Chile Gravy

Chile GravyCall it what you will, chile (or chili) gravy or enchilada sauce, either way this blend of dried chiles, cumin, garlic, and beef broth is hard to be without if you love Tex-Mex cuisine. Granted, a lot of Tex-Mex cuisine is also loaded with gooey melted cheese, chips and tortillas but it’s best to skip all that. Instead, pour this earthy, smoky, moderately spicy gravy over ground beef, scrambled eggs, chilaquiles, grilled steak or chicken. Or use it (un-thickened) as a braising or poaching liquid for beef, pork or chicken.

Every Tex-Mex aficionado has their own recipe for chili gravy. Some recipes use only chili powder, instead of whole, dried chiles, which works well if you have access to high-quality, flavorful chili powder. Many recipes use powdered garlic instead of fresh. And all of them use flour to thicken the gravy. This Primal version relies on tapioca powder to thicken the gravy, but even that’s not entirely necessary if you’re okay with a slightly thinner texture.

Besides great Tex-Mex flavor, what other reasons are there to spice up your food with chili gravy? Both fresh and dried peppers contain important nutrients, including antioxidants, and have potential cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Servings: 1 to 2 cups of chile gravy

Time in the Kitchen: 45 minutes


Chile Gravy Ingredients

  • 3 dried ancho chiles, seeds and stems removed
  • 3 tablespoons lard (or if you must, cold-pressed high-oleic/high-stearic sunflower oil)
  • 1/2 a yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (10 ml)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder (10 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (2.5 ml)
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth (600 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca flour (15 ml)


In a dry skillet or pot heated on high, toast the chiles on each side for about 10 seconds. Cover the chiles with water, bring the water a boil and then turn off the heat. Let the chiles soak for 30 minutes to re-hydrate. Drain the chiles (discard the water). Put the chiles in a blender and set aside.

Ancho Chiles

Warm the lard in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion, cooking for about 10 minutes until totally soft. Add the garlic and sauté for a minute or less to soften. Scrape the lard, onion and garlic into the blender with the chiles along with the cumin, chile powder, oregano and broth. Blend until very smooth.

Return the sauce to the stove and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Season well with salt.

Chile Sauce

Just before serving, whisk the tapioca flour with 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of water then slowly whisk the liquid into the sauce.

To serve over ground beef, cook a pound of ground beef in a skillet with chopped onion, garlic and cumin. Pour the chili gravy on top before serving.

Chili Gravy 2

About the Author

If you'd like to add an avatar to all of your comments click here!