Chile Colorado

4.70 from 10 votes

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

Chile Colorado is a rich beef or pork stew with a delicious red chile sauce. Make this hearty stew recipe for a flavorful Tex Mex meal.

It doesn’t matter whether there’s warm or cold weather where you live, chili colorado with potatoes will hit the spot! This is comfort food at its finest, and it’s a stew recipe that doesn’t take all day to make either.

Chili vs. Chile Colorado

Nearly everyone has enjoyed a bowl (or several) of classic Texas or Tex Mex chili before. Traditionally, it’s ground beef or pieces of sirloin with onions, tomatoes and chili seasoning, cooked in a thin tomato-based broth, with or without beans. Although delicious, even the most authentic chili recipe doesn’t compare to the flavor of chile colorado.

While the name may have you thinking the dish comes from the state of Colorado, it’s actually a Mexican stew recipe that worked its way up into Texas and southwestern states. The Spanish word colorado means “red” or “colored red”. The dish is named for the base of the stew, a deep red chile sauce.

Ingredient Notes

  • Meat- While the dish can be made with pieces of beef sirloin or pork shoulder, the pork version is my personal favorite.
  • No beans or tomatoes– An authentic chili colorado recipe won’t call for any tomatoes or beans, which is nice for those who have trouble digesting them.

    So if there are no tomatoes in chili colorado, where does the deep, rich red color come from? The answer is, pureed red chiles. It’s all about the red chile sauce!
  • Mexican oregano– Besides the wonderful flavor from the chiles, the kicker for me is the use of Mexican oregano. It’s a different flavor from the typical Mediterranean oregano you get in the spice aisle in your local market. It has a stronger aroma and the flavor is very different, with notes of citrus and mild licorice.
  • Optional Ingredient – Potatoes– Because I like potatoes in stew, my chile colorado recipe calls for small white potatoes, but feel free to omit them if you want a traditional version.
cubes of pork shoulder, dried chiles and seasonings for chili colorado recipe

Red Chile Sauce

There are three types of dried chiles needed for the sauce; ancho, pasilla and guajillo.

  • Ancho chiles are the dried version of fresh poblano peppers.
  • Pasilla chiles are the dried form of fresh chilaca chiles. Sometimes, pasillas are labeled as chile negro.
  • Guajillo chiles are the dried version of fresh mirasol chiles. This one really bumps up the red color of the chili.

Shopping for Dried Peppers

When choosing dried peppers from the bin, select the ones that are pliable and soft like a raisin. If the chiles are brittle and chip or break when you bend them, discard and keep looking. They have very little flavor and can ruin a dish.

After soaking the peppers, you’ll puree them with the soaking liquid, chicken stock, garlic, onion, jalapeño and oregano. This is the base sauce for chile colorado.

NOTE: You will probably have extra red chile sauce. If so, store it in a covered container in the refrigerator. You can use it to make carnitas enchiladas, or freeze it for another batch of chili.

Another chile I now use in this is the chimayo chile. I ordered it online and it comes in a powder. A reader named Don clued me in on, big thanks for that! It has a fantastic earthy, sweet flavor and is a staple in this now. I’ve updated the recipe to include this.

Chili Colorado Recipe Video

To see how easy this stew is to make, just watch the video in the recipe card at the bottom of this post!

What to serve with chile colorado

Serve your chili with warm, fresh tortillas that you char over an open flame for that extra bit of flavor. I either use the grill when it’s hot outside, or simply grill them over the open flame on a gas stove top burner.

Looking for more Tex Mex themed meals? Check out my recipes for Tex Mex Baked Chicken, this Chicken Corn Soup or Tex Mex Stuffed Peppers

If you’d like to try other stew recipes, make a pot of Mexican asado or Guinness Irish stew!

This post, originally published on Kevin Is Cooking in January 2016, was updated and last republished in August 2021.

Chile Colorado

4.70 from 10 votes
Chile Colorado is a rich beef or pork stew with a delicious red chile sauce. Make this hearty stew recipe for a flavorful Tex Mex meal.
Servings: 8
Prep: 35 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 45 minutes
Total: 2 hours 20 minutes



  • Cut the pork shoulder into 1-inch cubes, season with the kosher salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Remove the stems (and seeds if you want it milder in heat), from the anchos, pasillas, and guajillos. Cover chiles with 1 cup boiling water and let them steam for about 30 minutes until they are tender.
  • Put the chiles, soaking liquid and 2 cups of the chicken stock, garlic, onion, jalapeño, chimayo chili powder, cumin and Mexican oregano (cayenne is  optional for more heat) into a blender and purée until smooth. Set aside.
  • Brown the pork in a large, stock pot over medium heat with oil.
  • Add 4 cups of chicken stock and simmer on low covered for one hour. Stir in the potatoes (optional) and chile purée. Simmer uncovered for another 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and the sauce is a thick, deep red color. Season with additional salt if needed. Serve with warm tortillas.



