Making Red Chile Sauce with Dried Chile Pods

I found a copy of The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook in good condition in a thrift shop.   Score.

Again, it is another northern New Mexican sign that we must return!  (I can rationalize almost anything as a sign we need a trip to “The Land of Enchantment.”)


Cinco de Mayo had me thinking of all things Southwest and Mexican so the next couple of posts will reflect my current state of mind.

I still have bags and bags of dried chiles (both hot and mild) from our last trip.   It is  a good thing that these dried chiles seem to keep forever.

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To start my Southwest recipe extravaganza, I needed to make Red Chile Sauce.

Red Chile Sauce with Dried Chile Pods
Ever so slightly adapted from The Santa Fe School of Cooking Cookbook (1995)

12 New Mexican red chile pods
2-3 c. boiling water
1/4 c. canola oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 t. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 t. ground cumin

Rinse pods well and remove stems and seeds.   Place in a large bowl and cover with boiling water.   Weight chiles down with a saucer or smaller bowl to keep them submerged. Let stand for 30 minutes

While chiles are soaking, heat oil in a medium skillet and saute onions for 3 minutes or until soft.   Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Onions and garlic.

Drain soaked chiles but reserve liquid.   Place half of the chiles in a blender or food processor.  Add about 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid and about half of the onions/garlic mixture.   Puree.   Repeat process (adding more soaking liquid if mixture seems too thick).

Pour puree into medium saucepan and bring to a boil.   Add spices.   Reduce heat to low and simmer the mixture for about 20 minutes.   Makes about three cups.  (You may strain this if needed.)

Stay tuned for my next post where I attempt Smoky Black Bean Enchiladas with Christmas Sauce.    If you want to play along, make a batch of this red sauce and a batch of green sauce to be ready.

30 comments to Making Red Chile Sauce with Dried Chile Pods

  • I have a feeling that this would be great as the pizza sauce 🙂 Love it spicy with some fresh pineapples as the topping.

  • I LOVE red chili sauce and I always seem to have excess dried chilies hanging around because I never seem to use them all at once. This sauce is definitely happening all up in my hizzle soon! Thanks for a wonderful How-To 😉

    • Thanks, Julia. We still have enough to last us awhile but a couple of more batches of the red stuff and I will definitely need to make another trip west.

  • That cookbook is a huge score! Love the artwork on the cover. I’ve never made chile sauce from dried. I have a cookbook from Pasquales in Santa Fe that has a couple of good recipes. Thanks for reminding me that I need to give homemade a try,

  • Mae

    I just missed New Mexico on my way from Flagstaff to Mesa Verde — came within 6 miles of the 4 corners! You are right that it’s a good place to go back and visit from time to time. We had a great evening in Albuquerque on the way west last month, but just not enough time, never enough, as you say.

  • I have already pinned this because I have a bag ful of red chile peppers! Great recipe too – while Holli was working on Mesa Verde of course I preferred green but we got lots of red chiles!!

    • I thought I preferred the green, but having them side-by-side again (stay tuned), I decided that I was more partial to the red. But, I am pretty fickle. 🙂

  • Sounds simple and delicious! Now I just need to get my hands on some of those dried chile peppers 🙂 I remember my mom schlepping them home from Colorado!

    • I think I have actually seen them at our grocery store but a little more pricey than what we can schlep from NM, lol

  • Mmm, love me some dried chile, it is so good in salsa and of course, your sauce 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

  • Whoa baby, I think I feel my lips burning. I suspect that’s a good sign that the sauce was a success. Lol

  • HI there! We cannot find you on Facebook, but are going to tag this recipe with your website on our Facebook page. Our followers will appreciate it! They all love NM Chile!

  • Of course! We have over 41 THOUSAND fans on our page…we’re all about NM Chile….and recipes. (we are a shipper of all things NM Chile)

  • 🙂 Hopefully you make it here and take some time to enjoy the Land of Enchantment….and if you don’t, we’re here for you.

  • I’ve never made a red chile sauce Debra and had no idea how to go about it. I think your cookbook discovery was a wonderful “find”!

  • We can’t go a week without smothering something in red chile sauce! I usually make a huge batch and then freeze it in small containers. I used my last container on some enchiladas Sunday night. Time to make another batch. Love it that your making your own sauce and that recipe (and the cookbook) is a great one! Can’t wait to see your Christmas enchiladas!

  • Patricia Crandall

    I’m 77 years old and have been making red chile nearly all my life and I’ve never sauté onions except for my green chile sauce. I also rinse the chile in cold water first other wise the fumes are too strong and makes you cough, I also put it through a colander after it ‘s processed to take the seeds and peelings out. Saves you from stomach problems.

    • I hate de-seeding them, so thanks for the tip. I didn’t have a lot of chile fumes, maybe because they were dried.

  • I like that it is more savory than too spicy. I love a hint of spice but I like to be able to taste my food too. 😉 The cover of that cookbook is very cool–I’d want to set it out just for that.

  • Years ago I made some red chile sauce with dried chilies. Holy smoke it was so hot we couldn’t eat it! And we like things hot. I want to try it again–hopefully with a milder chile! Thanks for the recipe, I will try again.