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Mexican Red Sauce Recipe

Updated on August 17, 2014

Mexican Sauce Recipe

Mexican Red Sauce Recipe
Mexican Red Sauce Recipe

Mexican Red Sauce Recipe

Dreamed this up last night when I was cooking rice and beans and decided it needed a sauce. I was cooking for my wife and her sister who both, despite being Mexican, can't handle hot food. This presents somewhat of a challenge to me because I could eat lava and not break a sweat and I prefer my food spicy but, I have learned to adapt to the challenge. This sauce is both tasty and taste-full without being too spicy. Bon apetite!

Red Salsa

Salsa roja i.e. "red sauce", is used as a delicious and tasty condiment in Mexican and Southwestern cuisine. It is most often made with cooked tomatoes, chili peppers, onion, garlic, and fresh cilantro.

Chili Peppers Doesn't Always Mean HOT

Not all chili peppers are hot, in fact many have wonderful taste without any heat at all and that's the kind of peppers that you will use in this sauce or salsa. Ancho chilis (often called Pasilla chilis in the U.S), like the ones used in the recipe below, are the dried form of the Pablano chili. When buying Ancho chilis remember that you can control the flavor and heat of your dish with this simple tip:

The more ripe, red poblano pepper is significantly more flavorful but also hotter than the less ripened, green poblanos. It can be hard to tell the difference when examining the dried anchos but if you look closely you can often tell.

But, like all peppers in my experience, each pepper can vary greatly in heat and taste so, if you're concerned about making a dish too hot, add the peppers slowly and one at a time.

Photo Source:

Poblano Chili Pepper

Mild Chili Pepper
Mild Chili Pepper

Let's Make Some Salsa

A simple, quick and easy salsa that you can use to brighten up rice and beans or use as a salsa with corn chips. This recipe is so easy that anyone can make it. It requires a minimal amount of cooking and cooking knowledge, you just need to have taste buds and know what you like to eat.

The ingredients that you need to make this dish are easy to find and readily available at most supermarkets and grocery stores.

Tip About Garlic

I like to cook the garlic a little first, usually over an open flame but this is a personal preference

Mexican Red Sauce Ingredients

  • Ancho chiles (dried poblanos)
  • Water (or broth)
  • Tomato Sauce (Can of sauce or crushed tomatoes)
  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Smoked Paprika Powder
  • Cumin Powder
  • Cinnamon Powder
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon Juice (lime juice also works well)
  • Honey
  • Cloves

Cooking Tips

Keep tasting and adjusting at each step in the process so you can add more flavors. Remember that you can always add more but it's awfully hard to take an ingredient back out once you've put it in the dish.

As a side note, I loathe cinnamon, hate the stuff, but I added it to this dish on a whim and it worked fantastically. It seems to bring out the other flavors somehow, especially if you add some chili powder to this mix (I know because I added cinnamon to a lentil chili that I made today and got the same results).

Add diced onion for a sweeter sauce.

Salsa vs Pico de Gallo

What's the difference between Salsa and Pico de gallo?
Generally speaking, Pico de gallo (which means "rooster's beak" by the way), is made with raw tomatoes, lime juice, chili peppers, onions, cilantro leaves, and other coarsely chopped raw ingredients.

Pico de Gallo is also known as...

salsa fresca ("fresh sauce"), salsa picada ("chopped sauce"), or salsa mexicana ("Mexican sauce"). They all mean pretty much the same thing so now you know and won't get confused when you are at a restaurant. My wife is Mexican so I get a lot of 'inside' tips and tricks on cooking, dishes and flavors from this wonderful, culinary tradition.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Use a knife to cut open the ancho peppers and cut out the veins and seeds. The seeds are what makes chili peppers hot so I put them aside to either add heat to the sauce later or for another dish.
  2. Heat a saucepan to medium high and then flatten out the peppers into the pan. Press down on them with a spatula or spoon or fork. You want to 'cook' (not burn) the inside of the peppers a little to get them to release a little more flavor.
  3. Add a little water or broth to the saucepan. If you use just water, add a little salt. Simmer the peppers until they re-hydrate and plump up. You will know when they are ready because they will become soft and limp. Use just enough water or broth to cover the anchos.
  4. Pour the can of tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes into a blender and flavor it with the other ingredients (garlic, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, cumin, lemon or lime juice, honey (optional), crushed cloves (optional) and chopped up cilantro.) to taste. I love garlic so I use a lot of that but you can combine the ingredients in whatever quantities your palate finds pleasing.
  5. Add oil for consistency.
  6. Transfer the ancho chilis and whatever liquid is in the saucepan to the blender and puree the whole lot together until smooth.
  7. Pour the mix from the blender back into the saucepan and bring to a simmer.
  8. Keep simmering the sauce until it reduces to a consistency you like. Thicker sauces for a salsa, maybe slightly thinner and more liquid for a sauce. Cook for at least 10-15 minutes and add water or broth if you need to.
  9. Once the mix has reached your desired consistency, take it off the heat and serve it, either over rice, or let it cool and serve it cold with tortila chips.

What Do You Think?

5 stars from 1 rating of Mexican Red Sauce


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    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 3 years ago from The High Seas

      Peggy I PROMISE this recipe tastes wonderful! Please try it and then let me know if you still think it's worth 5 stars. I hope you do!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Without even tasting this I gave it a 5 star rating because I know it would be good. Thanks for your recipe. Pinning this so that I can easily find it again.