Magic Ancho Chile Relish Recipe

This chile relish has been a staple this summer. it brings the fast magic - adding depth, raisiny-chile flavor, color, and dimension to all sorts of simple preparations. I'll list off a number of my favorites here.

Magic Ancho Chile Relish

I have a couple of announcements before we dive into today's recipe. First! It feels a bit surreal, but there are only two weeks until Near & Far is released. And, related to the release, there are a number of events in the works. The first will be held on my home turf at CAMINO on 9/17 - there are a handful of seats left (and already so many of my favorite people in one room!) - can't wait to celebrate with each of you! For a full (evolving) list of events & signings you can check this page. On the recipe front, this chile relish has been a staple this summer. It's the sort of thing you can grab to slather on all sorts of simple, quick preparations to add a bit of magic and flavor. It adds depth, raisiny-chile flavor, color, and dimension. You can serve it as written, or separate the chile from the chile oil to serve. I'll list all the ways I've used it down below. Enjoy!

Magic Ancho Chile RelishMagic Ancho Chile RelishMagic Ancho Chile Relish

- Breakfast taco: I do something like the five-minute breakfast taco I wrote about on this page, but finished with a hit of the chile relish.

- Special beans: Heat a splash of olive oil in a saucepan, toss in a big handful of shredded kale, saute, stir in some cooked beans (I've been using Santa Maria Pinquito beans all week), and finish by stirring in a big dollop of the chile relish.

- Nori wrap: Had this for dinner last night. Spread some coconut brown rice across a sheet of nori, top with some cooked beans, add sliced avocado, some of the chile relish, and some crispy fried shallots, or toasted almonds (something crunchy).

- Tempeh: Steam some tempeh, and while that is happening, combine a big dollop of the chile relish with a with a splash of shoyu to slather on the tempeh. This was easy & tasty!

- Chile Creme Fraiche - simply swirl chile relish lazily into a small bowl of creme fraiche to use as a condiment or accent.

- And this is how I like to do beans & rice.

Hope this provides some inspiration. If you make the relish, let me know what you do with it - either in the comments, or tag it on Instagram (@heidijswanson or #101cookbooks) so I don't miss it. xo h

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Magic Ancho Chile Relish

Look for ancho chiles that are raisin-like and pliable in texture. I used to make a variation of this for this Rick Bayless soup, and now make it with a range of chiles, and in larger quantities.

12 medium dried ancho, guajillo, or pasilla chiles, stemmed & seeded (you can also do a blend of 2 or 3 of the chiles, if you like)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water

1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

3/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt, plus more to taste

Cut the chiles into confetti-shaped flecks using scissors or a sharp knife. Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chiles and stir for a minute, until fragrant, then remove from the heat. Add the vinegar, the water, oregano, and salt. Set aside and let stand for at least 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste, and adjust with more salt if needed. You can also adjust with a bit more vinegar if you like more bite, or more olive oil to round out the flavors a bit. I often top off the chile relish with a splash of olive oil to extend the amount.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

Prep time: 15 minutes - Cook time: 5 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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This is so amazing! I love it. We devoured it and I can’t stop craving it. We put it in a bowl with beans, quinoa and cooked greens. We added some roasted veg and a little yogurt on top. Delicious! I’m making it again and will add it to soup, and do another veg bowl as well. Tacos maybe too….. Thank you! I’ve been cooking from your site and cookbooks for years. My Sunday morning ritual is to open your page and make my shopping list. Can’t wait to get the new book!


Made this for the second time tonight, using dried NM chiles and it is so good. I keep in fridge and use on just about anything I want to spice up…even in tuna fish tostadas. It is so inexpensive to make too.


Not to question your genius in any way, but 1/4 cup of vinegar? Seems like too much liquid. 🙂

HS: Hi Susan, did you give it a go? It’s actually quite a lot of chile.


I made the relish on Sunday and it is fantastic. It is also easy to make. I loved it over beans.
Thank you for all the great recipes.

Jennifer S.

I had some of the leftover mixture from the Fava Bean and Mint Soup mentioned, so I used it in the Kale & Quinoa bites. I’ve also used the spice mixture for your Saag Paneer recipe in the Kale & Quinoa bites (great snack to bring to work). I have a plethora of dried chiles, so this is a perfect way to have them more accessible to add-in to recipes. It looks delicious. I am very excited for you new cookbook to come out. It is a welcomed addition to my growing collection. Wishing you continued success.


I love this idea, so versatile! I think I will use it in a sauce for my burrito bowl! Congrats on the book! x


Love the recipe! It would be great on burgers, tacos, and simply on some sandwiches. Nice!

