Chilaquiles Verdes (Green Chilaquiles)

A breakfast table setting featuring a bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes topped with sour cream, diced purple onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese.

Start your day with Chilaquiles Verdes, a classic Mexican breakfast featuring corn tortilla chips smothered in homemade salsa verde (tomatillo sauce) and other ingredientes deliciosos.

Forget dry toast or bowls of cereal, let’s start the day with some flavour! Check out these fabulous Grilled Steak and Egg Tacos with a zesty Aji Verde or these bright and cheery Cuban style Huevos Habaneros for your next breakfast or brunch.

A breakfast table setting featuring a bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes topped with sour cream, diced purple onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese.

Chilaquiles Verdes

There is nothing easier than a bowl of warm chilaquiles with tomatillo sauce aka salsa verde for breakfast or brunch. This dish is the perfect way to make use of yesterday’s tortillas and leftover salsa. You know how much I love repurposing leftovers!

This chilaquiles verdes recipe features a simple 15 minute tomatillo salsa, or salsa verde and traditional toppings that make this dish sing. We love digging into a bowl of warm saucy tortilla chips; it’s a spicy beginning to the day!

Additionally, it’s so easy to adjust the spice level to your own personal preference. Simply decrease the amount of serrano peppers you use or switch to a less spicy pepper variety such as jalapeno.

A breakfast setting featuring a bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes topped with sour cream, diced purple onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese.

What are Chilaquiles?

Chilaquiles is a popular Mexican breakfast or brunch dish of day old corn tortillas/tortilla chips mixed with either salsa verde or salsa roja. Topping and styles vary according to region and personal preference.

Historically this dish arose in the Mexican region hundreds of years ago in the maize based Mesoamerican Aztec culture. In fact ‘chilaquiles’ comes from the Nahuatl language (spoken by the Aztecs) and translates as ‘chilis and greens’.

It’s highly likely that chilaquiles verdes is closest to the original Aztec version, though more native herbs such as epazote are likely to have been used.

Today Mexican cuisine still contains Mesoamerican ingredient staples with roots extending to Aztec culture. Chocolate, tomato, chili, avocado, tamile, taco, pupusa, chipotle, pozole, and atole are all Nahuatl words for food currently enjoyed in Mexico and around the world.

Ingredients used in making Chilaquiles Verdes, a classic Mexican Breakfast.

Ingredients List

  • tomatillos
  • serrano peppers
  • garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • vegetable or olive oil
  • corn tortillas or tortilla chips
  • sour cream, crème fraîche, or crema Mexicana
  • cotija cheese or queso fresco
  • cilantro
  • purple onions
  • avocado
  • lime

Tomatillos (also called Mexican Husk Tomatoes) look like little green tomatoes all wrapped up in a papery jacket or husk. They are quite tart and fresh in flavour with a little bit of citrus thrown in.

Fresh whole green tomatillos in a pot of water.

Tomatillos can be eaten raw but are most often eaten cooked or even charred like in this Grilled Salsa Verde Guacamole.

Serrano Peppers pack a fair amount of heat, in fact they can be 5-9 times hotter than a jalapeno and it’s not always easy to tell them apart. Usually the only visible difference is that Serrano peppers are smaller in size (only 1-2 inches).

Both peppers are sold as green peppers, though serranos can also be yellow, orange, red, and even brown depending on ripeness. Green jalapenos (not red) could be substituted for the serranos in this recipe.

Use leftover (dried) corn tortillas, homemade, or crispy store bought tortilla chips. It really is up to you and what texture your prefer.

What you choose to top your chilaquiles with is up to you. Use the suggested toppings of sour cream, cotija cheese, purple onions, cilantro, and avocado as a baseline and build from there.

Salsa Verde ingredients ready to be puréed in a blender bowl.

How to Make Salsa Verde for Chilaquiles

The first step to making great chilaquiles verde is nailing the salsa verde. This simple recipe consists of fresh whole tomatillos, serrano peppers, salt and pepper. That’s it. Plus, it only takes 15 minutes.

Place the peeled whole tomatillos and de-stemmed serrano peppers in a saucepan. Cover them with water and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Lower the heat and simmer them for ten minutes.

