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What Is Ranchero Sauce? ⋆ Everything You Will Want To Know ⋆

Have you recently come across Ranchero sauce? Curious as to what it is, exactly? Maybe you have just tried some, perhaps you want to learn more about it before you do. Either way, you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you are going to want to know.

So what is Ranchero Sauce? Ranchero sauce is an onion and tomato-based sauce accented with a blend of chili peppers and herbs. It’s popular in Mexican and Tex Mex cuisine, particularly around the southern U.S.-Mexico border. Due to its incredible flavor and versatility, it has swiftly expanded north across the states.

You’ve tasted ranchero sauce if you’ve ever had Huevos Rancheros!

It is that absolutely delectable crimson sauce on top.

Or, If you visited Taco Bell, you may have experienced a variant of the condiment supplied in those small sachets you can spread over your tacos.

Nevertheless, let’s discuss in more detail because something as divinely tasting as the Ranchero Sauce surely deserves more attention! 

What Is Ranchero Sauce Made Of?

Ranchero sauce is typically made of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions, garlic, cilantro, and a mixture of herbs and spices. However, there are a number of variations of this sauce. Still, they all remain true to being primarily tomato-centric.

Ranchero sauce is really simple to create, and with its rich, aromatic components, you’ll find yourself pouring it over everything for a burst of flavor.

For any fiery or spicy culinary fan, a decent ranchero sauce recipe is a requirement.

But it does range by recipe.

Whether it be the ingredients used or their quantity – no two ranchero sauces are exactly the same.

So I would like to introduce you to a couple of different recipes to give you an idea of the range commonly used.

Ranchero Recipe 1

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, 2 Chopped Tomatoes, 4 Chopped Cloves Of Garlic, 1 Onion, Jalapenos (As Per Your Spice Tolerance), Chipotle Peppers (As Per Your Spice Tolerance), 1 Cup Chicken Stock, Herbs And Spices (Salt And Paprika As Per Your Taste And One Tablespoon Of Dried Mexican/Standard Dried Oregano), 1/4 Cup Of Cilantro And Lime Juice

Olive oil isn’t absolutely necessary; you can use any other vegetable oil too.

When deciding between the dried Mexican oregano and standard dried oregano, it is best to go with Mexican (if possible) since it will give the sauce an excellent, traditional Mexican taste.

Ranchero Recipe 2

Let’s also look at a slightly different recipe.

It has almost the same ingredients but plays a little with its quantities.

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, 1/2 Large White Onion – Diced, 3 Plum Tomatoes – Diced, 1 Jalapeno – Diced, 1 Chipotle Pepper In Adobo Sauce – Chopped, 1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic (About 2 Cloves), 1/4 Teaspoon Coarse Kosher Salt, 1/2 Teaspoon Paprika, 1/2 Teaspoon Dried Oregano, 1/2 Cup Chicken Stock (Or Water), 1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro, 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice (About The Juice Of 1 Lime)

Garlic and onions, when sauteed with tomatoes and jalapenos, are used to create a well-rounded flavor.

The first recipe (listed above) calls for 4 cloves of garlic, while the second here says 2 cloves of minced garlic.

In the end, it is about your preference and love for garlic.

Ranchero Recipe 3

Another well-known variation for the ranchero sauce is:

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil, 1 Medium Yellow Onion – Chopped, 2 Jalapeno Peppers – Chopped, 4 Cloves Garlic – Chopped, 16 Ounces 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

This variation skips cilantro and lime juice.

Cilantro brightens the blend and provides a hint of zest to balance out the chipotle’s harshness, but it is not a core ingredient.

Taco Bell Ranchero Sauce

Wondering how Taco bell’s recipe stacks up against or compares?

Well the full ingredient list of their version, is as follows

Soybean Oil, Water, Whey (From Milk), Vinegar, Buttermilk, Salt, Egg Yolks, Sugar, Contains Less Than 2% Of Spice, Tomato, Modified Food Starch, Garlic, Garlic Juice, Onions*, Xanthan Gum, Citric Acid, Yeast Extract, Phosphoric Acid, Gum Arabic, Corn Syrup, Disodium Inosinate And Disodium Guanylate, Natural Flavor, Artificial Color, With Sorbic Acid And Calcium Disodium Edta As Preservatives

So as you can see, it’s actually very different.

Tomato is not a leading ingredient like in traditional recipes!

It’s got more of a mayonnaise-like quality too, primarily through the inclusion of soybean oil and egg yolks.

How Is Ranchero Sauce Made?

Traditional Ranchero sauce is simple to prepare, taking only approximately 10 minutes to make from beginning to end.

In a saucepan, oil is added at a moderate flame.

