Ancho is a type of chili that you will need to cook a lot of Southwestern and Mexican dishes. It is a wide, dried pepper and can be purchased whole or in its ground form. It is commonly bought in bags or shakers, ready for use on your dinner table.
The ancho chile is a dried version of poblano peppers, native to Mexico. Poblano peppers are harvested before they have ripened, meaning they are green. They ripen after being picked and change color to a deep red.
If the poblano peppers are left to ripen further then they can turn brown. This is the fully ripe version of the chile and is called a mulato chile.
The flavor of ancho chiles is mild and fairly sweet. Some people say that the flavor has chocolatey notes too. The sweetness of the chili comes from the ripeness. They are easy to procure all year round and are not seasonal produce.
1. White bean chili with corn chip crunch
This is a simple recipe, elevated with the addition of crispy corn chips. They add texture and saltiness to the dish and make eating more interesting.
This dish can be left in a slow cooker to cook down over 8 hours. This makes it the perfect midweek dinner.
2. Ancho chili and peanut mole with quick tortillas
This mole sauce is indulgent and rich, perfect for topping roasted vegetables with. I recommend using new potatoes, banana shallots, corn, and butternut squash to fill your tortillas.
Serve with some fresh coriander and freshly squeezed lime juice.
3. Smoky ancho chile sauce pinto bean soup with Orecchiette pasta
This soup is made into a filling meal with the addition of Orecchiette pasta. This is also known as little ear pasta and is the perfect style to use for this dish.
The rounded shape allows the pasta to cup and cradle your deliciously rich and indulgent mole sauce.
4. Ancho glazed chicken
This recipe calls for the chicken to be marinated in an ancho chile paste overnight. This allows the flavors to permeate deeply into the meat, making it moist and flavorful.
I advise serving them on top of a fresh corn salsa and rice.
5. Angel hair pasta with ancho paste
This is a super simple dinner recipe that can be made in next to no time. The pasta can be bulked out with the addition of some chicken breast.
I advise topping it with parmesan cheese and avocado slices to balance out the heat.
6. Tex-Mex ancho chile gravy enchiladas
Enchiladas are a classic Mexican dish, and this recipe is something special. The recipe is just for the gravy to top the enchiladas before cooking. I suggest filling them with a mixture of chicken, beans, and vegetables.
7. Red chili and honey-glazed turkey with ancho pan gravy
The gravy this recipe produces is somewhat reminiscent of mole poblano, a classic Mexican sauce.
It is enriched with the addition of some semi-sweet chocolate to enhance the chocolatey undertones of the ancho chiles. This marries perfectly with the sweet and moist turkey meat.
8. Achiote butter-basted turkey with ancho chili gravy
Achiote paste is a spiced vinegar sauce with an earthy flavor. When you combine this with creamy butter to baste the turkey you produce insanely rich and moist meat.
The spiced gravy gives this dish a roast-like quality but leveled up a few notches.
9. Sticky ancho-roasted chicken thighs with rosemary and ginger
This recipe combines many different flavors to create a unique twist on a chicken thigh. The meat becomes sweet and sticky, with deeply penetrating flavors. It is a very simple dish to cook and will likely take under an hour and a half to make.
10. Chicken mole with coriander rice
Mole is a classic South American stew, similar to a chili con carne. This recipe is sweet, rich, and spicy. The dish incorporates ancho chiles, chocolate, and ground nuts to give a rounded flavor profile.
11. Fish tacos with ancho dressing
This recipe is the perfect summertime dinner. The light fish marries beautifully with the spicy ancho-chile dressing.
The contrasting textures of the soft fish, the fresh and juicy tomato salsa, and the crunchy coleslaw make this dish a treat for the senses.
12. Roast salmon with ancho chili-ginger sauce
There are a lot of strong flavors in this dish but they balance each other out perfectly. I like to serve this on top of a roasted vegetable couscous.
