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Ranchero Sauce is a must-have for any spicy and savory food lover. Its earthy combination of flavors with fire-roasted tomatoes, herbs, and spices, are blended together perfectly to give any recipe a beautiful smoky kick.

There is nothing like a good condiment or sauce to really take your meal to the next level. And even better, I love making them homemade. Some of my favorites are our Homemade Basil Pesto, Rhubarb BBQ Sauce, and our Carolina Mustard BBQ Sauce.

A white bowl of ranchero sauce

Ranchero Sauce Recipe

If you really want to take your recipes up a notch, especially your Mexican recipes, this Ranchero Sauce is a must-have. It is really the easiest way to boost those flavors and add some heat to your Mexican dishes.

Ranchero sauce might remind you a bit of enchilada sauce, but is a little bit thicker, smokier, and made slightly different. You will get a beautiful smoky flavor from the fire-roasted tomatoes and chipotle pepper. Sauteeing the ingredients really heightens the sweet and savory flavors as well.

Once everything is sauteed, it then gets blended together to combine all those delicious flavors into a thick, delicious sauce you can put on anything. It really is so easy to throw together! This sauce goes really well when topping on Huevos Rancheros, fajitas, tacos, or any kind of burrito. Use leftovers on burgers or in sandwiches or wraps!

a bowl of ranchero sauce on a counter top with sliced avocado

What You’ll Need

  • Oil. I like to use vegetable oil to sautee, but any sort of neutral oil or olive oil will suffice.
  • Onion. A white onion is perfect for this recipe, although you could use a yellow or sweet onion if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Jalapeno. If you like extra spicy go ahead and keep the seeds in, but you can always take the seeds out (we do!) to keep things a bit more mild.
  • Chipotle Pepper. You’ll want the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce that come in a can and can be find in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store. You can double them if you want a more intense flavor, but stick to just one if you want to keep things mild but still smoky. You won’t need the whole can, so just stick the rest in a ziploc bag and freeze for the next time you have a recipe calling for chipotle peppers.
  • Garlic. Fresh garlic minced is best, but you can also use the pre-minced garlic.
  • Fire Roasted Tomatoes. These have add an awesome flavor. You can also use plain diced tomatoes.
  • Chicken Broth. This is just to add a little bit of liquid to make it more of a sauce and keep the flavor.
  • Cilantro. Most people either love it or hate it. If you hate it, just leave it out.
  • Smoked Paprika. One of my all-time favorite ingredients for incredibly deep, smoky flavor. You can also use ancho chile powder.
  • Mexican Oregano. Mexican oregano has some different flavors that go well with mexican dishes, but if you have trouble finding it, regular oregano works well too.
  • Brown Sugar. To add the perfect sweetness to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes and moderate the heat of the peppers.
  • Cumin. Cumin is great is all things Mexican.
  • Salt. Don’t skip out on the salt, you will need it to boost all the other flavors.
  • Lime. Lime juice is going to add a nice tangy and zesty flavor.
ingredients for ranchero sauce spread out on a counter top

How To Make Ranchero Sauce

  1. Sautee onion, peppers, and garlic. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Then add the onions, and peppers and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
  1. Stir in remaining ingredients. Stir in the fire roasted tomatoes and chicken broth, then add cilantro, smoked paprika, oregano, brown sugar, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.
  1. Blend. Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth (unless you prefer to leave it more chunky), then add the lime juice and blend it in. Cover with a towel if using a blender, rather than the lid, because the hot sauce can build up pressure while blending.
  2. Enjoy! Transfer to a glass container to store until ready to use. Reheat before using if not using immediately.
sautee'd ranchero sauce ingredients in a blender prior to blending

Ranchero Sauce FAQ

Can fresh tomatoes be used in place of canned?

Yes! You can use about 2 cups of fresh tomatoes rather than canned for a more mild taste.

How do I adjust the spiciness?

You can easily add additional jalapenos for more spiciness and more chipotle peppers for more of a smoky flavor. You can also add in a bit of cayenne pepper for even more spice. And if things are too spicy for you, just be sure to get rid of any jalapeno seeds before adding the jalapeno.

What is the difference between ranchero sauce and enchilada sauce?

Ranchero sauce is made with tomatoes as the base, whereas enchilada sauce can have tomatoes in it but it is not the focus. It is usually made with more red chile as the base.

Tips for the best Ranchero Sauce

  • Chipolte Peppers: These come in small cans and freeze really well since a recipe never uses a whole can. I put the leftover peppers and sauce in a freezer-safe plastic bag and squish them flat to separate each pepper. That when when I need one for a recipe I can easily remove only the amount I need and chop it up. Alternatively, you could use 2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder for each chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
  • Storage: Keep leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • Freezing: This sauce freezes well for up to 2 months. Thaw completely and warm in the microwave or on the stovetop before serving.
A white bowl filled with ranchero sauce on a counter top

Serve This Sauce With

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Ranchero Sauce

Ranchero Sauce is a must-have for any spicy and savory food lover. Its earthy combination of flavors with fire-roasted tomatoes, herbs, and spices, are blended together perfectly to give any recipe a beautiful smoky kick.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Spreads & Sauces
Cuisine: Mexican
Diet: Gluten Free
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 11kcal
Author: Amy Nash

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 large white onion chopped
  • 1 jalapeno peppers chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce chopped (can be doubled if you want a more intense flavor, just one if you want to keep things mild but still smoky)
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 16 ounces fire roasted or diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro about 1/2 bunch of cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or ancho chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano or regular oregano
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper to taste
  • Juice from 1 lime

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and peppers and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the fire roasted tomatoes and chicken broth, then add cilantro, smoked paprika, oregano, brown sugar, cumin, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.
  • Use an immersion blender or transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth (unless you prefer to leave it more chunky), then add the lime juice and blend it in. Cover with a towel if using a blender, rather than the lid, because the hot sauce can build up pressure while blending.
  • Transfer to a glass container to store until ready to use. Reheat before using if not using immediately.

Notes

  • Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce: These come in small cans and freeze really well since a recipe never uses a whole can. I put the leftover peppers and sauce in a freezer-safe plastic bag and squish them flat to separate each pepper. That when when I need one for a recipe I can easily remove only the amount I need and chop it up. Alternatively, you could use 2 teaspoons of chipotle chili powder for each chipotle pepper in adobo sauce.
  • Storage: Keep leftover sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  • Freezing: This sauce freezes well for up to 2 months. Thaw completely and warm in the microwave or on the stovetop before serving.

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tablespoons | Calories: 11kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 115mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 173IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 15mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe adapted from Isabel Eats and A Spicy Perspective.