Then go in all the peppers, jalapenos, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and spices. They are then sautéed for 10 minutes.

The seeds may then be removed from the Jalapenos if a lighter sauce is required. Otherwise, they are kept in for increased spiciness.

Once the tomatoes and onions have simmered down and the liquid in the veggies has evaporated, chicken stock or water is then poured in.

Chicken stock is often preferred for enhanced flavor.

Next, the sauce is then removed from the stove where cilantro and lime juice are stirred in until well combined.

The sauce is then blended in a processor/blender to reach either a chunky/smoother consistency (depending on the recipe).

Then it is down to taste testing for spiciness and flavor. It’s all about understanding each ingredient’s role here.

Adjustments are then made according to taste preferences.

What Does Ranchero Sauce Taste Like?

Ranchero sauce has a smoky flavor with lasting spice that comes from fire-roasted tomatoes and dried chipotle peppers. Sauteing the ingredients intensifies the flavor of the dry spices while combining the sweet and savory flavors.

Ranchero Sauce is the must-have sauce to elevate any dish you are having, especially if it’s Mexican.

It tastes like and is often confused with enchilada or salsa sauce. But they are quite different.

Keep reading, there is more on that later!

What To Eat Ranchero Sauce With?

Ranchero sauce is most commonly served with Huevos Rancheros. Still, there is so much more to it. It also tastes delicious on enchiladas and other Mexican or Tex Mex meals such as Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas, Steak Fajitas, Carne Asada, or even homemade Tortilla Chips.

Spread it over tacos and burritos, or pour it over platters of stacked nachos.

Contrary to what many people think, you don’t have to restrict yourself to Mexican food.

Add some to a ground beef combination or chicken to make spicy ranchero burgers. Also, try it out with shrimps!

How many of you have thought about having Ranchero Sauce with Eggs Benedict?

It is an under-rated, unknown, or perhaps secret pair that you must try. You can call it Eggs Benedict with a Mexican twist!

Ranchero sauce is often not vegan since it contains chicken stock. So, if you’re eating at a restaurant, make sure you inquire if the food is vegan.

However, if vegetable broth is used instead of chicken broth, it may simply be converted vegan.

What Is Similar To Ranchero Sauce?

Ranchero sauce is similar to enchilada sauce, salsa and, to some extent, tomatillo sauce. While both ranchero and enchilada sauces appear to have similar visual characteristics and deep red colors, their tastes are vastly different. The most significant distinction is in the spice preferences.

Enchilada Sauce

Although enchilada sauce resembles ranchero sauce, they are not the same.

You should expect a muted tomato taste because of the more prominent chili powder presence in enchilada sauce.

Chili powder, together with garlic and onion, is cooked in a broth to create a unique yet mild flavor.

Enchilada can also be made without tomatoes.

Even if tomatoes are used, they are not the center of attention, unlike in ranchero Sauce.

Many people believe that the two sauces can be exchanged for one another.

The ranchero sauce is preferable for folks who enjoy an intense burn with each bite.

The chilies’ heat is palpable. Enchilada sauce should be your preference if you like a moderate flavor.

The onion and garlic are well-balanced, which adds to the pleasure.


The next most common confusion is between a ranchero sauce and salsa.

Ranchero sauce is typically seen as a cooking or serving sauce to pour over completed/cooked foods.

Still, it can also be served as a salsa.

Because salsas are often chunkier, you may forgo the step of blending your ranchero sauce and serve it chunky instead.


You may also find some similarities between ranchero and tomatillo sauce.

Tomatillo sauce is prepared from the tomatillo tomato, distinguished by its green hue.

The tomatillo, known for its moderate acidity, pairs well with onion, jalapenos, lime, and cilantro – all of the same ingredients used in a ranchero sauce.

Tomatillo sauce is a tad hotter on the spice scale, whether served hot on a burrito or as a side dish with chips.


Now that you know all about ranchero sauce, it’s time to try out the recipe and take your taste buds for a ride!

Remember that there is no fixed recipe – just a list of ingredients that blended together can elevate the taste of your cuisine.

You are free to experiment and tweak the recipe as per your liking and spice endurance levels.

Related Questions

What Is The Difference Between Ranchero Sauce And Enchilada Sauce?

Ranchero is a tomato-based sauce, whereas enchilada sauce does not usually contain any tomatoes at all. If it does, they are used in limited quantities. Ranchero is also generally spicier, and more flavorful.

What Is The Difference Between Ranchero Sauce And Salsa?

The main differences between Ranchero sauce and salsa are how they are used, eaten, and their consistency. Ranchero is often used in cooking or drizzled over food. Whereas salsa is chunkier and often served as a side or as a dip.

Want to learn more about Mexican sauces? Then my other guides may be of interest: