Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce

This red chile pumpkin sauce can be used for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, or for whatever your heart desires.

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This Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce sauce combines the spicy and unique flavor of dried New Mexico red chiles with the flavor and a little bit of the texture of pumpkin purée.  Not only is this sauce just downright delicious, but it is a great solution to toning down the heat in a red chile sauce.  You get all of the flavor of a traditional New Mexico red chile sauce, but not the mouth-burning heat that can come with it, especially if you are using HOT or Extra HOT chiles.

I’ve had several inquiries as to how to make a red chile sauce “less hot” and my typical answer is to add honey, 1 tsp. at a time.  But the problem with adding honey is, if you add too much, then you end up with a sweet sauce that can ruin a good batch of enchiladas.  This red chile pumpkin sauce is definitely the solution.

The pumpkin adds a even more earthy flavor (in a good way) to a red chile sauce, but the flavor of red chile is still dominant which is the reverse of my  Spicy Pumpkin and Red Chile soup from last year. I think the biggest change is in the texture.  You can sort of see it in the pictures below.  It’s not much, but a red chile aficionado would definitely notice it.  This sauce can be used in the same way that you use a traditional red chile sauce – as an enchilada sauce, over eggs, to smother burritos and for huevos rancheros.  With the pumpkin, it’s even more nutritious, has a milder heat level, and the flavor – red chile sauce delicious!

Comparison of two types of red chile sauces

Red Chile Sauce (left) / Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce (right)


Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce

Red Chile Pumpkin sauce combines the flavor and spiciness of New Mexico red chile with the sweet creaminess of pumpkin. Use on enchiladas, burritos, whatever your heart desires. #redchile #pumpkin @mjskitchen

Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce Recipe
30 mins
30 mins
Total Time
1 hr

A nice twist on the traditional New Mexico red chile sauce. 

"*" See Kitchen Notes for more information or links to special ingredients.

Course: Condiments, Sauces & Dressings
Cuisine: New Mexico, Southwestern
Yields: 6 cups (about)
Recipe Author: MJ of MJ's Kitchen
  • 8 to 15 pods of dried red chile, washed, stems and seeds removed (amount depends on how you want the heat level of the chile) I use 8 to 10 pods of HOT.
  • 4 heaping cups of pumpkin pieces, seeded, peeled, cut into large chunks (about a 2 pound pumpkin)
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • ½ small onion (~3 ounces), coarsely chopped
  • 4 cups water (you might need more once you start blending)
  • ½ tsp. cumin seed
  • ¼ heaping tsp. coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano (Mexican oregano if you have it)
  • 1 tsp. salt or to taste
  • Juice from 1 lime
  1. Rinse the chile pods. Break into pieces discarding stems and seeds. (Use gloves!)
  2. In a large pot, add all of the ingredients, except the lime. Bring the water to a boil and reduce heat for a simmer. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until the pumpkin is fully cooked. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
  3. Add some of the ingredients with some of the water from the pot to a blender. Blend.*
  4. Continue to add the ingredients, a little at a time to the blender, with just enough water to be able to create a purée.
  5. Continue to blend the sauce until you have a smooth texture. To achieve a good sauce consistency, some additional water may be needed.
  6. Once fully blended, add the lime juice and stir to incorporate well.
  7. Reheat for about 10 minutes before using.
Kitchen Notes

The Number of Chile Pods – This is one’s personal preference for the amount of heat you want. I use 8 – 10 hot chile pods for about 2 pounds of pumpkin and get a nice spicy hot sauce. If you want a mild sauce made with hot chile, then decrease the number of chile pods to 5 to 6.   If you aren’t sure as to how much chile you need, then remove all but two of the chile pods after cooking. Purée the pumpkin, the 2 chile pods, and other ingredients. Taste. If you want it hotter, blend in more chile, one pod at a time until you get the heat level you want.

Also, if you can find medium dried chile, then you probably won't have to worry about the sauce being too hot.


Amount of Pumpkin –  A 4.5 pound pumpkin, once peeled, seeded, and chopped, yields a heaping 4 cups of pumpkin.  More pumpkin can always be added to make a milder and large batch of sauce.  Just adjust the seasoning accordingly.


Blending - Blending to a purée may take about three batches. A double blend makes an even smoother consistency. After the first blend, let sit for 10 minutes then blend again.


Storing The Sauce – These 6 cups yielded enough sauce for four single servings of red chile enchiladas and enough sauce to freeze for two more meals.  The sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days. After that, divide into containers and freeze.


