Chilaquiles verdes is a flavorful Mexican breakfast recipe made by tossing crispy tortilla chips in spicy green salsa. This dairy-free version is topped with onions, cashew crema, and queso fresco.
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📖 What are chilaquiles verdes?
Chilaquiles verdes (or green chilaquiles) is a tasty and simple recipe widely regarded as one of the most popular Mexican breakfasts.
To make a chilaquiles recipe, all you have to do is prepare a salsa, toss it with totopos (tortilla chips), and finish it off with your favorite garnishes.
In this version, we're using a spicy salsa verde to make "chilaquiles verdes." However, if you use red salsa it becomes chilaquiles rojos or "red chilaquiles."
With so many ways to customize this meal (more below), you will definitely be making it over and over again!
Note: Chilaquiles is pronounced chee-lah-kee-lays.
It is thought that chilaquiles verdes stems from the Nahuatl word (chīlāquilitl) and very loosely translates to something like "chile sauce and greens."
In any case, it's safe to assume this dish dates back to the Aztecs. But, the first recorded recipe only appeared in 1898 in a cookbook called "El Cocinera Español."
Of course, there are many origin stories of how chilaquiles became what they are now. But one thing is for sure — this dish is deeply ingrained in the food culture of Mexico!
Nowadays, you can find different variations of chilaquiles (even some with mole) popping up all over the place.
🌱 Are chilaquiles vegan?
In their base form, green chilaquiles are vegan-friendly — just tortillas and salsa verde! But, the toppings are typically less plant-based.
Mexican crema — Instead of dairy-based crema, try some vegan crema instead!
🛒 Ingredients & substitutions
Corn tortillas — Use homemade corn tortillas for the best flavors, but you can also use store-bought. Either way, make sure the tortillas are stale before making this chilaquiles recipe. If you're short on time, use pre-made chips.
Tomatillos — Also referred to as Mexican husk tomatoes, tomatillos make up the base of the salsa. Look for small green-looking tomatoes with a husk on them at the store. If you can't find any, replace them with green tomatoes.
Onion, garlic — For the salsa and as a garnish too. We prefer white onions, but you can also use yellow onions. Garlic, always lots of garlic.
Vegetable broth — To give a more robust flavor to the salsa verde. If you don't have vegetable broth, just use water.
Epazote, cilantro — While optional, epazote is a traditional chilaquiles ingredient. The flavor profile is somewhat hard to explain, but it provides notes of citrus, mint, anise, and oregano. And cilantro is a must!
Oil — To fry the tortillas and season the salsa. Use a neutral vegetable oil here.
Step 1 — Simmer the tomatillos, habaneros, and onions in a large pot of water until the tomatillos turn a slightly darker color.
Step 2 — Add all drained veggies along with the garlic, cilantro, vegetable broth, and salt to a food processor or blender. Mix to your preferred texture.
Step 3 — Cook the salsa verde down in the same pot with a little olive oil and a few sprigs of epazote (remember, the epazote is optional).
Step 4 — Heat some vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium. Cut the corn tortillas into fourths or sixths, and fry in batches until they're golden brown on each side. Drain the excess oil on a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle some salt on the chips.
Step 5 — Toss a few tortilla chips in the salsa verde and plate them immediately. Garnish with queso fresco, crema, fresh onions, and cilantro.
Step 6 — For a heartier meal, serve your chilaquiles with a side of refried beans or shredded jackfruit on top. Happy eating!
If you have questions about this vegan chilaquiles verdes recipe, check out our FAQs or leave a comment down below!
🧀 Toppings and sides for chilaquiles
Crema — Drizzle on tangy vegan Mexican crema for a traditional flavor.
Jackfruit — To emulate shredded chicken, we use the jackfruit from our salpicon recipe to top our chilaquiles.
Tofu — Instead of eggs (commonly served with chilaquiles), try adding tofu for an "eggy" texture and alternative protein source.
Refried beans — Serve a dollop of refried beans on the side to make this dish more protein-packed.
Avocado, onions, cilantro — Chilaquiles (and many Mexican dishes) are often topped with this killer combination.
Air fried — For a healthier alternative, try air frying your totopos instead.
Red chilaquiles — Try making red chilaquiles by swapping the green salsa for red salsa.
Bean sauce — Similar to enfrijoladas, chilaquiles can be served with bean sauce to make a hearty breakfast.
Mole — For the ultimate flavor experience, try your chilaquiles with mole poblano in place of salsa verde.
On a torta — Try making a chilaquiles verdes torta! Yes, adding chilaquiles to a sandwich roll is a popular Mexican recipe.
