If you’re a fan of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine, chances are you’ve come across ranchero sauce at some point.
This flavorful tomato and chili pepper-based sauce is a staple in many dishes, from huevos rancheros to tacos and burritos.
But what exactly is ranchero sauce, and how is it made?
In this article, we’ll dive into the origins and ingredients of this delicious sauce, as well as provide you with a few recipes to try at home.
So grab your apron and get ready to spice up your meals with some homemade ranchero sauce!
What Is Ranchero Sauce?
Ranchero sauce is a savory and smoky tomato-based sauce that’s commonly used in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. It’s made by blending together diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeños, chipotle peppers, and a variety of herbs and spices.
The sauce is known for its versatility and can be used as a condiment or a cooking ingredient. It’s often served with huevos rancheros, burritos, tacos, tostadas, eggs, or any other Mexican dish that could use a little extra kick.
Ranchero sauce has become increasingly popular in the United States due to its delicious flavor and ability to enhance any dish. You may have even tried a version of it at Taco Bell, where it’s served in small packets.
The Origins Of Ranchero Sauce
Ranchero sauce originated in the southern United States and Mexico, specifically around the border between the two countries. It was popularized by the traditional Mexican breakfast dish huevos rancheros, which features a fried egg on a tortilla with ranchero sauce poured over it.
The sauce is made by blending together a variety of ingredients, including diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeños, chipotle peppers, and herbs and spices. The combination of these ingredients creates a delicious and smoky flavor that has become a staple in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine.
The name “ranchero” comes from the Spanish word for “rancher” or “countryman,” as the sauce was originally made by ranchers and farmers in the region. It was a way to use up leftover ingredients and add flavor to their meals.
Over time, ranchero sauce has become increasingly popular throughout the United States, with many restaurants and fast food chains incorporating it into their menus. Today, it’s enjoyed by people from all walks of life and is considered a versatile and delicious condiment that can be used in a variety of dishes.
Ingredients Used In Ranchero Sauce
Ranchero sauce is a complex blend of flavors that comes from a variety of ingredients. Here are some of the key ingredients used in making this delicious sauce:
1. Tomatoes: Diced tomatoes are the base of the sauce and provide a rich, savory flavor.
2. Onions: White onions are typically used in ranchero sauce for their mild and sweet flavor.
3. Peppers: Jalapeño and chipotle peppers are used to give the sauce its signature smoky and spicy flavor.
4. Garlic: Garlic is added to provide a pungent and aromatic flavor.
5. Chicken broth: Chicken broth is used to thin out the sauce without diluting its flavor.
6. Herbs and spices: A variety of herbs and spices are added to the sauce, including kosher salt, paprika, oregano, chili powder, and lime juice. These ingredients help to balance out the flavors and give the sauce its unique taste.
7. Oil: Vegetable oil or olive oil is used to sauté the onions, garlic, and peppers before adding in the other ingredients.
While the list of ingredients may seem long, most of them are pantry staples that you likely already have on hand. The combination of these ingredients creates a delicious and versatile sauce that can be used in a variety of dishes.
How To Make Ranchero Sauce At Home
Making ranchero sauce at home is easy and requires only a few simple ingredients. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make it:
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
– 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
– 4 cloves garlic, chopped
– 16 ounce can diced tomatoes
– 1 cup chicken broth
– 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (or more as desired)
– 1 tablespoon ancho powder
– 1 tablespoon guajillo powder
– 1 tablespoon chipotle powder
– 1 teaspoon cayenne
– 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
– 1 teaspoon cumin
– Salt and pepper to taste
– Juice from 1 lime (optional)
1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the diced onion and sauté until translucent and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
2. Add the jalapeno peppers, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Stir until fragrant for about 30 seconds.
3. Add the chopped chipotle peppers and cook for another 30 seconds.
4. Add the diced tomatoes, including its juice, stir and cook until they have softened and the mixture thickens, about 5 to 6 minutes.
5. Add the chicken broth, stir and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice.
7. Transfer the mixture to a blender and blend on medium speed in 10-second intervals until you reach the desired consistency. About 30 seconds for chunky or 60 seconds for smoother texture. For a thinner sauce, add a 1/4 cup chicken broth after the first blend step. Blend for another 10 to 15 seconds. Add more as needed.
8. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to puree the tomato mixture in the pan.
9. Season with more salt to taste.
Once you’ve made your ranchero sauce at home, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze it for up to three months.
Different Variations Of Ranchero Sauce
While the basic ingredients of ranchero sauce remain the same, there are several variations of the sauce that can be made to suit different tastes and preferences. Here are a few:
1. Spicy Ranchero Sauce: For those who like their food with a little extra heat, adding more jalapeños or using hotter peppers like habaneros can give the sauce an extra kick.
2. Smoky Ranchero Sauce: To add a smoky flavor to the sauce, roasted tomatoes and peppers can be used instead of fresh ones. Additionally, smoked paprika or chipotle powder can be added to the mix.
3. Sweet Ranchero Sauce: For a sweeter version of the sauce, diced pineapple or mango can be added to the mix. This version is perfect for balancing out the spiciness of other dishes.
4. Creamy Ranchero Sauce: Adding sour cream or Greek yogurt to the sauce can give it a creamy texture and mellow out some of the spice. This version is great for topping off tacos or enchiladas.
5. Green Ranchero Sauce: Instead of using red tomatoes, green tomatillos can be used to create a tangy and slightly tart version of ranchero sauce.
These are just a few variations of ranchero sauce that can be made to suit different tastes and preferences. Feel free to experiment and find your own favorite version!
Popular Dishes That Use Ranchero Sauce
Ranchero sauce is a staple in many Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes, and it’s easy to see why. Here are some of the most popular dishes that use ranchero sauce:
1. Huevos Rancheros: This classic Mexican breakfast dish features two fried eggs served on top of a tortilla and smothered in ranchero sauce. It’s typically served with beans and rice on the side.
2. Burritos: Burritos are a popular Tex-Mex dish that can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including beans, rice, cheese, and meat. Ranchero sauce adds a delicious flavor to the filling and can also be used as a topping.
3. Tacos: Tacos are another popular Mexican dish that can be filled with a variety of ingredients, including beef, chicken, fish, or vegetables. Ranchero sauce adds a smoky flavor to the taco filling and can also be used as a topping.
4. Enchiladas: Enchiladas are a Mexican dish that features corn tortillas filled with meat or cheese and topped with sauce. Ranchero sauce is a popular choice for the topping and adds a delicious smoky flavor to the dish.
5. Nachos: Nachos are a popular Tex-Mex dish that features tortilla chips topped with cheese, beans, meat, and other toppings. Ranchero sauce adds a delicious flavor to the toppings and can also be used as a dipping sauce.
6. Meat dishes: Ranchero sauce can also be used as a marinade or cooking ingredient for meat dishes. It adds a delicious smoky flavor to grilled chicken or steak and can also be used as a topping for meatloaf.
Health Benefits Of Ranchero Sauce
Ranchero sauce not only adds flavor to your dishes, but it also comes with several health benefits. The tomatoes used in the sauce are a great source of vitamins A and C, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin, eyes, and immune system. Additionally, tomatoes contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
Jalapeños, another key ingredient in ranchero sauce, are known for their high levels of capsaicin, which gives them their spicy flavor. Capsaicin has been shown to boost metabolism and reduce inflammation in the body. It may also have pain-relieving properties.
Finally, the herbs and spices used in ranchero sauce, such as cumin and oregano, also have health benefits. Cumin has been linked to improved digestion and reduced inflammation, while oregano is high in antioxidants and has antibacterial properties.