Margarita's International Recipes


Tortas Ahogadas

Drowned Sandwiches

tortas ahogadas

Tortas ahogadas, or drowned sandwiches, are a specialty of Jalisco. As the story goes, tortas ahogadas were invented at a food stall in Guadalajara's central plaza when a customer asked for some hot tomato sauce for his carnitas sandwich. The sandwich maker accidentally dropped the sandwich in the tomato sauce, and history was made at that moment. Today, tortas ahogadas can be found at food stalls all over Jalisco, and there are plenty of recipes for any home cook inspired to make them.

The key to a torta ahogada is supposed to be the bread. In Jalisco, they use rolls called birote, which have a hard shell and a soft interior and a mild sourdough flavor. These are, of course, impossible to find in the US. The easy to find Mexican bolillo rolls are, unfortunately, too soft to withstand the sauce. Better to look for a hard shelled sourdough roll and, if like me you can't find that, just use a sourdough baguette or loaf (I used a baguette because that's all my supermarket had at the moment).

Most of the home recipes call for making a tomato sauce and a hot chile de arbol sauce separately, but the account of it's creation speaks of a hot tomato sauce, so I figured I'd just add hot sauce to the tomato sauce. You can make the sauce yourself, but I just used Tapatio hot sauce. There are also hot sauces that specify they're made from chile de arbol (Tapatio only acknowledges the use of red peppers).

I was surprised at just how tasty this sandwich was. For my own, I used mayo (my own variation, as I don't like refried beans and I didn't have any cream around) and skipped the veggies. I definitely enjoyed every bite. It's a messy eat, however, so be prepared with plenty of napkins.


Tortas Ahogadas


  • 2 hard-crust sourdough rolls, or 2 halves a sourdough baguette or bread loaf
  • refried beans (optional)
  • Mexican cream or mayo (optional)
  • carnitas
  • sliced white or red onions marinated in vinegar (optional)
  • shredded cabbage (optional)
  • hot tomato sauce


Cut rolls or bread in two. Spread each side with refried beans, cream or mayo, if using. Add carnitas to fit the bread. Add optional sliced onions and/or shredded cabbage. Pour hot tomato sauce on the sandwich and let it soak for a couple of minutes before eating.

Adapted from several recipes.

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