Kitchen > Recipes > Chilaquiles Sauce (A Multi-Purpose Mexican Tomato Sauce)

Chilaquiles Sauce (A Multi-Purpose Mexican Tomato Sauce)

Red Chilaquiles Sauce | Border Park Kitchen
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  • 2kg fresh tomatoes, roughly chopped (see time-saving note)
  • 5 – 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 140g (½ cup) tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 tsp salt
  • Generous amount of cracked black pepper


  1. Boil tomatoes. Place tomatoes into a large saucepan, cover and bring to the boil over medium-high heat.
  2. Simmer tomatoes. Once it’s bubbling, remove the lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 20-30 minutes until tomatoes are really soft. If tomatoes are very juicy, carefully spoon off some of the clear liquid and discard. This will give you a richer, thicker sauce with less bitterness. I tend to discard anywhere between 1 ½ and 2 cups of liquid when cooking this quantity of homegrown tomatoes.
  3. Add remaining ingredients continue to simmer for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Puree sauce with a hand blender or carefully in a blender til smooth.
  5. Taste and season. Adjust flavours if necessary.
Serve with:  

This is a versatile sauce that can be used in lasagne, over pasta, anywhere pasta sauce or passata is called for, Chilaquiles (Speedy Mexican Chicken Lasagne with Corn Chips), Chili Beans, Better than Tinned Baked Beans, Huevos Rancheros, Mexican Red Rice, or thinned with chicken broth to stretch a soup.


Use ground coriander in place of cumin, and fresh oregano or dried thyme or basil instead of the dried oregano.

Boost the flavour:  

Add freshly chopped chillies to taste, or ½ cup chopped fresh coriander.

Storage suggestions:  

Wait for sauce to cool slightly before storing in an airtight containers or jar in the fridge for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.

Time Saving Tips:  

Save ½ hour by using 5 tins diced tomatoes (undrained) or 3 x 700g jars of passata instead of fresh tomatoes. Simply bring tomato mixture to the boil and begin at step 3.

Peri’s Tip:  

If using tomatoes out of season, I often add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to deepen the flavour and increase the colour.

Peri's Recipe Reflections:

I love homemade sauces. It’s incredibly satisfying to see our pantry shelves lined with jars and bottles of homemade goodness. (Somewhat akin to see our freezer neatly packed with meal components!)

And homemade tomato sauces, well, they’re right at the top of this list.

Wondering why I rate this humble Red Chilaquiles (pronounced Chee-lah-KEE-lez) sauce so highly?

Firstly, tomatoes made into a sauce are a quick and easy way to preserve the bounty from your vegie garden (or farmer’s market), so you can enjoy them year-round. There’s no additional cooking or flavouring needed – it’s as simple as opening a jar and proceeding with your recipe. A kitchen shortcut every Mama appreciates ?

Secondly, tomato sauces are probably the world’s most versatile sauce. Although they vary in flavour, they feature in many cuisines – Italian, Mexican, Spanish, French, Mediterranean, Greek, Indian, and African to name but a few. So, armed with a simple sauce, the world awaits.

Thirdly, tomatoes work well on their own (roasted adds an even more robust depth of flavour), or cooked up with onion or garlic for a simple, yet delicious result. Of course, tomatoes are often paired with other ingredients – herbs (particularly basil and oregano), capsicums, chillies, olives, capers and red or white wine – to yield a spectacular-tasting sauce. So, creating a tomato-based ‘fridge cleanout sauce’ is sure to be a winner. There are many options that it’s impossible to become bored ?

But, despite this dizzying array of possibilities, this Red Chilaquiles – a Mexican-inspired staple – is the sauce I reach for most often.

It’s my go-to sauce for almost every Mexican meal, but it works wonderfully for use lasagne or pasta, stretching a soup, drizzling over fried eggs or cooked meats, in my homemade baked beans or anywhere a jar of pasta sauce or passata is called for.

Really, there’s very few foods it wouldn’t work well with.

And while the name of this sauce might sound similar to a hot, chilli sauce, don’t let that put you off. I don’t put any chilli in it. This way all family members and visitors can enjoy the meal without fear of it being too hot for them (and they can add their own chilli, if that’s their jam).

So, next time you’ve got a bunch of vine-ripened tomatoes, you know what to do with them. But if you simply can’t wait, then a few tins of tomatoes will also do the trick!

I’d love to hear what dishes you used the sauce in ?


Peri x


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