Chilaquiles Rojos


Crunchy corn tortilla chips simmered in a rich tomato broth, topped with chicken, cheese, and fresh cilantro. Because we can’t quite pronounce “chilaquiles,” the husband and I call theses “breakfast nachos.”


We first had these on a vacation to Playa del Carmen in the spring of 2013. We went as an early graduation present to myself, which was stupid because I had to take a week off during my final term in my M.B.A. program. I ended up having to do about three weeks’ worth of work in the week leading up to the vacation.

Our first morning in paradise we went to breakfast at this restaurant called La Vagabunda which kind of seemed like their version of a Denny’s. I was craving fresh tropical fruit juice and it was the first place we saw that had patrons sipping juice, so we sat down to eat. I ordered the typical “American-style” breakfast because I was a wussy and it was pretty gross. The husband, who is 99% of the time a better food-order-er than me, ordered chilaquiles and mollettes. If you don’t know what a mollette is, it is basically black beans and cheese on toast, sometimes with tomatoes or other toppings on it. The husband and I ended up switching plates halfway through breakfast after we realized that I liked his food better, and he liked my foot better.

I craved chilaquiles upon waking every day for the rest of the trip, and my love for this dish hasn’t wavered since we returned home. It is traditionally served for breakfast in order to make use of leftovers from the night before. However, this dish makes an excellent brunch, lunch, or dinner item as well! You can also easily convert this to a vegetarian dish.

Here’s how to make it:

Makes: 4 Servings


[for the sauce]

  • 1 can of whole tomatoes, drained but with liquid reserved
  • 2 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded, and chopped (I’ll leave it up to you to decide if you want to keep the membranes or not – take them out if you don’t want it to be spicy)
  • 1/2 onion, any kind, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lard (oil works fine, too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt

[for the dish]

  • 1 cup of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
  • 10 ounces corn tortilla chips (you can use them straight out of the bag, but the traditional way is to leave leftover tortillas out overnight so they get a little stale, then fry them up into chips – I used six corn tortillas)
  • 1/2 cup shredded chicken, warmed (you can replace with beans for vegetarian)
  • 4 tablespoons crumble Mexican cheese, like queso fresco or cotija
  • 1/2 onion, any kind, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup Mexican crema (I used fat free sour cream)
  • 1/2 cup cilantro for garnish.


  1. Start with the sauce. In the bowl of a large food processor (or working in batches with a small one), add the tomatoes, garlic, onion, and jalapenos and process until it forms a smooth sauce.
  2. Heat the lard (or oil) in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once the lard is hot, pour in the sauce and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce to simmer and season with salt.
  3. Add the chicken broth to the mixture, stir to combine, then add the tortilla chips. Fold the sauce and chips together until the chips are covered. If the mixture seems a little dry, add some of the reserved tomato juice. Cook for another 5 minutes, until chips are soft but not mushy.
  4. Separate the chip and sauce mixture onto four plates and top each with one quarter of the warmed chicken. Top with the sliced onions, crumbled cheese, crema, and cilantro. Serve with a mimosa (breakfast) or Pacifico (lunch or dinner).

Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.

Nutrition (1/4 of the recipe):

361 calories, 15 g. fat, 21 g. protein, 36 g. carbs, 4.3 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9


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