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17 October 2018

Chili Colorado is a traditional Mexican recipe of pork or beef stewed nice and slow in a rich red chili sauce, hence the name “colorado”, which means “colored red”, not from the state of Colorado.

I’ve been on a chili kick lately. I love making chili, all that wonderful flavor in a big old pot, cooking low and slow until everything melds together.

It’s hard to find a better one-pot meal. If you’re a big chili fan, this is one recipe you want to have in your chili recipes repertoire. You can check out my growing collection of chili recipes here.

We’re talking Chili Colorado, my friends, and it’s a great one.

What is Chili Colorado?

Chili Colorado is a traditional Mexican recipe of pork or beef stewed nice and slow in a rich red chili sauce. While you might think it is a dish of the state of Colorado, that is not the case.

The name derives from the Spanish word “colorado”, which means “colored red”, named because of the deep red color of the sauce.

It’s crazy delicious, and it’s all about the chili peppers.

About the Chili Peppers

Chili Colorado Chili Peppers

Chili Colorado is traditionally made with dried Mexican chili peppers, including ancho peppers, guajillo peppers, and chiles de arbol. You can also use pasilla peppers.

Ancho peppers are dried poblano peppers and they add a rich depth of flavor and color.

Guajillo peppers  are one of the most common and popular chiles grown and used in Mexico. It is mild to moderately hot, and has dark, reddish brown, leathery skin, with a green-tea flavor or fruity flavor, with hints of berries.

Chiles de Árbol are small, red and thin Mexican peppers that add heat and spice.

Pasilla peppers refer to the dried chilaca pepper. The chilaca, when fresh, is also known as pasilla bajio, or as the chile negro or “Mexican negro” because, while it starts off dark green, it ends up dark brown. It offers a rich and smoky flavor.

Together, these peppers develop a richness of flavor you won’t get with other chilis.

Let’s talk about how we make Chili Colorado, shall we?

Chili Colorado - ready to eat!

How to Make Chili Colorado – The Recipe Method

Make the sauce first by dry toasting the dried peppers in pan about a minute per side, until the skins blister a bit.

Set them into a bowl and cover with hot water for 20 minutes, until they are very soft.

Transfer the peppers to a blender with oregano, cumin, a bit of salt and pepper, and 1 cup of the soaking water. Blend until nice and smooth.

Strain the sauce and set aside.

Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the olive oil. Cook down some onion and jalapeno peppers (optional) until they soften up, about 5 minutes or so.

Toss some cubed chuck roast (or pork) in a bit of flour with a bit of salt and pepper to coat them.

Toss the garlic and coated beef into the pan. Brown the beef on all sides, about 5 minutes or so.

Add the red sauce and stock and bring to a quick boil.

Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors develop. Longer is better. I let mine go about an hour on low, nice and slow.

If you’d like to thicken the chili, remove the cover and increase the heat. Cook until the moisture cooks out and your preferred thickness is achieved.

Notes and Variations

This recipe does not traditionally included beans like a lot of chilis do, but I sometimes like to serve mine with butter beans. It just works for me!

Doesn’t it look good with beans?

Chili Colorado - a version of the dish with beans

Try making the recipe with other Mexican chili peppers as well.

Also, if you’re unable to find dried chili peppers to work with, you can make Chili Colorado with chili powder instead. Many people make with powder instead of the dried peppers.

That’s it, my friends! I hope you enjoy your Chili Colorado! Chow down!

Try Some of My Other Popular Chili Recipes

Chili Colorado - in a pot, ready to serve
If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

5 from 15 votes
Chili Colorado - Recipe
Chili Colorado - Recipe
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
40 mins
Total Time
1 hr 5 mins
 
Chili Colorado is a traditional Mexican recipe of pork or beef stewed nice and slow in a rich red chili sauce, hence the name "colorado", which means "colored red", not from the state of Colorado.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: chili, one pot, slow cooker
Servings: 8
Calories: 344 kcal
Ingredients
FOR THE SAUCE
  • 6 ancho chili peppers stemmed and seeded
  • 6 guajillo peppers stemmed and seeded
  • 3 chiles de arbol stemmed and seeded
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE CHILI
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers chopped (optional – I like the extra heat and flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast cubed (1/2 cubes)
  • ¼ cup flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups beef stock chicken or vegetable stock are good, too
FOR SERVING: Crumbly white cheese, fresh herbs, spicy chili flakes – Rice and/or warmed tortillas, if desired
    Instructions
    1. Make the sauce first by dry toasting the dried peppers in pan about a minute per side, until the skins blister a bit.
    2. Set them into a bowl and cover with hot water for 20 minutes, until they are very soft.
    3. Transfer the peppers to a blender with oregano, cumin, a bit of salt and pepper, and 1 cup of the soaking water. Blend until nice and smooth.
    4. Strain the sauce and set aside.
    5. Heat a large pot to medium heat and add the olive oil.
    6. Add the onion and peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
    7. Toss the cubed chuck roast in the flour with a bit of salt and pepper to coat them.
    8. Add the garlic and coated beef to the pan. Brown the beef on all sides, about 5 minutes or so.
    9. Add the red sauce and stock and bring to a quick boil.
    10. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors develop. Longer is better.
    11. If you’d like to thicken the chili, remove the cover and increase the heat. Cook until the moisture cooks out and your preferred thickness is achieved.
    12. Serve!
    Recipe Notes

    Heat Factor: Mild-Medium. I add a bit of heat to mine by cooking with jalapenos, which is not traditional, and also finishing the dish with spicy chili flakes. You can easily include hotter peppers to your preference. 

