Chile de Árbol Salsa + VIDEO

This amazing chile de árbol salsa is a staple in Mexican cuisine. Is made using only 4 ingredients and yet delivers one of the most delicious and versatile spicy salsas out there.

Chile de arbol salsa in a molcajete.

What Is Chile de Árbol Salsa?

Know in Spanish as salsa de chile de árbol, this spicy sauce takes its name from the chili peppers used to make it: Chile de árbol. This type of pepper is a variety native to Mexico and Central America and is widely used in traditional recipes.

The chili de arbol salsa is made using those spicy peppers in their dry version, alongside tomatoes, and sometimes tomatillos.

In many households is customary to prepare hot sauces in a molcajete, but of course, they can be made also in a blender or food processor (more below).

A close up on salsa chile de arbol.

Why you will love this recipe

  • It asks for just a few ingredients and the recipe takes only 20 minutes to make. Great for busy days.
  • You can serve it over eggs, your favorite tacos, quesadillas, burritos, or even soups. It is the perfect condiment for many foods, not only Mexican!
  • It can be made ahead and can be stored wonderfully either in the fridge or in the freezer so you have chile de arbol sauce ready for your Taco Tuesday.
  • It is spicy! Great for those who love a kick on their food.
  • Salsa Roja Chile de Arbol is gluten-free, dairy-free, AND vegan.
  • It is healthier and more delicious than any store-bought salsa out there.
Salsa chile de arbol served in a molcajete with corn chips.

Chile de Arbol Salsa Recipe + VIDEO

Remove the stems from chile de arbol peppers, I am using here 1/2 cup which is about 15g of chilies, but take in mind that you can use less or even more depending on how spicy you want your salsa.

Removing stems from chilies.

Place a pot with water over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Add the tomatoes and cook for 8-10 minutes. You need the tomatoes to be very soft, so don’t boil less than that.

Boiling tomatoes on a pot.

Turn off the heat and add the spicy peppers. Push them down with a spoon so they can soak well in the hot water. Remove from the stove and let sit everything for 10 minutes.

Adding chile de arbol to the pot.

Now, in a molcajete or a mortar, place 1 clove of garlic (more if you love garlic), and about 1 teaspoon of coarse salt.

Then add half of the chilies first and use the pestle to grind and make a paste. Do same with the rest of chilies (read notes).

Grinded chile de árbol with garlic and salt.

Next, add one tomato at a time and grind to combine. It will require a bit of effort and muscles! But is worth it.

Grinding tomatoes with a pestle.

Keep grinding until your chile de arbol sauce have the desired consistency (I like it chunky). Adjust salt to taste and serve with your favorite Mexican dishes or store it for later.

Useful Recipe Notes

  • If using a blender or food processor: Place the dried chiles, garlic, salt, and one tomato first. Blend for a couple of seconds then add the remaining tomatoes until your desired consistency.
  • To integrate well the tomato skins, twist and smash them against the molcajete borders. If tomatoes are well cooked, they should be very soft and easy to combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  • The more you’ll grind, the smoother your chile de arbol salsa will be. For a chunky texture, grind less.
  • Simplicity is the key to this recipe. However, you can add a twist to the recipe using other ingredients, such as a pinch of cumin seeds, or oregano.
  • Add onions for cutting down the spicy a bit, just briefly boil them or toast them in a pan or cast-iron skillet.

How To Serve It

Here are some ideas on how to serve or use this chili de arbol salsa recipe:

Huevos rancheros served with salsa chile de arbol.

How To Store It

Once made and cooled down to room temperature, you can store the chili de arbol salsa in a jar or a glass container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Or you can also freeze it in bags for up to 3 months.

Glass containers keep the flavors better, but any container with a tight lid will work just fine.

Watch How To Make It

If you liked this easy salsa recipe, try the oily version made without tomatoes, with sesame seeds, and lots of garlic: Mexican chili oil.

Chile de arbol salsa recipe.

Chile de Arbol Salsa

A spicy, bright, and delicious Mexican salsa made with only 4 ingredients! Perfect to pair with your favorite meals or eat as appetizer with tortilla chips.
PREP 10 minutes
COOK 10 minutes
TOTAL 20 minutes
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 2 cups
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • Add tomatoes and boil for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, add arbol chilies, cover and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  • Add garlic and salt to a molcajete or mortar alongside with half of the chilies.
  • Grind until you'll have a paste and then repeat with the remaining chilies.
  • Add one tomato at time and grind well before adding next.
  • Keep grinding until the salsa have your desired consistency. Adjust salt to taste and serve.

Using a Blender

  • Place arbol chilies, garlic, salt and one tomato in a blender.
  • Blend for a couple of seconds then add the remaining tomatoes and blend until your desired consistency.
  • Transfer the salsa to a bowl or jar and adjust salt to taste. Serve.

NOTES

  • To integrate well the tomato skins, twist and smash them against the molcajete borders. If tomatoes are well cooked, they should be very soft and easy to combine with the rest of the ingredients.
  • The more you’ll grind, the smoother your salsa will be. For a chunky texture, grind less.
  • Simplicity is the key in this recipe. However, you can add a twist to the recipe using other ingredients, such a pinch of cumin seeds, or oregano.
Nutrition
Calories: 73kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 20mg | Potassium: 716mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 4339IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 30mg | Iron: 1mg
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Most asked questions

How hot is chile de arbol salsa?

Chile de arbol rates 15,000 and 30,000 in the Scoville Heat Units (SHU). It means they are about 6 times spicier than jalapeño peppers.
However, you can control the spiciness by adding fewer chilies to the recipe.

I don’t have a molcajete, how can I make it?

You can use a mortar or as a last resource, a blender. read the recipe notes to know how to make it with a blender.

My salsa is too spicy, how can I fix it?

Boil another tomato or blend some roasted onions into the salsa. A few drops of lime juice might help as well.

Can be stored?

Yes. Salsa chile de arbol can be stored for up to 5 days in the fridge and it also freezes nicely for up to 3 months.

Where can I find chile de árbol?

Amazon is for sure the first place where to look for. Also, do a Google research in your country to see if there are some Mexican online and local stores that sell it and ship it.

If you happen to live in Italy or the EU, drop me a comment below and I’ll tell you where you can buy them here.

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Recipe Rating




6 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Second time making this, I can’t believe the difference between using the blender and my stone mortar. First time I was in a rush so I just blended it but yesterday decided to pull out my trusted mortar. It was chunky, flavorful, clearly a fave in our household.

  2. 5 stars
    I love chile the arbol sauce! It was one of my favorite sauces when I used to live in Mexico. We used to make a parsley and chile de arbol sauce to top our grilled fish and it was sublime! Thank you so much for such an authentic recipe and all the nice tips!

  3. 5 stars
    This chile de arbol salsa is delicious! I assembled this yesterday to enjoy with homemade tacos. It’s so good.