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Crock Pot Chile Colorado

Crock Pot Chile Colorado turns out just like the restaurant-quality Mexican food favorite! An easier approach to Chile Colorado, you’ll love preparing this authentic dish at home. Make it the next time you’re getting friends or family together for Mexican food!

White bowl of Chile Colorado, rice, beans, and a fresh lime to the side.

While it’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite Mexican dish, I can say with confidence that Chile Colorado is always in my Top 5.

Right along with Carne Asada Tacos, Birria Tacos, and Tacos Al Pastor

What can I say? I’m obsessed with anything meaty, especially when a thick and sultry sauce is involved. 

After making my Instant Pot Chile Colorado recipe, I just had to follow up with a crock pot version, as I know so many people are still loving the slow cooker over the electric pressure cooker. 

So here we are, celebrating the true glory of restaurant-quality chile colorado, made in the comfort of our own homes.

What is Chile Colorado?:

In case you’re new to it, Chile Colorado is a traditional Mexican dish of tender chunks of beef slow cooked in a rich, sweet and smoky red sauce. 

“Colorado” is Spanish for “colored red,” representing the deep red color of the sauce that engulfs the tender pieces of beef.

While many dried chiles are involved, the types of chiles used are more sweet and smoky versus spicy and are actually quite mild, especially when the seeds are removed.

The dish itself is typically mild unless the person preparing it intentionally adds spicy chilies like jalapeno peppers, serranos, or habaneros. 

For the sake of comparison, you could compare Chile Colorado to a mild red enchilada sauce, although Chile Colorado sauce is far richer with deeper flavor.

Traditionally, authentic Chile Colorado is made on the stove top in a heavy pot but we’re making it in the slow cooker to keep it very hands off and to ensure the beef has plenty of time to cook and tenderize.

Chile Colorado in a white bowl with Mexican rice for the perfect meal.

How to Serve Chile Colorado:

Chile Colorado is typically served with Spanish Rice (or Mexican rice), corn tortillas or flour tortillas and beans. Cilantro Lime Rice is a fabulous option too.

You can serve it up with fresh cilantro and limes so that one can squeeze fresh lime juice over everything if desired. Feel free to add in any other toppings or side dishes, like The Easy Guacamole Recipe That Wins Every Time or Corn Salsa.

For a low-carb, keto, paleo, or whole30 dinner, serve the beef with my Spanish Cauliflower Rice with Kale.

The main feature of the dish is the incredibly rich red chili sauce that engulfs the beef. There’s truly nothing like it!

The stars of the sauce are dried chiles, which can be found in the Mexican aisle of any grocery store (some grocery stores label this aisle “ethnic food”).

If you have a local Mexican grocery store, you can definitely source all of the ingredients you need (including the dried chiles) for this recipe there. 

Pressure cooker with a ladle of chile colorado close to camera

Ingredients for Crock Pot Chile Colorado:

Chile Colorado Sauce Ingredients: dried guajillo chiles, dried arbol chiles (also known as chiles de arbol), dried ancho chiles, beef broth (or chicken broth), dried cumin, yellow onion, dried oregano (I go with Mexican oregano), garlic powder, and sea salt.

Based on the significant amount of chiles, it may sound like the sauce will turn out spicy given the chile pods; however, guajillo chiles and ancho chiles are sweet, smoky, and are fairly mild (just be sure to remove the seeds after soaking to be extra cautious).

Arbol chiles are spicy so for a very mild sauce, omit them. I only add two which gives the sauce only a slight kick.

For spicier sauce, include a fresh jalapeno, serrano, pasilla chiles or habanero. 

What Meat To Use For Chile Colorado: While you can chop up any type of beef roast, I use beef stew meat because it comes pre-chopped (making prep easier) and also results in a tender beef after slow cooking for so long.

This is a phenomenal use for stew meat, as the slow cooking turns the otherwise tough cut of meat into heavenly tender bliss.

We also sprinkle the beef in flour (I use gluten-free flour, but regular all-purpose flour works too) in order to ensure the sauce thickens up nicely.

For Serving: This hearty stew recipe is typically served with Spanish Rice, warm tortillas, and pinto beans or black beans, but you can incorporate any sides or toppings you enjoy. Some people eat Chile Colorado as a stew.

Most grocery stores have an aisle with dried chili peppers, but if you can’t find them at your regular grocery store, you can find them at any Mexican market or online. 

Now that we have the ingredients down, let’s make it!

How to Make Crock Pot Chile Colorado:

Make the Chile Colorado Sauce:

Add all of the dried chilies and the beef broth (or chicken stock) to a large pot. Bring the mixture to a full boil then remove it from the stove top. Allow the chiles to sit in the hot broth while you continue preparing the sauce.

Chilis soaking in water in a saucepan

We use the beef broth for the soaking liquid because we need four cups of broth for the sauce anyway and allowing the flavors of the dried peppers to cook into the broth so that we aren’t loosing any flavor from the red chilies ensures we maximize the flavor output here. 

