Chilaquiles rojos is a Mexican breakfast dish. Traditional recipes require a lot of time and effort, but this recipe saves time by air frying the tortillas. And air frying cuts down on the amount of fat too.
What Are Chilaquiles Rojos?
Chilaquiles rojos is a traditional Mexican breakfast made from fried tortillas cut into quarters and topped with a spicy red sauce. Traditional ingredients include tomatoes, garlic, onion, cilantro, serrano peppers and chicken broth. Other variations of the recipe may also call for chorizo, potatoes, and avocado.
Chilaquiles are a great way to use up leftover tortillas as they provide a base for this dish. When you cook them with the red sauce, they become soft and flavorful. While most recipes include deep frying the tortillas, this recipe uses the air fryer. This method is quicker, healthier, and less messy.
Ingredients You’ll Need for this Recipe
- Tortillas (corn or flour)
For the sauce:
- Big tomatoes
- Garlic clove
- Mixed Mexican spices
- Cayenne pepper flakes
For the dish:
- Olive oil
- Red onion
- Fresh cilantro
- Queso fresco, crumbled
- Melty cheese of your choice (I used goat cheese)
- Fresh red chili
How to Make Chilaquiles Rojos
Air fry the tortillas:
- Cut the tortillas into triangles – stack them, cut them in half one way, cut them in half the other way, then cut diagonals. You should end up with 8 triangles.
- Brush or spray your air fryer basket with olive oil. Brush each triangle with olive oil then place a layer of triangles in the air fryer basket.
- Air fry the tortilla triangles in batches at 395 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 5 minutes.
Prep the sauce:
- Cut the tomatoes into quarters and peel the garlic clove.
- Place the tomatoes, garlic, salt, mixed Mexican spices, cayenne pepper flakes, and water in the food processor.
- Either blend the mixture until it is very smooth or leave some texture as I did. Set aside.
Cook and assemble the dish:
- Cut the red onion into thin slices. Fry the onion in a pan with a bit of olive oil and salt until it is golden and soft.
- Add the tomato sauce to the pan and cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.
- In another pan, fry the 2 eggs and set them aside.
- Add the fried tortillas to the cooked tomato sauce in the pan and mix well. Make sure each tortilla gets coated with the sauce.
- Add the melty cheese and cook, covered, for another 7 to 10 minutes until the cheese is melted and soft. Remove from the heat.
- Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and crumbled queso fresco.
- Place the 2 fried eggs and sliced red chili on top.
How to Serve Chilaquiles Rojos
While it is typical to serve chilaquiles rojos for breakfast, you can also serve them for brunch, lunch, or dinner. For a heartier meal, serve them with beans, Spanish rice, sliced avocado, and pico de gallo. You could also add some cooked chicken to the dish for added protein.
Tips and Variations for this Dish
Try these tips and variations for the best chilaquiles rojos:
- Use ripe tomatoes for the best results. If your tomatoes are not ripe, you may need a bit of sugar to balance with the acidity. I recommend mixing 1 teaspoon of white sugar into the sauce while it is cooking.
- Use corn or flour tortillas for the fried tortillas. It is tradition to use corn tortillas, but I used flour tortillas for mine.
- Turn your chilaquiles rojos to chilaquiles verdes by using a green sauce instead of a red sauce.
- If you want more heat, try adding jalapenos or habanero peppers to the sauce.
- Add extra toppings like sour cream, pickled onions, diced tomatoes, or sliced avocados.
- Try this recipe the traditional way by deep frying the tortillas. Be sure to use neutral-tasting cooking oil.
- If you are in a rush, substitute store-bought enchilada sauce for the tomato sauce. But the homemade version is tastier, and you can decide how spicy it will be.
How to Store Leftovers
It is best to eat chilaquiles rojos right after cooking them. But if needed, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. It is best to serve these leftovers as soon as possible because they will lose their crispiness over time.
Other Mexican-Inspired Recipes
- 8 tortillas (traditionally is made with corn tortillas, but mine were wheat)
- For the sauce:
- 2 big tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- ½ red onion
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons mixed Mexican spices
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper flakes
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup fresh cilantro
- 1 cup queso fresco
- 1 cup melty cheese of your choice (mine was goat’s cheese)
- 2 eggs
- 1 fresh red chili
- Start by cutting the tortillas into triangles, for this stack them and cut them in half, then cut making a cross, and then in diagonal. You should attain 8 triangles.
- Paint the basket of your air fryer with some olive oil and put a layer of the triangles in it. Paint them with olive oil.
- Fry the tortilla triangles in batches for 5 minutes at 392 F / 200 C
- While the tortilla triangles are frying, prep the sauce: In a food processor add the two tomatoes cut in quarters, and the garlic clove peeled.
- Add the salt, the spices, and the water and blend until a paste is formed. You can process it until it’s very smooth or leave some texture in it as I did.
- Set aside. Slice thinly the ½ red onion and fry it in the pan with a bit of olive oil and salt until golden and soft.
- Transfer the tomato paste sauce to the pan and cook for 10 minutes on medium heat.
- In another pan fry two eggs and set them aside.
- Once the sauce is cooked add the fried tortillas to the pan and mix well making sure the fried tortillas get coated with the sauce.
- Add the melty cheese to the mixture and cook covered for another 7-10 minutes until the cheese is melted and soft. Remove from heat.
- Add a layer of cilantro (chopped) and the queso fresco (crumbled)
- Add the two eggs on top and the fresh red chili thinly sliced.
This dish is traditionally served for breakfast; however, I can see it working as a dinner or lunch. If you want to serve it at lunch or dinner and have a more consistent meal, serve it with some fried beans, Mexican rice (link to the yellow rice recipe*), and some pico de gallo (link to the recipe), and some sliced avocado.
Traditionally are made deep frying the tortilla chips, however, using the air fryer is a much healthier and less messy option. If you feel like going traditional do not hesitate to try this recipe with fried tortilla chips. For this use neutral-tasting cooking oil.
For the sauce you can use the sauce of your liking, if you are in a rush, you can also use store-bought enchilada sauce. But by making it at home you can decide how spicy it is in the end.
If the tomatoes are not very ripe, you might need a bit of sugar to balance out the acidity. For this, I recommend using 1 teaspoon of white sugar and mixing it with the sauce while it’s cooking.
Another possible topping is sour cream and sliced avocado.