Easy Homemade Ranchero Sauce

You’ll love this quick and easy homemade Ranchero Sauce! Made with simple ingredients, this smoky sauce is ready in minutes!

Serve it with Huevos Rancheros or with your favorite Tex-Mex or Mexican food!

What is Ranchero sauce?

Ranchero sauce is a smoky tomato sauce with an infusion of chili powders and/or peppers. It’s an extremely versatile sauce with a slightly sweet and smoky flavor.

You can make it as mild or spicy and as thick or thin as you like! Some folks like a smooth sauce, where others prefer a chunky sauce with diced tomatoes and onion.

Why this recipe works

Flavors abound when you lightly saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno! 

  • Quick and easy -ready in 30-minutes from start to finish
  • Simple ingredients – a combination of fresh and canned ingredients make this the best ranchero sauce recipe for home cooks
  • This ranchero recipe has medium heat, but you can make it hotter by using serrano chiles and cayenne pepper

Here’s what you need

In experimenting with various recipes, I came across a wide variety of ingredients. This recipe is an easy because it doesn’t require so many hard-to-find variations of dried chili peppers or chili powder.

You can find most of these ingredients at your local grocery store:

A little bit of olive oil, onion (I use sweet onion, but you can use any type of onion – white or yellow), fire-roasted canned tomatoes (you can use fresh Roma tomatoes instead), a jalapeno, chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced garlic (or fresh garlic), ancho chile powder, smoky paprika, ground cumin, Mexican oregano or dried marjoram, chicken broth, fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice and salt.

Ingredients labeled on red wooden table top.

How to make it

First thing, do not make this ranchero sauce in a cast iron skillet. The acidity from the tomatoes conflicts with the iron in the skillet, make the sauce taste “metallic” or “tinny” – Use a stainless steel skillet or a ceramic or non-stick skillet.

Fresh ingredients are always best, but in this case, in order to get the most authentic Mexican flavor without buying a ton of spices, I highly recommend using fire-roasted canned tomatoes.

Granted, this is a shortcut for a truly “homemade ranchero sauce recipe” but it works and makes this a really easy and great recipe!

Jalapeno being cut in half and seeded.

Prep first: Dice and seed the jalapeno, dice tomatoes (if using fresh tomatoes), chop onion

Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat; Add onions, jalapeno, garlic; saute for 5 minutes

Sauteed onions, garlic and jalapenos in skillet.
Fire roasted tomatoes being added to sauteed onions.

Add chipotle pepper with adobo sauce, fire-roasted tomatoes,  marjoram, cumin and salt. Cook for 10-12 minutes until mixture thickens somewhat.

Add in chicken broth and cook for a few more minutes.

Remove from heat and add chopped cilantro and lime juice. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and a little black pepper.

You can serve this Mexican sauce it as it is, or puree it to a smoother consistency.

Chipotle peppers, tomatoes and onions sauteeing in skillet.

Transfer the sauce to a food processor and pulse until this delicious sauce reaches your desired smooth consistency! (You can also use an immersion blender on the stovetop or a regular blender.)

Chopped cilantro being added to food processor.

You’ll find this spicy sauce typically served with Huevos Rancheros (which is a poached eggs on corn tortillas and topped with this sauce) or breakfast tacos. You’ll also find ranchero sauce served over chile rellenos, enchiladas, tamales and other Tex Mex dishes.

Recipe FAQ

What’s the difference between Ranchero sauce and salsa?

Ranchero sauce is cooked on the stovetop; it is known for its smoky, rustic flavor based on a blend of chilis and peppers. Salsa, on the other hand, is typically served raw or uncooked, and consists of bright flavors of tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeno and sometimes cilantro.

What’s the difference between Ranchero sauce and Red Enchilada sauce?

Ranchero sauce is based on tomatoes and ground chilis. Red Enchilada sauce doesn’t contain tomatoes and is based on chili powder.

Serve this easy homemade ranchero sauce with your favorite Mexican or Tex Mex cuisine! It also pairs great with grilled chicken or pan fried pork chops!

Tips

  • This easy homemade ranchero sauce has a little kick of heat to it! If you prefer a milder version, adjust the amount of chipotle peppers and jalapenos. See Recipe Notes in recipe card below.
  • Be careful when transferring the hot mixture to a food processor or blender – the mixture is HOT
  • When slicing and seeding the jalalpeno, wear kitchen gloves or make sure you wash your hands well afterwards and, do not touch your eyes! (Don’t ask me how I know this!:)
Ranchero sauce in decorative bowl.

Storage and reheating

Store the sauce in an airtight container up to 7 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer. When reheating, for best results, allow it come to room temperature, then reheat on the stovetop.

Sauce may thicken upon storage, so you might have to add a little water or chicken broth.

More favorite Mexican recipes

If you make this recipe, please scroll down and leave a comment and a rating! I love to hear from you! 

 

Ranchero sauce in decorative bowl.

Easy Homemade Ranchero Sauce

Smoky easy homemade Ranchero sauce for your Mexican and Tex-Mex recipes
5 from 2 votes
Print Text Recipe Rate
Course: Sauce, Sauces
Cuisine: Mexican, Southwestern, Tex Mex
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Yield: 2 cups
Author: Anecia Hero

Equipment

  • Food processor, blender or immersion blender (optional)

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced sweet yellow onions, ¼" inch dice
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and membranes) See recipe notes
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 2 small cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or marjoram-or regular oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon granualted sugar
  • 29 ounces fire roasted tomatoes (2-14.5 oz. cans) See recipe notes
  • 7 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, rough chopped; (1-7 oz. can) See recipe notes
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • tablespoons fresh lime juice

Instructions 

  • In a large skillet heat oil; add onions, jalapeno and garlic; saute 5 minutes on medium heat
    1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 cup diced sweet yellow onions, ¼" inch dice, 1 tablespoon jalapeno, minced (remove seeds and membranes), 1 teaspoon minced garlic (or 2 small cloves)
  • Add fire roasted tomatoes (do not drain) and cook until softened and mixture thickens about 5-8 minutes
    29 ounces fire roasted tomatoes (2-14.5 oz. cans)
  • Add oregano, cumin, sugar, chipotle peppers (with the adobo sauce) to skillet; cook mixture on medium to medium-high heat for about 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens
    1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (or marjoram-or regular oregano), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 tablespoon granualted sugar, 7 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, rough chopped; (1-7 oz. can)
  • Add in chicken broth and cook for 2 minutes
    ¼ cup chicken broth
  • Transfer to food processor or blender; add cilantro and lime juice; pulse 5-8 times or to desired consistency
    ½ cup cilantro, chopped, 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Season with salt to taste
    ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Notes

Using plain diced tomatoes? Add 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika to get that smoky flavor Ranchero sauce is known for!
Want it thinner? Add additional chicken broth or water in 1/4 cup increments when it’s in the food processor
Want it milder? Use only 1/2 of the can of chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce and use only 1/2 of a jalapeno, or omit 
Want it creamier? Add up to 1/2 cup of heavy cream
Do not drain tomatoes
Do not drain Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce

Nutrition Estimate

Serving: 1cupCalories: 140kcalCarbohydrates: 18gProtein: 2gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 607mgPotassium: 243mgFiber: 2gSugar: 10gVitamin A: 417IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 2mg
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