Three Peppers Stew - Guisado a los tres chiles

Three pepper stew cerdo a los tres chiles

I love stews made with dry peppers. Somehow the combination of roasted peppers and spices creates a very rich sauce that can be used with pork, beef, chicken, and even by itself for enchiladas or chilaquiles.

The three pepper stew, called “guisado a los tres chiles”, is made using three types of peppers, usually the base of this sauce will be guajillo pepper and ancho pepper, plus a third pepper that will add spiciness and flavor to the stew. Some cooks add chipotle pepper or arbol pepper to the combination of the guajillo and ancho pepper. I guess that is a personal choice or whatever peppers the cook has available,  since not all peppers grow in the same region of the country. If you have morita peppers, or piquin peppers you can use them for your third pepper on this stew. Not all recipes call for the use of sesame seeds, but I find that their flavor really adds an extra punch to the dish, besides the thickening effect on the final texture of the sauce.

Three pepper stew cerdo a los tres chiles

To cook the meat:
  1. 1 ½ LB pork shoulder cut into 1-in cubes
  2. 6 -7 cups of water
  3. 1 bay leaf
  4. 2 garlic cloves
  5. ¼ of a medium size white onion.

For the Sauce:
  1. 3 guajillo peppers, cleaned and deveined
  2. 3 ancho peppers, cleaned and deveined
  3. 3 Puya peppers, cleaned and deveined (See note)
  4. 4 Tablespoons sesame seeds
  5. ¼ of a medium size white onion
  6. 2 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  7. 1 teaspoon cumin
  8. Salt and pepper to season.

Three pepper stew cerdo a los tres chiles

1.       In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, place the meat, onion, garlic cloves, bay leaf and water. Cook for about 50 minutes or until the meat is well cooked through. Strain the cooking broth and reserve. Place the meat back in the pot. The water will reduce during the cooking process, so add more water if needed since we will need 3 cups of the cooking broth to make the sauce.
2.       While the meat is cooking, lets proceed to start making the three peppers sauce. First, we’re going to slightly roast the peppers on a moderately high-heat skillet. This step is a quick one, to avoid burning the peppers. Remember that burned peppers render a bitter taste to your sauce, and we don’t want that flavor in our stew.  Roast the peppers by type, since each one has a different texture and thickness.  It will be a matter of seconds per side on medium heat; the peppers will change in color and will start to form blisters.  After roasting, place them in a medium size saucepan with 3 cups of water to soak.
3.       Now, toast the sesame seeds until they have a light golden tone. By this time they will start to jump from the skillet.  Place in the saucepan with the peppers.
4.       Roast the ¼ piece of onion and 2 unpeeled garlic cloves on the skillet; turn to make sure every side is well roasted. This step will take about 4-6 minutes.

Three pepper stew cerdo a los tres chiles

5.       Place roasted peppers, sesame seeds, onion and garlic in the saucepan.  Turn the heat to medium high and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover the saucepan; allow the ingredients to soften for about 10 more minutes.
6.       To make the sauce, transfer peppers, sesame seeds, garlic and onion in a blender or food processor (discard their cooking water), and add 3 cups of the meat broth previously strained.  Blend until you have a fine and smooth sauce.
7.      Pour the sauce over the meat, turn the heat to medium, and slowly fry the sauce with the meat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and reduce heat to keep simmering for about 7 minutes until sauce is slightly reduced and thickened. You can add more cooking broth if you prefer a less thickened texture.

Three pepper stew cerdo a los tres chiles

Serve alongside white rice and pinto beans with soft warm corn or flour tortillas.


Mely Martínez


  1. Hi Maly , my name is Sandra Cruz I came across your recipe for the three pepper stew and I would like to make it but my problem is that I live in Montana and up here we don't have a large selection of Chili's the one chili I can't seem to find is the one Chile puya. So can this dish be made without that one chili or is there another Chili's that I can use in its place. On another note I personally would like to thank you for all the great recipe you posted on your website have made my share of them for my family and friends and each time everyone has enjoyed them to the fullest. Hope to hear from you soon and your suggestion to this dish thank you

    1. Hello Sandra,

      You can use arbol pepper or piquin pepper to the sauce. Puya pepper will add spiciness to the dish, it will depend how spicy you want it to be. If substituting Arbol peppers for puya peppers, use about 4 arbol peppers for 3 puya peppers, if using piquin peppers instead, use about 8 piquin peppers. Finally, if none of these are available, use 1 or 2 canned chipotle peppers to the blender while making the salsa.

      Happy cooking! And please come back to let me know if your family like the Three pepper stew!

  2. Hello Mely,
    This recipe was absolutely awesome and surprisingly easy to make. My family finished the first batch before I even had time to try some, so I had to make another batch!



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