Slow Cooker Chile Rojo is an irresistible Mexican beef stew made with guajillo, ancho and arbol chiles. Beef stew meat is slow cooked in a thick and flavorful, spicy red sauce seasoned with some of your favorite Mexican spices. Enjoy over rice and beans or use as stuffing for enchiladas and tacos.
The stars of this Slow Cooker Chile Rojo recipe are 3 types of Mexican chile peppers- guajillo chiles, chiles de árbol, and ancho chiles. Combined, these chiles make a sweet, spicy, and flavorful red chile sauce that slow cooks with a tender beef roast. The result is a hearty Mexican beef stew that'll make your mouth water for more.
The slow cooker creates fall apart tender meat that you can serve over rice and beans or shred and use in enchiladas, tacos, burritos and more. This recipe is freezer-friendly, so make a big batch and use later on. You'll thank me later!
You can control how mild or spicy you make your chile rojo. For a mild version, use less chile de arboles, leave them out entirely, or don't use their seeds. For a spicier version, use more arbol chiles and their seeds.
There isn't just one way to make chile rojo- there are lots of variations and family twists on this recipe. Nonetheless, chile rojo is a delicious, soul-soothing stew.
My take on beef chile rojo is like a mix between birria stew and chile Colorado. We start out by simmering guajillo and arbol chiles in beef broth, then pureeing them to produce a thick red sauce that's then mixed with Mexican seasonings and chunks of beef. A cinnamon stick adds a subtle nutty flavor. The stew cooks long and slow in your crockpot while you enjoy the fragrant aroma.
- Dried guajillo chiles: these chile peppers are fruity and smoky and are a little milder than a jalapeno.
- Dried chiles de arbol: these tiny chile peppers are pretty spicy so you only need 1 or 2. Don't let their size fool you- they are hot!
- Ancho chile powder: this is one of my favorite seasonings for Mexican cooking. It's more sweet than spicy and adds a complexity in flavors to the simplest recipes. Substitute with dried ancho chiles.
- Cinnamon stick: adds a subtle nutty flavor and lots of aroma!
- Chuck roast or beef stew meat: these cuts become shreddable and tender when slow cooked.
- Beef broth: can also use beef stock or water and beef bouillon cubes.
- Bay leaves: these flavor the sauce but are inedible so make sure to discard them before serving.
- Onion and garlic: used to create and flavor the red sauce.
- Spices: cumin, oregano and salt.
Slow cooker chile rojo is made in 2 parts: making the sauce and slow cooking the meat. The red chile sauce needs to be made first, and this can be done on the stove or using a cooking blender. I use my Instant Ace cooking blender to make it really simple- it eliminates the need for stovetop boiling and an extra pot!
STEP 1: In a large pot bring the beef broth, guajillo chiles, chiles de árbol, cinnamon stick, sweet onion, and garlic cloves to a boil. There is no need to do more than roughly chop the onion, since everything is going to be blended anyway. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. If using a cooking blender, add ingredients and set to puree for 10 minutes.
STEP 2: Put the beef into the slow cooker. Pour the blended red chile sauce over the meat and add ancho chile powder, oregano, cumin, salt and bay leaves. Stir and cover. Set to LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 5 hours.
When finished, remove the bay leaves and discard. Serve over Mexican rice and topped with fresh cilantro if desired.
How To Make It Mild
Remove the seeds from the guajillo and arbol chiles before using. The seeds in chile peppers contain most the spice, so this is key if you want to make your chile recipes mild. If this is your first time making chile rojo, use only 1 chile de arbol peppers and see how you like it. If the meal still turns out too spicy, add a teaspoon or more of sugar to absorb some of the heat.
How To Make It Spicy
Use more chiles de arbol plus their seeds to make it extra spicy. Include the seeds from the guajillo peppers too, and maybe even top with jalapeno slices. Yum!
- Use chicken or pork instead of beef stew meat. Cut the meat into large chunks and cook on low for 6 hours.
- Use dried ancho chiles instead of ancho powder. One tablespoon of ancho powder is roughly equivalent to one dried ancho chile.
How To Serve Beef Chile Rojo
Serve over Mexican rice, with beans, or shred and use as stuffing for tacos and enchiladas, among others.
Use the leftover sauce for dipping tortilla chips or in Mexican rice and grain bowls later on.
Guajillo chiles are of medium spiciness. They have a fruity and smoky flavor, with a range of 2,500-5,000 Scoville heat units. They are a little milder than a jalapeno. To make recipes using guajillo chiles a little milder, don't use their seeds.
Yes! Arbol chiles are very spicy, registering 15,000-30,000 Scoville heat units. They are a small pepper with a lot of potency! Using their seeds in your recipes will make it spicier, so for a milder version discard the seeds and only use the pepper. Arbol chiles have a nutty and smoky flavor, otherwise.
Yes! Frozen beef can safely be used in your slow cooker. This makes it easy when you want to make chile rojo last minute and only have frozen meat.
Yes- slow cook chile rojo on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours.
Slow Cooker Chile Rojo
- 8 dried guajillo chiles stems removed and seeded*
- 2 dried chiles de arbol stems removed and seeded*
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 1 medium sweet onion roughly chopped
- 6 garlic cloves
- 3 cups beef broth
- 2 lbs beef stew meat or chuck roast
- 2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 bay leaves
- In a large pot bring the beef broth, guajillo chiles, chiles de árbol, cinnamon stick, sweet onion, and garlic cloves to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender and blend on high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. If using a cooking blender, add ingredients and set to puree for 10 minutes.
- Put the beef into the slow cooker. Pour the blended red chile sauce over the meat and add ancho chile powder, oregano, cumin, salt and bay leaves. Stir and cover. Set to LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 5 hours.
- When finished, remove the bay leaves and discard. Serve over Mexican rice.