Easy Chili Colorado With Beef

Chili Colorado
With just the right amount of warming spiciness, comforting chili colorado is a classic dish of the southeastern United States and northern Mexico. Lisa Hubbard/Getty Images
  • Total: 4 hrs 5 mins
  • Prep: 20 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs 45 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings

The Spanish word colorado means red, a description that fits this stew made with tender beef. Other appropriate words might come to mind when you taste the results of this easy recipe though: rich, flavorful, and satisfying. Considered a favorite comfort food in Sonora and Chihuahua (in northern Mexico), appreciation for chili colorado crosses the border into the southeastern United States, where it is often served with fresh flour tortillas.


  • 1 (3-pound) beef roast
  • 8 dried red chilies (such as Guajillo, Anaheim, or New Mexico peppers)
  • 2 cups tomato puree (tomato sauce)
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic (peeled and finely diced)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons pork lard (or vegetable oil)
  • 2 cups beef broth (homemade, canned, or prepared with bouillon cubes/powder)
  • Flour tortillas (for serving)
  • Garnish: white onion (chopped) and cilantro (picked and roughly torn leaves)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Place the roast in a large pot and cover it with water.

  3. Simmer it for 2 to 3 hours, until it becomes fork tender. (You could also do this unattended in a slow-cooker.)

  4. Prepare the sauce while the beef cooks*: Pick whole dried chilies that look fresh, not shriveled, with no tears or broken pieces. Rinse off any dust or grime under cool water. Pat the chilies dry, then cut the top off of each one and slit it down the middle.

  5. Shake out the seeds, using your fingers or a spoon to dislodge stubborn ones.

  6. Peel off excess veins running in a lighter-colored line down the inside.

  7. Heat a comal or griddle over medium-high heat and toast the dried chilies for 2 to 3 minutes, turning them often to prevent burning.

  8. Put the roasted chilies in a bowl and cover them with hot water; let them soak for about 30 minutes.

  9. Remove the chilies from the water and place them in a blender with about 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid, the tomato puree, the garlic, the oregano, and the salt; puree until smooth.

  10. Take the beef out of the pot; drain the water and either discard it or set it aside for another purpose.

  11. Heat the lard or oil in the pot over medium-high heat.

  12. Cut or pull the beef into bite-sized pieces.

  13. Fry them briefly in the oil. (This step adds flavor and texture, but you can skip it for a lower-fat version.)

  14. Add the broth and the blended chili-tomato mixture to the pot and simmer everything for about 30 minutes, until the flavors meld and the stew reaches your desired consistency. (Some people like a loose sauce, while others prefer to cook it longer and let it thicken.)

  15. Serve chili colorado with steaming hot flour tortillas and a garnish of chopped onion and chopped cilantro leaves.


  • Store leftover chili colorado in an airtight container in the refrigerator for three days or in the freezer for up to six months; use it another day as a filling for burritos, enchiladas, or tortas.
  • Once you master this sauce, try pork, chicken, tofu, or eggs cooked in chili colorado.

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