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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.

Chili Colorado - Recipe
Print Recipe
4.96 from 21 votes

Chili Colorado - Recipe

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.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Mexican
Keyword: chili, one pot, slow cooker
Servings: 8
Calories: 344kcal

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

    • 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.
    • Add the onion and peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
    • Toss the cubed chuck roast in the flour with a bit of salt and pepper to coat them.
    • Add the garlic and coated beef to 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.
    • 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.
    • Serve!

    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

    Calories: 344kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 26g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 78mg | Sodium: 238mg | Potassium: 1056mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 7750IU | Vitamin C: 14.4mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 4.6mg

    55 comments

    1. 5 stars
      As i said Mike, loved it. I am defiantly trying another one of your chill recipes soon. Just a question, I love shin beef in my slow stews ect, do you ever use it, think its called Shank over there, regards Paul.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Thanks, Paul. Yes, I love the shank. SO good slow cooked, very tender and huge on flavor. More fatty, though, so take that into consideration. Let me know how it goes!

    2. Paul Wilson

      5 stars
      Made last night, different dried pepper ratio but hay soooooo good , cheers from the U.K.

    3. 5 stars
      Mike, this seems so similar to your Texas Chili. How would you side by side compare them? What

      I’ve made both and it seems this one has specific peppers to this recipe. I’m visiting my hometown of Key West and a friend who owns a Mexican cafe (best salsa ever) and amazing chef special habanero sauce, said he would give me a bag of dried peppers if I made Texas chili, where I live now (I have perfected my chili, guacamole and margaritas). So I tried finishing off in the oven since my brothers gas stove needs calibration. Hoping an hour in the crock pot tenderizes the meat more…and it was high quality chuck too! That is all that needs to happen.

      I no longer use tomato to thicken my sauce but a homemade chili paste thanks to you. I used twice as many of the chilies he gave me and the sauce is nice and thick. Taste is fabulous. I always add a splash of fish sauce though to most of my sauces. I’ve won contests with the simplest chili because of that “extra” something. It really brings out the richness of the meat.

      Thanks for your fabulous blog. It is so inspiring. I love me some chilies!

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Thanks, Staci. Yes, very similar. The difference is in the peppers and that Chili Colorado can use either pork or beef, where Texas Chili is beef only. Otherwise, yes, VERY similar. I love the fish sauce addition! Very nice touch.

    4. 5 stars
      I cook the meat in a pressure cooker for about 30 – 40 minutes after browning it and before putting it in the sauce. Comes out very tender but is still chunky.

    5. CHRISTOPHER STEVENS

      4 stars
      The recipe doe not list an amount of Pasilla chili. (I like it spicy.)

      I have no tried this yet but made a similar recipe with great success.
      My only problem was getting teh beef tender. I cocked it longer, but it was difficult keeping the sauce from scorching.

      I think I will try simmering the beef for an hour or so before adding the sauce and simmer some more. Any thioughts?

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Christopher, this recipe does not include pasilla peppers. However, if you’d like to use them, you can use anywhere from 1-3 pasillas, depending on your preference. You can also sub them in for the other dried pods as desired. Time to experiment! You can add some liquid to your chili for simmering so the sauce doesn’t scorch or dry out. I use either water or stock, just a bit at a time, if I need to simmer longer. I hope this helps. Enjoy.

    6. We followed this recipe exactly, and cooked it for an hr instead of a half hour. The sauce was amazing but the beef was not tender. So now we’re cooking it in the oven for 2 hrs on 200. Hope that works. Any suggestions to tenderize lean beef appreciated. It wouldn’t be a bad recipe to cook in the oven after browning the beef anyway…thoughts?

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Kat, it could be an exceptionally tough cut of beef, and cooking times can definitely vary. For me, I would add a bit more liquid to the pot then simmer longer, until the meat it tender. Of course that will affect the overall cooking time, but I don’t mind waiting for good tender meat with my chili!

    7. 5 stars
      This is full of flavor. I made it once with beef chuck roast and once with chicken. Both are excellent.

      1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

        Nice! Glad you enjoyed it, Eric! One of my favorites, actually.

      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.

    8. 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.

    9. 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!

    10. 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.

    11. 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.

    12. 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.

    13. 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!

    14. 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!

    15. 5 stars
      Oh that sauce looks EPIC! So rich and creamy. You can’t beat a hearty chilli on a cold night.

    16. 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.

    17. 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.

    18. 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.

    19. 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.

    Recipe Rating




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