Pambazos are counted as among the best sandwiches and streets foods of Mexican cuisine. They are Mexican bread rolls dipped with guajillo salsa and stuffed with chorizo con papas. Topped with shredded lettuce, crema, queso and salsa verde. They are super easy to make at home, and you can easily make vegan and vegetarian versions.
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Pambazo (pam-ba-so), or pambazo Mexicano, are what you call this style of torta or Mexican sandwich.
The original name comes from the specific type of bread roll, pan basso, that was used to make these sandwiches. Nowadays people also use bolillos or teleras (both types of Mexican bread rolls) to prepare the pambazo sandwich. You can find them at any Mexican bakery or grocery store.
More Mexican Tortas to Try
If you’ve never heard of a pambazos I can say that you’ve been seriously missing out!
Though not the lowest in calories, they are definitely high on deliciousness.
To start with the bread roll is brushed with a mild chile guajillo sauce, then it’s lightly fried before being stuffed.
Traditionally these sandwiches are stuffed with Mexican chorizo (made from pork) and potatoes. Of course here we’re going to be using vegan chorizo or soy chorizo also called soyrizo
The toppings are simply shredded lettuce, Mexican sour cream, cheese and a good drizzle of salsa finishes up the dish.
Incredibly simple, yet bursting with flavors.
All of the pambazo ingredients will be easy for you to find at either your Mexican grocery store or Latin food isle at the grocery store. But of course there’s always Amazon too.
- Teleras or Bolillos: These Mexican bread rolls are pretty easy to find and you can use bolillos if you can’t get telera bread. In an emergency you could use even a baguette or any crispy on the outside and tender on the inside bread roll.
- Guajillo Chiles: These are dried, long red chiles that are mild or not hot at all. They’ll need to be stemmed and rehydrated, see instructions below.
- Onion and Garlic: Both used for the salsa
- Oil: This is to fry the bread
- Chorizo con Papas: This is for the filling (click to get my recipe)
- Mexican crema: This is for the topping (make your own vegan crema)
- Cotija cheese: Also for the topping (I love using my vegan almond cotija)
- Lettuce: For the topping
- Salsa: I like to use salsa verde (make my easy salsa verde recipe)
The guajillo chilies if you can’t find them at your grocery store there’s always Amazon.
If you need to substitute the bolillo or telera, make sure it’s a bread roll that isn’t too soft and won’t get soggy.
One tip I’d like to give you, if you live in a humid place like I do, then it’s best to buy your bread rolls the day you make the pambazos. Otherwise they may soften too much and become fragile to handle and eat.
How to Make Pambazos
The process is quite easy, it may take you a little more than 40 minutes but it’s very much well worth it.
STEP #1: PREPARE THE CHORIZO CON PAPAS
The first thing you want to make is the filling of chorizo con papas. You can follow me easy recipe, you’ll find it here on the blog.
STEP #2: MAKE THE GUAJILLO SALSA
The next step involves boiling the stemmed and seeded guajillo chilies with onion and garlic clove in a pot with enough water to cover them. Simmer until everything is soft.
Next place the softened ingredients with 1/2 cup of the boiling broth (or more if needed), and a 1/2 teaspoon salt, in a blender and blend until you have a completely smooth sauce. Then strain into a wide container or large bowl. Discard any leftover bits. Taste for salt and adjust if needed.
STEP #3: PREPARE THE TELERA OR BOILLO
The bread roll is sliced in half going lengthwise. In a large frying pan and over medium heat, warm up about 1/4 cup or up to 1/2 cup heat until hot.
Dip the bread roll into the chile sauce. Make sure the bread is coated on all sides. Then place it in the hot oil.
Fry for about 3 minutes on each side. You want the bread to be a bit crispy on both sides.
STEP #4: FILL THE PAMBAZO
Make sure that your fillings are all ready to go before you proceed. Of course you should have made the chorizo and potato mixture filling first.
Place one bread roll on a serving plate then open it to fill.
Fill with a few tablespoons of the chorizo con papas mix.
Then arrange the shredded lettuce over the chorizo mixture.
Finish off with a good drizzling of salsa. Then serve immediately.
Of course my version is made using veggie chorizo (or soyrizo) so the sandwich is actually vegan.
The crema I used is my vegan Mexican crema made with almonds. It’s incredibly easy to make and tastes even better than the traditional dairy based one.
From the leftover almond pulp of the almonds from the crema, I use them to make a version of vegan cotija cheese. It works perfectly well and tastes so yummy.
If you are vegetarian you can use regular crema and cotija cheese if you’d like.
How to Serve
In my family we always just serve the pambazos alone. They’re so filling that you really don’t need a side dish.
However you feel like you need one, you could do refried beans on the side.
Are Pambazos Vegan
They can be! Simply swap out the meat chorizo for a plant-based one. Use your favorite brand, just make sure to read the ingredients and skip ones with artificial colors.
Are Pambazos Spicy
Not at all. The red chile sauce is made with guajillo pepper, which are not spicy whatsoever.
I add salsa to my pambazo but you wanted to make the salsa spicy then you could add some chiles de arbol to the pot.
What Cheese Can I Use for Pambazos
For vegetarian versions I always us cotija or queso fresco or fresh cheese as it translates. For vegan versions I use my homemade cotija cheese. You could use any vegan crumbly cheese you’d like.
Vegan Pambazo Recipe
Ok amigos, you’ll see that this recipe is actually quite easy to make. It’s perfect for weeknight meals or a yummy weekend treat.
You could also serve these for a fiesta, they are a full meal on their own. You can make everything ahead and before serving dip and fry the bolillos.
Pambazos (Tortas Dipped in Red Salsa and Stuffed with Potato & Chorizo)
To Make The Chorizo con Papas
- 2 medium potatoes peeled, cut into bitesize pieces & boiled until tender
- hot water for boiling potatoes
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small white onion roughly chopped into small pieces
- 4 whole cloves of garlic finely minced
- 14 oz soyrizo
- one teaspoon of sea salt
To Make The Red Salsa:
- 4 large guajillo chilies remove the stems, the seeds & the veins
- 2 oz white onion
- 2 whole garlic cloves peeled
- water for boiling
- 1/2 teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Make the Chorizo Filling
- Heat enough water to cover the diced potatoes and bring the water to a boil. Add the potatoes, a pinch of salt. Cook until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain and set aside.
- In a large pan sauté the onion until soft then add the garlic clove and sauté another couple minutes. Then add the chorizo and cook for about 8 minutes. Add the boiled potatoes, mix until well combined. Sauté for 10 Minutes. Taste for salt. Set aside.
Make The Salsa
- Place the chiles, onion and garlic in a small pot. Pour in enough water to cover them and simmer until everything has completely softened. Place the softened ingredients in a blender with 1/2 cup of the boiling broth and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend until completely smooth. Strain the guajillo chili sauce into a large bowl or container large enough to fit the rolls.
Fry The Bread & Fill The Pambazos
- Heat 1/4 cup for 1/2 cup of oil in a large pan. Dip the bolillo into the salsa then carefully place in the frying pan and fry for 3 minutes on each side.
- Fill each bolillo with a few tablespoons of the chorizo mixture. Then add the shredded lettuce, the cotija, Mexican crema and lastly drizzle with plenty of salsa. Serve immediately once put together.
See how easy it was to make? Once you make it for the first time you’ll want to put pambazos on your meal rotation — also they’re great for game nights.
The only thing you’ll want to make sure that you have plenty of extra napkins because they are a bit messy. You can just pick them up to eat or if you’d like you can use a fork and knife to look a less messy.
Post originally published on 15 November 2016 , updated 14 February 2022
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…