To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact


Simple Mexican Torta Ahogada Recipe

Written by MasterClass

Last updated: Jun 30, 2020 • 1 min read

Learn how to make the city of Guadalajara's signature "drowned sandwich," one of Mexico’s most famous tortas.



Gabriela Cámara Teaches Mexican CookingGabriela Cámara Teaches Mexican Cooking

Celebrated chef Gabriela Cámara shares her approach to making Mexican food that brings people together: simple ingredients, exceptional care.

Learn More

What Is a Tortas Ahogada?

The torta ahogada is a Mexican pork sandwich believed to have originated in the early 1900s in Guadalajara, Jalisco. Literally "drowned sandwich," the torta ahogada features carnitas served on birote salado, a sourdough roll with a crispy, salted crust, sometimes spread with frijoles refritos (refried beans). The torta is “drowned” in a spicy tomato and chile de árbol sauce and topped with raw white onion. Unlike other types of tortas, which are usually served on soft rolls (either the torpedo-shaped bolillo or flat telera), the torta ahogada requires a bread with more crunch to prevent full-on sogginess.

You can serve a torta ahogada either bien ahogada (well-drowned in sauce) or medio ahogada (half-drowned), or you can dunk the sandwich in a mild tomato sauce and add hot sauce to taste. Optional sides and toppings include radishes, avocado, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.

Simple Mexican Torta Ahogada Recipe

8 sandwiches
Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
45 min
Cook Time
30 min


For the spicy salsa:

  • 10 dried chiles de árbol
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 small white onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 pounds Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Chicken stock (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

For the sandwich:

  • 8 birote salado rolls or other crusty bread, such as baguettes
  • 2 cups refried beans
  • 3 pounds pork carnitas
  • 1 cup pickled red onions or sliced raw onion, to serve
  • 8 lime wedges, to serve
  1. Rehydrate chiles de árbol in a large bowl of hot water, about 20 minutes. Set on a plate lined with napkins to drain and cool. Once cool enough to handle, de-stem the chiles.
  2. In a blender, combine rehydrated chiles with garlic, onions, tomato, vinegar, oregano, black pepper, cumin, and salt. Blend until smooth, adding water or chicken stock to thin out the sauce if necessary.
  3. In a saucepan over medium-high heat, heat vegetable oil until shimmering. Add the chile-tomato sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat and cook until sauce has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, add additional water or chicken stock.
  4. Split the bread rolls. Spread one side of each roll with refried beans and stuff each roll with carnitas. Ladle sauce over each sandwich until bien ahogada (well-drowned). Serve with sliced onions and lime wedges.

Become a better chef with the MasterClass All-Access Pass. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by culinary masters, including Gabriela Cámara, Chef Thomas Keller, Massimo Bottura, Dominique Ansel, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, and more.