Easy Guajillo Sauce

Guajillo sauce is a staple in Mexican cuisine. The simple recipe is made with just a few ingredients and has a mildly spicy flavor, this salsa is used to make countless dishes or to enjoy drizzled on tacos, quesadillas, and sopes.

A bowl with guajillo sauce. Some guajillo chiles and corn chips scattered on a wooden turquoise surface.

About

Guajillo sauce is a basic Mexican recipe made of dried guajillo chiles, tomatoes, onions, and spices. It has a bright red color and an earthy flavor with a mild spicy kick.

This flavorful salsa is used in many Mexican recipes, from moles like this tesmole soup, to chicken birria, and even for making enchiladas. The recipe for this chili sauce allows you to simplify many other recipes, especially if you make a large batch and freeze it.

Salsa guajillo can be also used as a marinade for chicken, pork, or other types of meat. But also for flavoring your tamales dough, or just as a simple appetizer along with tortilla chips.

Scooping guajillo sauce with a corn chip.
Fiery red salsa de chile guajillo

What Are Guajillo Chiles?

Guajillo chiles are mild spicer peppers native to Mexico. They are the dried version of mirasol chilies and their heat range is 2,500 to 5,000 on Scoville Heat Scale.

The dried chilies are used in many Mexican recipes, for making marinades, and sauces, to use as garnish, and even to prepare marmalades. To bring out its fruity flavor and aroma, guajillo chilies are often toasted on a comal or a cast-iron skillet.

And in order to make them easier to blend into sauces, they are normally soaked in water for a couple of minutes to soften them a bit.

Guajillo chilies are a type of pepper that contains a small amount of capsaicin, this component not only is what gives the spiciness to chili peppers but is also considered an anti-inflammatory.

Guajillo chili peppers placed on a white surface.
Dried chiles guajillos.

Ingredients

  • Guajillo chili peppers: This type of chili pepper is easily available online, but you can also find them at many Latin American and Mexican grocery stores, and some supermarkets like Walmart or Kroger also have them available in the international aisle. Read below for tips when buying them.
  • Onion & tomatoes: To tone down the spiciness of the chiles, use those two ingredients.
  • Spices: You will need garlic cloves, cumin seeds, black peppercorns, and oregano. Feel free to swap for powdered spices if you don’t have whole spices.

Tips for buying guajillo peppers

  • Look for peppers that have an evenly dark-ish red color. The brighter the color, the newer the chiles are.
  • The guajillo chilies should have a leathery texture, if it cracks when lightly bent, then means the chilies have been stored for a long period and lack flavor.

How To Make Chile Guajillo Sauce

Use gloves to prevent irritations on your hands when you clean the chilies.

First, remove the stem of each piece. Then, using kitchen shears, cut a chile longwise and open it.

Cutting a guajillo chili pepper with kitchen shears.

The seeds will naturally fall down if you shake the chili peppers, so make sure you discard them all or use the tips of the shears to scrape the seeds.

Scrapping the seeds on a guajillo pepper.

If you want to remove some spiciness, cut the membranes as well, this is up to you.

Heat a cast-iron skillet or a comal over medium-low heat. Toast the chilies slightly, until fragrant (about 10 seconds per side).

Toasting guajillo chiles on a cast-iron comal.

Place toasted guajillo peppers in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them sit for 10 minutes.

Next, cut tomatoes into quarters and place them in a small pan. Add about 1 cup of water, just enough to cover slightly the tomatoes. Cover the pan and allow to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.

Tomatoes cooked on a pan.

Once the tomatoes have cooled down, place them in a blender with the cooking water.

Add onions, drain chilies and add to the blender as well. Add peppercorns, garlic, cumin seeds, oregano, and salt.

All ingredients for guajillo sauce placed in a blender.

Blend until smooth or your desired consistency. The longer you blend, the smoother the guajillo chile sauce will be.

Blended guajillo sauce in a blender, seen from above.

Adjust salt taste, then transfer the guajillo salsa to a bowl and serve, or store for later uses as suggested below.

How To Use

Mexican guajillo sauce on a bowl.
Bright Red Guajillo Sauce!

How To Store

This guajillo chili sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days nicely stored in an airtight container or a jar.

If you want to make a large batch for your prep meals, here’s what you can do:

  • Divide the sauce into zip bags, or freeze-proof containers. Label them and freeze them for up to 6 months.
  • Or, pour the guajillo sauce into ice cube molds. Once the sauce has frozen, unmold and transfer the cubes to freezer bags.

FAQ

What is a good substitute for guajillo chiles?

You can use dried Anaheim or Hatch chili peppers that are very similar in flavor and spiciness.

My hands burn after cleaning the chilies, what can I do?

Wash them with neutral soap, dry them, and then gently rub your hands with vegetable oil. Leave the oil for 10 minutes then wash them with running cold water and soap.

Can I use guajillo peppers that are a bit old?

Yes, you can. As long as they’re not rotten, old guajillos can still be used even though their flavor maybe have faded and your salsa won’t be as flavored.

Similar Recipes

Watch Guajillo Chili Sauce Video

Easy Guajillo Sauce Recipe.

Guajillo Sauce

author Maricruz
2 cups
This mild-spicy guajillo sauce is made with dried guajillo chili peppers and is perfect to drizzle over tacos, quesadillas, and other Mexican antojitos, or to use as a basic recipe for enchiladas, tamales dough, and soups!
prep 5 minutes
cook 10 minutes
Resting time 10 minutes
total 25 minutes

Equipment

  • Blender

Ingredients 

  • 10 guajillo chili peppers
  • 2 medium tomatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 1 small onion (halved)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp oregano
  • salt (taste)

Instructions
 

  • Heat a cast-iron skillet or a comal over medium-low heat.
  • Toast the guajillo chilies slightly, until fragrant (about 10 seconds per side).
  • Place toasted guajillos in a bowl and cover with hot water. Let them sit for 10 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes to a small pan and pour 1 cup of water. Cover the pan and allow to simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Once the tomatoes have cooled down, place them in a blender with the cooking water.
  • Add drained chilies, onions, garlic, cumin seeds, oregano, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Blend until smooth. The longer you blend, the smoother the guajillo chile sauce will be.
  • Adjust salt to taste, then transfer salsa to a bowl and serve.

Notes

Tips for buying guajillo peppers
  • Look for peppers that have an evenly dark-ish red color. The brighter the color, the newer the chiles are.
  • The chilies should have a leathery texture, if it cracks when lightly bent, then means the chilies have been stored for a long period and lack flavor.
Nutrition Information
Serving: 1 cup | Calories: 111kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 26mg | Potassium: 752mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin A: 5722IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 88mg | Iron: 3mg
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Recipe Rating




3 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    The chili sauce looks amazing, love the bright color, and since I had a bunch of guajillo chilies sitting in my pantry I made it. I added a few arbol chilies to make it spicier and oh boy! It-was-good!

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious! Everyone loved it. I used roasted canned tomatoes, fresh ground pepper and a little cilantro as well.

  3. 5 stars
    Best guajillo sauce recipe ever! I even made it simpler by cooking the tomatoes and guajillo chilies together. Anyway, the taste is amazing and not overly spicy, perfect to enjoy with tacos or chips.