Chilaquiles in Tomatillo Sauce with Shredded Chicken

Many of my friends aren’t familiar with Chilaquiles, which is a bit of a shame. Frankly, they sound a bit odd: Old tortillas broken into pieces, fried and then simmered in a sauce? One bite is all it will take to realize how wrong an assumption can be. The tortillas take on a life of their own in this Chilaquiles Verde; they not only thicken the bright, tangy tomatillo sauce but achieve a gorgeous texture, slightly softened with just a bit of chew; cooked right they’re simply sublime.

Chilaquiles with Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa Verde) and Shredded Chicken
Chilaquiles with Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa Verde) and Shredded Chicken

As some of you might have noticed, I have a bit of a passion for Mexican cuisine (and many of the Southwestern and Tex Mex dishes of the States, too). With Cinco de Mayo coming up & Mother’s Day right behind, Chilaquiles Verde seems the perfect dish! Tangy, bright and creamy with just a bit of heat, this is a showstopper of brunch dish. In case you’ve never heard of Chilaquiles, it’s pronounced like this.

Chilaquiles Verde, here's the whole spread with refried beans and egg in the back corner
Chilaquiles Verde, here’s the whole spread with refried beans and egg in the back corner

That Chilaquiles is an easy dish and frugal, too, earns bonus points in my book. The recipe is said to be used in Mexico as a way to use up stale torillas. The chips, the Tomatillo sauce and chicken breast can be made the night before to be combined in the morning in minutes. That leaves plenty of time to cook up an egg or two and heat up some refried beans for an unbelievable spread for Mother’s Day or any old weekend. The chicken and the egg on the dish, as well as the beans might be just a bit of overkill in the protein, but for a special occasion? Why not!

I seldom cook chicken breast for this dish alone, although it’s easy enough to poach one or two up; instead I save a few minutes and make something up earlier in the week, Chicken Salad, Soup perhaps, or Tinga de Pollo. The chicken, itself, doesn’t have to be highly flavored, here, and it’s probably best if it isn’t so it doesn’t compete with the bright sauce. A little flavor, though, doesn’t hurt.

Fiesta Friday Badge Button I party @ There are some who consider this to be a perfect “hang over” dish, but I think it’s a great dish for a party. I’m taking it to Fiesta Friday, put on by Angie of the Novice Gardener. The cohost this week is Anna of Anna International. Stop by her blog and visit!

There’s lots of ways to vary this dish. The Tomatillos, jalapenos and garlic may be roasted instead of boiled. A handful of cilantro may be added to the sauce.  Chicken is optional but makes it a little special. I generally serve this with refried beans, an egg, and a little avocado. The sour cream or crema, I think you’ll realize, is essential to balance out the sauce, but the cheese can be varied any way you’d like. Queso is elegant, but a soft, melty cheese can be fun, too.

Chilaquiles with Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa Verde) and Shredded Chicken
Chilaquiles with Tomatillo Sauce (Salsa Verde) and Shredded Chicken

Chilaquiles with Tomatillo Sauce & Shredded Chicken Breast

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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  • 10 corn tortillas, preferably spread out to dry for several hours or overnight, cut or torn into pieces
  • enough oil to come up about 3/4 inch or so in large saute pan

Pour oil into a large saute pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the tortillas, working in 2 or 3 batches, and cook until lightly browned and nearly crisp. Drain the tortillas on paper towels.

May be made the evening before.

Tomatillo Sauce:

  • 1 pound tomatillos, papery skin removed
  • 3 jalapenos
  • 2 cloves garlic, peel removed
  • water to cover
  • 1 teaspoon salt

In a saucepan just large enough to hold the tomatillos with a bit of extra room, add tomatillos, jalapenos and garlic. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until softened, lightened in color and floating to the top, about 25 minutes.

Strain, reserving liquid. Remove the stems from the jalapenos, seed if desired. (Removing the seeds makes a milder sauce) Add solids to blender with about 1/2 to 3/4 cups of the cooking liquid (enough to keep it moving) and blend several minutes.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 or two chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
  • 4 ounces queso fresco Mexican cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 white onion, thinly sliced, soaked in water 30 minutes
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Sour Cream or Crema as desired
  • Cilantro for garnish

In a large saucepan over low heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and heat through. Add the blended Tomatilla Sauce and chicken broth. Simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the tortillas to the simmering sauce, gently turning until slightly softened but still chewy,  two to three minutes.

Divide tortillas and sauce between four plates. Layer each serving with the sour cream, shredded chicken, queso fresco, onions and avocados. Garnish with cilantro, if desired.

Serve with eggs any style and refried beans.

Note on the tortillas:

  • Do try to search out thicker tortillas rather than thinner; they’re much heartier and stand up better to the sauce.

from the kitchen of

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Calories 532; Total Fat 33 g 50 %; Saturated Fat 12 g 58 %; Monounsaturated Fat 16 g; Polyunsaturated Fat 3 g
Trans Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 82 mg 27 %; Sodium 978 mg 41 %; Potassium 668 mg 19 %; Total Carbohydrate 33 g 11 %; Dietary Fiber 6 g 23 %; Sugars 8 g; Protein 27 g 54 %; Vitamin A 10 %; Vitamin C 34 %; Calcium 27 %; Iron 10 %