Tortas Ahogadas (with video)

This is a favorite Mexican sandwich of mine and one of my staple lunches. It only takes about five minutes or so to make, it’s super hearty, and the flavor is intense. The star of the sandwich is a chile arbol sauce made with handfuls of chiles arbol, white vinegar, a few spices, and some fire roasted tomatoes if you want to tone down the heat. 


Time to Make: 5 to 10 minutes
Yield: 2 sandwiches


The Chile Arbol Sauce

20 – 30 whole chiles arbol, stems, seeds, and everything
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. of dried Mexican oregano
1 tsp. of ground cumin
1/2 cup of white vinegar (I prefer white balsamic vinegar)
1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of crushed fire roasted tomatoes (see below)

The Sandwich

2 chipotles in adobo, chopped
2 sandwich rolls, preferably a harder sandwich roll like a bolillo roll
1 and 3/4 cups of refried or mashed black beans (about 1 can)
1 avocado, diced


Chop the chipotles. Add the chipotles and beans to a pan and mix them together. Bring the pan to a medium heat and spread the chipotle bean mix across the pan. Let this sit in the hot pan while you make the sauce.

“I start the beans heating up first because it only takes a few minutes to get them warmed if you spread them thinly across the pan, so by the time you are done with the sauce, the beans will be ready.”

Add the chiles, salt, oregano, cumin, and garlic to a blender. Start the blender at a medium speed and then crank it up to a high speed after a few seconds. This helps the chiles grind more thoroughly. Add the vinegar to the blender. If you want the hottest sauce, just use vinegar. If you want 3/4 heat, add 1 cup of fire roasted tomatoes, 1/2 heat is 1 1/2 cups of fire roasted tomatoes, and 1/4 heat is 2 cups of fire roasted tomatoes. The more fire roasted tomatoes you have, the more the sauce is toned down. Blend for a few seconds to incorporate everything.

“The hottest version of this sauce, the one without any fire roasted tomatoes to tone it down, is called muerte. That’s right. Tortas ahogadas can be drowned in something called death sauce.”

Cut the sandwich rolls in half. Spread the beans on the bottom halves, then close the sandwich. Cut them in half. Place them in their bowls or plates. Pour the sauce over them until they are thoroughly covered. Dice the avocado and top each sandwich with it.

“I am fortunate enough to have a wife who is an amazing vegan baker and she made toasted sesame rolls just for this sandwich. Then, I added 3/4 hot sauce to them. Not quite muerte level, but you could say it was a near death experience.”

Nutrition Info

Calories 646
Fat 18 g
Carbohydrates 97 g
Fiber 27 g
Sugar 4 g
Protein 24 g
Sodium 1352 mg


2 Spoons
Can Opener
Cutting Board
Measuring Cup
Measuring Spoon