Cafe Pasquale’s Red Chile Sauce


We all live in a world of herbs, spices, and seasoning. Sometimes during our travels, we find a dish that is just so awesome. A dish that is telling a story about flavor, history, and traditions. Pasquale’s red chile sauce totally fits the bill. If you’re a fan of mellow heat and deep flavor, you need to cook Café Pasquale’s red chile sauce. After visiting Santa Fe and exploring the town and surroundings, I would say I need to visit again. I had never been to New Mexico – the mountains, high deserts, big sky, architecture, food, and people are just impressive. Santa Fe is a blend of flavors from Spanish and Native American cultures that have evolved over the course of the last centuries and it shows in the food.

Santa Fe Red Chile Sauce

Cafe Pasquale’s in Santa Fe is where I had my first taste of the traditional red Chile sauce. There is something satisfying about eating authentically prepared food in the place where it originated. Kind of like eating a Hungarian Goulash in Budapest or a Wiener Schnitzel in Vienna.
It gives you that anticipation and confirmation that things are cooked the way they are supposed to and what the city or region is famous for.

Santa Fee Red Chili Sauce

Cafe Pasquale’s Red Chile sauce :

Their red chile sauce is made with Guajillo, Ancho, and Árbol Chile and has a deep color and fragrant flavor with mild heat. The sauce is easy to make and is truly amazing. There is a difference between “hot” and “spicy” food. As I have mentioned before, hot will burn and spicy will have a mellow pleasant heat that adds tons of flavor. The red chile sauce has a perfect mild kick to it, so you can still enjoy all the flavors and ingredients of the dish. I found the local food scene in Santa Fe to be awesome, serving food that bursts with flavor and of course chiles.

Café Pasquale’s serves red chile braised beef cheeks with a fried egg and fresh tortillas for breakfast – amazing stuff! For thirty-nine years, the restaurant has been serving emphatically flavored cuisine inspired by the culinary traditions of New Mexico, Old Mexico, the Mediterranean, and Asia. Emphatically flavored is the perfect choice of words. Café Pasquale was my go-to place for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If there would be one sauce I could eat for the rest of my life, it would be Cafe Pasquale’s red chile sauce.

Santa Fe Red Chili Sauce

New Mexico Chiles:

New Mexico chile is the defining ingredient of New Mexican food and chile is New Mexico’s largest agricultural crop. Chile is the most essential—even sacred—ingredient in New Mexico cuisine. I returned to Chicago with a bag of Chimayo peppers from Wagner’s farm; a farm that has been owned and operated for four generations. If you are purchasing chile peppers, chose peppers that are soft and pliable and have a mild fresh, fruity smell. Brittle chiles are stale, lack flavor, and may be bitter.

Chiles used in a New Mexico Red Chile sauce:

Guajillo Chile:

Pasquale is using Guajillo chile in their recipe. It’s a great mild chile that is the second most used chile in the state. If you like your chilies on the slightly sweeter side, then the guajillo is one that should make your shortlist. This chile is a pretty complex chili, full of tang and sweetness. Think of cranberries and mild smokiness. It’s easy to see why people love Guajillo chile so much. This is one chili that’ll definitely earn its place in your pantry.

Chimayó Chile:

Impossible to mass-produce, the Chimayó Chile is so precious that apparently, a counterfeit market has emerged. Chimayo chile is an heirloom chile grown and handed down for generations in the Chimayo Valley of northern New Mexico. It’s rare to find this type of small chile anywhere else in the world. It was my lucky day to be able to visit the Santa Fe Farmers Market and purchase a bag.
Opening and smelling a bag of Chimayó Chile explains everything. Deep floral sweetness, earthiness, and a slight smokiness hit you immediately. In this recipe, I replaced the Guajillo chile with the Chimayó Chile that I purchased at the Santa Fe farmers market.

Ancho Peppers:

The ancho chile is a dried Pablano pepper. The Ancho is very mild and sweet and adds a lot of flavors and deep rich color to the plate. If you are new to chiles, the Ancho is another good choice to add to your pantry.

Arbol Chiles:

The Arbol chile is a small and potent chile pepper, also known as the bird’s beak chile. So, if you like to kick it up a notch, add a few more Árbol Chile’s. The Arbol chile packs a bit of a punch and is around a 6 to 7 on a heat scale out of 1 to 10. I love the Arbol Chile, they have a smoky, slightly earthy flavor. However, be warned, the Arbol Chile is potent and will make you pay.

Cafe Pasquale’s Big Red Chile Sauce

The Taste

You will love the fact that Pasquale’s chile sauce has that perfect little kick to it.
Great for enchiladas, burritos, and bowls of chile and beans.
Goes well with breakfast dishes, like scrambled or fried eggs.

The Process

As simple as it gets; a sauce with a deep, vibrant, and mild flavor.

The Verdict

A Southwest classic that is telling a story about flavor, history, and traditions.
Cook it and you will discover a great sauce that screams simplicity and flavor.

Cafe Pasquale's Big Red Chile Sauce

Chef Norbert
There is a difference between "hot" and "spicy" food. Hot will burn and spicy will have a mellow pleasant heat that adds tons of flavor. The red chile sauce has a perfect mild kick to it, so you can still enjoy all the flavors and ingredients of the dish.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Sauces
Cuisine American
Servings 40 ounces
Calories 3 kcal

Recommended Equipment

1 Dutch Oven, 5.5 qt
1 Chef's Knife
1 Cutting Board
1 Vitamix blender


  • 2 quarts water
  • 32 each Chimayo chiles
  • 16 each Ancho chiles
  • 8 each chiles de Arbol
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 each white onion, medium peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt


Cook peppers

  • In a stockpot or Dutch oven place the Chimayo, Ancho, and Arbol chiles. Add red wine vinegar, oregano, garlic, salt, and white onion. Add water and bring the ingredients to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
    2 quarts water, 32 each Chimayo chiles, 16 each Ancho chiles, 8 each chiles de Arbol, 4 cloves garlic, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tsp Mexican oregano, 1 each white onion, medium

Purée all of the ingredients

  • Remove from heat and let completely cool. Drain off the liquid and reserve it. In a blender place batches of chile pepper mixture with a small amount of the reserved water.
    1 tbsp kosher salt
  • Purée so that a thick ketchup-like consistency is achieved. Usually, you need to strain the sauce, however, if using a Vitamix blender there is no need to do so. If you don't use a Vitamix blender, I recommend straining the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve. Season with the salt and enjoy!

Chef Notes

  1. Red chile sauce can be held in the refrigerator for up to 5 days and in the freezer for 2 months.



Serving: 1 ounce | Calories: 3kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 178mg | Potassium: 17mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate

Keyword Sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Join the Conversation

  1. Gary Sadler says:

    I have to agree with every word on this page. My wife and I fell in love with the unique food in Santa Fe and we found Pasquale’s to serve some of the best food in Santa Fe. Their red sauce was definately our favorite. Thank you so much for posting the recipe!

    1. Norbert Author says:

      Thank you for the kind words, I need to visit Santa Fe and Pasquale’s again, missing the food, scenery, and culture.

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