Remove the tomatillos and peppers from the liquid using a slotted spoon. Reserve the liquid. Place tomatillos, peppers, garlic, diced onions, chopped cilantro (stems included) in a blender pitcher. Add two cups of the reserved liquid and process the sauce until it is a smooth purée.

Salsa Verde being poured over a bowl of tortilla chips.

The garlic and onions are still quite raw so the fresh salsa verde needs to be reduced in a pan. Add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, then pour in the sauce. Cook the salsa verde on medium heat for five minutes.

This is a recipe that needs tasting and seasoning according to your own preference. If you prefer more citrus, add lime juice. More acid…add a splash of white vinegar. Finally, season it with salt and pepper. Their flavours are universal.

I was pretty surprised it was that easy. My cousin is married to a Mexican and learned many recipes from his Abuela. I’m thrilled she is willing to share some of these precious recipes with me. I’m even more excited to share she is opening a taco stand this summer!

Spooning sour cream over a bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes.

Assembling the Chilaquiles Verdes

Now that the lovely warm salsa verde is ready we can assemble a bowl of chilaquiles verdes. Arrange the tortilla chips in a bowl and pour the salsa verde. The trick is to add just enough liquid to soften the tortilla chips, but not enough so that they are soggy and limp.

NOTE: Using crispy fried tortillas is a personal preference. There are some recipes that call for dried soft tortillas and result in a dish that is softer in texture.

Next, sprinkle the toppings over the entire bowl, adding as many or as little as you like. Finish the dish with a squirt of fresh lime juice and enjoy!

Close up of a bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes being seasoned with salt.

Add Some Extra Toppings

This is a very basic version of this much loved dish and there are so many ways to change it up!

  • make it vegan – skip the sour cream/crema and cotija cheese and add stewed frijoles negros (black beans) and avocado.
  • Add an egg and/or black beans and sliced avocado for a vegetarian version.
  • using corn tortilla chips makes this dish gluten free.
  • up the protein by adding cooked chicken (con pollo), thinly grilled steak, pulled meat, shrimp, or pork adobado.
  • change the sauce and make it chilaquiles rojos.
  • if you can find it, garnish with a bit of chopped epazote (green herb similar in taste to mild anise) for a more authentic flavour.
A breakfast table setting featuring a bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes topped with sour cream, diced purple onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese.

Other Variations

Chilaquiles variations occur between regions of Mexico. For example, the crispy tortilla version I have shared today can be found mostly in central Mexico. A softer version, simmered in cazuelas until it resembles polenta, is served in the Guadalajara region while cream is used in addition to the salsa in Sinaloa. (amigofoods.com)

The Mexican tradition of repurposing leftovers into chilaquiles results in varied flavour combinations which reflect regional Mexican cuisine. There are so many tasty options.

Chilaquiles con:

  • pollo – with chicken either shredded or tinga style.
  • huevo – with a fried egg, not scrambled as it is in Migas
  • nopales – with cooked prickly pear cactus stems
  • carne – with meat
  • carne asada – with leftover carne asada, similar to con bistec
  • cameron – with shrimp

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Pinterest image of a bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes topped with cilantro, onions, cotija cheese, and sour cream.
Yield: 4 servings

Chilaquiles Verdes (Green Chilaquiles)

A bowl of Chilaquiles Verdes topped with sour cream, diced purple onions, cilantro, and cotija cheese.

Start your day with Chilaquiles Verdes, a classic Mexican breakfast featuring fresh tortilla chips smothered in tomatillo sauce (aka salsa verde) and other ingredientes deliciosos.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos
  • 1 - 2 Serrano peppers*; stem removed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion; divided
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro; divided
  • 1 - 2 tbsp of oil**
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lb fresh tortilla chips

FOR THE GARNISH

  • 4 tbsp cotija cheese; crumbled or grated
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado; diced
  • 1 lime; cut in four quarters

Instructions

    1. Peel and wash the tomatillos.
    2. Place the tomatillos and serrano peppers in a saucepan, and cover them with water.
    3. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
    4. Remove ingredients with a slotted spoon, and save the water you boiled the tomatillos and peppers in.
    5. Place the cooked tomatillos, serrano peppers, 1/2 diced onions, garlic, 1/2 chopped cilantro (stems included), and 2 cups of the tomatillo water in a blender. Process until they make a smooth purée.
    6. Drizzle a skillet with 1-2 tablespoons of oil and heat in on medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, carefully pour the sauce in the pan.
    7. Reduce the sauce for 5 minutes, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
    8. Place the tortilla chips in a dish and cover them with the sauce.
    9. Garnish with sour cream, cheese, cilantro, onion, and if you would like some thin slices of avocado. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

* adjust amount of serrano peppers according to your personal spice preference.

