Pipián Rojo


The story behind my discovery of Pipián Rojo is an interesting one, because my husband told me about it. His massage therapist is of Mexican descent, and obviously they were discussing food during his massage. That in itself is interesting. I mean, I’d do that, but I didn’t think my husband would! In any case, she told him about this sauce, Pipián Rojo, and he asked me to find a recipe for it.

Before going to my Mexican cookbooks, I looked online and found a recipe by Mely Martinez, whose blog, Mexico in My Kitchen, I already follow. It sounded exactly how my husband described it, with peanuts, pepitas, sesame seeds, chile peppers, all combined in a red sauce.

Here’s a photo from Mely’s blog post on Pipián Rojo, and one that shows her lovely face!

Turns out this sauce belongs to the family of sauces called mole, (pronounced mo-lay), which means sauce. Here’s an explanation from Wikipedia: Mole (/ˈmoʊleɪ/, /ˈmoʊli/ Spanish pronunciation: [ˈmole]; from Nahuatl mōlli, “sauce”) is a traditional sauce originally used in Mexican cuisine, as well as for dishes based on these sauces. Outside Mexico, it often refers specifically to mole poblano. In contemporary Mexico, the term is used for a number of sauces, some quite dissimilar, including black, red/colorado, yellow, green, almendrado, de olla, huaxmole, guacamole and pipián. Generally, a mole sauce contains a fruit, chili pepper, nut and such spices as black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and chocolate.

Mely writes that this classic sauce originates from her home town of Tampico, Tamaulipas, and although she’s been blogging for years, she only posted on Pipián Rojo in 2016. It just didn’t seem so “fancy” to her I’m guessing!

Well I’m glad she did, because it was fantastic. The first time I made it I cooked chicken in the sauce. Next time it might be beef, or pork, or shrimp…

Pipián Rojo Sauce
by Mely Martinez
printable recipe below

2 Ancho peppers
2 guajillo peppers
1 chipotle pepper
1/4 cup peanuts
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup sesame seeds
1″ stick cinnamon
2 cloves
2 allspice berries
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small tomato
1/3 medium white onion
2 garlic cloves
Salt and pepper

Have a pot with 2 cups of water standing by the stove.

Begin by toasting the peppers in a skillet over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds per side. Notice I was so excited to start making this that I forgot to de-stem the peppers! So I did it after they cooled down. Then place in the water.

Then toast the nuts and seeds. The peanuts will take about 90 seconds, the pumpkin seeds toast fairly quickly; get them out as soon as they brown and start wanting to jump.

The sesame seeds take a few seconds. I actually used my seed toaster for them because I’ve experienced them popping out of a hot skillet all over the kitchen!

Place all of the toasted nuts and seeds in the water.
Next, slightly toast the cinnamon, cumin seeds, cloves, and allspice berries. Also place them in the water.

Finally, roast the tomatoes, onion and garlic, turning occasionally to obtain even roasting. Place these in the water as well.

Place the pot on the stove and cook over a medium-high heat. Simmer for about 8 minutes, then set aside to let the ingredients soften.

Place the sauce ingredients in a blender and process just enough to blend the ingredients. Then pour into a skillet.

When the sauce is hot, add pieces of meat, pork or chicken, and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If the sauce seems to thick, thin with water or broth. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve the meat with the sauce with rice and warm corn tortillas.

The only mistake I made with this recipe was not to make a quadruple recipe. This sauce is so good I could drink it.



83 thoughts on “Pipián Rojo

  1. I bet that is so packed with flavor and I love ANYTHING with avocados and corn tortillas! The combination of spices reminds me a little of Indian dishes.

  2. We are in LOVE with this recipe. Depth of flavor, aromatic, warm, comforting and everything we are craving now. Another fabulous use for pepitas. Seriously, why do you have to live so far away?!? Take Care

    • I can say the same thing! Yes, I love creamed nuts in Indian food, and they’re just as wonderful in Mexican dishes, obviously! Amazing what they add to a sauce.

  3. What an unusual combo, is it really spicy?? I really enjoyed all the info you shared, I thought there was only 1 kind of mole, and that to be a mole it had to include chocolate…not that I profess to be a knowledgeable foodie! There is so much to learn in the culinary world, especially in international cuisines, I love hearing and reading about things I’ve never heard of before. That is hilarious that your husband was talking food with his massage person!

    • That’s exactly why I love blogging. Well, I love following food blogs – there’s always something new to learn! No, it’s not spicy hot at all. Just super flavorful. I know, I thought it was really funny that he came home and asked me to find this recipe!