🍽️ How to eat chilaquiles
Although they're messy, chilaquiles are best eaten with a fork, a knife, and a lot of napkins! Serve them straight from the pot, add your favorite garnishes, and dig in!
🌡️ Storage & reheating
Once the chips are dunked, any chilaquiles recipe should be eaten right away. If you happen to have leftovers, here's what to do:
Fridge — Keep your salsa verde and chips separate or they will turn quite soggy. The salsa will last in the fridge for at least a week, and the tortilla chips are good for up to 4-5 days.
Freezer — Store the salsa verde in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months. Don't forget to leave a bit of room at the top of the container for expansion.
Corn tortillas — Pop them in a freezer-safe baggy and they should be good for up to 6-8 months. Thaw them overnight in your fridge when you need more.
Reheat — To serve this breakfast again, add the salsa to a pot over medium-low and mix in the chips as before. Garnish with your favorite items.
🧑🍳 Top tips
Use homemade tortillas — It makes a world of a difference in the overall flavor if you use homemade totopos over pre-packaged.
Use stale tortillas — Chilaquiles are best made with tortillas or chips that are going stale. This will keep the texture from turning too mushy.
Watch your oil temperature — If you're a frequent fryer, invest in a deep-fry thermometer. It's more consistent and yields a better result.
Adjust the spice level — We like our chilaquiles verdes extra spicy, so we always add extra habaneros. If you don't like spice, omit the chiles.
🍴 Similar recipes
If you enjoyed this vegan chilaquiles verdes recipe, be sure to check out some other plant-powered meals like these:
- Chilaquiles rojos: Another version of chilaquiles made with red salsa.
- Enchiladas verdes: Bean and cheese-stuffed corn tortillas covered in spicy green sauce.
- Picaditas: Crispy corn bases topped with green or red salsa and creamy vegan queso.
- Molotes: A flavorful antojito stuffed with melty plant-based cheese and smoky poblano peppers.
- Enfrijoladas: Corn tortillas served with a creamy bean sauce and fresh garnishes.
Chilaquiles have a completely customizable spice level based on the chiles you add. With only three habaneros in this recipe, we would rate it a 4-5/10 on our very subjective spice scale.
With its extremely unique taste, the only other thing we can think of would be equal parts pápalo. But don't worry, you can just omit it completely.
Yes, feel free to use the dried form of epazote in your chilaquiles. Just use 1-2 teaspoons or so in place of 1-2 sprigs of epazote. You may have an easier time tracking down the dried herb anyways.
Easy Chilaquiles Verdes
- Chef knife and cutting board
- Large pot
- 1 pound (~8-10) tomatillos, husks removed ($0.45)
- 3-4 habaneros ($0.09)
- ½ large white onion, quartered ($0.12)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- ½ cup cilantro ($0.13)
- ½ cup vegetable broth ($0.03)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste ($0.01)
- 1-2 epazote sprigs optional
- 14-16 corn tortillas ($0.25)
- Neutral oil for frying
- Sea salt ($0.01)
- Add the tomatillos, habaneros, and onions to a large pot with enough water to cover them. Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until the tomatillos just turn color.
- De-stem the habaneros and add all drained veggies along with the garlic, cilantro, vegetable broth, and salt to a food processor or blender. Mix to your preferred texture, approximately 30-60 seconds.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same pot over medium-low and slowly pour the salsa verde back in. Add in a few sprigs of epazote and simmer for another 10-12 minutes, or until slightly thickened.
- Heat about 2-3 inches of vegetable oil in a large pot over medium (the oil should be at 350-375°F).
- Stack your corn tortillas, cut into fourths or sixths, and fry in batches until golden brown on each side, about 3 minutes per side.
- Transfer the cooked tortilla chips to a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle with sea salt.
- Taste the salsa and adjust any seasonings to your preference. To serve, toss a few tortilla chips in the salsa, then plate immediately. Garnish with queso fresco, cotija, Mexican crema, fresh onions, cilantro, etc.
- To make this a heartier meal, serve it with a side of refried beans or shredded jackfruit on top. Happy eating!
- Use homemade tortillas — It makes a world of a difference in the overall flavor if you use homemade totopos over pre-packaged.
- Use stale tortillas — Chilaquiles are best made with tortillas or chips that are going stale. This will keep the texture from turning too mushy.
- Watch your oil temperature — If you're a frequent fryer, invest in a deep-fry thermometer. It's more consistent and yields a better result.
- Adjust the spice level — We like our chilaquiles verdes extra spicy, so we always add extra habaneros. If you don't like spice, omit the chiles.
- Oil for frying is not calculated in the overall calories of this recipe
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe to recipe. All prices are in USD.
Note: We've updated this post to include new information and helpful tips about the recipe.