** use vegetable oil such as canola, sunflower, or avocado.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 827Total Fat: 47gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 34gCholesterol: 24mgSodium: 566mgCarbohydrates: 95gFiber: 13gSugar: 10gProtein: 13g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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34 comments

  1. Natalie L Mayhew

    All my favorite flavors! I can’t wait to try this out. What a great change for breakfast.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Yes!! It is a nice change.

      Reply

  2. Lise

    I’ve never had a Mexican breakfast. Sounds so delicious. Can’t wait to try this!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Such a great way to start the day!

      Reply

  3. Gloria

    I am usually not a breakfast person. This recipe on the other hand….YES!! I would love this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. We move Mexican food….and this is a must-try for sure.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      This kind of spicy savoury breakfast is not for everyone, but as a non breakfast person it’s one of my faves.

      Reply

  4. Colleen

    I’ve been dreaming of chilaquiles every since I had it for breakfast in Mexico. Now I’m inspired to make it and that verde sauce looks amazing. Also, your photos are beautiful!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you so much Colleen. It’s such a great little recipe, I hope you enjoy it as much as the one from Mexico!

      Reply

  5. Marta

    I live in San Antonio, so we know our chilaquiles. These were a fantastic way to celebrate Mother’s Day and my entire family enjoyed them.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Glad you enjoyed Marta, happy belated Mother’s day.

      Reply

  6. Chef Dennis

    Yum! I can’t wait for morning to come! This Chilaquiles Verdes will be perfect for breakfast and to savor with my wife.

    Reply

  7. Nart at Cooking with Nart

    This looks like an amazing breakfast! I don’t think I’ve ever had it before. Learned a lot from this post. Do people also have it as a snack or lunch or dinner?

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      They sure do. It makes a great snack or lunch.

      Reply

  8. Veronika Sykorova

    Tomatillos are still very new to me so I’m excited to try this chilaquiles and have another recipe that uses them! Looks delicious!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      They are an interesting fruit, that’s for sure.

      Reply

  9. Sharon

    Such a fun way to switch up breakfast! A little spice in the morning is perfect to get some pep in your step. 🙂 I went with the serrano peppers and never looked back. 🙂 Thanks, Bernice!

    Reply

  10. nancy

    I’ve missed classic Mexican breakfast featuring corn tortilla chips ever since this Panny hit at our favourite restaurant! I can’t wait to try this!! I love this vegan suggestion toO! thanks

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I miss so many dishes…ugh!!! Hopefully summer is back to normal-ish.

      Reply

  11. amyg

    This sounds so delicious, never even thought in a million years that tortillas could be used for a breakfast. I love the ingredient combinations and can’t wait to try this!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      It really is quite delicious. Especially with an egg on top.

      Reply

  12. Sharon

    This is a delicious and classic dish. The homemade homemade salsa verde is so easy to make too.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      It really is a great dish and one of the most uncomplicated salsas to make.

      Reply

  13. Cooking with Carbs

    This dish looks so amazing. I’ve made a lot of mexican dishes but never this one before. The salsa verde looks great too. I’m worried about introducing this dish for breakfast and my kids never accepting anything else!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I think they would love it!

      Reply

  14. Naiby

    I love the idea of repurposing leftovers. And a savory breakfast changes the always sugary ones. I’ve been looking for recipes that use tomatillos and now I have one more!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Perfect! I hope you enjoy this savoury breakfast.

      Reply

  15. Nicole Washington

    Did I see that this dish is considered breakfast? I hope so because now I have an excuse!

    Reply

  16. Jamie

    This is one of my favorite things to order at our local Mexican restaurant during brunch and now I know how to make it at home! I think I’ll add extra serranos for more spice. I’m really looking forward to making this!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      That sounds like a great way to spice things up!

      Reply

  17. Terri Gilson

    wow – this sounds sooo much better than boring ol’ eggs and toast!

    Reply

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