  1. This is a bright red, sweet and earthy flavored New Mexico chile, and worth trying to find or order online. Otherwise, substitute your favorite chili powder or make my recipe for homemade chili powder
  2. Mexican oregano has notes of mild licorice and citrus. Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and most often is used in Greek and Italian recipes. Mediterranean oregano is the one most found in spice racks and supermarkets.


Calories: 231kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 51mg | Sodium: 897mg | Potassium: 633mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 25IU | Vitamin C: 9.2mg | Calcium: 42mg | Iron: 3.1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Dinners
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!


Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

Free Bonus
5 Secrets to True Tex Mex
Essential recipes & tips for delicious Tex Mex cooking!

email image

Explore More

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 5 stars
    Growing up in El Paso, this is the Chile Colorado I miss. I’ve been making it for years, but was looking for a little bit milder chile flavor this time.

  2. 5 stars
    Fantastic recipe! Lots of flavorful spice but the amount of heat is ajustable to your family. I ve always used powdered spices but you’ve opened my eyes. Keep up the great Mexican recipes please.

  3. 5 stars
    So many great tips on the chilis. And I didn’t even know about Mexican oregano – I have to hunt it down now! I am in love with the flavors in this recipe. My only complaint is that I can’t seem to eat it off the screen….

    1. Thanks Danielle. I try to insert tips and tricks when ever I can. You must check out the Mexican oregano, it’s a game changer and it will be “that” flavor you recognize.

  4. Hello Kevin! Sounds like this is kinda mild. TEQUILA JACK’S, a Mexican restaurant in town has. Colorado that is hot as HELL! SSSOOOO GOOOD! LOL. You eat, you sweat , you eat some more, grab a beer and go in till the plate is empty! Love it! Can’t wait to try yours! thank you

    1. Cooking for the masses I tend to keep it not as hot as I typically eat it at Patty. One can always add more heat, but you can’t take it out!
      Where is this Tequila Jack’s at may I ask? Sounds like a place I’d eat at too! 🙂

  5. 5 stars

    I sure wish it was cold where we are but it’s still silly hot here in Mississippi! No matter, we Scottish people are into spicy food (and cups of tea, lol) year round no matter what the weather so I’ll be adding this to my dinner rotation!

    I’m off out to the grocery in a little bit and I’ll be looking for those dried chilis so I can try your Chili Colorado, it looks truly spectacular!

    1. Thanks so much Sheena! I hope you’re able to pick up the chiles and enjoy this one. It’s been crazy hot here as well and I’m looking forward to cooler weather myself!

  6. I forgot to mention that the area around Chimayo is famous for their dried red chile powder. It has an amazing flavor and you can order it online on Amazon. It is a deep red and has the most amazing flavor. We go up there each year to the Sanctuario de Chimayo on Palm Sunday for mass and to pick up our annual supply of their dried powder in case we run out of our frozen sauce. They have been recently farming some heritage red chile and it has an even more amazing flavor although it is a bit more expensive. The area is also well known for their Navajo woven purses, pillows, furniture mats, seat covers, couch throws, wall hangings, and one-of-a-kind tapestries and rugs. You can find some on Ebay, mostly used but in condition from fair to good.

    1. Don, you rock buddy. Thanks for the tip here on the chili powder. Off to order me some on Amazon to taste test. Cheers!

  7. Good recipe. Most people think you should put some sort of tomato in red chili but not here in New Mexico. Every year I drive down to Hatch(3-hour drive) and pick up two sacks of red and one of green. We take them home and peel and freeze the green in baggies. The fresh red chile we boil for at least ten minutes. While this is going on we put some oil or lard in a pan with all the spices you have in your recipe although a little less cumin. We then fill our Vitamix blender with the boiled chile and some of the chile water and pulse until it is liquified. We then run it through our large French chinois and push it through to remove any seeds that remained after the Vitamix. Put that great red into plastic quart or pint containers and freeze. We make enough to last all winter. The green is an entirely different preparation. We use the red for posole with pork, in enchilada sauce with or without pork. We usually use beef with our green. Out here it is just called red chili, not Colorado red but I see in some of our authentic Mexican restaurants here that they call it Colorado. New Mexican restaurants just call it red chile. The famous question “red or green” is asked by every New Mexican restaurant and you can have one or the other or “Christmas” (both red and green) in most of our dishes out here.
    Love your blog and have used many of your excellent recipes.

    1. Don, I really appreciate your comments and input on my recipes. Sounds like you guys have quite the serious red/green chili production going on at your house.
      Question for you. In terms of using proper terms, does one use “chile” for the pepper and “chili” for the meal? Example: chile = “Red Chile peppers” and chili = “a bowl of Green Chili” ? I’ve always wondered.
      Also, if you have any tried and true, classic New Mexico recipes to share I’d love to check some out, giving you credit here on the site of course if they’re yours. Let me know! 🙂