Add the chopped onion to a high powered blender along with the oregano, cumin, garlic powder, and sea salt.

Once the reconstituted chilies are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the stems and seeds and transfer the chilies with the broth to the blender.

Reconstituted chiles in a blender with beef broth, spices and onion. Ready to be blended into chile colorado sauce.

Blend until everything is well-combined into a chile puree.

Blender full of chile colorado sauce

Note: you can use a food processor for this step as long as your food processor is large enough. 

Brown the Meat:

Place the beef stew meat in a large mixing bowl along with the flour, sea salt, and pepper. Toss everything together until the beef is coated in flour and seasonings. 

Heat up a large cast iron skillet with 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking oil such as avocado oil or olive oil to medium-high heat. Place the meat on the hot skillet in a single layer (this may take two batches depending on the size of your skillet).

Large chunks of beef searing in a cast iron skillet

Allow the meat to brown for 2-3 minutes before flipping it to the other side and allowing it to brown for another minute or two, or until there is a nice golden brown crust on two sides.

Transfer the meat to a plate and repeat this process for the remaining beef (if needed).

Slow Cook the Chile Colorado:

Once the meat is browned, transfer the meat to the crock pot

Pour the Chile Colorado sauce through a fine mesh strainer or sieve into the crock pot. Use a wooden spoon to stir it around until all of the liquid has strained into the slow cooker and the strainer is left with just the pulp. Discard the pulp.

Strainer of chile colorado sauce hovering over an Instant Pot
Chile pulp in a strainer from red chile sauce

Add the bay leaves to the crock pot and give everything a stir.

Stew meat and chile colorado sauce in a crock pot, ready to be slow cooked.

Secure the lid on the crock pot and set it on High heat for 4 hours or Low for 8 hours. I recommend cooking on Low heat for 8 hours for the best results as the meat will turn out even more flavorful and tender. 

Finished chile colorado in a crock pot with a wooden spoon ladling out some of the meat.

Serve Chile Colorado with Spanish Rice, tortillas, and any additional toppings or side dishes such as black beans, refried beans, cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado, lime wedges, etc. 

Store leftover Chile Colorado in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

The richness of the sauce becomes even more intense the next day and the following 2-3 days. For this reason, it’s never a bad idea to make this Chile Colorado recipe the day before you intend to serve it.

One of the amazing parts about the spicy red chile sauce is it can be used for all sorts of dishes. For instance, you can cook pork shoulder in the delicious red chile sauce or make a pork stew with it.

If you love burritos, use leftover Chile Colorado in a beef burrito recipe.

White plate with chunks of Chile Colorado, black beans, and Spanish rice.

Looking for more delicious Mexican cuisine recipes? Check out these gems.

More Mexican Inspired Recipes:

Enjoy this classic popular Mexican stew!

White bowl of Chile Colorado, rice, beans, and a fresh lime to the side.
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5 from 5 votes

Crock Pot Chile Colorado

This restaurant-quality Chile Colorado recipe is easy to prepare and results in lusciously tender beef in the most amazing rich, mild red chile sauce. Serve it with rice, beans, and tortillas for an otherworldly dinner recipe!
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time8 hours
Total Time8 hours 25 minutes
Course: Beef Main Dishes
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 6 to 8 Servings
Calories: 379kcal
Author: Jeff

Ingredients

Chile Colorado Sauce:

For the Beef:

  • 2 Tbsp avocado oil
  • 3 lbs beef stew meat
  • ¼ cup gluten-free all-purpose flour**
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 2 bay leaves

Instructions

Make the Chile Colorado Sauce:

    Brown the Meat:

    • Heat up a large cast iron skillet with 2 to 3 tablespoons of cooking oil such as avocado oil or olive oil to medium-high heat. Place the meat on the hot skillet in a single layer (this may take two batches depending on the size of your skillet). Allow the meat to brown for 2-3 minutes before flipping it to the other side and allowing it to brown for another minute or two, or until there is a nice golden brown crust on two sides. Transfer the meat to a plate and repeat this process for the remaining beef. Once the meat is browned, transfer the meat to the crock pot. 

    Slow Cook The Meat:

      Notes

      *Chiles de arbol (or dried arbol chiles) are spicy, so omit them for a very mild sauce. Increase the amount for a spicier sauce.
      **Or regular all-purpose flour, tapioca flour, or arrowroot starch.
      Store leftover Chile Colorado in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1Serving (of 8) | Calories: 379kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 58g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 168mg | Sodium: 476mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

      This post contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission off items you purchase at no additional cost to you.

      Recipe Rating




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      Rebecca J.

      Sunday 23rd of July 2023

      This turned out delicious! I'm eating up the leftovers with some coleslaw on the side for every meal.

      Julia

      Wednesday 26th of July 2023

      Wahoo! I'm so thrilled to hear it, Rebecca! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! xo

      Kelly

      Tuesday 4th of July 2023

      Yum!

      Julia

      Tuesday 4th of July 2023

      SO tasty!!

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