was what most customers ordered and they were all locals.
When I dropped by again in the quieter evenings, with my hardy laptop in my daypack, I’d grab a window table to people-watch in between writing up notes, only setting aside my work to my savour my chilaquiles when they arrived, swimming in salsa, smothered in crema and sprinkled with cotijia.
While our red chilaquiles pictured here look a lot different to those homey dishes at Café la Blanca – those busy cooks were not concerned with presentation when they were cooking hundreds of plates of chilaquiles during the breakfast rush-hour alone – the red salsa tastes as I recall it, having watched it being made and tucked into it day after day.
It’s a classic red tomato-based salsa that’s made with fresh chillies and has myriad cooking applications: it might get doused on huevos rancheros while enchiladas will be drowned in the stuff. A restaurant will have its signature salsas that might change with cooks or evolve over time, but no two restaurants will make exactly the same salsas – unless they’re buying them in from the same source!
While you’ll find red chilaquiles and green chilaquiles on the menus of Mexican restaurants in the same way that you’ll see red curries and green curries on Thai restaurant menus outside Thailand, the reality on the ground is that there are more than two coloured salsas, and there are even hybrid salsas.
Just as there are many curries in Thailand, there are many kinds of chilaquiles cooked in Mexico – especially in the Mexican home, where chilaquiles present an opportunity to use up leftovers, and home cooks might toss wilting veggies in the pan and use whatever chillies they have at hand.
This particular salsa roja is made with fresh jalapeños. I also like serrano chillies if I can’t find jalapeños, as I prefer a more gently-spiced salsa roja for breakfast chilaquiles and we’re sharing this red chilaquiles recipe as part of our Weekend Eggs series after all.
In Mexico, cooks use all sorts of chillies. Some use árbol chillies, which we adore, as they’re of a similar level of heat to the tiny red chillies we get here in Cambodia (around 15,000-30,000 Scoville units), which while not as fiery as Thai birds eye chillies (around 50,000-100,000 Scoville units) are still too hot for breakfast in my opinion.
You’ll also spot red chilaquile recipes with red salsas that include chipotles, which are essentially smoked, dried, ripe red jalapeños, and guajillos, which are dried mirasol chillies. As you’d expect, these chillies add a smoky, earthy richness to the salsa which is delicious and I enjoy if eating chilaquiles rojos for lunch, dinner or supper, but I find too heavy for breakfast chilaquiles.
Chipotles are not essential to a classic red chilaquile recipe but by all means add them if you like. Since publication, a reader shared a link to a chilaquiles recipe by American chef Rick Bayliss, an authority on Mexican cuisine, who has recipes and videos online that include chipotles. If you prefer to learn by video, they’re fine, although a little slow for this former filmmaker.
I tend to consult Mexican food sites/blogs as I prefer to go direct to the source. I studied Spanish at university and its a chance to practice the language, although I’ve sadly forgotten so much. Fortunately I can use Google Translate to fill the gaps. If you’re keen to do further research, the key to finding Mexican recipes from Mexico is searching in Mexican Spanish: ‘chilaquiles rojos receta’ should get you a mixed bag of red chilaquiles recipes using fresh chillies and/or dried/smoked chillies.
Use something like ‘chilaquiles en salsa de tomate con jalapeños receta’ or ‘chilaquiles en salsa de jitomate con jalapeños receta’ and you should find recipes pretty much like mine, although measures might vary and each cook has their own ingredient preferences. For instance, tomatoes might differ and I’ll cover the differences between ‘tomate’ and ‘jitomate’ below, while some cooks prefer tinned tomatoes, whether for taste, time, budget or convenience.
Now let me share a few more tips to making this Mexican red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos.
Tips to Making this Red Chilaquiles Recipe with Fried Eggs for Chilaquiles Rojos con Huevos Fritos
Just a few quick tips for making our red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos. Mexican chilaquiles are thought to have been invented to make use of stale corn tortillas, which are sliced into triangles, then fried (or baked) to create what we’re calling homemade tortilla chips in English but in Mexico are called totopos. So let’s start there.