Find My Rice

Oh wow this ancho chile relish looks delish! Thanks for sharing.


I can’t eat chiles any more but really enjoyed looking at and reading your beautiful recipe, vicariously! (also just realised I had always spelled chile chilli, and as chillies… oh dear) 🙂

Susannah (Lemon and Coconut)

My BF and I loved this! So easy too.
So far its been on:
Tacos, homemade baked beans, mixed into mayo, on a grilled cheese sandwich, mixed through pasta and the oil used as a sourdough dipper. I also ate it straight from the spoon 🙂

Bec C

@sangeeta khanna — yes this is so much like Indian chutneys, particularly tamarind, and I can imagine it gives you a mild wallop of chile heat and flavor, but being used in the same way tamarind has been used for centuries. Recently I’m putting tamarind on everything Heidi mentioned – eggs, soft tacos, potatoes, soups, drizzled onto the yogurt which tops the warm Pita sandwich you just stuffed with eggplant or ground turkey or moong dahl. There is no end to this sauce.


I am making this right now, Sep 3 evening, as autumn creeps in — LOVE the idea of the mild flavorful chile heat combined with a “raisiny” sweet depth and cider vinegar tang — a bit like tamarind sauce which I’ve been using on everything. Thank you heidi!! I know this gonna be good! :))


Lovely, must try this one. What’s the difference between Mexican and regular oregano? Don’t think I can get the Mexican stuff here in Sweden. Look forward to the cookbook, congratulations!


Yaay for your book release! You always make the most thoughtful but also approachable sauces. This almost looks like a homemade version of chipotles in adobo, which I love and stock up on when I’m home in the US. I especially like your idea to drizzle this over steamed tempeh.

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

This was so tasty – I had to stop myself from eating out of the jar. I used half ancho and half pasilla peppers, which was a great combo. Thank you so much for this recipe and all of your others – they have truly improved my cooking. I can’t wait for Near & Far!


I love how simple it is to make!
I am also going to try the soup. I have a ton of dried fava beans in my freezer right now and wasn’t sure what to do with them. thanks!!

Gluten Free Babe

Looks amazing. I am wondering how long it lasts. I assume it must be refrigerated. Must you continue to top off with oil as you use it? And is a glass jar okay for storage? Thanks


Congratulations on your upcoming book release! And I bet this relish would be delicious poured over freshly-made hummus and eaten with pita 🙂

Sarah | Well and Full

Can I use regular oregano? Curious to know the difference from Mexican oregano.


This sounds amazing. Any idea how long this will keep in the fridge or can it be canned/preserved?
Yum – can’t wait to try this.


I have a bag of Rancho Gordo ancho chiles that I bought the last time I was in SF. This is the perfect way to finish them off! I’m going to be in Santa Rosa next week, what a bummer that I will miss your dinner party. So excited for your new book!


I love all of these ideas, I’m going to have to try out a batch of this soon. And congrats on the upcoming book drop – so exciting!

Sarah from Soymilk + Honey

The little, family-owned ethnic market I shop at sells these chilis in huge bags, which I found a bit intimidating as I didn’t know how to use them all up. This recipe is giving me plenty of ideas, so I will fear the big bag no more! Thanks!

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth

My husband and I love beans and kale together, and I usually add a good pinch of red pepper flakes to them. This looks like it would be even better. I can’t wait for your cookbook!


All your suggestions about how to use this chile relish sound delicious. I need to get my hands on some chilies to make this, I would love to use this on top of some goat cheese pizza or something. I know you hear this a lot, but stil – amazing blog!


I love this condiment. I have a whole mess of guajillo chilies as well as ancho. I can totally see adding this to my breakfast tacos. Thank you for the idea! I also have a can of chipotle chilles that might work with this too… what do you think?

HS: Hi Jason – I think I’d go with a based of all dried chiles BUT, stirring in a bit of chopped canned chipotle or the adobo sauce might add a nice finishing flavor. Something along those lines!

Jason Sandeman

Good luck on the book release, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing! And as for this Magic Ancho Chile Relish, it really does magic to your dish – color, flavour and all!

Jennifer @ Delicious Everyday

Love the idea of chile creme fraiche. We make a variety of chile relishes and use them with yogurt a lot, even with mashed potatoes. Trying this one for sure and definitely with creme fraiche 🙂

sangeeta khanna

I put a espresso spoon ful of the chili in a half an avacado where the pit was and broke into the hole a fresh egg then bake in a 350degree oven till egg was set but still a soft yolk. I loved your ideas always. I have been a chef here in San Francisco for 34 years and really you are so fresh and wonderful to follow. Thank you

David Bowers

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