There's no better way to wake up than with a plate full of chilaquiles verdes (or green chilaquiles). For this plant-based version, toss homemade tortilla chips in a spicy green salsa before adding onions, cashew crema, and dairy-free queso fresco.
What are you waiting for?!
If you're a Mexican food enthusiast, you've probably heard of chilaquiles. If not, you're about to fall in love with this flavor-packed recipe that brings the heat!
What are chilaquiles verdes?
Chilaquiles (pronounced chee-lah-kee-lays) is an easy-to-make and tasty dish often served for breakfast in Mexico.
There are two main types: chilaquiles verdes (green) and chilaquiles rojos (red). Of course, the difference stems from the choice of salsa.
All it takes to make a chilaquiles verdes recipe is tortilla chips and green salsa. Toss the two together and there you have it!
This recipe makes a great breakfast or brunch item because of how simple it is to throw together (plus, it's a great way to use up leftovers).
Are green 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 and queso fresco (or cotija) can easily be replaced by dairy-free recipes (see above). Try shredded jackfruit or mushrooms in place of chicken. And eggs can be replaced with tofu or another vegan egg replacement.
You can still enjoy a flavorful plate of chilaquiles verdes, all while contributing to less animal harm. It's a win-win!
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 they date back to the Aztecs, but the first recorded recipe 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.
We hope you try this recipe out and customize it to your taste. There is more than one way to enjoy this meal.
Enjoy your chilaquiles immediately after tossing the chips in salsa. If you prefer a crispier texture, you can serve the chips with salsa drizzled over top.
As we said, this is a typical breakfast here in Mexico, but you can also make it for lunch or dinner (we often do).
Serve this chilaquiles verdes recipe with a side of refried beans or Mexican rice for a more complete meal. If you're feeling adventurous, make a green chilaquiles torta!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: chilaquiles are best served with homemade corn tortilla chips. Not only do they provide the quintessential corn flavor that's known in Mexican cooking, but they tend to hold their shape better than store-bought chips.
Health: making your own tortilla chips comes with the benefit of controlling what you add. Oftentimes, store-bought chips are high in fat, loaded with salt, and contain ingredients you may not be able to pronounce. Try making these in the oven with low or no salt if you're looking for a healthier alternative.
Taste: you'll love the zesty, garlicky, and spicy flavors of this salsa verde. With the addition of habaneros and cilantro, you'll also taste herbaceous and fruity notes. If you prefer a milder sauce, try using jalapeños or serranos instead.
Health: the main ingredient in salsa verde (tomatillo) comes with some powerful health benefits in addition to its tangy flavor. With a high fiber and phytochemical content, eating this vegetable can really help reduce your chances of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
Taste: it wouldn't be a chilaquiles recipe without the unique flavors of epazote. The flavor profile is somewhat hard to explain, but notes of citrus, mint, anise, and oregano come through. If you can't find it or don't like the flavor, feel free to skip this one!
Health: epazote contains a compound called ascaridole, which is actually used to treat parasitic worms in humans. Interestingly, Mayans used to make tea from epazote to treat this very type of infection.
Although there are so many ways to top chilaquiles, our absolute favorites happen to be the most popular (who would have thought?!):
As we already mentioned, there is really no wrong garnish for chilaquiles verdes. So, let us know if you think of one we should add to this list!
If you have questions about this chilaquiles verdes recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
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. Cook the salsa verde down in the same pot with a little olive oil and a few sprigs of epazote (optional).
Step 3: 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 4: toss a few tortilla chips in the salsa verde and plate them immediately. Garnish with queso fresco, crema, fresh onions, and cilantro.
Step 5: for a heartier meal, serve your chilaquiles with a side of refried beans or shredded jackfruit on top. Happy eating!
Once your chips take the plunge, chilaquiles verdes are best eaten right away. Occasionally, we have some leftovers. This is how we store them:
Try to keep your salsa verde separate from the chips or they will get 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.
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 also freeze extremely well. 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.
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.
💭 Pro tips
We'd like to share some tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this chilaquiles verdes recipe:
- Use homemade tortillas. It makes a world of a difference in the overall flavor if you use homemade tortillas over pre-packaged tortillas.
- Don't throw out stale tortillas. If you have corn tortillas that are getting old, chilaquiles is the perfect meal to use them in!
- Watch your oil temperature. If you're a frequent fryer, invest in a deep-fry thermometer or a small counter-top deepfryer. It's much more convenient and makes the end result more consistent.
- Adjust the spice level. We like our chilaquiles extra spicy, so we always add in extra habaneros. If you don't like spice, omit the chiles altogether.
- Crispy or saucy. If you prefer crispier chilaquiles, toss the chips quickly in the salsa. For a softer texture, add the chips in earlier.
🍴 Tasting notes
If you're looking for a savory breakfast that delivers big on flavor, chilaquiles verdes will not disappoint. It's:
If you try this vegan chilaquiles verdes recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
- 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!
- 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.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more savory Mexican breakfast ideas, check out our:
- Chilaquiles rojos for another version of chilaquiles made with red salsa instead of green.
- Enchiladas verdes to try refried bean and cheese-stuffed corn tortillas served in a spicy green sauce.
- Picaditas for crispy corn bases topped with green or red salsa and creamy vegan cheese.
- Molotes to try this delicious antojito stuffed with melty plant-based cheese and smoky poblano peppers.
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.