How to Make a Flavorful Red Chile Sauce with a Hatch Chile Ristra

1/15/20243 min read

orange and blue abstract painting
orange and blue abstract painting

Red chile is a staple ingredient in New Mexican cuisine, adding a rich and spicy flavor to various dishes. If you're a fan of New Mexican food, you've probably heard the famous question, "Red or Green?" when ordering your meal. Today, we'll be focusing on the red side of things and learning how to make a delicious red chile sauce using a Hatch chile ristra.

What is a Hatch Chile Ristra?

A Hatch chile ristra is a beautiful string of dried Hatch chiles. These chiles are grown in the Hatch Valley region of New Mexico and are known for their exceptional flavor and heat. The ristra not only serves as a decorative element in your kitchen but also provides a convenient way to store and use the chiles.


  • 12-15 dried Hatch chiles

  • 4 cups of water

  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon of salt

  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano

  • 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil


  1. Start by removing the stems from the dried Hatch chiles. You can do this by gently twisting the stem until it comes off.

  2. Next, carefully open up the chiles and remove the seeds. You can use a small knife or your fingers to do this. Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the heat of the chiles.

  3. In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, add the dried chiles and let them simmer for about 10 minutes. This will help soften the chiles and release their flavors.

  4. While the chiles are simmering, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a separate pan over medium heat.

  5. Add the minced garlic to the pan and sauté it until it becomes fragrant, which should take about 1-2 minutes.

  6. Remove the chiles from the pot and transfer them to a blender or food processor. Add the sautéed garlic, salt, and dried oregano to the blender as well.

  7. Blend the ingredients until you have a smooth and thick sauce. If the sauce is too thick, you can add a little bit of water to thin it out.

  8. Once the sauce is blended to your desired consistency, transfer it back to the pot and let it simmer for an additional 10 minutes. This will help the flavors meld together.

  9. After simmering, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more salt or oregano according to your preference.

  10. Remove the pot from the heat and let the sauce cool before transferring it to a glass jar or container for storage.

Using Your Red Chile Sauce:

Now that you have your homemade red chile sauce, you can use it to enhance a variety of dishes. Here are three popular options:

1. Tamales:

Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made with masa dough and various fillings. Spread a generous amount of your red chile sauce on top of the masa before wrapping it around your filling. The sauce will infuse the tamale with a delicious and spicy flavor.

2. Enchiladas:

Enchiladas are another classic dish that can be easily elevated with the addition of red chile sauce. Simply dip your tortillas in the sauce before filling them with your desired ingredients, such as cheese, chicken, or beans. Roll them up, place them in a baking dish, and top with more sauce and cheese. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

3. Posole:

Posole is a hearty Mexican soup made with hominy and meat, typically pork. Add your red chile sauce to the broth for a flavorful and spicy twist. The sauce will give the posole a vibrant red color and a delicious kick.

With your homemade red chile sauce, you have the power to transform ordinary dishes into extraordinary ones. Experiment with different recipes and enjoy the bold flavors of New Mexican cuisine in the comfort of your own home.