Salsa Roja Mexicana | Authentic Recipe

This amazing salsa roja Mexicana is so easy to make! It takes only 4 ingredients to prepare one of the most delicious and versatile spicy salsas out there. Drizzle over tacos or quesadillas, or use it to make other authentic recipes from Mexican cuisine.

Authentic Salsa Roja Mexicana in a molcajete with corn chips and dried chilies on the side.

About

Salsa roja Mexicana is a traditional recipe made of red chili peppers, tomatoes, onions, and garlic. It is used as a table condiment for many dishes, from tacos to quesadillas, to stews and soups.

The authentic Mexican salsa roja has a rich tomato taste with a kick of heat from red chiles. The type of peppers used can vary from dry to fresh, like the popular arbol chili peppers or ripened jalapeño peppers.

In many households is customary to prepare hot sauces in a molcajete, even though sometimes a blender or food processor is used for convenience.

If you are a Mexican food lover and enjoy spicy sauces this will become a staple in your home, because…

  • 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.
  • Salsa roja Mexicana can be made ahead and can be stored wonderfully either in the fridge or in the freezer so you can have it ready for your Taco Tuesday.
  • You can control how many chilies to add, so is either mild and great for those who don’t enjoy too much spicy in their food, or you can make it with lots of chiles for those who like a fiery spicy kick!
  • Salsa Roja Mexicana is gluten-free, dairy-free, AND vegan.
  • It is healthier and more delicious than any store-bought salsa out there.
Close-up of Authentic Salsa Roja Mexicana.
Look at that fiery and bright red color on this Mexican salsa!

Ingredients

  • Chiles: Use any type of red chiles you have available, they can be dried or fresh. In this recipe, I used chile de árbol.
  • Tomatoes: Fresh ripe tomatoes help to balance the spiciness and add a nice sweet touch to Mexican salsa roja.
  • Garlic: Use garlic cloves for the best flavor.
  • Salt: Any type of salt. I used coarse salt.

Note: As you can see, I didn’t add onions to this recipe, but that’s just a personal preference. Feel free to add 1 small onion if you want.

Authentic Mexican Salsa Roja Recipe

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

Removing stems from chiles to make salsa roja.

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 nicely soft, so don’t boil less than that.

Tomatoes placed in a pot with water.

Turn off the heat and add the spicy chili peppers. Push them down with a spoon so they can soak well in the hot water and soften nicely.

Remove the pot 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 the same with the rest of the chilies (read notes).

Grinded dried chiles with garlic and salt in a Mexican mortar.

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

Grinding tomatoes with a pestle to make salsa roja Mexicana.

Keep grinding until your salsa have the desired consistency (I like it with a chunky texture).

Adjust salt to taste and serve salsa roja Mexicana with your favorite dishes. I love it with refried beans, homemade tortillas, and queso fresco!

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 grind, the smoother your Mexican salsa roja 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 roast them in a pan or cast-iron skillet.

How To Serve

Here are some ideas on how to serve or use this authentic Mexican salsa roja recipe:

Huevos rancheros served with authentic salsa roja Mexicana.
Huevos Rancheros with Authentic Salsa Roja Mexicana.

How To Store

Salsa roja Mexicana lasts up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Make sure to transfer to an airtight container before storing. Glass containers keep the flavors better, but any container with a tight lid will work just fine.

You can also freeze it, it will last for up to 3 months in the freezer. I like to make a large batch and store it in small portions in bags, so I’ll have it ready for those busy days.

You can thaw the homemade salsa roja in the fridge overnight or use your microwave for this purpose.

FAQ

How hot is Salsa Roja?

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 or using other types of red chilies.

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

To tone down the spiciness in Salsa roja Mexicana boil another tomato or blend some roasted onions into the salsa. A few drops of lime juice might help as well.

What is roja sauce made of?

This type of spicy red salsa is made of red chili peppers, tomatoes, sometimes onions, and various spices like garlic, cumin seeds, and black pepper.

What does salsa roja mean?

Salsa roja means “red sauce” and it refers to the bright red color of this sauce.

Similar Recipes

If you liked this authentic Mexican salsa roja recipe, try also our other salsa recipes:

Watch How To Make It

Chile de arbol salsa recipe.

Salsa Roja Mexicana

author Maricruz
2 cups
A spicy, bright, and delicious Mexican salsa roja 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

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 half of the chilies.
  • Grind until you'll have a paste and then repeat with the remaining chilies.
  • Add one tomato at a time and grind well before adding the next.
  • Keep grinding until the salsa has 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 the 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 to this recipe. However, you can add a twist to the recipe using other ingredients, such as a pinch of cumin seeds, or oregano.
Nutrition Information
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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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.