Chilaquiles (Spanish pronunciation: [tʃilaˈkiles]) are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish consisting of corn tortillas cut into quarters and lightly fried.[1]

Place of originMexico
Main ingredientsTortillas, green or red salsa, pulled chicken, cheese, refried beans, scrambled eggs

Ingredients and variations

Typically, corn tortillas cut into quarters and lightly fried or baked for a lighter version are the basis of the dish.[2] Green or red salsa is poured over the crisp tortilla triangles. The mixture is simmered until the tortilla starts softening. Pulled chicken is sometimes added to the mix. It is commonly garnished with crema, crumbled queso fresco, sliced onion, and avocado slices. Chilaquiles can be served with refried beans, eggs (scrambled or fried) and guacamole as side dishes.

As with many Mexican dishes, regional and family variations are quite common. Usually, chilaquiles are eaten at breakfast or brunch. This makes them a popular recipe to use leftover tortillas and salsas.


Chilaquiles with a fried egg
Nahuatl names for chilaquiles[3] 1st component English literal Pronunciation (IPA) 2nd component English literal Pronunciation (IPA)
chīlāquilitl[lower-alpha 1] chīlātl chile water [ˈt͡ʃiːlaːt͡ɬ] quilitl edible plant [ˈkilit͡ɬ]
tlaxcalpōpozōn tlaxcalli tortilla [t͡ɬaʃˈkalːi] pōpozōn foam [poːˈposoːn]

Regional variations

Chilaquiles with refried beans

In central Mexico, it is common for the tortilla chips to remain crisp. To achieve this, all ingredients except the salsa are placed on a plate and the salsa is poured at the last moment before serving. In Guadalajara, cazuelas are kept simmering filled with chilaquiles that become thick in texture, similar to polenta. In the state of Sinaloa, chilaquiles are sometimes prepared with cream. In the state of Tamaulipas, on the northeast side of the country, red tomato sauce is commonly used.[2]

History in the United States

Recipes for chilaquiles have been found in a U.S. cookbook published in 1898, Encarnación Pinedo's El cocinero español (The Spanish Cook). She included three recipes—one for chilaquiles tapatios a la mexicana, one for chilaquiles a la mexicana, and one for chilaquiles con camarones secos (chilaquiles with dry shrimp).[4]

See also


  1. The English name derives from this Nahuatl word.


  1. Bayless, Rick (2000). Mexico: One Plate at a Time. New York: Scribner. p. 129. ISBN 0-684-84186-X.
  2. Kennedy, Diana (1972). "Tortillas and Tortilla Dishes". The Cuisines of Mexico. Harper & Row. p. 67. ISBN 978-0-06-012344-4.
  3. Nahuatl Dictionary. (1997). Wired humanities project. Retrieved September 9, 2012, from link Archived 2016-12-03 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. Pinedo, Encarnación; Strehl, Dan; Valle, Victor (2005-10-24). Encarnación's Kitchen: Mexican Recipes from Nineteenth-Century California. ISBN 978-0-520-24676-8.
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