This red chile pumpkin sauce can be used for enchiladas, tacos, burritos, or for whatever your heart desires.


Uses –  Use this Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce on Red Chile Enchiladas, Shiitake and Black Beans Enchiladas, Huevos Rancheros or a Southwestern Pileup.  Use as a topping on a bowl of pinto beans, black beans, or bolita beans along with chopped onion, green olives and feta cheese, or any toppings of your choice.






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51 Responses to “Red Chile Pumpkin Sauce”

  1. The Wimpy Vegetarian December 25, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    Just seeing this MJ, and it looks wonderful! I’m always looking for great spicy sauces to punch up my grains dishes, and this is perfect. Especially with the pumpkin. Pinning it right now!!

  2. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles November 24, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Oh my… this is so inventive MJ. I’ve never combined pumpkin and chile… in fact, my pumpkin recipes tend to be rather… pumpkin plain ;-). I just revisited your soup as well. Love this idea and can imagine how delicious it would be on eggs, quesadillas or tacos… endless possibilities really. The colour is just smashing too!

  3. Nami | Just One Cookbook November 23, 2013 at 1:38 am #

    Pumpkin and red chile! I love the surprise (but not so surprise in your blog! ;)) in the soup with red chile here. You’re Queen of Chile, MJ. 🙂

  4. Viviane Bauquet Farre - Food and Style November 21, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    I LOVE the color on this sauce, MJ. What a creative combination!

  5. Sissi November 21, 2013 at 5:06 am #

    It sounds so unusual! I think I have already told you that the only way I could consider eating pumpkin is with lots of heat, so this looks for me like THE dish to convert the pumpkin hater I am!

  6. Zsuzsa November 20, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Peach Lady even the color is fiery. I wish I could eat this but those days are gone. Can I just look at your beautiful pictures?

    • mj November 20, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      You can look at the pictures any time! Sorry you can’t eat spicy any more. 🙁

  7. Anne@FromMySweetHeart November 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    Oh what a beautiful recipe MJ! I think I would like that more earthy flavor (and I must admit, I’m a chile wimp….unlike my sons who love hot sauces of any kind!) But it’s good to know you could tone it down with honey. Such a vibrant color, too…having this on my eggs in the morning would certainly kick start my day! : )

    • mj November 20, 2013 at 8:36 pm #

      Thanks Anne! Oh yea – it’s great over eggs!

  8. Sanjeeta kk November 19, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

    Wow..just look at that bright orangy-red colour…and I love the texture of this spicy pumpkin sauce..I am making this and trying it out with my Spaghetti this weekend. Hugs.

    • mj November 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm #

      Thanks Sanjeeta! Please let me know how it is with spaghetti. I’ve never tossed spaghetti in a chile sauce of any kind, so I’m curious. Thanks for the suggestion!

  9. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz November 19, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    This is such a great tip and idea to tone down the heat with pumpkin. I never event thought to research such an idea. I like a touch spicy so a very practical recipe for me.

  10. Purabi Naha | Cosmopolitan Currymania November 19, 2013 at 11:26 am #

    I loved the red colour of this soup. This is such a great combination of ingredients! Looks so gorgeous and tasty!

  11. Raymund November 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    This would be good with burritos and enchiladas

  12. Vicki Bensinger November 18, 2013 at 8:15 pm #

    This sounds utterly delicious! OMG I can see trying all these recipes just to use this sauce. My family will love this. Thanks for sharing it.

    • mj November 19, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

      Thanks Vicki! We really like the red chile enchiladas with this sauce! For your family you can use the batch method I describe in the Kitchen notes.

  13. nusrat2010 November 18, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    My latest wildest fantasy: I’m in a blue dress and having that red, hot, darn sexy chile sauce with a loaf of bread that just came out of the oven 🙂

    That pumpkin sauce looks so wild! Man! Killer beauty! Best part: you infused oregano in it. Bam!

    Thanks for the recipe and breathtaking pictures.

    • mj November 19, 2013 at 9:01 pm #

      Now that’s a great fantasy! 🙂 Thanks Darlin!

  14. Giulietta | Alterkitchen November 18, 2013 at 11:18 am #

    I’d never though about a possible combination between pumpkin and red chile. How interesting! And I bet it’s a happy marriage 🙂

    • mj November 19, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      It’s a very happy marriage! 🙂 Thanks Giulia!

