Ancho Chile Sauce

Ancho Chile Sauce makes a great chicken marinade or sauce. Quick and easy to make, this sauce is perfect for a weeknight dinner or weekend BBQ.

Ancho Chile Chicken with onions and a bowl of Ancho chile sauce

This is one of our favourite sauces to have on hand to make a quick dinner. We make double and triple batches of this sauce and store it for later use. This sauce is great as a topping for nachos, tacos, enchiladas, and more. Use it as a marinade or cooking sauce for chicken or beef. Or use it in place of BBQ sauce.


Ingredients For Ancho Chile Sauce

This sauce has a tomato base and contains a few spices and herbs on top of the ancho chilis.

  • Ancho Chilis. These chilis are dried poblano chilis. These chilis have a smoky flavour to them. They can be purchased in a package at specialty stores. We purchase them at a local Latin Market. They can also be found on Amazon.
  • Canned crushed tomatoes. This provides the base of the sauce.
  • White onion.
  • Garlic.
  • Lime Juice. This is an acid that helps balance out the flavour and heat of the chilis.
  • Cumin, Chili powder, red pepper flakes are used as the spices.
  • Mexican Oregano. It has a different flavour profile than regular oregano. There is a bit of citrus and an almost anise flavour to this oregano. Regular oregano can be used as well.
  • Salt and White Pepper. Kosher salt works best. And the white pepper adds earthiness to the sauce without the pungent flavour of black pepper.

How To Prepare Ancho Chiles To Use in Sauce

Before using Ancho chiles, they have to be rehydrated. This means first removing the stems and seeds. Then the pepper is soaked in hot water for 15 to 20 minutes before adding to any dishes.

Uses For Ancho Chile Sauce

Ancho Tomato Sauce can be used in a number of ways. The sauce makes a great marinade or topping. It can be served hot or cold.

  • Marinade chicken thighs in this sauce for 1 hour or overnight. Grill or bake the chicken and serve with additional sauce that has been heated.
  • Mix a few tablespoons into a meatloaf, and add more sauce over the top before baking.
  • Drizzle over nachos or on tacos
  • Use as an Enchilada sauce
  • Add this sauce to rice with pepper and onions to make a side dish or to use in burritos
  • Top your burgers with this sauce
  • Dip cheese sticks in this sauce in place of marinara

Can This Ancho Chili Sauce Be Canned?

Yes, this sauce can be canned and stored at room temperature for up to one year.

To can this sauce it will need to be cooked on medium for 10 minutes before pouring into sterilized Mason Jars. Then process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Remove jars from the boiling water and allow them to cool completely at room temperature, listening for the lids to pop to make sure they are tightly sealed.

For step-by-step instructions on canning, check out Bernardin’s website and follow the high-acid food guide for canning.

Ancho Chile Chicken with onions and a bowl of Ancho chile sauce

Ancho Chile Sauce

Use as a marinade or sauce for chicken
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Marinade, Sauces


  • Blender


  • 1 Ancho Chile, large
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes, 796 ml
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • ½ Tbsp Red Chili Flakes
  • ½ Tbsp Mexican oregano
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher salt
  • ½ Tbsp white pepper


  • Remove seeds and stem from the chile
  • Rehydrate the ancho chile in hot water for 15-20 minutes
  • Place all ingredients in blender.
  • Blend on Puree or Smoothie setting for 1 min or until fully blended and smooth
  • Store in mason jars in the fridge.
Keyword Sauce


  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe! I used it as a marinade and a sauce. I had a bag of dried ancho chili in the cupboard wondering what to do with them. This was the perfect sauce to make

  2. 5 stars
    So easy to make and it was delicious! We had it on top of burgers last night and I want to try it on top of tacos next time I make them too, I bet it will be delicious on tacos.

  3. 5 stars
    I love the smokey heat of ancho chilies! They’re delicious in this BBQ sauce and I was glad to make my own… so much better than store bought and much less sugar too.

  4. 5 stars
    I adore ancho chilies, and I love working with them. I even dried my own last summer! So it’s great to have a simple-yet-flavourful go-to sauce like this to work with. Very glad that it’s not overloaded with sugar either – way too many chili-based sauces lean heavily into the sweetness.

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