      • thanks for the info, I am a total heat wimp, just can’t eat spicy stuff, but this sounds so interesting I would love to try it, especially after your rave review!

  4. I love learning about new sauces! I wasn’t familiar with Pipián Rojo until now, but I definitely want to try this out. The idea of roasting peanuts and then blending ’em into a sauce sounds super interesting. Looks delicious, Mimi! :-)

    • Thanks. You taste all of the flavors, but it’s not a peanut sauce, or just a chile pepper sauce. It’s a wonderful combo of flavors, with great texture to boot!

  5. I’ve heard of this sauce, but have never had it in a restaurant, and have never made it. It sounds terrific — loads of flavor in this. Thanks!

  6. I’ve never heard of this before, but from the looks of all those yummy ingredients, I know I’d love it! I bet this sauce would taste good on just about anything. I’d need lots of rice for soaking it all up.Great recipe :) !!

    • I agree. I’m actually going to make it tonight with beef tenderloin for my husband. That should be great.

  7. I don’t do enough Mexican cooking, mostly for lack of inspiration and reference (I mean for Italian cooking, I know exactly what everything is supposed to taste like). So thanks for providing this inspiration, as this surely looks like something we would enjoy.

  8. I had to look up online to see if I would be able to get Ancho Chillies (plus I hadn’t heard of them before) and I was surprised that I can. In fact a large supermarket near stocks them. Not so with guajillo peppers unfortunately. Although I note Google suggested several different kinds of peppers as substitutions. I do like the look of this tasty sauce! The ingredient list is mouthwatering.

    • When my daughter lived in London, I also had to bring Sriracha sauce and salsa to her when I visited. So I’m not surprised your chile pepper choices are limited. Just use ancho chile peppers for this recipe and that will work. The sauce is really fun and has a wonderful texture.

  9. This looks incredible! We just found out this past Tuesday that our favorite Mexican restaurant closed (on Taco Tuesday no less!). Told Hubby we need to make some good Mexican food this weekend and now I see this recipe! Perfect timing AND I have all the ingredients already. YAY!!!!

    • Oh no! That’s terrible!!! Glad you have the ingredients. I just did it by memory, and the sauce came out perfectly. And so easy. This time I added cut up tenderloin (beef) and it was fabulous.

  10. I bought a jar of a chunkier (whole peanuts) version when I was recently in Baja. It seemed an unusual combination to me for Mexican cuisine that’s why I bought it, but now I see it’s not so unheard of… GREG

    • The peanut, pumpkin and sesame seed combination is fabulous! I just made some more and used cut up tenderloin. A really nice texture, as well. Made it from memory, also. It’s so easy!

  11. Mimi, once again you nailed it. Pipián Rojo is one of my favorite Mexican sauces. I often used it with chicken when living in the US, but now find it with a nice piece of cod or pork setting on top of brown rice.

  12. I’ve never had this sauce, but I already know I’m going to love it. I’m not sure if I know guajillo peppers, but I’m sure I can find them. The peanuts sound fantastic. I love peanuts in this sort of context. The rest of the cast of characters, from the pumpkin seeds to the sesame, the host of spices … how wonderful.

    • You said it. I just made it again. Remove the cinnamon stick before blending! I might have forgotten to mention that. It is really flavorful, and has great texture. You’ll definitely love it!

    • I’m pretty sure you’ll love it. And I know you can find all of the ingredients. Just made it with beef tenderloin and it’s so good.

    • It’s easy to imagine this luscious sauce rich with nuts and seeds flavored with dried chile peppers, and turned into a red sauce. You definitely need to try it!

  13. John would just love this recipe (as would I) I’ll definitely be saving it. I hardly ever get massages but love them. I thought it was funny that your husband was talking about food. My husbands employees talk to him about my recipes too. Often requesting samples LOL!

  14. Hi Mimi.There must be such a depth of flavor in this recipe with all of these ingredients. It sounds fabulous. I will definitely have to try this. Thanks for posting!

    • I’m learning how versatile it is! I’ve had real mole at a famous place in Houston and it was fabulous. Never have made it because i can’t get all of the ingredients.

  15. I LOVE molé and this sauce looks amazing. Toasting the whole spices and all of the seeds must provide great depth to the flavor.

  16. I love the sound of this one Chef Mimi….Authentic home cooked Mexican food is a favourite in my house & this will be a hit with my Aussie/American adult children. My daughter is back from LA for a visit next week & this will be on the menu during her visit. Thanks!

    • I made it again with beef, but basically just threw the ingredients together, no measuring, and it was perfect. They all work together so well.

    • I’ve already made it a second time! That’s a rare thing for me to do, with so many other dishes to try…

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