This is the best carne adovada recipe! By keeping the process and the ingredients simple, the flavorful chiles truly shine amongst the ultra-tender pork chunks. Enjoy the saucy spiced pork over rice with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lime or make homemade tortillas and serve them alongside the stewy meat.

New Mexico Style Adovada

In its most simplest form, carne adovada consists of chunks of pork braised in a thick chile sauce flavored with garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, and honey. This tender pork, coated in a thick red sauce, can be served in tortillas or over rice.

Other than the pork, the most important ingredient in carne adovada is the dried chiles. The type of chile used in carne adovada is dried New Mexican chiles. Dried New Mexican chiles are fruity, slightly sweet and a bit acidic in flavor, they’re more mild than hot, are medium in size and have a deep, shiny red appearance. Can’t find new dried Mexican chiles? You can use dried California chiles as a substitute.

deep red carne adovada served over rice with herbs and a lime wedge served in white bowls set on a gray table

Is It Adovada or Adobada?

This recipe refers to the New Mexican dish spelled “adovada.” “Adobada” on the other hand is used to describe the Mexican technique of cooking meat in a dried chile sauce known as adobo sauce.

What’s the Difference Between Chile Colorado and Carne Adovada?

Both Chile Colorado and Carne Adovada are braised meat dishes featuring rich, bold chile sauces. Chile Colorado is more mild in flavor and features beef while Carne Adovada is bolder, more spiced and is made with tender chunks of pork.

What’s the Difference Between Carne Asada and Carne Adovada?

These two dishes are very different from each other. While Carne Adovada is a braised pork dish featuring a rich chile sauce, Carne Asada is a marinated and grilled beef recipe (usually made with flank steak or skirt steak). Carne Adovada can be served with rice, fresh tortillas, potatoes and more while Carne Asada makes a great steak taco.

Ingredients in Carne Adovada

  • Pork Butt, sometimes labeled Boston Butt at the grocery store. Pork shoulder can also be used.
  • Dried New Mexican Chiles, dried California chiles or dried Guajillo chiles will also work. Look for them at your local Mexican market or in the Mexican aisle of your grocery store. You can also buy them online.
  • Honey, or sugar, balances the savoriness of this dish.
  • White vinegar, balances flavors and brightens the dish overall.
  • Garlic, you’ll need 5 large cloves.
  • Dried Mexican Oregano, marjoram can also be substituted.
  • Spices: ground cumin, cayenne and ground cloves add depth of flavor.
Overhead image of spices, dried chiles, pork, garlic and vinegar arranged on a gray table.

How to Make Carne Adovada 

The beautiful thing about this recipe is that most of the cooking is totally hands off! Most of the heavy lifting in this recipe is done in the oven, the most hands-on part is blending up the chile sauce! Here’s the process:

  1. Trim and cut pork into bite-sized pieces; season with salt and let stand 1 hour.
  2. Seed and stem dried chiles then tear into pieces.
  3. Soak chiles in hot water for 30 minutes. 
  4. Drain chiles, reserving 2 cups liquid, and transfer chiles to a blender with honey, vinegar, garlic and spices.
  5. Blend dried chile mixture until mostly smooth; stream reserved liquid in until a smooth sauce is formed.
  6. Combine chile sauce and pork in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. 
  7. Braise the pork until tender; 2–2½ hours. 
overhead image of deep red carne adovada in a dark gray bowl set on a gray table

Test Kitchen Tips

  • To ensure even cooking, make sure you cut the pork into even pieces. For easier prep work, freeze the pork for about 15 minutes which will make it easier to cut.
  • Save some time by making the chile sauce in advance. Store it in an airtight glass container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or store in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Serving Suggestions

deep red carne adovada served over rice with herbs and a lime wedge served in white bowls set on a gray table

Make Ahead, Storage and Reheating Tips

  • Carne Adovada can be made up to 3 days in advance.
  • Let the Carne Adovada cool to room temperature then transfer to an airtight glass container and store in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat Carne Asada in a large pot on the stove top over medium-low heat until meat is warmed through. You can also reheat in the microwave for 2–4 minutes.
  • To freeze Carne Adovada, transfer the meat and sauce to a zipper-lock freezer bag. Remove as much air as possible, seal, then lay flat on a baking sheet. Transfer sheet to freezer and freeze until solid. Once frozen solid, remove sheet and store in freezer. Let the Carne Adovada thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating and serving.

More Braised Meat Recipes to Try

  • Our Lamb Vindaloo is a bold spiced lamb dish. Serve with warm homemade naan or rice.
  • Instant Pot Lamb Shanks are another decadent and savory meat dish to try! If you’ve never made lamb shanks, this is the recipe to start with—foolproof and fall-off-the-bone every time!
  • Traditional Goulash Soup is another must-try dish. This comfort food recipe features tender bites of beef, a mix of chunky vegetables and gets finished with sour cream and fresh dill.

