This fiery Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa is deep and complex made with dried chile de árbol, lots of cilantro, tomatillos and crushed garlic. It’s amazing with tortilla chips or as an enchilada sauce. Vegan and gluten-free!
If you thought there was only one tomatillo salsa in the world and it came charred and blended, let me expand your horizons a bit.
Tomatillos are so beautiful and diverse they can be spun in so many different directions, and in fact, I seem to never tire of thier bright, tart flavor.
This red chili salsa is one of those recipes I stumbled upon one day when I was making my favorite Arbol Chile Salsa and decided to add some tomatillos that needed to be used in the fridge. Come to find out, it’s kinda-sorta like the Chipotle Salsa, but in my opinion, way, way better.
ingredients you’ll need to make this Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa
Because tomatillos are so power-packed with flavor you don’t need a lot of ingredients to make a tomatillo salsa truly sensational.
They are so tart, you don’t need lime juice, so complex you don’t need any spices like ground cumin and so well balanced you don’t even need salt and pepper–okay, you will need salt…but not pepper.
Here’s the short and sweet ingredient list:
- Avocado oil
- White onion
- Dried Arbol Chiles. These are Mexican chiles that pack a punch. Keep reading to find out how to control the heat level.
- Kosher salt
How to make Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa
We start this salsa off by building flavor immediately. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onions on medium heat until they get nice and brown, season with salt.
Caramelize other veggies
Add the garlic, arbol chiles, and tomatillos and continue cooking until they all get a nice golden color to them. This frying step replaces the dry char you would get from lining them up on a baking sheet and charring under the broiler.
Transfer the caramelized ingredients to a food processor or blender. Add water, salt, and cilantro and process until smooth.
Dip a chip into the salsa. It should run off the chip without being gloppy. If it is too thick add a tablespoon or so of water until it is the right consistency.
Now taste it. It should sing in your mouth. If it’s not signing, add a pinch or two more of salt.
Tips for controlling the heat
Make no mistake, this is a hot salsa. But like all good hot sauce, you can adjust the spice level until it is just the way you like it.
Of course, you can simply lower the number of árbol chiles in the salsa (or increase them if it is not spicy enough).
Removing the seeds is also a good way to make it more mild. Chiles de árbol are small, pinky finger-sized chiles so removing the seeds can be a bit tricky.
I tear off the stem and then tip the chiles upside down to shake out as many of the seeds as I can.
Ways to use it
I can gladly finish off a batch of this salsa with a bag of chips and an icy margarita or two but you can also use this tomatillo salsa in any recipe that calls for enchilada sauce. In fact, I made sure this recipe makes enough (3 cups) to use in any of the following enchilada recipes:
- Spicy Vegan Enchiladas
- Vegetarian Black Bean Enchilada Casserole
- Freezer-Friendly Picadillo Enchiladas
- Mushroom and Cheese Enchiladas
- Stacked Enchiladas Suizas with Chicken
- Cheese Enchiladas with Chili Spiced Raisins
- Creamy Chicken Enchiladas with Jamaica Mole Sauce
How Long Will It Last?
Like any other homemade salsa, it will keep in a tightly-sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week. You can also freeze it for up to 3 months.
More Mexican Salsa Recipes To Try
- Spicy Chile de Arbol Salsa Recipe
- Fiery Habanero Tomatillo Salsa
- Super Simple Salsa Verde
- Roasted Green Hatch Chile Salsa
- Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
- Charred Poblano Guacamole
- Charred Tomatillo Salsa
Make the Chipotle Hot Sauce Even Better!
If you love Chipotle’s spicy tomatillo salsa than you will be crazy for this even more delicious version. Let me know when 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) ! Also, sign up for my weekly newsletter, lots of good stuff there too!
- 1/4 cup avocado oil
- 1 small white onion, large dice
- 10 cloves garlic, rough chop
- 10 dried arbol chiles, stemmed and seeds removed if you'd like it less spicy
- 1 pound tomatillos, husks removed and halved
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- 1 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems
- Brown onions. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and season with salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until tender and golden, about 5 minutes.
- Brown remaining vegetables. Add garlic, arbol chiles, and tomatillos. Season again with salt and cook until chiles have darkened in color and garlic is browned, about 7 minutes more.
- Blend. Transfer vegetables to a blender. Add water, measured amount of salt, and cilantro and blend on high until very smooth.
- Taste. Dip a chip into the salsa. It should run off and leave a slick of salsa on the chip. If it is gloppy, add another tablespoon or so of water. Taste the salsa. It should pop with flavor. If it doesn't add a pinch or two more of salt.
Salsa will keep covered in the fridge for up to a week.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 62Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 283mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 4g
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