Mexican Chili Oil

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!

Mexican chili oil in a small bowl.

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.

Showing the texture of the chili oil.

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.

Ingredients fried in a bowl.

Ingredients needed

  • 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.
The ingredients for Mexican chili oil labeled and displayed on a marble surface.

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.

Fried garlic on a white bowl.

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.

Frying chile de arbol in a pan.

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.
Mexican chili oil stored in jars ready for storing.

How To Serve It

Without doubt, this Mexican chili oil is perfect for adding to stews, my favorite is for sure pozole blanco, but also beef birria or Mexican meatball soup (albóndigas) are amazing pairings.

Besides that, this salsa is like pretty much any Mexican hot salsa, you can’t go wrong by pouring it over chicken tostadas, steak quesadillas or your favorite taco recipe.

salsa macha

Mexican Chili Oil

This fragrant sauce is extra spicy with an intense and bold flavor. Make it in just 15 minutes and serve with your favorite tacos, quesadillas or stews.
PREP 10 minutes
COOK 5 minutes
TOTAL 15 minutes
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 1 jar – 250ml
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

NOTES

Please be extremely careful when frying chiles de árbol, they are very hot and release a strong and pungent smell that could cause respiratory problems if you’re not used to it. Open all windows for a better ventilation on the room and turn on the vent hood to full power.
Nutrition
Calories: 2287kcal | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 10g | Fat: 232g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 69g | Monounsaturated Fat: 133g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3559mg | Potassium: 1470mg | Fiber: 22g | Sugar: 31g | Vitamin A: 19603IU | Vitamin C: 27mg | Calcium: 136mg | Iron: 6mg
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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

    1. Hi! You can store in many ways, outside the refrigerator last for about 1 week, just covered with oil. Refer to the “how to store” section to know more about :)

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you so muchhhhhhhhhh
    I am so grateful for your amazing experience cooking and your blog was extremely helpful to me
    Blessings

  2. Hi, I have tried several recipes of Chile de Arbol or Salsa Macha trying to recreate a sauce at my favorite restaurant but this latest batch I made was so spicy it is hard to eat. I see in your recipe that sesame helps to balance the spiciness. Do you think I can toast some sesame and add it after the fact to balance it out? Thank you for your advice!

    1. You can surely add more sesame to help, but keep in mind that chile de arbol is still the main ingredient and will always stand out.

      You can also try adding less hot peppers and add a little bit more oil.

  3. 5 stars
    I had a similar salsa at a restaurant that was delicious. I found this recipe and made it and was superior to the one at the restaurant. Thank you for sharing this recipe! This is my go to!