This Tortas Ahogadas Recipe dish is made with carnitas, refried beans, hot sauce, hard rolls and dipped in a tomato sauce.
This Tortas Ahogadas dish is famous in the Jalisco region in Mexico. Since my mom is from Guadalajara, we use to eat Tortas Ahogadas frequently. My grandma would stay up all day making the meat and the fresh sauce to pour over the sandwiches. This is why Tortas Ahogadas got its name. It literally means “drowned sandwiches.”
The bread that is traditionally used are bolillos or birotes. You can use any bread you like as long as its on the harder side. Pouring the sauce softens the bread up. If you're up for it, you can top with my Chile de Arbol hot sauce! The filling is made with my famous homemade Carnitas.
What are Tortas Ahogadas?
Tortas Ahogadas, which translates to "drowned sandwiches" in English, are a popular Mexican street food that originated in the city of Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. They are essentially crispy bread rolls, called birote, that are filled with seasoned meat or beans, then submerged in a spicy tomato sauce and garnished with onions, lime juice, and fresh cilantro.
To make Tortas Ahogadas, the bread rolls are first sliced in half and filled with your choice of meat, such as shredded pork or beef, or refried beans. The rolls are then dipped into a spicy tomato sauce made with dried chiles, garlic, and other seasonings. The sandwiches are typically served with extra sauce on top and garnished with diced onions, fresh cilantro, and a squeeze of lime juice.
Tortas Ahogadas are known for their spicy and tangy flavors, and are often enjoyed as a hearty and satisfying meal. They are particularly popular in the Jalisco region of Mexico and have become a beloved street food throughout the country.
Why you will love Tortas Ahogadas
- Flavorful and Spicy: Tortas Ahogadas are known for their bold, spicy flavor. The combination of the savory meat or beans, spicy tomato sauce, and fresh garnishes creates a complex and satisfying flavor profile.
- Unique and Authentic: As a traditional dish from Guadalajara, Tortas Ahogadas offer a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine that is not often found in other parts of the world. Trying new and unique dishes can be a fun and exciting culinary adventure.
- Satisfying and Filling: The hearty bread rolls and filling meat or beans make for a satisfying meal that will keep you full and satisfied for hours.
- Easy to Customize: Tortas Ahogadas are versatile and can be customized to suit your preferences. You can choose your preferred meat or beans, adjust the level of spiciness, and add or remove garnishes to suit your tastes.
- Street Food Charm: As a popular street food in Mexico, Tortas Ahogadas offer a fun and casual dining experience that can transport you to the bustling streets of Guadalajara.
Tortas Ahogadas Ingredients
You'll only need a few simple ingredients to make this. The exact measurements are listed in the recipe card below. Here's an overview of what you'll need:
- Refried beans
- Roma tomatoes
- Cotija cheese
- Lime wedges
- Hot sauce (like my Chile de Arbol Sauce or Guajillo Sauce)
See recipe card for Tortas Ahogadas Recipe quantities.
How to make Tortas Ahogadas Recipe
See video below for step by step instructions.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic cloves into the pot and boil for 10-15 minutes, until the tomatoes start to blister and the onion softens. With a slotted spoon, place the contents in a blender and add the cumin, salt and oregano as well. Blend until smooth.
Feel free to use some of that boiled water to blend and adjust to your desired consistency. Pour the sauce back in a pan and bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. You may add ½ cup of water if needed.
Toast the bread and spread the refried beans on each side of the roll. Add the carnitas and close the sandwich. With a ladle, pour the sauce over the sandwich.
Top with Cotija cheese, a squeeze of lemon juice and hot sauce.
Hint: Use day old bread so it will still be hard when you pour the sauce over it.
- Bread Roll: If you cannot find a traditional bolillo roll, you can substitute it with a French bread roll, baguette, or any crusty bread with a chewy interior.
- Refried Beans: You can use black beans or pinto beans instead of refried beans. Mash them up and season them with salt and pepper.
