Mexican chili oil is a spicy sauce very popular and easy to make. This salsa oil is extra spicy, filled with bold flavors, and with an amazing fragrance. Made with chile de árbol peppers, this recipe can be made in just 15 minutes!
My grandma Julia used to make this Mexican chili oil in a molcajete (mortar). She will fry all ingredients in an enamel saucepan in the fogón (corner-set fireplace). Then she will pestle everything slowly, until a thick and extremely spicy sauce come out.
My mother liked to eat this sauce with almost everything! With fried eggs and red rice, with refried beans, with pozole blanco and specially with birria. She really loved this sauce and it reminds me of her so much.
Differences between Mexican chili oil and salsa macha
Even though it can recall a lot of salsa macha, true is there are some differences between that sauce and this mexican chili oil.
Salsa macha is made using chile morita or chipotle, since those two are pretty common in the State where salsa macha is from. Also, the recipe uses peanuts, which I didn’t add to this recipe.
Because of that and because I like to respect my own traditions, I didn’t call this recipe after the famous salsa. I promise I’ll post a recipe for that salsa; but for now, I’ll just leave you this family recipe as my grandma used to make it.
- CHILE DE ÁRBOL. This is the main ingredient but it can also be substituted with other types of chillies (more below).
- SESAME SEEDS. Helps to give some texture to the chili oil and to balance spiciness.
- GARLIC. Be very careful when frying the garlic. If you burn it will become bitter and spoil the recipe.
- VINAGER. Just a little bit. It doesn’t have to taste or smell sour, you just need it for preserving the sauce.
- OIL. A type that doesn’t compromise the sauce’s flavor. So avoid strong oil like extravirgin olive oil, coconut oil, etc. I used sunflower oil.
Chile de arbol substitutes
So, in case you want to make Mexican chili oil and you can’t find chile de árbol. Here are a few options:
- Dried chinese or thai chillies.
- Dried serrano.
- Red dried New Mexican chiles.
- Chilies Tepin/Piquin
- Cayenne red hot chillies
- Hot pepper flakes
Step by Step Recipe
Remove the stems of chilli peppers. Peel the garlic and thinly slice it. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan put half a cup of oil and heat over low heat. Fry garlic paying attention that heat is not too high or it could burn the garlic and make it bitter. The garlic should be evenly golden so frying for a minute will be enough. Keep always the heat controlled and stir constantly. Place in a blender together with the oil you used for frying.
Add another half a cup of oil to the saucepan and heat over low heat. Fry the chilies for a minute until crispy. Pay attention since the chilies should not be burned so it is important to keep the heat low and mix constantly.
Remove from heat and place them in the blender together with the oil you used for frying. Add to the blender the sesame seeds, salt, and a tablespoon of vinegar.
Blend from 2 to 4 minutes depending on how you’ll like the consistency of the chile de arbol sauce.
How to Store
- Pour chile de arbol salsa into a jar and add a good drizzle of oil on top. This will prevent the sauce from going bad and will last for about 4-5 weeks stored in the refrigerator.
- If you want to keep this Mexican chili oil in the kitchen just make sure is not near to the stove or oven, place the jar in a cool spot in your pantry and keep the salsa always covered with oil. It can last between 10 and 15 days!
- Chile de arbol salsa last for months if preserved in sterilized jars. If you don’t know how to prepare jars for preserving food I’d recommend reading this article.
How To Serve It
Mexican Chili Oil
- 2 cups chile de arbol (or other dry, red hot chilli peppers)
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds (toasted)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp vinegar
- 1 cup oil (corn, canola or sunflower)
- ½ Tbsp salt
- Remove the stems of chilli peppers. Peel the garlic and slice it. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan put half a cup of oil and heat over low heat. Fry the garlic until golden and crispy (about 1 min).
- Place in a blender together with the oil you used.
- Add another half a cup of oil to the saucepan and heat over low heat. Fry the chilies for a minute until they are crispy (see notes).
- Place them in the blender together with the oil where they were fried.
- Add to the blender the sesame seeds, salt, and a tablespoon of vinegar.
- Blend for 2-3 minutes depending on how you’ll like the consistency of the sauce.
- Pour the sauce into a jar and add a good drizzle of oil on top.