Chile Cascabel Shrimp

These chiles will add a deep, nutty flavor to dishes and are great to use in salsas and sauces. It is a medium-hot chile that is good in soups, stews, sauces and sausage.

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1 lb shrimp (16-20), peeled and deveined
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups Salsa de Chile Cascabel (recipe follows)
1 lb pasta (fettuccini, spaghetti or bucatini work best)
1/4 cup Mexican Crema (or creme fraiche or thinned sour cream if you can’t find crema)
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled for garnish
2-3 Tbsp cilantro, finely minced for garnish
For the Salsa:
10 each Cascabel chiles
12 oz tomatoes, broiled
3 each garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup water


This recipe cooks quickly, so have everything ready when you start cooking.

Cook the pasta according to package directions drain most of the water but leave a small amount in the pot to prevent it from clumping together. Keep warm.

In a large, wide skillet or sauté pan heat the oil until very hot, nearly smoking. Add the shrimp and quickly sauté. Cook about 2 minutes on each side. Shrimp should be turning pink but still a little opaque.

Add the salsa de cascabel, reduce the heat and simmer for about two more minutes, or until the sauce is heated through and the shrimp have finished cooking.

This dish can be finished two ways:
1. Drain off remaining water from pasta and add pasta to pan with the shrimp. Toss to coat and evenly distribute the sauce and shrimp. Portion onto individual plates or turn into a pasta bowl or onto a platter for service.

2. Drain off remaining water from pasta and turn pasta onto a platter. With tongs, arrange the shrimp evenly over the pasta and pour the sauce over the pasta and shrimp.

With either serving style, drizzle the crema (or creme fraiche or thinned sour cream) over the shrimp and pasta. (Alternatively, the crema can be stirred into the sauce at the end of cooking.)

Garnish with crumbled Cotija cheese and minced cilantro.

Salsa de Chile Cascabel
From The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, page 246, by Diana Kennedy

Yields 1 ½ cups

Wipe chiles clean with a damp cloth if needed. Remove stem, seeds and veins. Reserve the seed.

Toast the chiles in a skillet over medium heat, turning constantly so they don’t burn.

In a small skillet, toast the seeds until deep golden brown, stir seed constantly to prevent them from burning.

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend for a minute or two, being careful not to over-blend the sauce must have some texture. Add more water if necessary. The sauce should be quite loose when blended but thickens as it stands.

Cascabel chiles have a rich nutty flavor and are only moderately picante. The chile is round and, when shaken, the sound resembles a rattle. They can usually be found in most Latin or Mexican markets and in some well-stocked grocery stores. If all else fails, they can be ordered from Penzy’s (

Recipe from San Diego Magazine.