Chilaquiles

The Mexican dish chilaquiles (pronounced chee-luh-KEE-less) is a quick, satisfying breakfast made from leftover tortillas. Every cook makes chilaquiles differently. Sometimes it’s lightly fried strips of day-old tortilla, mixed with a spicy tomato salsa and served as an accompaniment to fried eggs. Other versions are long simmered and quite saucy, and some add meat, usually chicken. My go-to variation is more like a cross between a stir-fry and scrambled eggs.–David Tanis

LC Chips & Salsa Note

No stale tortillas? A handful of tortilla chips–yes, even the crumbs from the bottom of the bag–suffice quite nicely. And a word to the wise, if you’re the sort who likes your cereal crisp, not sodden, add the salsa to the chips and eggs after you take the chilaquiles off the heat. Adding the salsa sooner isn’t a bad thing, it just tends to make the crisped tortillas (or crushed chips) sodden. And yes, chilaquiles can be sustenance either during the a.m. or p.m., taking equally well to a cup of hot joe or a bottle of cold cervesa.

Chilaquiles Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 25 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 1

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil or lard
  • 4 day-old corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • Salt to taste
  • Big handful of chopped cilantro
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • Red or green salsa, if desired
  • 2 large eggs
  • A little crumbled queso fresco

Directions

  • 1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add enough vegetable oil or lard to generously coat the bottom of the skillet, then add the tortilla strips and an ample pinch of salt and stir to coat. The tortilla strips will first wilt, then crisp, which is exactly what you want. Taste one and, if desired, add more salt.
  • 2. Throw in a big handful of cilantro, scallions, and chopped jalapeños in and stir them around. Add a spoonful of red or green salsa if you like. Now add the beaten eggs, seasoned with salt and pepper. Mix and stir the eggs with the tortillas until the eggs are set. Finish the chilaquiles with a little crumbled queso fresco.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Caroline Chang

Aug 01, 2011

Chilaquiles, where have you been all my life? What an easy and satisfying dish! It’s almost like the Mexican version of fried rice, and it’s easy to see how each cook has their own version. Even this recipe allows a lot of room for interpretation. For example, is it just two tortillas? What size? How thick do I cut the strips? I used two taco-sized corn tortillas cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices. That worked perfectly for me. The salsa made the strips get soggy after I had worked so hard to crisp them up, so in the future I will find another way to incorporate the salsa.

Testers Choice
Jessica DeStefano

Aug 01, 2011

This is my favorite kind of recipe, more of a gentle reminder that the ingredients you already have in your refrigerator and pantry might taste well together. And they did! The eggs were a perfect backdrop for the crispy, chewy tortillas, the bite of jalapeños, and the tang of cheese (I used feta because it’s what I had–not sure if it was a suitable substitute, but it tasted great). The only real change I made was to use only one six-inch corn tortilla for two eggs, instead of the four called for in the recipe. This was the perfect ratio of tortilla to eggs, in my opinion, and an appropriate serving size for one person, especially if that person doesn’t want to use up her RDA of carbs for the day in one sitting! Also, I have an adventurous stomach and a willing palate, but this was a bit much for breakfast at 7 a.m. Next time, I’ll save this dish for brunch, lunch, or even a light supper.

Testers Choice
Emily Olson

Aug 01, 2011

Sometimes breakfast just tastes better at dinner. This is one of those recipes, although it’s really not a recipe, as it is a matter of improv steps. I used corn tortilla chips and tossed them with the vegetable oil till they were crisp. The rest of the ingredients go in easily and the whole dish comes together fast. I did use a spoonful of red salsa. I also topped the eggs (once placed in a bowl) with extra chopped cilantro and avocado slices.

Testers Choice
Joan Osborne

Aug 01, 2011

What a wonderful use for those corn tortillas I always seem to have left over in the fridge. I have David Tanis’ wonderful book, Heart of An Artichoke, and had made this one before. At the time I didn’t have queso fresco, so I used a Mexican cheese blend. It was very good that way but even better this time since I had the queso fresco. I made it once with cilantro and once without. I like it both ways; hubby doesn’t like his with since he has that gene that makes cilantro taste soapy. Delicious!

