How to make homemade Chile de Arbol Salsa using dried chile de árbol peppers, onion, garlic, and tomatoes. This spicy Mexican salsa is simple and easy and makes a fiery dip or a topping for everything from tacos to eggs.
I’ll admit to being a bit shy when it comes to super spicy foods. I like a hit of heat but I don’t douse my food in chile flakes, like Armando does. I swear if it’s not spicy, he’s not interested. His favorite jelly is hot pepper. I rest my case.
This chile de arbol salsa packs just enough heat for me to let out a little yelp when I first dipped a chip into it’s silky sauce but the heat fades quickly and even more so when it is eaten with something more fatty like a Beef Tacos or Pork Flautas.
In other words it’s a salsa both Armando and I can get excited about.
what is chile de arbol?
The star of the show here are chile de arbol peppers (Spanish for “tree chile”).
They are a small, thin, red pepper also know as a bird’s beak chile or rat tail chiles because their shape resembles a long skinny bird beak or—you guessed it, a rat’s tail.
Check out my Mexican Pantry Guide for lots more info on Mexican ingredients.
where to buy chile de árbol?
Occasionally you can find the red chiles fresh, but it is much easier to buy the dried chiles.
Fresh, dried and even ground Chile de arbol peppers are readily available at your local Latin market.
When buying the dried árbol chiles look for large, whole chiles with bright red skin. Avoid ones that have blemishes or are broken.
is chile de arbol spicy?
The Scoville scale, which is a measurement of the spiciness of chile peppers, ranks these bright red chiles at 25,000-50,000 Scoville heat units. In other words, YES! Arbol chiles have high heat.
how to make salsa with chile de árbol?
The method for making this chili pepper salsa is one that is quite new to me and I’m really loving it.
Typically with a dried chile pepper salsa I toast the chiles and soak them until they are soft then blend everything together in a blender with charred or simmered vegetables.
This method of caramelizing all the ingredients in oil I found in not one, but three of my favorite cookbooks: The Baja California Cookbook by David Castro Hussong, Tu Casa Mi Casa by Enrique Olvera, and Nopalito by Guzman Gonzales.
It takes the aromatics like onion and garlic and first caramelizes them in oil then you add the chiles and tomatoes and cook everything together until it is sweet and tender.
The final step is to blend all the ingredients together until smooth in a blender or if you are bad ass, grind everything in a molcajete for the most authentic version.
Enrique Olvera said his grandmother used to say that salsas made in a blender taste like electricity. I’m not one to argue with her, but I’m also very lazy so I use a blender.
Also I think my molcajete is crap. If anyone has a good recommendation for a new one, I’d much appreciate it.
more mexican salsa recipes to try!
- Charred Tomatillo Salsa
- Easy Jalapeño Avocado Salsa Recipe
- Fiery Habanero Salsa Recipe
- Classic Guacamole
- Tomatillo Pico de Gallo
- Spiked Mango Margarita Salsa
- Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
ready to try your new favorite chile pepper salsa?
From it’s rusty red color to it’s fiery kick, I think you are going to love everything about this salsa—you might even get rid of all your hot sauces! Please let me know if you make it by snapping a pic and tagging me on Instagram @holajalapeno and #holajalapeno so I can see or leave me a comment below (don’t forget to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating) !
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or other neutral-flavored oil
- 1/2 white onion, sliced
- 5 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 2-5 dried chiles de arbol (depending on how spicy you want the salsa* See note about the seeds), stemmed and rinsed
- 2 medium tomatoes, quartered
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- Sauté the onions and garlic. Heat oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and garlic and deep golden and caramelized.
- Caramelize tomatoes and chiles. Add tomatoes and chiles and season again with salt. Continue cooking until the tomatoes are soft and browned in a few spots.
- Blend. Transfer everything to a blender. Add water and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Blend on high until very smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed.
- Enjoy or save. Eat right away or transfer to a tightly-sealed container and keep in the refrigerator for up to 7-10 days.
You can remove the seeds of the arbol chiles by breaking them open and shaking the seeds out. I leave them in to make this salsa extra spicy.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 37Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 132mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g
In support of this small business, ¡Hola! Jalapeño earns revenue in a few different ways. Several sponsored posts are published each month. I also earn an affiliate commission on the sales of products I link to— there are a few of those links in this post. I only feature items I genuinely love and personally use on a regular basis. This commission is an arrangement between the retailer and ¡Hola! Jalapeño (readers never pay more for products). This income allows me to run the site. Thank you for reading!