This is the best carne adovada recipe out there. This recipe is the purest and most true to its roots as any recipe out there. By keeping the process, and the ingredients, simple, the chiles truly get to shine in this dish. Which is the most important part. 

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

What is carne 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 that 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. 

Ingredients in Carne Adovada

  • Pork Butt, sometimes labeled Boston Butt at the grocery store.
  • Dried New Mexican Chiles, dried California chiles or dried Guajillo chiles will also work.
  • Honey, or sugar, to balance out the savory and smoky flavors.
  • White vinegar, also used to balance flavors.
  • 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.

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, tear into pieces then soak in hot water for 30 minutes. 
  3. Drain chiles, reserving 2 cups liquid, and transfer chiles to a blender with honey, vinegar, garlic and spices.
  4. Process dried chile mixture until mostly smooth; stream reserved liquid in until a smooth sauce is formed.
  5. Combine chile sauce and pork in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil. 
  6. Cover Dutch oven and transfer to oven; cook 2–2½ hours until tender.   
Side angle of deep red pieces of pork arranges in a white bowl over rice with herbs and a lime wedge set on a gray table

How to serve carne adovada

  • Carne Adovada over crispy roasted potatoes 
  • Serve over rice with cilantro and scallions 
  • Carne Adovada burrito filled with  rice, tomatoes, lettuce and avocado, and rolled in a large flour tortilla 
  • Make tacos! Serve carne adovada in flour or corn tortillas with lettuce, avocado and cilantro
Overhead image of spices, dried chiles, pork, garlic and vinegar arranged on a gray table.

“Why this recipe works,” from America’s Test Kitchen

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

If you’re trying to incorporate more veggies into your diet, or simply want to explore using them in new and creative ways, then you’ll love this book! You know how much I love ATK, and this book is a perfect example of why. If you think this is a vegetarian book, think again. This book is filled with delicious and unique ways of cooking with vegetables and it’s sure to spark some creativity in your kitchen! 

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

A clip from Vegetables Illustrated, “Carne Adovada is a classic New Mexican dish made from chunks of pork stewed in a thick red chile sauce. It’s saucy enough to be served over rice or in a bowl with some accompanying toasted corn tortillas, but the meat can also be used as a filling for tacos and burritos. 

Although it takes a little while in the oven, it’s a very easy dish to prepare, and it will give you the basis for several delicious meals. If you can’t find New Mexican chiles, you can substitute dried California chiles. We suggest using Mexican oregano if you have it, though Mediterranean oregano is a suitable substitute. Boneless pork butt roast is often labeled Boston butt in the supermarket. 

Serve this with rice and beans, crispy roasted potatoes, or flour tortillas with shredded lettuce, chopped tomato, and sliced avocado.” 

Get the book here!

Overhead image of Vegetables Illustrated book set on a gray table

More Mexican recipes you may like…

Carne Adovada

Print Recipe
4.78 from 9 votes
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 2 hrs 10 mins
Total Time 3 hrs 10 mins
Yield 6 servings
Category Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine Mexican
Author Lauren


This classic New Mexican dish consists of chunks of pork braised in a thick chile sauce flavored with garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, and honey. Serve over rice or in tortillas.


  • 1 3 ½-to 4-pound boneless pork butt roast, trimmed and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
  • 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.
    overhead image of dried chiles soaking in water in a clear 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.
    overhead image of chopped 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 tossed in a red chiles 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. 
    overhead image of slow-cooked pork in a deep red 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
Keywords Carne Adovada
Did you make this recipe?Leave a comment below and tag @ZestfulKitchen on Instagram and hashtag it #zestfulkitchen!
Overhead image of deep red carne adovada served over rice with herbs and a lime wedge served in white bowls set on a gray table

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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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How many stars would you give this recipe?


  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!