Testers Choice
Joel Jenkins

Aug 01, 2011

Using “chips” for breakfast certainly gets the kids interested and turns out a pretty tasty dish that takes about 4 minutes to cook. I would definitely suggest the use of salsa; without it, the chilaquiles are a little dry. It is a great starter recipe that has little chance of failure.

Testers Choice
Helen Doberstein

Aug 01, 2011

This was a great savory way to start the weekend. I liked it so much I made another one the next day. I had some corn tortillas hanging out in the fridge (not quite 4 days old) that I cut into strips. I also has a couple of Mexican chorizo sausages left over. I took the casing off one of the sausages and cooked it in the oil until almost done. Then I added the onion and cooked it until the onion was soft. And I added the tortilla strips and waited to see what would happen. I was amazed to see the strips wilt and then miraculously crisp up, just as written. I then lightly scrambled the eggs and added them and the chopped cilantro to the pan. When the eggs were almost set, I spooned the salsa over top and crumbled a little cheese over top. It was a taste delight with crunch from the tortilla strips and spiciness from the salsa and sausage. I would highly recommend this for a weekend breakfast or weeknight dinner.

Testers Choice
Steve Dunn

Aug 01, 2011

The only hesitation I had in awarding this recipe a TC designation, is that it’s hardly a recipe at all, but rather more of a general description of how the dish should be thrown together. Folks who like highly detailed recipes may balk at this one, but I found the author’s description of the dish and cooking method perfectly adequate. I urge you all to throw off the shackles and not worry about teaspoons of this or tablespoons of that. No worries here about a chop, dice, or mince…prep as you like, chuck it all in a pan, and let it rip! I made a double batch to feed two for dinner and included four eggs, five sprigs of cilantro, two chopped scallions, one diced shallot, one diced jalapeños, four corn tortillas, two spoonfuls of red salsa, and about 1/4 cup of queso fresco. I’ll be honest, this is not the prettiest dish you’ll ever eat. In fact, you’ve heard the phrase “a face only a mother could love”? I think it may have been coined to describe this dish. The salsa in particular renders the eggs a rather unnatural and unappealing color. But the flavor? It’s addictive. I’m glad I only cooked four eggs for the two of us because had I cooked six, we would have eaten them. The varied textures and flavors of the crispy tortilla strips, the slightly crunchy onions and pepper, and the softly curdled egg were perfection. The finish of a sprinkling of queso and a few fresh cilantro leaves made this a dish that we devoured in record time. I’ll never look at leftover tortillas the same way again. Bravo!


Comments
Comments
  1. sara says:

    Yum, I love love love chilaquiles, and this looks like a particularly easy and tasty version.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      It really is simple & stunning, Sara. It’s sort of a melding of migas and chilaquiles, and it’s fabulous! As is everything I’ve tried from this chef and author, David Tanis…

  2. Chilaquiles are probably my favorite dish to have for breakfast or brunch! As a matter of fact, I think I’ll wake up early tomorrow to make some. Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. Jenna says:

    This looks really fantastic, and the photograph is (of course) beautiful. I know what I want to make for dinner once I can buy some tortillas and get them nice and stale. =)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Or, um, do like we do and cheat by using some really, really sturdy plain tortilla chips…

  4. This recipe looks delicious! Everything about it sounds perfect for breakfast. Yum!

  5. Kathy says:

    Funny we call this “migas” in South Texas! The only big difference I do (compared to this recipe) is that I actually shred some hash browns and fry them with the old tortilla. Everyone who stays over at my house has had this (or a variation of) this and I have yet to find a friend who has not requested it every time after!

  6. jenjenk says:

    I’m pretty embarrassed to admit how much I love chilaquiles, and how I could easily eat 3 or 4 servings of this recipe! I love even more that this recipe is so easy!! I could have this every day [if I exercised at all, that is]!