  15. Renee @ Tortillas and Honey November 18, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    This red chile pumpkin sauce is beautiful! I can already imagine how wonderful it tastes by your pictures. I love how creative you are with NM cuisine!

    • mj November 19, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

      Thanks so much Renee!! Like you, New Mexico cuisine is what we love, so being creative is easy. 🙂

  16. Abbe @ Abbe's Cooking Antics November 18, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    I really do love Mexican flavours but sometimes have a bit of difficulty with keeping my lips attached to my face when eating really hot, hot, hot spicy food. I am genuinely going to try this recipe on my enchiladas, thanks for this one MJ!

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:39 am #

      Thanks Abbe! I hope you do get a chance to try it. It really does work to tone down that heat!

  17. Tessa November 17, 2013 at 5:44 pm #

    Gorgeous sauce MJ! I love the addition of the pumpkin!

  18. Marta @ What Should I eat for breakfast today November 17, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    Oh a made a similar one and will never buy it again.

  19. steve manuel November 17, 2013 at 9:05 am #

    MJ, bravo again for another excellent post. thanks.

  20. cquek November 17, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    This was such a yummy post. Many thanks.

  21. Bill November 17, 2013 at 5:26 am #

    What a great idea for a holiday twist on chili sauce. My mouth is watering thinking chicken enchiladas with this sauce. Another great recipe from MJ! 🙂

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:38 am #

      Thanks Bill! This sauce is perfect for chicken enchiladas, but I can’t wait to try it with smoked turkey enchiladas. 🙂

  22. bellini November 17, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    I can feel the heat to get in to the kitchen MJ. This is a great use for pumpkin.

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:37 am #

      Thanks Bellini! I love the combination of pumpkin and red chile and this just works.

  23. Charles November 17, 2013 at 3:46 am #

    Oh my, the colour of this sauce is gorgeous.You know, seeing it all there in a bowl, so velvety and smooth, it kind of makes me want to eat it with a spoon like a soup, although I guess that might cause a few problems (burning mouth might be one of them!).

    Lovely looking sauce MJ!

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:36 am #

      Thanks Charles! It is a beautiful color isn’t? Yep, even though it was toned down a bit, it was still hot, so you definitely would have a burning mouth. 🙂

  24. Choc Chip Uru November 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

    That colour is absolutely beautiful 😀


  25. Liz November 16, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

    What a great way to tone down the heat! You are the master of all things chile!!!

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      Thanks Liz!! I don’t know if I’m a master or not, but I do work at lot with chile! 🙂

  26. Angie@Angie's Recipes November 16, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

    I love the idea of using pumpkin instead of tomatoes to make chilli sauce. Gorgeous flavours and colour!

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:35 am #

      Thanks Angie! I add tomatoes sometimes, but it’s like the honey, if you go too far, your sauce tastes like a tomato sauce. That isn’t the case with the red chile pumpkin.

  27. Debra November 16, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I have roasted pumpkin in the fridge that I have got to do something with and I still have bags of dried NM peppers. This is a great idea. Thanks again.

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:34 am #

      You are most welcome Debra! I hope you enjoyed it!

  28. Jodee Weiland November 15, 2013 at 10:11 pm #

    This sounds great, but I think I would like the red chile sauce even better! I like the idea of toning it down with pumpkin puree though. This recipe sounds delicious. I’ll have to try both!

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:33 am #

      Thanks Jodee! I actually prefer the traditional red chile sauce myself, but with the chiles I bought last year, this recipe did wonders in making it edible. They were HOT! 🙂

  29. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef November 15, 2013 at 6:11 pm #

    I’ve never tried anything like this but I’m sure I would love it. I must give it a go. 🙂

  30. Ramona November 15, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    Sounds wonderful!! I love getting the pumpkin in the sauce. 🙂

  31. john@kitchenriffs November 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    I really like this recipe! I’ve seen similar recipes with other types of squash, but I’ve never made any of them. I really must – this sounds unbelievably wonderful. Good tips on using sweet (honey) to tone down the spice. I’ve never tried it, but I wonder if adding a bit of cream might help, too. Although of course if you use too much you’ll be changing both the color and the flavor – not something one would usually want to do. Anyway, super recipe – thanks.

    • mj November 18, 2013 at 8:32 am #

      Thanks John! In reference to the honey, you’ll find a bottle of honey on the tables of just about any NM restaurant. People think it’s just for the sopaphillas, but when the chile is really hot, I’ve been know to put honey on the tortilla chips. It works instantly to kill the burn. 🙂


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