Chile de Arbol Salsa for Spice Enthusiasts

I can always count on finding this chile de arbol salsa in my mom’s refrigerator. She and I like very spicy salsas, and we love the intensity of this one. My grandma always had a mild salsa casera (homemade salsa) made with Hatch roasted chile in her kitchen and my mom always has this smoky and spicy salsa in hers. I have to confess that I have eaten an entire bowl of this salsa with a bag of chips in one sitting on more than one occasion. It’s an addicting salsa if you can handle the heat.

This salsa is also my husband’s favorite. He likes spicy chile, and the smoky flavor of this salsa pairs especially well with steak, brisket, and ribs (some of his favorite foods). I highly recommend this recipe to anyone looking to bring some heat to their next Cinco de Mayo party or Memorial Day BBQ.

Chile de Arbol Salsa

Makes 2 1/2 cups


  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 20 chiles de arbol, stemmed (do not remove seeds or veins)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup canned peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt


Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chiles and toast for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly so chiles are fried well and change color.

Add onion and garlic and fry for 2 minutes, again stirring constantly.

Transfer fried ingredients to a food processor or blender and add whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salt. Puree until salsa is smooth with specks of chiles. Add salt to taste.

Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Use as a salsa dip or to top off your favorite tacos or tostadas. Chile de arbol salsa can be stored in the refrigerator 3 to 5 days, or frozen for many weeks.

Yvette Marquez-Sharpnack is the writer at the award winning blog, She also is a professional recipe developer and food writer, and is the co-author of Muy Bueno: Three Generations of Authentic Mexican Flavor. You can watch a trailer for the book here.

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