Authentic Chile Colorado

Chile Colorado is definitely near the top of the list of my favorite beef-based meals, and it’s all thanks to the utterly divine, deep-red chile sauce that brasies and tenderizes the flavorful beef to perfection as it cooks.  This Mexican version of beef stew is incredibly delicious, and it’s simpler to make than you might think. 

While some people think this magical stew is named for the state of Colorado, it is actually named for the vibrant, deep red color of the dish. Since Colorado means “colored red,” this meal’s moniker is not just a clever name. Chile Colorado is absolutely gorgeous, and makes an impressive meal to serve to Mexican food-loving friends and family – alongside fresh tortillas, Mexican rice and beans, and any of your favorite toppings. Muy delicioso!


2-3 lbs. shoulder or butt roast, cut into bite-sized cubes

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, minced

5 dried ancho chiles

5 dried guajillo chiles

4 c. chicken or beef broth

3 Tbsp. flour

2 bay leaves

3 tsp. Mexican oregano

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. Cumin

Juice from one lime

1 Tbsp. cornstarch

1 Tbsp. water

Salt and pepper

Red pepper flakes (optional: for extra spice)

Serve with:

Mexican rice and beans

Fresh tortillas

Chopped cilantro

Sliced green onions

Sliced radishes

To make the chile, remove the stems from the dried chiles and rinse them in cool water. Place them in a saucepan, along with the broth, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the chiles are soft and fragrant.

While the chiles are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Quickly toss the beef cubes in flour, salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook until the beef is browned. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside on a plate. Make sure to leave the oil and browned bits in the skillet. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until they are softened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place the chile and broth mixture into a blender, along with the onions and garlic, and blend until the chile sauce is smooth.

Add the chile sauce back to the large skillet, align with the meat and bay leaves, oregano, cumin, and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1.5-2 hours, or until the meat is fork tender. 

A few minutes before serving, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl to make a slurry. Pour it into the skillet, along with lime juice, and allow the chile to simmer for 5 more minutes so that the sauce will thicken. Season with salt to taste. 

Serve in a bowl as a stew, or with rice and beans, fresh tortillas, and your favorite toppings.

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