Pambazos are an exceptionally tasty Mexican sandwich in which a special type of bread is brushed with red chile sauce, lightly fried, filled with chorizo and potatoes, and topped with fresh lettuce, crema, and queso.
Although this dish varies by region, one thing is for sure — it's finger-licking good. Try this pambazos veganos recipe to understand how good this sandwich can be meat-free!
This chorizo and potato sandwich is the mess you've been waiting to make. It's crispy, spicy, saucy, and filled with Mexican flavors. We can't wait for you to try a vegan version.
What is it?
If you've never heard of pambazos before, you're in for a real treat. Let's start with the bread because that's where it all began.
Pambazo is a type of Mexican white bread. More specifically, it's made from wheat flour, yeast, water, and salt and has a rather soft and light consistency with a chewy crust.
Pambazos Mexicanos get their name from the bread they're made on, which is usually pambazo! Although nowadays, you can find them made with teleras or bolillo bread as well. If you can't find these types, Kaiser rolls do the trick too!
What sets this Mexican sandwich apart from the crowd is the light coating of guajillo chile paste on the outside. It's then fried until crispy on both sides, and stuffed with chorizo and potatoes (choripapas) or just potatoes.
Add in some fresh toppings like lettuce, Mexican crema, and salsa for an absolutely mouth-watering sandwich. Just a warning — you will get chile sauce all over your face and hands (so worth it though).
Pambazo bread originated way back in Mexico's viceregal (colonial) era for lower-class citizens. Bakeries (or pambacerías) all over Mexico dedicated themselves to making this cheap bread with lower-quality or damaged wheat that wasn't "fit" for upper-class citizens.
The term "pambazo" actually stems from the word "pan bajo," which translates to "low bread," or bread for the low-class (seems like a fitting name).
But of course, there's always a different side to every story!
In this version, Maximilian I and Carlota — the French emperor and empress of Mexico from 1864-67 — were apparently visiting the town of Orizaba in Veracruz. While there, the chef made a bread for them that resembled a nearby volcano, Pico de Orizaba. And the rest is history, right?
Which origin story do you think is more accurate? Let us know in the comments!
Serve your pambazos veganos immediately after making them so they're warm and crispy. We love to have ours with an ice-cold cerveza or a glass of horchata.
The most classic toppings you'll see (and our personal favorites) include:
- Shredded lettuce
- Salsa verde or roja
- Queso fresco or queso cotija
- Mexican crema
- Tomatoes or fresh onions
If you have any favorites definitely let us know because we always want to try new combinations! Whatever toppings you choose, this pambazo recipe is 100% plant-based.
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: with a chewy and pliable crust, pambazos also have a soft wheat flavor that's able to soak up the bold flavors of guajillo chiles. You're left with a spicy, crispy, and mouthwatering vessel for the chorizo and potatoes.
Fun fact: each state has a slightly different variety of pambazo bread and choice of fillings. Depending on where you are in the country, your sandwich could look quite different!
Taste: with a mild heat, guajillo chiles lend their sweet, fruity, and tangy notes and give pambazos Mexicanos the signature red-orange hue. By blending these chiles into a paste and brushing it on the buns, you'll be able to taste the delicious flavors in every bite!
Health: guajillo chiles are jam-packed with vitamin C, which helps to support your immune system. In addition, guajillos are filled with a compound called capsaicin. The anti-inflammatory properties of capsaicin are helpful in promoting heart health.
Taste: the only filling required to create perfect pambazos Mexicanos are potatoes. With their buttery texture and slightly sweet flavor, they add bulk to this Mexican sandwich and pair perfectly with the array of salsas and cheeses added on top.
Health: we're huge advocates for leaving the skin on our potatoes because that's where the bulk of their nutrients come from. In just one medium potato (skin on), you'll receive a third of your daily vitamin C, B6, and potassium requirements.
Taste: a match made in heaven with papas (potatoes) is chorizo! Our vegan chorizo recipe boasts meaty, umami, and spicy flavors thanks to ingredients like ancho chiles, garlic, cloves, cumin, coriander, and Mexican oregano.
Health: since this recipe is completely vegan, it's high in plant protein and contains zero cholesterol. And TVP (the main ingredient) contains all 9 essential amino acids and is made up of 15% fiber. Talk about impressive!
If you have questions about this pambazos Mexicanos recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: de-stem and seed the guajillo chiles and add them to a pot of water with the onion and garlic. Bring it to a low boil, then turn the heat off and leave covered for 10-15 minutes, or until the chiles are soft.
Step 2: transfer the chiles, onions, and garlic and some of the cooking water or vegetable broth with a generous pinch of salt. Blend everything on high until a paste is formed, adding more water as needed. Strain into a bowl, and set it aside.
Step 3: in the meantime, scrub and cube the potatoes into small pieces. Steam or boil them for 10-12 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork. Heat some olive oil in a large skillet and fry the potatoes for a few minutes, then mix in the vegan chorizo.
Step 4: season with salt and cook for a couple more minutes, or until the chorizo is hot. If your potato chunks are bigger, roughly mash everything in the pan and transfer out of the skillet.