This is a great meal for using up leftover produce in the fridge, as any vegetable will work.
13. Shrimp with ancho butter sauce
This is a very saucy dish and is ideal to serve with crusty bread to mop up the liquid. You will need to make the ancho paste yourself, but this is very simple. The sauce is enriched with butter before the shrimp are added.
14. Grilled fish with ancho-tamarind sauce and eggplant
This recipe calls for fresh tamarind pods which you are most likely to find in Asian food stores. The fish will need to be marinated in this sauce for at least an hour, but ideally overnight for the best results.
15. Lemon sole with chipotle and ancho chili recado
Unlike many of the other dishes on this list, this is a fairly dry meal. The fish is rubbed in a dry marinade and grilled. It is perfect served with an avocado and tomato salad to add a burst of freshness and some moisture.
16. Fish kofta in ancho chili and tomato sauce
This recipe is for fish meatballs. They are unorthodox, but once you have tried them you’ll never go back. This recipe has a decent kick to it, so I recommend serving with full-fat yogurt and rice to neutralize the spice.
17. Creamy lentils spiced with ancho
This is a simple recipe to follow and it is full of nutrition to boot. It is super flavorful and filling. It’s perfect served with quinoa or brown rice for a healthy weeknight dinner.
The recipe is soy, gluten, dairy, egg, and meat-free. It can also be adapted to be nut and oil-free.
18. Oil-free vegan chile bean chili
This chili is bursting with flavor from the ancho chiles and fresh red peppers. I love topping it with diced onions, chopped avocado, lime wedges, and cilantro.
If you have a lot of time, I recommend making a fresh salsa fresca to complete the dish. Serve it with some tortilla chips for dipping.
19. Mexican winter squash soup
This soup combines apples, pepitas, onions, and winter squash to make a creamy and comforting bowl of happiness. It only takes an hour from start to finish, and you will fall in love with the rich orange color.
The main flavor is from a hearty pepitas and ancho chile paste which provides a warming kick.
20. Smokey lentils with harissa roast cauliflower and aubergine
There’s something undeniably satisfying about the combination of lentils and roasted cauliflower. This dish is packed with nutrition and fiber and makes the perfect comforting fall dinner.
It is served with a fresh cabbage salad to give the dish a crunchy textural element. It is great topped with some coconut yogurt for creaminess and to counteract the spice.
21. Tostaditos with black beans and soyrizo
Tostaditos are small, flat tortillas that have been toasted or deep-fried. They are then topped with a homemade soyrizo, black beans, and tomatillo salsa.
Soyrizo is made of tofu and textured vegetable protein with seasoning. These mini, crispy tortillas are delicious and satiating.
22. PETA barbeque sandwiches
This recipe from PETA involves making your own seitan (a vegan meat substitute made from vital wheat gluten). If you do not want to do this, you can substitute for a pre-prepared protein source.
Thick slices of tofu would also work well here. The protein is topped with ancho chile paste and barbeque sauce before being loaded into a sandwich and enjoyed.
23. Chile cumin Idaho potato vegan taco salad
This potato salad is a modern twist on a classic dish. Miniature potatoes are air-fried or roasted until mostly cooked.
They are then tossed through a seasoned sauce and baked in the oven until very crispy. I love serving this on top of salad leaves with an ancho vinaigrette.
24. Pinto posole
Posole is a one-pot Mexican stew traditionally made with pork. This vegan version uses canned beans as a protein source. Posole is typically served on New Year, Christmas, and other celebratory occasions.
You can easily adjust the spice level by changing the quantities of chile peppers in the soup. Load it up with as many veggies as you like.
25. Cashew crema and ancho chile elotes
Elotes are a staple Mexican street food that is truly divine. It is very popular across the United States and traditionally is coated in crumbled cotija cheese and sour cream.
This vegan version uses cashews in place of the dairy, making a rich and creamy snack. The elotes are then sprinkled with chili powder and a large squeeze of lime juice.