Dried Chilies + Pork Tacos = Really Good Eats {Tacos de Barbacoa}

One ingredient that I have come to love and use often in my cooking is dried chilies.  There are a wide variety of dried chilies available.  The dried chilies I use most are Ancho, Guajillo and Arbol chilies.

Cooking with dried chilies is not difficult at all.  The chilies are either re-hydrated in boiling water or broth, fried in oil or toasted on a comal.  I do recommend rinsing the dried chilies before using them to remove any dust, and removing the stems and seeds before pureeing in a blender.

The first chile I'm going to tell you about is Chile Ancho.  It's a very flavorful (not too spicy) chile used in Mole, Pozole and Enchilada Sauce

Chile Ancho

Next is the chile guajillo.  In Mexico, the chile guajillo is known to "pinta, pero no pica."  (It adds color, not heat/spice.)  The use of chile guajillo in sauces made with chile ancho give sauces and soups a richer color.

Chile Guajillo
Last, but definitely not least, is the chile de arbol.  This is one spicy little chile.  When I started cooking with chile de arbol, I would only add one chile, because I had zero tolerance for the heat.  But after 16 years of
cooking with chile de arbol, I am finally at a point that I can now use 2 chilies!  Kidding!  I can add a handful of chilies to whatever it is I'm making and not burn my tongue off.  Chile de arbol is used in salsas like Chile de Molcajete

Chile de Arbol de Yahualica (The BEST chile de arbol in the world!)

Now that I've told you about my favorite dried chilies, let's get to cooking.  One of the foods I remember most about my summers and holidays spent in San Luis, Sonora are the tacos.  They were deep-fried tacos  made with shredded pork or beef and had some kind of chile sauce or adobo.  I was young and didn't pay much attention to the actual name.  But I never forgot those tacos.  Whenever we would visit other states in Mexico, I would look for my favorite kind of taco, but never found it.

It wasn't until Hubby and I moved to Mexico, that I found a taco that tasted just like the ones I ate when I was a kid.  A vendor who specializes in Tortas Ahogadas, also offers what he calls Tacos de BarbacoaBarbacoa is a complicated process of slow-roasting the meat - beef, pork or sheep - in a special oven or a hole dug in the ground.

But I'm not going to make you work that hard for a delicious taco.  This is a great recipe to use up any leftover roast.

Easy Tacos de Barbacoa


  • 3 Guajillo chilies
  • 4 Ancho chilies
  • 2-1/2 cups water
  • 3 cups shredded pork or beef
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Vegetable Oil (for frying)
  • Onion slices
  • Lime wedges

In a medium saucepan, bring the dried chilies and water to a boil over medium heat.  Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover and let cool slightly. 

Remove the stems and seeds from the chilies.  Puree the chilies and the cooking water they in a blender until smooth.  Pour into a medium bowl or saucepan; season with salt.  Set aside.

Heat dozen (or more) corn tortillas slightly on a comal or griddle, just until they are soft and pliable.  Fill each tortilla with 3 to 4 tablespoons of shredded meat.  Fold the tortillas in half; set aside.

Heat 2 cups of oil in a large skillet.  Dip each taco in the chile puree.

Carefully, place the tacos in the hot oil.  Let fry 1 to minutes per side, until the tacos are crisp.  Transfer the tacos to a paper towel lined plate to remove any excess oil.

Garnish the tacos with onion slices and lime wedges.  (Place the onion inside the taco and squeeze fresh lime juice over the meat and onion.)  Serve with Refried Beans and Sopa de Arroz (Mexican Rice).




  1. That is looking delicious. I've got so much chili growing outside, I don't know what to do with it any more. I am going to make this tomorrow. I've got all the makings and I have to admit, I haven't made tacos that are dipped in the sauce and then fried like this, at least I don't remember. Yummo and thx Leslie.

  2. Chili is amazingly good. Love the pictures I hope to make this soon!

  3. OMG - I can see why you love these, the sauce is wonderful... and those tacos look fab

  4. yummy, I will try it this weekend. I am all out of Guajillo chiles, so I will get more tomorrow while I am at one of the local hispanic catering grocery stores.

  5. You weren't kidding about these being good eats! I so wish I had about 4 of these right now. oh my gosh, these look good!

  6. finally some amazing real mexican food; thanks Leslie

  7. OH MY GOOOOOODNESS! I had these in Mexico! My husband's tia made them and they were sooooooooooo GOOD! I had no idea how she did it though. Imagine the look of shock on my husband's face if I were to make these. I just might do it!

  8. i just happen to come accross your website. I love these traditional recipe's you have shared with us all. Please keep them coming. I am adding you to my favorite sites. Your recipes remind me of the traditional foods my grandparent used to make.

  9. Thank you so much for your recipes! they are great and very handful to try different dishes!

  10. great recipe but FYI barbacoa is not any type of of meat its beef cheek meat...

  11. Review:

    I actually made this instead of just sitting around commenting on how "delicious" recipe looks. Let me tell you this recipe sucked. The chile did nothing for tacos. So embarrassing to have served this to my husband after he got home from a long day of work.

    They might have been good with lettuce, sour cream, and some type of grated Mexican cheese,and even some avocado would have helped. But, as the recipe stands these were plain and not good at all. The onions and lemon do not suffice.

    Based on your recipe, I give this (1) star.

    1. Unknown:
      Thank you so much for your honesty and the review. I apologize that the recipe wasn't to your liking or what you were expecting.

  12. Ok so I too made this recipe last night and it was delicious!!! Even my son ( who is a very picky eater) LOVED it!!! I've tried a few of these recipes and they are all delicious!!! Maybe if yours didn't come out as good, you should spend more time practicing your cooking instead of being rude! #justsaying

    Thank you for sharing all your wonderful recipes Leslie

  13. definately going to have to try this one! que delicioso se ve.

  14. Just made this recipe today and I love it. But I added a couple of seasoning of my own. A tsp of cumin and a piece of garlic to the sauce. Then cabbage and lime for the topping because my husband doesn't like onions. It tasted wonderful!