Step 5: heat a little more olive oil in the same skillet. Cut your pambazo bread in half, leaving the top partly attached. Brush one side with guajillo paste, then add it to the pan face down.
Step 6: while the first side is cooking, brush the bottom surface with more paste. Fry each side of the bread for about a minute, or until they're nice and crispy. Continue this process with the rest of the buns, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.
Step 7: add a scoop of chorizo and potatoes to the pambazo bread, then top with lettuce, salsa verde, Mexican crema, and queso cotija. Serve immediately while warm. Happy eating!
Pambazos Mexicanos can be whipped up in no time, but to make everything stay fresh for longer, follow these steps.
Chorizo and potatoes will last in the fridge for up to 4-5 days in an airtight container. You can store them separately or together.
Pambazo or other wheat-based bread will last at room temperature for 3-4 days. It should be self-explanatory, but try not to store fully made sandwiches as they will become a soggy mess.
When you're ready to make more pambazos, throw your fillings in a pan to heat them up. When you're ready to prep the bread, just follow the same instructions in this recipe.
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while creating this pambazo recipe for you:
- Mash the potatoes. If you have large potatoes, try mashing them slightly in the pan so they sit nicer inside the sandwich.
- Don't forget the sauce. This may be obvious but pambazos Mexicanos go extremely well with crema and salsa verde. Don't forget these!
- Leave the top attached. Don't cut the top of the bun off completely so it works to hold your fillings in.
- Make sure the bun is crispy. For the perfect level of texture in this Mexican sandwich, make sure you crisp both sides of the bun.
- Switch up the toppings. Try using other toppings like queso fresco, salsa roja, or pickled jalapeños.
- Prep the fillings in advance. To save time putting this recipe together, we always prep the fillings beforehand.
🍴 Tasting notes
We love making pambazos when we're in the mood for an authentic and comforting meal. They're:
If you try this Mexican sandwich 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!
- 4 pambazos, teleras, or bolillo buns ($0.70)
- 6 guajillo chiles ($0.24)
- ¼ white onion ($0.06)
- 4 cloves garlic ($0.16)
- ½ - 1 cup reserve cooking water ($0.01)
- A pinch of salt ($0.01)
- 2 lbs (~3-4) white or yellow potatoes ($0.63)
- 2-3 tablespoon olive oil, divided ($0.22)
- 6-8 oz vegan chorizo ($0.66)
- First, de-stem and seed the guajillo chiles and add them to a pot of water with the onion and garlic. Bring it to a low boil, then turn the heat off and leave covered for 10-15 minutes, or until the chiles are soft.
- Drain the chiles, onions, and garlic, then transfer to a blender. Add in ½ cup of cooking water or vegetable broth and a generous pinch of salt. Blend on high until a paste is formed, adding more water as needed. Strain into a bowl and set aside.
- In the meantime, scrub and cube the potatoes into ½" pieces. Steam or boil them for 10-12 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a fork.
- Heat about ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium. Add in the potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes to crisp them up slightly, then mix in the vegan chorizo. Season with salt and cook for an additional 2-4 minutes, or until the chorizo is hot. If your potato chunks are bigger, roughly mash everything in the pan and transfer out of the skillet.
- Heat ½ - 1 tablespoon olive oil in the same skillet over medium. Cut your pambazo bread in half, leaving the top partly attached. Brush one side with guajillo paste, then add it to the pan face down.
- While the first side is cooking, brush the bottom surface with more paste. Fry each side of the bread for about 1 minute, or until crispy. Continue this process with the rest of the buns, adding more oil to the pan as necessary.
- Note: press down on the bread with your spatula to make sure the whole surface is cooked.
- Build your pambazo: add a scoop of chorizo and potatoes to the pambazo bread, then top with lettuce, salsa verde, Mexican crema, and queso cotija. Serve immediately while warm. Happy eating!
- The bread should be slightly crispy on the outside, but not hard like a crouton.
- You can use potatoes only if you don’t have time, or if you don’t have the ingredients for chorizo.
- 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 dishes with a little kick, check out our:
- Enchiladas potosinas for chile-infused dough wrapped around creamy queso and spicy salsa.
- Quesabirria tacos for tortillas dipped in a rich, savoury broth, and loaded with cheese and crispy oyster mushrooms.
- Papas con chorizo for a hearty dish that's super easy to prepare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- Chilaquiles rojos for lightly fried tortilla chips tossed in red salsa and served with vegan cotija cheese and plant-based crema.
The first choice of bread would be pambazo, teleras, or bolillo. But if you can't find any of those, Kaiser rolls also work!
Because of the wheat used in pambazo bread, this recipe is not gluten-free. To adapt the sandwich to your dietary needs, just swap in your favorite gluten-free bun.
Although pambazos contain Mexican chorizo and chile-dipped bread, the spice level is relatively mild. We would give it a 3/10 (although this number is very subjective).
The typical method of making pambazos is to lightly fry the bread, but you can definitely make an oil-free version. Simply omit the oil when cooking the fillings and bread.