Carne Adovada Recipe

4.75 from 24 votes
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 10 minutes
Yield 6 servings
Category Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine Mexican


This classic New Mexican dish known as Carne Adovada consists tender pieces of braised pork in a rich chile sauce flavored with garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, and honey. Serve over rice or with fresh corn tortillas.


  • 1 (3 ½–4-pound) boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 ounces (14–16) dried New Mexican chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1-inch pieces (3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • Cooked rice or cilantro lime rice
  • Lime wedges


  • Toss pork and 1 ½ teaspoons salt together in a bowl; refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Combine New Mexican chiles and 4 cups boiling water in medium bowl. Cover and let sit until chiles are softened, about 30 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325ºF (162ºC) degrees.
    dried chiles soaking in water in a glass bowl
  • Drain chiles, reserving 2 cups soaking liquid. Process chiles, honey, vinegar, garlic, oregano, cumin, cayenne, cloves, and ½ teaspoon salt in a blender to a thick paste, about 30 seconds.
    minced dried chiles in a blender
  • With blender running, slowly add reserved soaking liquid and blend until smooth, about 3 minutes.
    Overhead image of a bright red chile sauce in a blender
  • Combine pork and chile sauce in Dutch oven, stirring to coat, then bring to a boil over high heat. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook until pork is tender and fork inserted into pork meets little resistance, 2 to 2½ hours. 
    Overhead image of chunks of pork laying in a red chile sauce in a Dutch oven
  • Using wooden spoon or rubber spatula, scrape any browned bits from sides of pot and stir into pork until sauce is smooth and homogenous. Let stand, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with lime wedges. 
    braised chunks of pork in a rich chile sauce in a dutch oven



Serve carne adovada over rice, in tacos, in a burrito or on nachos. 
Store carne adovada in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat individual portions in the microwave on high for 2 minutes, or reheat over medium-low heat on the stove top. 


Serving: 1/6 recipeCalories: 495kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 37gFat: 30gSaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 118mgSodium: 770mgSugar: 10g
Like this? Leave a comment below!I love hearing from you and I want to hear how it went with this recipe! Leave a comment and rating below, then share on social media @zestfulkitchen and #zestfulkitchen!
overhead image of deep red carne adovada in a dark gray bowl set on a gray table

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This recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen’s Vegetables Illustrated cookbook. ATK sent this book to us a few months ago, and gave us the green light to share one of our favorite recipes!

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine,,, and more.

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  1. 5 stars
    This was such an interesting recipe. I’ve never made anything with dried chilies before. I couldn’t find dried New Mexican or California chilies but used Guajillo chili pods that I found in a local Mexican market. It was delicious and a beautiful red color! The meat and sauce had just the right amount of heat. I served it on a flour tortilla with cilantro lime rice, peppers and onions. I’m looking forward to leftovers! Thanks for sharing this recipe Lauren!

    1. So glad you enjoyed it Kelly!! Great idea to serve it in tortillas! Thanks for sharing your insight on using Guajillo instead of New Mexican or California!!

  2. 5 stars
    This was SOOOOOO good!! I am a huge fan of pork and this sauce was amazing. We ate it over the cilantro lime rice and it was perfection. Thanks for the recipe.

  3. 5 stars
    This was SO good! It was my first time making it, your step by step photos made it so easy to make too! Thank you!

  4. 5 stars
    This recipe was delicious! I can’t believe how tender this meat is. It was an easy recipe to make and loved it over the cilantro rice! Keep em coming!

    1. Hi Susan, you are correct, this is an ATK recipe. If you had read the article above the recipe you would know that I was gifted the cookbook, Vegetables Illustrated, from America’s Test Kitchen. They asked me to share a recipe from the book as a means of promoting the cookbook to my audience. As someone who has worked at ATK, and in many test kitchens, I understand how frustrating it is when people rip off recipes as their own. This is NOT the case here. I was both given the right to share this recipe and was asked to by ATK.

      I hope this clears up your concern.

  5. 4 stars
    I thought this was very good. But I added 1 tbsp of Badia ADOBE spice to the blender mixture. I also added more oregano and cumin. I tasted as I blended. I poured the liquid mixture over the pork cubes and followed as directed. 2 hours in I tasted the sauce. It still seemed under seasoned so I added a big shake of Penzeys smoked Spanish paprika and about 2 tsp of Penzeys garlic salt. That added the oomph I wanted. It’ll be even better tomorrow!

  6. 5 stars
    Great recipe! Super easy to make and full of flavor The recipe is easily adaptable to suit your taste. Will definitely make again.

  7. 5 stars
    Oh my god this was amazing!! I never leave comments on recipes but jeez this was good. Perfect recipe and perfect proportions on the spices.