Ranchero Sauce

This ranchero sauce recipe calls for fresh ingredients like tomato, jalapeño, and onion. Spicy and bright, it's delicious on Mexican and Tex Mex dishes!

Ranchero sauce

This ranchero sauce is zesty, spicy, tangy, and fresh. It’s the star component in my homemade huevos rancheros, but this punchy sauce is good for so much more. Use it to make enchiladas or chilaquiles, or simply scoop it up with tortilla chips!

What is ranchero sauce?

Ranchero sauce is a spicy tomato-based sauce that originated in Northern Mexico.

It shares ingredients like tomatoes, chiles, and garlic with enchilada sauce and salsa roja, but some of its distinguishing features are that

  1. It contains fresh hot chiles like jalapeños.
  2. It’s always a cooked sauce, not a fresh salsa made of blended or chopped raw ingredients.

I can’t call my recipe 100% authentic, but it packs a punch of bright, spicy flavor. I think you’ll love it on Mexican and Tex Mex dishes!

Ranchero sauce recipe ingredients

Recipe Ingredients

This ranchero sauce recipe calls for simple, fresh ingredients:

  • Roma tomatoes – They create the sauce’s fresh tomato base.
  • White onion and garlic – For savory depth of flavor.
  • Jalapeño – It gives the sauce a spicy kick. Use just half a pepper or omit the jalapeño if you’re sensitive to spice. Removing the jalapeño’s seeds and membranes can help control the heat level too.
  • Chipotle pepper in adobo sauce – It adds rich, smoky flavor to the sauce.
  • Dried oregano – Any kind will do, but I especially love Mexican oregano here.
  • Vegetable broth – Make homemade vegetable broth, or use store-bought. In a pinch, sub water and season the sauce with extra salt.
  • Fresh cilantro – It adds fresh, aromatic flavor and pretty flecks of green.
  • Fresh lime juice – For brightness.
  • Cane sugar – I often skip the sugar when I make ranchero sauce with peak-season summer tomatoes. But if I make this recipe outside tomato season, my tomatoes are generally less sweet. Then, I add a pinch of sugar to balance the tangy, spicy flavors here.
  • Avocado oil – You’ll use it for cooking the veggies. Olive oil or vegetable oil works too.
  • And sea salt – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Cooked tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapenos in saucepan with spoon

How to Make Ranchero Sauce

My method for how to make ranchero sauce is easy!

Start by sautéing the onions, tomatoes, jalapeño, chipotle, garlic, oregano, and salt. Cook them in a small saucepan over medium heat until the tomatoes break down, about 10 minutes.

Next, add the vegetable broth. Simmer for another minute and remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

Then, blend the sauce. I like to use an immersion blender for this step (I love this Vitamix one), blending the mixture in a large jar or deep bowl. If you prefer, puree it in an upright blender or pulse it in a food processor.

Finally, season to taste. Add the sugar to balance the sauce if necessary. Enjoy!

Blending homemade ranchero sauce in jar

How to Use Ranchero Sauce

Wondering what to serve with ranchero sauce? You’ve got options!

How do you like to use homemade ranchero sauce? Let me know in the comments!


Store ranchero sauce in an airtight container or jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.

It also freezes well for up to 3 months. Allow to thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

Ranchero sauce recipe

More Favorite Sauces and Salsas

If you love this ranchero sauce recipe, try one of these flavorful sauces or salsas next:

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Ranchero Sauce

rate this recipe:
5 from 5 votes
Serves 4 to 6
This ranchero sauce recipe is easy to make with fresh ingredients like diced tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and garlic. Spicy and bright, it's delicious on huevos rancheros and other Tex Mex and Mexican dishes.




  • Heat the avocado oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, chipotle, garlic, oregano, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes are softened and broken down.
  • Stir in the broth and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice.
  • Transfer the sauce to a deep bowl or large jar. Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce until it is nearly smooth but still has a bit of texture. Flecks of cilantro should be visible. (Alternatively, use an upright blender or food processor for this step.)
  • Taste the sauce. If it’s sharp, add ½ teaspoon cane sugar to balance it.
  • Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Use in huevos rancheros, enchiladas, or another of the serving suggestions in the blog post above.


Yield: about 2 cups
*If you’re sensitive to spice, use just ½ jalapeño pepper and/or remove the seeds and membranes for a milder flavor.


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Whitney Lukas

    Help! I made this bc I thought it was a salsa to be served with chips or veggies for a party tonight. Do you think that’s ok??

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Whitney, yep! We love this sauce with tortilla chips.

  2. Sabrina from newkitchenlife.com

    love all of these ingredients and this sauce and even the idea of a little extra jalapeno, thank you!

  3. Nice. I want to jump into it! I also like to use ancho chile paste just for more flavors, but that’s just me!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Great suggestion, Mimi!

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Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.