    • David Leite says:

      jenjenk, I totally hear you. What not to love? Eggs, tortillas, salsa, cheese. (Oh why, oh why, do I reply to posts before breakfast?)

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      JenJenk, there’s no shame in adoration for chilaquiles. Quite the contrary, as this makes us hold you in rather high esteem!

  7. Lynda says:

    I have been making a version of this for years with leftover chips, eggs, salsa, etc., and didn’t have a name for it. It is a good meal to use leftovers.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Couldn’t agree more, Lynda! I find it’s a particularly inspired use for the tortilla chip crumbs left at the bottom of the bag…

  8. Evelyn Rosa says:

    I did not know this was actually a “real” dish with a name: chilaquiles. My husband introduced this dish to me over 25 years ago. He is a 3rd generation farmer (another story) and his employees would cook the tortillas and eggs on their shovels out in the fields. We make this dish often in a regular frying pan, crisping up the (fresh or days old) corn tortillas first, throwing in whatever meat we have leftover, mixing in the eggs, spices/seasonings, and always using one or two types of cheese (cheddar, Pepper Jack, etc.) at the end. And we don’t just make this dish for breakfast — this is our quick go-to meal when we want something fast, easy and simple (with an emphasis on simple). Thank you.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      You’re welcome, Evelyn. I have images of chilaquiles on shovels. So not the way I grew up in Iowa! (If only…) And we concur, it’s a lovely little something for whenever the situation demands, and not just the a.m.

  9. Eboni says:

    I don’t know but I am sure that I did something wrong! After coming across this recipe and photo, it was exactly what I wanted for dinner. I bought all of the ingredients that I didn’t have on hand and immediately started cooking when I got home. It was uneventful, not nearly as tasty as the photo looked. Since I didn’t know exactly how much oil to use I bet that was the reason. I used barely enough to cover the bottom of the skillet. In fact, it didn’t cover it. Maybe someone can tell me something?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Hey Eboni, we are so sorry that your first chilaquiles was forgettable. We swoon to this recipe because it’s a mash of tastes and textures and temperatures, and hope that you will, too, next time around. As you noted, there are very few ingredients, and so the amounts of each are critical. Beth Price, our recipe testing guru, asked several of our testers who made–and raved about–this recipe for their thoughts. They suggested that you use a very hot skillet with enough oil to slick the bottom. They also, of course, mentioned that you need a really good salsa to amp the flavor. And I’d like to add that we didn’t include a specific measure of salt (because if you’re swapping in tortilla chip crumbs as opposed to toasted corn tortillas, you’ll already have salt aplenty), but you want to make certain it’s an ample amount.

  10. caty says:

    I lived in Mexico for a number of years, married to a Mexican. We would make these with left over tortillas. There we would spread out the tortillas till they were dry: here I would bake them. They are amazing to use up left overs or vegetables. In reality they are like natchos baked, or like enchiladas:not rolled. When using tortillas for enchiladas or for chilaquiles, you need to lightly fry the tortillas or they will become like porridge when the salsa is put on top and then baked. For additions try black olives, corn nibblets, chicken, fish etc. The version with eggs it more like Huevos Rancheros. I cut the tortillas in rectangles, in otherwords, break the tortillas diagonally several times.

    • Julie Dreyfoos, LC Production Manager says:

      Caty, such great ideas to change up this dish. Thanks for all the tips.

  11. JC Marc says:

    I love this recipe! I grew up with my mother’s chilaquilas – corn tortillas cut and passed through hot oil, then passed through red chili; layered in between cheese and green onions, and baked. HOWEVER . . . I loved the simplicity of your version and have made it many times. This is my go to Sunday breakfast when guests come over. Can’t live without the cilantro. I’ve made it with and without salsa, but always with the eggs. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      JC Marc, what a lovely thing to hear on a Sunday morning, as it were! Many, many kind thanks for taking the time to let us know. We’re so pleased this recipe has made it into your regular routine. Oh, and you’re very, very welcome.

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