    Nutrition Facts
    Chili Colorado - Recipe
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 344 Calories from Fat 144
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 16g25%
    Saturated Fat 6g30%
    Cholesterol 78mg26%
    Sodium 238mg10%
    Potassium 1056mg30%
    Carbohydrates 25g8%
    Fiber 8g32%
    Sugar 13g14%
    Protein 26g52%
    Vitamin A 7750IU155%
    Vitamin C 14.4mg17%
    Calcium 44mg4%
    Iron 4.6mg26%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    41 comments

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Thanks, Mike. According to my recipe nutrition calculator, most of of the carbs are from the anchos. All are estimates, though. You can calculate on your own if there are concerns.

    1. 5 stars
      Made this for the first time last night, outstanding! Easy to follow recipe, and the results speak for themselves. Everyone loved it!

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Perfect, Eric! Glad it was a hit! That recipe is definitely a keeper. I love it.

    2. Glenn Coleman

      This looks awesome and I will be making it these week. I’ve used dried chilis when making red sauce for tamales and have never strained the chilis after blinding. Now I do de-seed and remove the stems first. The blender I use, there wouldn’t be anything left a strainer would catch. Why strain?
      Thank you,
      Glenn

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Glenn, yes, remove the stems and seeds first. Straining is really only necessary for a smoother sauce. You’re fine just blending it. Enjoy!

    3. Danny from CA

      5 stars
      This was a perfect recipe from start to finish. Great authentic taste. I followed the recipe and finished everything in the crockpot on low for about 6 hours. Maybe longer. Meat was tender and thickness was spot on like getting it at a restaurant but better. Thank you!

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Great, Danny! Glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, this is one of my favorites. I need to make another batch soon.

    4. 5 stars
      Amazing flavor. I was initially intimidated to use dried peppers but it was easy and added so much flavor. I will make it again. Mine was more soup like, even after cooking it for a while. So I’m not sure where I went wrong??? But excellent flavor! Thanks!! I will try more recipes!

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Thanks, Nika, glad you enjoyed it. The soupiness could be from too much liquid and can usually be cooked off, or you can try a thickener like cornmeal. Try that next time.

    5. I’m trying to do the least amount of carbs possible. Would it be too watery if I omit the flour?

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Michelle, not really. You can still thicken it up by just simmering longer. I believe arrowroot is much lower in carbs, so you might consider that as an optional thickener. You could also incorporate more chili paste or even tomato paste to thicken it up as well. Let me know how it turns out for you.

    6. 5 stars
      What an awesome addition !! Charred corn! My husband makes our chili and he adds bacon (and lean ground beef that he cooks in a tiny bit of the bacon drippings), and we always put beans in our chili. We will have to try adding the charred corn. Love that idea! Thank you for sharing.
      PS: Mike, your chili recipe looks amazing, too (I would just have to add the beans haha)

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        I love it. I enjoy my Chili Colorado with beans as well. Bacon would be fantastic here. Glad you enjoyed it!

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        I love this one, Danielle. I hope you get to make it again soon!

    7. Jacque Hastert

      5 stars
      I am making this tomorrow with extra heat! I love a good spicy dish that won’t kill me 😉

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        I’ll take some extra heat with you, Jacque! Nice!

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        One of my favorites for sure, and yes, PERFECT for cold nights!

    8. 5 stars
      Oh that sauce looks EPIC! So rich and creamy. You can’t beat a hearty chilli on a cold night.

    9. 5 stars
      Great recipe. I added charred corn cut from the cob on top of the chili when it’s served. So yum! Fresh cilantro and green onion is a great topping for this chili recipe.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Outstanding! I LOVE the addition of the corn. I’ll have to try that next time.

    10. I cook competition chili, I have found that strained red chili sauce is less grainy than sauce made with chili powder. Other than that, Nice recipe. Don’t be afraid to experiment with it, you may be surprised. Have fun!

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        5 stars
        Thanks, John! Yes, I agree on the straining, and agree 100% on experimenting! I’d love to try some of your winning chili.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Christopher, use about 2-3 tablespoons and adjust from there. Let me know how it turns out for you.

    11. Peggy Falconett

      No rating yet, will be making this today, and will let you know how I liked it, but it sounds good and easy to make.

    12. Patricia Aldal Fraide

      This was my late husband’s favorite dinner. I’m commenting because this is the very recipe my mother-in-law taught me to make well over 55 years ago. It has become one of the Staples to make whenever my children visit or I visit them. I also serve it with rice. For garnish, another California favorite is sliced avocado and cellantro and of course the cheese.

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