Homemade Red Chile Sauce for tamales is made from dried chile peppers and earthy and wonderful warm spices. This red chile sauce is our go-to recipe to blend with shredded pork to make Red Chile Pork Tamales.
My love for Mexican food is always elevated to a new level when a recipe like this homemade tamale sauce is shared.
Rosa is my former next door neighbor and an excellent source for Mexican specialities and authentic Mexican food. So, I’m taking her lead and combining my intuition for this New Mexico Red Chile Sauce recipe.
Made from three kinds of dried chile peppers this is her recipe that she uses for homemade Tamales. It can also be used for enchiladas.
I’ve added some New Mexico flair to her version, to make my version. Really not much of a change from her original recipe, I’m just using dried New Mexico Chile Peppers.
Related Material: Mountain Mex Enchiladas
Red Sauce For Tamales
I’ll never forget when Miguel, Rosa’s husband popped up over the fence and offered us fresh grilled Carne Asada that was simply placed in a warm flour tortilla alongside a grilled jalapeno. Heaven. That’s when the food conversations started.
Since then, I’ve been to two of Rosa’s Tamale making demonstrations and so much appreciate her knowledge of authentic Mexican recipes like this one.
As this is the recipe from her family, their tradition in making tamales, her red sauce for tamales.
This red tamale sauce is amazing. The flavors of the dried chiles amaze the palate and bring ground meat to life, and the color is a vibrant brick.
The sauce alone is a very strong flavor, but once combined with your tamales or enchiladas, it’s a beautiful thing.
Variety of dried chile peppers to use for this sauce.
I use Dried Guajillo Peppers. As this is what Rosa uses. Guajillo are the most commonly used peppers in Mexican Cuisine. They are dried Mirasol chiles. The heat is considered to be mild to medium. PepperScale outlines the flavor profile perfectly.
I also used a variety of New Mexico grown dried chile peppers.
Including the most famous, Hatch Chile, a variety of peppers grown in the Hatch Valley. Dried Chile Peppers can come from anywhere in New Mexico.
I like to describe the heat of a New Mexico chile as crisp and clear, and the flavor earthy and sweet.
The last time we visited Taos and Santa Fe, I brought home a passel of dried chiles.
Note: This recipe calls for dried Pasilla Chile Peppers. Those are hot, so you may want to only use a couple. I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience.
I’ve also thrown in a couple of Buena Mulatas and few Nora Peppers. All bringing a bit if difference in the end flavor result. And all bring a deliciousness of their own.
When Rosa taught me to make this sauce, she included a generous tablespoon of spicy Mexican Pickling Spice.
This spice mix can be hard to find if you don’t have a Mexican market available. Or you can order it online with the link I’ve provided.
It’s a unique blend that routinely includes cinnamon chips, yellow mustard, dill seed, brown mustard, allspice, cloves, coriander seed, mace, black peppercorns, bay leaf, cardamom, chili peppers, ginger root.
Only use a generous tablespoon and be sure to grab that little hot dried red chile pepper. This spice mixture will add a complex layer of flavor to your sauce.
Recipe for Homemade Red Chile Sauce For Tamales
I hope you give this homemade Red Chile Sauce recipe a try. And if you do, please come back and let me know how you liked it and give the recipe a star rating.
Your feedback is valuable to me for developing future recipes. And if you have a favorite recipe dried chile peppers, let me know, I’d love to give it a try.
More Mexican Sauce Recipes
- The Best Homemade Enchilada Sauce
- Mexican Chocolate Sauce with Kahlua
- Essential Mexican Restaurant Style Salsa
And if you love South of The Border Cuisine as much as we do, don’t miss my Mexican-Southwest Category. You’ll find tons of fun recipes, including the most popular on my site for Hatch Green Chili. Enjoy.
And if you love making homemade Mexican seasonings and sauces, don’t miss my recipe for Homemade Taco Seasoning. It’s easy and so much better in so many ways than those store-bought packets.
Homemade Red Chile Sauce for Tamales
- 8 ounces Dried Red Chile Peppers 20 – 25 dried chile pods
- 1 Tablespoon whole cumin seed toasted, or 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- Water enough to cover chiles
- 1 heaping tablespoon Mexican Pickling Spice Be sure to include the dried red chile pepper in addition to the tablespoon.
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 small onion rough chopped
- 3 garlic cloves
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoon Mexican Oregano or marjoram
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Heat a large fry pan over medium high heat. Dry roast the chile peppers in batches. About 2 minutes per side.
- Once the chile peppers have been toasted and removed from pan, add cumin seeds. Shaking the pan, toast until fragrant. This should take about 1 minute.
- In the same large fry pan, heat the vegetable oil. Cook the chopped onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add toasted cumin seed and stir until warm and blended with the onion and garlic. About 1 minute.
- Once the peppers are cool enough to handle, tear off the tops and shake out the seeds. Discard tops and seeds.
- In a large sauce pot, add toasted chiles and Mexican pickling spices, Add enough water to cover. Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes. Drain the peppers in a collandar, saving out 1 cup of the chile water.
- Transfer half the chiles to a food processor, removing as much of the pickling spice as possible. Add 1/2 of the chicken broth and puree until almost smooth. A few small chunks of chile pepper is always welcome.
- Return the blended mixture to the pot. Repeat with the remaining chile peppers, broth. Add the cooked onions, garlic and toasted cumin seed (or ground cumin) to the 2nd batch and blend until smooth. Add this 2nd batch back into the pot.
- Add Mexican oregano and salt and adjust seasonings if needed. I like to add in a splash cider vinegar and a pinch of sugar to balance flavors.
- Simmer for about 10 minutes to blend flavors.
- Guajillo peppers are readily available and are mild in flavor.
- New Mexico Dried Chile Peppers are a good choice and are available in mild, medium or hot.
- Pasilla peppers are a good choice as they have a fruity flavor. They are milk to medium.
- Nora peppers (Spanish paprika peppers) are nice.
- I’ve used Mulata dried peppers, which are hot spicy.
- Chile de Arbol peppers are readily available are are spicy hot.
- Each combo will add a different nuance of flavor to your sauce.
Homemade Red Chile Sauce for Tamales … It’s What’s for Dinner