Quick and easy chilaquiles verdes recipe! Gluten-free, ready in about 30 minutes, and makes a perfect breakfast or brunch idea. The homemade salsa verde can be made a day or two in advance, or just use store-bought.
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I remember the day that Raquel first made me some chilaquiles. Well, let’s be honest, they weren’t just for me, they were for everyone working that morning. I don’t know if it was Monday, Sunday or any day in between – when you’re working at a restaurant that’s open 7 days a week, the mornings are much the same – but it was a day that changed my life.
It was a day that I learned about a humble, home-cooked Mexican meal that I had never heard of before. And I begged for them for breakfast every day thereafter.
Oh, those were the days – before the restaurant was bought out by a multi-billion dollar conglomerate. When the manager looked the other way and let Raquel use up some tortilla strips that were too stale to put into the salads anymore, and requisitioned her a few eggs so we could have a staff breakfast.
And she was so puzzled by my excitement about it. To her, chilaquiles were just a simple breakfast dish that she made at home in Mexico. But to me, it was a revolutionary discovery. And I have been on a quest for chilaquiles ever since.
And I don’t know why they’re so good. They just are. How can a fried tortilla simmered in salsa transcend itself and become so much more? Let’s not question it. Let’s just be thankful and make a big skillet-full, shall we?
What are chilaquiles?
Chilaquiles are made of fried tortillas simmered in red or green salsa, and it’s a traditional dish throughout Mexico. They are a hearty, homey meal that can be eaten almost any time of day.
Chilaquiles with eggs for breakfast, chilaquiles with chicken for lunch, or sometimes for brunch with both! It’s a great way to use up tortillas.
My goal with this recipe was to try to match the texture of the chilaquiles I had in Mexico at Rancho Pescadero, pictured below. One of my favorite foods in one of my favorite places… I’m really picky about the tortillas – you do not want them to get soggy. They should still have a texture, a bite, some chew.
Chilaquiles Verdes with Fried Eggs and Chorizo
Adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless
We are frying our own tortillas and making salsa from scratch here, kids! It only takes a few minutes to make your own salsa, and it tastes so good.
But you can definitely use store-bought salsa for this. Just use 2 1/2 cups of salsa and 2 1/4 cups water to simmer the tortillas.
How to Make Chilaquiles
Choose a high-quality corn tortilla. I wanted to mimic the texture of the chilaquiles that I had in Mexico, and that meant looking for a thicker, sturdier tortilla. I found that El Milagro were closest to what I had there.
And here’s the thing: You can make chilaquiles with store-bought tortilla chips. I tested this recipe with them, too. But be aware, store-bought chips are going to soak up the sauce really fast, and will turn soggy, and almost melt into the sauce before you know it.
So if you do use them, you don’t need to do more than coat them in the sauce and then pull them right back out.
I know a lot of recipes will tell you to simmer the chips in the sauce for 5 minutes or bake them in the oven for longer. That didn’t work for me, both the store-bought chips, and the tortillas that I fried turned back into corn meal after simmering, so I don’t recommend this method.
How to Fry Tortillas
You want the tortillas to be a bit dried out before you fry them, kind of like how you want stale bread for bread pudding. You can let the tortillas sit out for a while, or just heat them up in a 350 degree oven, turning once, until they are leathery, but not crisp.
In a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet like this one, heat 1/3 cup of canola or other neutral oil over medium-high heat.
Slice the tortillas into quarters.
Once the oil is hot, place one layer of tortilla pieces in the hot oil and brown lightly on both sides. Do not fry until crisp, you should still be able to bend the tortilla without breaking. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
Continue to fry the rest of the tortillas. You might have to add a little more oil before you’re done.
How to Make Salsa Verde
In a stockpot filled with salted water, boil the tomatillos and chiles until they are tender, 10 – 15 minutes.
Transfer the cooked tomatillos and chiles to a food processor and purée along with the chopped onion, garlic, and cilantro until smooth but not liquified. It should still have a bit of texture – like tomatillo salsa.
Add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil to a wide skillet over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the tomatillo mixture to the pan to fry it. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes, until the cilantro darkens and the sauce thickens a bit.
Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Salt to taste.
Meanwhile, add the chorizo to a skillet over medium heat, and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside to drain on paper towels.
In a separate skillet, fry the eggs and set aside.
Once sauce is ready, add chips to the skillet in a single layer, turning to coat with sauce on both sides. When chips have softened slightly and are pliable, but not falling apart, remove to serving dishes. I love my Lodge cast iron mini-servers for this recipe.
Top chips with cotija cheese, chorizo, and fried eggs.
Garnish with avocado and cilantro.
What can you eat with chilaquiles?
Looking for more Mexican recipes? Try these:
- 8 oz fresh chorizo
- 4 eggs fried
- 1 avocado diced
- cilantro for garnish
- 12 corn tortillas medium thickness
For frying tortillas:
- 1/3 cup vegetable oil
- 1 lb tomatillos husked and washed
- 1 – 3 serrano chiles 3 will be very spicy
- 1 yellow onion small, chopped
- cilantro 6 – 7 sprigs
- 1 garlic clove large, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 1/4 cups chicken stock
- salt to taste
Fry the tortillas:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lay tortillas flat on a baking sheet and put them in the oven for a few minutes, turning once, until they seem "stale" and a bit leathery.
- Slice tortillas into quarters.
- Heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add a single layer of tortilla wedges and fry until lightly brown, but not crisp, they should still bend without breaking. Drain on paper towels. Repeat until all tortillas are fried.
Make the Salsa Verde
- In a deep pot, boil tomatillos and serrano peppers in salted water until tender, about 10 – 15 minutes.
- Transfer the cooked tomatillos and chiles to a food processor and purée along with the chopped onion, garlic, and cilantro until smooth but not liquified. It should still have a bit of texture – like tomatillo salsa.
- Once the oil is hot, add 2 1/2 cups of the tomatillo mixture to the pan to fry it. Stir frequently for about 5 minutes, until the cilantro darkens and the sauce thickens a bit. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Cook the chorizo and fry the eggs
- Meanwhile, add the chorizo to a skillet over medium heat, and cook until browned and crispy. Set aside to drain on paper towels. In a separate skillet, fry the eggs and set aside.
Assemble the chilaquiles
- Once sauce is ready, add chips in a single layer, turning to coat with sauce on both sides. When chips have softened slightly and are pliable, but not falling apart, remove to serving dishes. Repeat with remaining chips.
- Top chips with cotija cheese, chorizo, and fried eggs. Garnish with avocado and cilantro.
- You can simplify this dish even more if you just want to use store-bought tomatillo salsa. Add 2 1/2 cups of salsa to a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 1/4 cups chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Then follow recipe steps as above.
- To make the salsa, I recommend a food processor over a blender. You still want texture to the salsa, not total liquidation and that’s easier to control with a food processor. I have a Kitchenaid 7-cup food processor.
- People always ask me about the serving dishes I used in these photos. They are my Lodge cast iron mini servers and I use them for all kinds of things!
- This recipe was adapted from Authentic Mexican by Rick Bayless. He is one of my favorite chefs and knows the authentic way to make Mexican recipes from so many different regions.