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Chili colorado in a white bowl on a large plate from above.
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4.92 from 12 votes

chile colorado

Named for the colour red, chile colorado is beef chili like no other.
Prep Time45 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 20 mins
Total Time3 hrs 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: beef chili, chile colorado, mexican beef, mexican chili
Servings: 6
Calories: 433kcal
Author: romain | glebekitchen


chile colorado paste

  • 10 dried ancho chilies
  • 5 dried new mexican chilies
  • 1 large white onion
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 jalapeños
  • 1 14 oz can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano - do not use regular oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • water to puree

chile Colorado

  • 3 lbs beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes
  • the chile colorado paste
  • salt to taste


Rehydrate the chilies

  • Stem the chilies. Heat your comal or cast iron frying pan over medium heat. Toast the chilies briefly in the dry pan. Just a few seconds a side. It makes a difference. You are going to need your frying pan later anyway...
  • Place the chilies in a heat proof bowl. Pour boiling water overtop to completely submerge. Extra water is OK.
  • Let stand 30-40 minutes until fully rehydrated. Tear the chilies open and remove the seeds. Dipping them into the chile water to rinse them off works well. Set aside.

Prepare the chile colorado paste

  • Heat a cast iron frying pan or comal over medium heat.
  • Peel the onion. Cut it into 3 slices (around 3/4 inch thick). You want rings showing. Cut it that way.
  • Place whole onion slices, garlic and jalapeños in the frying pan and dry roast until brown one one side. Flip and continue roasting. You are done when they are soft. 
  • For the garlic and jalapeños keep moving them around. You want some char and blistering on the jalapeños. Not everything will be done at the same time. Garlic will be done first. Then jalapeños. And then onions.
  • Place tomatoes and their juices, a splash of water, chilies, onions, garlic and jalapeños in a blender or large food processor. Add the cumin, Mexican oregano (if you have some) and salt. You want the wet ingredients at the bottom. 
  • Puree. Really puree. You are going to have to strain this. If your blender fights you add a bit more water. You will get there.
  • Straining the chile paste is a pain. A real pain. But it's worth it. So do it. Skipping this step means you will be spitting out bits of chile skin. Not good. Use a strainer with fairly big holes. A super fine strainer is pretty much mission impossible. You should get about 4 cups. Maybe more depending how much water you added.

Brown the beef

  • You want to brown the beef. You don't want to boil it. So do not overcrowd your pot. You don't want pieces touching. Trust me. If you see water forming in your pot you have overcrowded your pot. These are words to live by. Any time you make stew.
  • Pre-heat a sturdy pot over medium heat. Salt your beef.  Film the bottom of the pot generously with oil. Add the beef and cook, turning occasionally until well browned. Remove and set aside.
  • Repeat, adding oil as necessary until all the beef is browned. I used a big pot and I did this in 4 batches. 
  • There should be a wonderful fond (brown bits) and some oil in the bottom of the pan. Your stove should be a mess. That's how you know you did it right.

Make the chile colorado

  • Pre-heat your oven to 325F
  • Frying your chile paste is the step that makes this dish what it is. Don't skip it. 
  • Your pot should still be hot. If not heat it up again. If there isn't a good film of oil in the bottom add a bit more. 
  • Pour the strained chile paste into the pot. It will bump. Be ready for chili paste everywhere. Stir and cover. Every minute or so uncover and give it a stir. After 7-8 minutes turn the heat off. Remove from heat. Let it sit a couple minutes to stop frying (and spraying everywhere).
  • Take the lid off the pot and add in the beef and accumulated juices. Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer. Cover and place in a 325F oven.
  • Every 30 minutes or so give the chile colorado a stir. It's done when the beef is tender. That takes time. Start checking after 90 minutes or so. It will dry out a bit over time so add water as needed. This can take up to 3 hours depending on how big your beef chunks are.
  • When the beef is tender it's time to eat. Taste and adjust salt as needed. You probably won't need a lot. 
  • Let it cool slightly and serve with pinto beans and rice. You can garnish with green onions, cheese, sour cream - what ever you want. Tortillas on the side are a nice addition. A little lime to brighten the flavours can be a nice twist to mix things up if you like.


Serving: 6servings | Calories: 433kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 576mg | Potassium: 864mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 720IU | Vitamin C: 4.3mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 5.5mg