If you've been on the hunt for a way to spice up your favorite meals, you need to try chiles toreados! This easy-to-make recipe features pan-fried serrano peppers topped with soy sauce and lime juice.
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If you're a fan of Mexican food, you'll know toppings, salsas, and extras are a huge reason why each meal is so tasty. Chiles toreados bring spicy, smoky, and zesty flavors to any dish you serve them with.
What are chiles toreados?
Chiles toreados are fried and blistered spicy peppers that can be found in taquerías in Mexico (and the United States).
Cooked with add-ins like onions and garlic, chiles toreados become even more flavorful. Although not necessary, we personally prefer them with the additions.
Once they're finished frying, these peppers are topped with a squeeze of lime juice and salt for an absolutely mouthwatering combination.
You can sometimes find chiles toreados finished off with soy sauce, salsa inglesa (Worcestershire sauce), or jugo Maggi thanks to the Chinese influence in Mexican cuisine.
Try experimenting with these flavors to see if you like them! Just remember, Worcestershire sauce is not traditionally vegan so make sure you carefully read the ingredient list.
Although there's not an exact origin story of how chiles toreados came to be, this Mexican dish has evolved thanks to Chinese immigration in Mexico.
Most sources point to Asian restaurants adding soy sauce as a finishing touch to chiles toreados, providing a salty and umami flavor that can't be achieved with salt alone.
It may come as a surprise, but there is a large population of Chinese-Mexicans living across the country with certain hot spots in Mexico City and Baja California.
You can find undertones of Chinese flavors in other Mexican dishes too, which adds an even more unique flair to this already vibrant cuisine.
Serve your chiles toreados hot off the pan, at room temperature, or straight from the fridge.
They're the perfect accent for a taco party, so definitely take the extra time to prepare a batch and wow your friends and family!
They also go extremely well with:
Whichever way you decide to serve them, this recipe is 100% vegan and can be made gluten-free with tamari or coconut aminos!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: with bright, zesty flavors, serrano chiles taste similar to jalapeños but with much more heat (around 3-4x hotter). Although you can use any spicy pepper in chiles toreados, serrano is our favorite. Once roasted, they become more smoky, earthy, and balanced.
Health: chiles are rich in vitamin B6, C, and potassium, but the plant compound called capsaicin is the most notable. Capsaicin makes peppers spicy, but it's also been shown to help with weight loss and inflammation in the body.
Taste: cooking down white onions gives them an intense sweetness to balance out the spicy serrano peppers. They not only add great flavor, but they are also the perfect addition to any taco!
Health: packed with nutrients, onions are a low-calorie option with a plethora of health benefits. Thanks to their large amounts of vitamin C, onions help regulate the immune system and aid in iron absorption.
Taste: adding a salty, rich, umami flavor, soy sauce is a more recent addition to chiles toreados that we definitely wouldn't skip! It provides an element of "meaty-ness" that complements other foods (like vegan tacos) very well.
Fun fact: there are different types of soy sauce in Japan and China. They're usually categorized by their color (dark or light), but can also be categorized by the percentage of soybeans (like Tamari, which contains a larger amount).
Taste: limes add a slightly sweet, tart, and acidic taste to chiles toreados, perfectly rounding out the dish. Depending on your preferences, squeeze in a little or a lot.
Health: it's not just the vitamin C found in limes that improves your health. These delicious fruits also contain calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Your muscles and bones will be jumping for joy when you squeeze lime juice into your daily routine!
If you have questions about this chiles toreados recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium. While you’re waiting, lightly roll the chiles to release some spicy flavor from the seeds and veins.
Step 2: add the chiles to the hot skillet and cook until you see blisters forming on all sides. Make sure to stir them frequently so each side cooks evenly! Then, transfer them out of the pan while you start the onions.
Step 3: sauté the onions in some olive oil until translucent and slightly browned, then add the garlic and chiles back in. Cook for another few minutes, then mix in the lime juice, soy sauce, and salt to taste.
Step 4: serve immediately, at room temperature, or chilled with any dish you can think of (tacos, toast, quesadillas, tofu scramble, etc.). Happy eating!
Storing chiles toreados correctly is a must because this is a recipe you'll really want to have on hand. Follow these steps so they last longer!
Once cooked, let them cool, then add these peppers (with onions and garlic) to an airtight container for up to 1 week in your fridge.
You can enjoy chiles toreados at room temperature if you leave them out for 20-30 minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can pan-fry everything again in a little oil until hot.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this chiles toreados recipe:
- Use a cast-iron skillet. To achieve the best char and even cook, there's nothing quite like cast iron.
- Prep in advance. You will not regret keeping chiles toreados in the fridge for a quick way to spruce up any meal!
- Switch up the peppers. Try using less spicy peppers like Anaheim or poblano, or mix the serranos with jalapeños for varying heat levels.
- Wear gloves. If you've been on the receiving end of touching your eyes after cooking with spicy chiles, you'll know you're going to want to wear gloves or wash your hands reeeeally well.
- Add in different flavors. Try adding in herbs like Mexican oregano or bay leaves for a little something different.
🍴 Tasting notes
This is one of our favorite recipes to throw on any dish in need of more flavor. It's:
If you try this chiles toreados 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!
- Cast-iron skillet
- Knife & cutting board
- 8-12 serrano chiles ($0.16)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced ($0.24)
- 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.04)
- ½ lime, juiced ($0.06)
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce ($0.36)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.01)
- First, preheat a cast-iron skillet over medium. While you’re waiting, lightly roll the chiles to release some spicy flavor from the seeds and veins.
- Add the chiles to the hot skillet and cook until you see blisters forming on all sides. Make sure to stir them frequently so each side cooks evenly, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer the chiles to a bowl and set that aside.
- Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then the sliced onion. Sauté until translucent and slightly browned, about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and chiles back in.
- Continue cooking for another 2-3 minutes, or until the onions are caramelized to your liking. Lastly, mix in the lime juice, soy sauce, and salt to taste.
- Serve immediately, at room temperature, or chilled with any dish you can think of (tacos, toast, quesadillas, tofu scramble, etc.). Happy eating!
- You can also use tamari, liquid aminos, jugo Maggi, salsa inglesa, or even a bit of dark beer.
- Careful how much salt you use as the soy sauce is already quite salty. If you use reduced-sodium soy sauce, you will need to use more.
- 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 tasty side dishes and snacks, check out our:
- Pickled onions for a tangy and delicious taco topping that lasts weeks in the fridge.
- Pickled jalapeños for a spicy, vibrant, and zesty way to elevate any Mexican dish.
- Black beans to learn how to make perfectly tender black beans every time.
- Refried beans for a creamy dish to add to any meal, eat as a dip, or simply snack on as is!
Chiles toreados can definitely be made without oil if you'd prefer. Just sauté the onions in a little vegetable broth or water.
You don't have to remove the skins from chiles toreados. In fact, it adds to the flavor when you keep them on.