Pipián Rojo

Mexican Sides & Mains

Pipián is a sauce that consists of nuts, seeds, spices and chilies. Very similar to mole but more simple, consisting of less ingredients! It packs a lot of flavor and complexity. It's rich and creamy and organically made from plants! The sauce can often be combined with either chicken or vegetables. I paired this pipián rojo with Mexican zucchini and nopales (cactus). 

In my early adulthood, I spent some time living in Mexico City (where my father grew up). During my time living in Mexico City, I was introduced to many different street foods. One of them being tlakoyos. Tlaokoyos are thick corn tortillas made from corn (maize), lightly pan fried and often filled with beans then topped with different dishes like cactus salad, salsas, sautéed vegetables, meat or my favorite pipián. 

Every Sunday there is a market that opens and this is where I fell in love with tlakoyos topped with pipián rojo. The pipián reminded me of a recipe by my abuelita called pollo almendrado where she would make a sauce consisting of almonds, chilies and tomatoes. I felt really comforted in each bite I took of the pipián. I knew I had to make my own recipe of pipián one day!

Similar to mole, there is no exact recipe to pipian. That is the beauty. You can add more or less of the nuts and seeds you have on hand. Add as many or as little dried chilies to control the spice level. The options are endless! 

The pipián can be enjoyed with tortillas and a side of rice or on tlakoyos or as other people call them Huaraches. Find my recipe for tlakoyos here!








Makes about 8 sides

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 3 guajillo chilies
  • 2 puya chilies 
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, divided
  • 5 garlic cloves, divided 
  • 3 roma tomatoes, cut in half 
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds 
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 8 small whole peppercorns 
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • 1/2 small cinnamon stick
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter
  • 2 nopales 
  • 2 Mexican zucchinis 
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth


  • Large skillet
  • Blender or food processor
  • Small pot



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  1. Remove stems and seeds from chilies, set aside. 
  2. Roughly chop half the onion and set the other half to the side. 
  3. To a large skillet over medium heat, add 3 tbsp oil. Once hot add halved tomatoes; cut side down, 1/2 roughly chopped onion and 3 whole garlic cloves. Pan fry for 1-2 minutes on each side or until slightly charred. The garlic cloves will be done first, make sure to remove them as soon as they are charred on both sides. 
  4. Once the tomatoes and onion are charred, remove from the pan and add to a blender. 
  5. Return to the same pan and add sesame seeds. Continuously move the sesame seeds around, cooking for 45 seconds or until slightly golden. Remove from the pan and put directly into your blender.
  6. Return to the same pan, add pumpkin seeds and continuously move the pumpkin seeds around, cooking for 45 seconds or until slightly golden. Once golden add to the blender.
  7. Return to the same pan, add the dried chilies, cooking for 10-15  seconds on each side or until charred. Then add to the blender.
  8. Return to the pan once more, add the cinnamon stick, whole cloves and peppercorns. Continuously move the whole spices around for 30 seconds then remove from the pan, then add to your blender. 
  9. Turn heat off to the pan. 
  10. To the blender, add 1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth and blend on high for 1-2 minutes. It should reach a really smooth consistency. If needed, added 1/4-1/2 cup more vegetable broth to reach smooth consistency. Leave the pipián in the blender while you prepare the nopales and zucchini. 
  11. Chop the nopales into small pieces the cut a small piece of the 1/2 onion you put aside. Add both to a small pot then add 1/4 cup of water to the pan. Put the pan over a medium heat and cover with a lid. Cook for 7 minutes mixing every 30 seconds. 
  12. Finely dice the left over piece of onion.
  13. To a large skillet over medium/low heat, add 1 tbsp oil and 2 tbsp vegan butter. Once melted, add onion and cook for 2 minutes.
  14. Meanwhile, mince 2 cloves garlic and chop the zucchini small then add both to the onion and cook for 8 minutes or until they become golden. 
  15. By this time, your nopales should have turned a dark green color, indicating they’re cooked. 
  16. Drain the nopales, discard the piece of onion, then add them to the zucchini mixture. Season with a generous pinch of salt then pour in the pipian. 
  17. Mix to combine and cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Taste and add salt to your liking. 
  18. Enjoy with tortillas, a side of rice or on tlakyos or huaraches!


Come hang out on Instagram and ask me all your questions.

You can also go ahead and send me an email at feel free to email me at fuelednaturally@gmail.com.