We can’t buy fresh corn tortillas here right now, nor find Mexico’s corn flour called masa harina here to make our own tortillas, but when we can we will and we’ll share a recipe. However, we encourage you to if you can get hold of some masa harina. It’s also worth investing in a cast-iron tortilla press.
We have made flour tortillas. We have also used store-bought wheat flour tortillas and made totopos by frying those, but we rarely have leftover tortillas, so we tend to use plain unsalted tortilla chips made by a Mexican restaurant here in Siem Reap, but you’ll also find restaurant-style tortilla chips online, which are perfectly acceptable in Mexico.
Making the classic red salsa or salsa roja is very straightforward. Obviously fresh tomatoes are best if you can get hold of good quality, sweet, juicy red tomatoes. We can’t always, so sometimes we have to use canned tomatoes. Plus sometimes tinned tomatoes are not only better quality but might be more affordable and simply more convenient to stock during the challenging times that we live in.
If you do have access to a variety of great quality tomatoes, try to buy Roma tomatoes or ‘jitomate’, otherwise everyday tomatoes (‘tomate’) are just fine as long as they’re red, sweet and juicy.
While I personally don’t need the shredded chicken in this red chilaquiles dish and wanted to offer a vegetarian chilaquiles, by all means add shredded poached chicken to the sauce. See our recipe for green chilaquiles for detailed chicken poaching instructions.
If you can’t get hold of Mexican cotija cheese (it’s available on Amazon), use a crumbly fresh white cheese, such as a European or Danish fresh white cheese, or a feta cheese that is not too salty.
I recommend prepping all your garnishes, toppings and sauces first, then assembling your chilaquiles before frying your eggs. Quickly frying the eggs to your liking, pop them on top of the chilaquiles, and serve them immediately.
Red Chilaquiles Recipe with Fried Eggs for Chilaquiles Rojos con Huevos Fritos
- 400 g fresh tomatoes diced - or 400g /14oz tin tomatoes, chopped
- 115 g onion diced
- 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 20 g fresh coriander no big stems, minced
- 30 g fresh jalapeños chopped, seeds optional
- 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
- ½ tsp sea salt or to taste
- ½ tsp ground black pepper or to taste
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 200 g homemade corn tortilla chips or store-bought (see notes)
- 1 avocado peeled and sliced
- 1 lime quartered
- 1 radish finely sliced
- 50 g cotija cheese or crumbly fresh white cheese or feta
- 50 g fresh coriander leaves only
- 2 eggs fried
- ¼ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
- ¼ fresh cracked black pepper (optional)
- refried beans
- sliced fresh Serrano chillies or fresh jalapeños slices
- Mexican crema or sour cream, crème fraiche thinned with milk.
- To make the red salsa, cook the tomatoes in a pan over low heat for around 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, to reduce to a denser consistency.
- Transfer the reduced tomatoes and other salsa ingredients – onion, garlic, coriander (cilantro), jalapeños, lime juice, and seasoning – to a blender (or pound in molcajete or mortar and pestle if you have time) until just combined. Taste and adjust seasoning to suit your palate.
- In a deep medium-sized frying pan or skillet over medium heat, add the oil and red salsa and heat up.
- To the tomato salsa, add the fried tortilla chips (tostadas) and simmer just until the they start to soften; remove from heat immediately as they’ll continue to soften and you don’t want the tortilla chips to turn to mush.
- Distribute the tortilla chips and tomato salsa between two plates.
- Arrange the avocado slices on top, squeezing a little lime juice over them, and sprinkle on the finely sliced radish, cotija or crumbly white cheese, and fresh coriander leaves.
- Fry the eggs to your liking and pop the eggs on top of the chilaquiles, sprinkle with chilli flakes and/or cracked black pepper, and serve immediately with additional dishes of crema (or sour cream), garnishes, chilli sauces, and refried beans.
Please do let us know in the comments below if you make our red chilaquiles recipe with fried eggs for chilaquiles rojos con huevos fritos, as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.