- Meat: You can use shredded chicken, pulled pork, or beef as a substitute for the meat filling. For a vegetarian option, you can use grilled vegetables or tofu.
- Tomato Sauce: For the spicy tomato sauce, you can substitute canned tomato sauce or tomato puree with a mixture of chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and paprika. Adjust the spice level to your preference.
- Onions: You can use any type of onion, but red onions work particularly well in Tortas Ahogadas. You can also use sliced jalapenos or pickled onions for added flavor.
Tortas Ahogadas Recipe Variations
Tortas Ahogadas is a delicious and spicy traditional Mexican dish that can be customized to suit your taste buds.
- Shrimp Tortas Ahogadas: Substitute the meat filling with cooked and seasoned shrimp for a lighter and flavorful option.
- Vegetarian Tortas Ahogadas: Skip the meat filling and add grilled or roasted vegetables such as bell peppers, zucchini, and eggplant to your sandwich.
- Chipotle Tortas Ahogadas: Add chipotle peppers to the tomato sauce for a smoky and spicy flavor. You can also use chipotle-flavored bread rolls for an extra kick.
- Avocado Tortas Ahogadas: Add slices of ripe avocado to the sandwich for a creamy and refreshing flavor.
- Chorizo Tortas Ahogadas: Add crumbled chorizo to the meat filling for a bold and spicy flavor.
- Pickled Onion Tortas Ahogadas: Top the sandwich with pickled onions for a tangy and crunchy texture.
Check out my Caprese Chicken Sandwich.
Equipment can have a big impact on how a recipe turns out.
- Large saucepan: For making the tomato sauce.
- Blender or immersion blender: Use a blender for blending the tomato sauce.
- Baking sheet: For toasting the bread rolls.
- Cutting board and knife: For slicing the bread rolls and onions.
- Serving dish: For presenting and serving the Tortas Ahogadas.
How to store Tortas Ahogadas
This Tortas Ahogadas Recipe is best served fresh, but if you have leftovers, here's how to store them properly:
- Let the Tortas Ahogadas cool down to room temperature before storing them.
- Wrap the sandwich tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to prevent air from getting in.
- Store the Tortas Ahogadas in an airtight container or resealable bag.
- Refrigerate the sandwich for up to 3 days.
- To reheat the Tortas Ahogadas, remove the plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and place the sandwich in a preheated oven or toaster oven at 350°F (175°C) for 10-15 minutes. You can also heat it in the microwave for 1-2 minutes, but this method may make the bread soggy.
It's important to note that the tomato sauce can make the bread soggy over time, so it's best to store the sauce separately and add it to the sandwich right before serving. You can also store the meat filling and bread rolls separately and assemble the sandwich when you're ready to eat.
Tortas Ahogadas Recipe Top tips
Here are some top tips for making delicious Tortas Ahogadas:
- Use fresh bread rolls: Use crusty, fresh bread rolls for the best flavor and texture. If you can't find bolillo rolls, you can substitute them with French bread or baguettes.
- Make the tomato sauce ahead of time: The tomato sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. This will save you time when you're ready to make the sandwiches.
- Adjust the spice level to your liking: Tortas Ahogadas are meant to be spicy, but you can adjust the level of heat by adding more or less chili peppers to the tomato sauce.
- Use good-quality meat: Choose good-quality meat for the filling, such as pork shoulder or beef chuck. These cuts are flavorful and tender when cooked low and slow.
- Toast the bread rolls: Toasting the bread rolls before adding the filling helps them hold up better when soaked in the tomato sauce.
- Serve with lime wedges: Squeezing fresh lime juice over the sandwich just before serving adds a bright, citrusy flavor that complements the spicy tomato sauce.
- Be messy: Tortas Ahogadas literally translates to "drowned sandwiches," so don't be afraid to get messy! The sandwich should be completely covered in the tomato sauce, so have plenty of napkins on hand.
By following these tips, you'll be able to make delicious Tortas Ahogadas that are packed with flavor and sure to be a hit with your friends and family.Print
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove