Spicy, flavorful, and hearty, this traditional Mexican dish is ideal for breakfast, brunch, or dinner
The name translates as “Eggs Rancher’s Style.” It probably originated as a rib-sticking breakfast for ranch hands who needed to fuel up for a day of heavy labor.
We’re not cowboys, so we tend to serve Huevos Rancheros for brunch or dinner.
But anytime you eat this, you’ll want to say yippee-ki-yay.
Recipe: Huevos Rancheros
This dish has many variations – pretty much a different one for every cook. But some ingredients are almost always present.
The usual constants are eggs (fried sunny side up is the norm, but any style you like is fine), corn tortillas (though some cooks prefer wheat ones), and a spicy sauce (we like the texture and flavor of Homemade Salsa or Picante Sauce, but almost any chile-flavored Mexican sauce works). We often add beans of some sort (refried are classic). And we top it off with chopped cilantro, slices of jalapeño, and sometimes crumbled or grated cheese (Cotija is our favorite, but cheddar, fresco, and feta are also good).
From start to finish, this dish takes about 15-20 minutes to make. Much of the time involves assembling the components and warming up already-prepared ingredients like salsa and beans.
This recipe yields 1 serving. It’s easy to scale up for 2, 3, or a crowd.
- 2 corn tortillas (Homemade are wonderful, but store bought are fine)
- ~½ cup refried beans (or other Mexican-style beans; see Notes)
- ~½ cup salsa or picante sauce (may substitute another chile-based sauce)
- ~1 teaspoon lard, butter, bacon grease, or cooking oil (or to taste)
- 2 eggs (or just 1 per serving if you prefer)
- garnish of chopped cilantro, jalapeño slices, and/or crumbled Cotija cheese
- Warm the tortillas. We prefer to warm tortillas in a microwave: Sprinkle some water on a kitchen towel, wrap the tortillas in it, and heat them in the microwave for a couple of minutes until they’re warm and supple (time depends on the power of the microwave). Or you can warm the tortillas briefly on a griddle or in a frying pan (use a little oil to keep them from sticking). Once the tortillas are warm, set them aside.
- Meanwhile, warm the refried beans and the salsa (or other sauce). You can put these in separate saucepans and warm them on the stove (it’ll take a couple of minutes; we usually add a touch of water to the beans before placing them on the stove to thin them a bit). Or you can microwave the beans and salsa. Once they’re warm, set the beans and salsa aside.
- Next, heat the fat in a small frying pan, crack the eggs into the pan, and cook the eggs until done – this takes just a couple of minutes. (If frying eggs is new to you, we have complete instructions in our post on Fried Eggs.)
- While the eggs are frying, begin assembling the dish. Place the corn tortillas on a plate (we place them so they partially overlap). Spread the warm refried beans over the tortillas. When the eggs are done to your satisfaction, place them on the beans. Next, spoon warm salsa over the eggs. Finally, add your choice of garnish, and serve.
- Sliced avocados are another great garnish for this dish. As are black olives. Or almost anything that sounds appealing.
- Quantities in this recipe are quite flexible. So use as much or little of the ingredients as you like.
- We serve this dish with hot sauce on the table for those who want extra spicy.
- If you’re really hungry, home-fried potatoes are a nice addition to the plate.
- Although a tomato- and chile-based sauce/salsa is usual with this dish, a popular variation substitutes tomatillos for tomatoes.
- We like the texture of salsa, but a smoother sauce – like enchilada sauce – may be more typical in this dish. And although making your own salsa/sauce/whatever for this dish is fun, there are a lot of good commercial sauces out there that you can buy. More often than not, that’s what we use.
- You can use canned refried beans in this dish, but it’s easy to make your own (and they will definitely taste better): Heat lard or bacon fat (or cooking oil) in a frying pan. Add ½ white onion, minced. Sauté until the onion is translucent. Add a clove or two of chopped garlic. Cook for another minute. Add 2 to 3 cups cooked pinto or black beans (plus about ¼ cup of the bean cooking water, or substitute tap water). Stir to incorporate the onion and garlic. Cook, mashing the beans several times with a potato masher or the back of a wooden spoon, until all the water has evaporated and the beans reach the consistency you prefer (which may range from chunky to a smooth purée). Taste, add salt if necessary, and you’re done.
- BTW, “refried” means beans that are well fried (not fried twice). In Spanish, the dish is called frijoles refritos. “Refritos” means “well fried.”
- Instead of incorporating refried beans into the recipe, we sometimes serve a side dish of whole Mexican beans (like our Mexican Charro Beans.)
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
“What a great way to serve eggs,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Nice and spicy – my kind of dish.”
“Yup, I wasn’t horsing around when I made this,” I said.
“That joke was all hat and no cowboy,” said Mrs K R.
“Hey, I’m at home on the range!” I said.
“As long as the range has electric burners,” said Mrs K R.
“Well, I feel like a bucking bronco when I step into the kitchen,” I said. “This ain’t my first rodeo, no sirree.”
“You need to quit rustling up those jokes,” said Mrs K R. “Some things should be seen, not herd.”
Guess she’s pressing the moo-te button.
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