This spicy and tasty Chile de Arbol Salsa is the perfect addition to tacos, tamales, and more.
With VIDEO or follow along the step-by-step photos to make this true Mexican food favorite that adds a flavorful kick.
Tijuana, Mexico is the land of tacos.
I’ve spent time in different parts of Mexico, and I’ve never seen as many taco stands as in this border town.
There are tacos for everyone – shrimp tacos, beef tacos, steamed tacos, even gourmet tacos.
It probably has to do with its proximity to the US.
People from all over the Mexican Republic stop in Tijuana en route to the promised land (aka America).
At Mexican taquerías, you will see several salsas.
The hard part is having to choose just one or two salsas.
Next to the salsas, you might also find a row of hot sauce containers.
We like it hot in Mexico.
How to Make Chile de Arbol Salsa
If the salsa is slightly orange-y, you might confuse it for habanero salsa.
Don’t let that fool you.
Proceed with caution.
Chile de árbol pepper has no mercy!
If Chile de Arbol Salsa has an orange-y color, that means it’s hot.
I like the kick that Chile de árbol Salsa has.
So, I’m making it with 2 Roma tomatoes and 2 tomatillos.
This combo is what gives it that orange-y color.
You can add all tomatoes, or all tomatillos.
FYI, the more tomatoes and tomatillos that you use, the milder it will be.
If you like your Chile de Arbol Salsa to be spicier, omit one of the tomatoes.
After the tomatoes and tomatillos have been charring for a bit, add the onion and garlic.
Some people will skip this step all together, and keep it raw.
But it’s not the law.
I like the taste that roasting, smokey, charring gives.
You can also boil the tomatoes and tomatillos.
I find it easier though to do everything in one pan and only have to clean one pan.
Garlic seems to char up quickly, and you don’t want to burn it.
Remove it after 1-2 minutes and let everything else finishing charring.
You can also roast everything in the oven too.
Old habits die hard. That is why I do it this way.
The roasting flavor will be what makes your Chile de Arbol Salsa incredibly tasty.
This Chile de Arbol Salsa is slightly different from other salsas because it includes dried chiles.
They need to be rehydrated in order to use in our recipe.
In a clean skillet, heat the oil.
This is hot stuff, and I’m not just talking about the salsa.
I used olive oil, but you can also use canola oil or sunflower oil.
We are not frying. So, you don’t have to worry about smoking point of the oil.
- Next, add all the chile de árbol.
- This will take no more than 1-2 minutes.
- Watch them carefully.
If they burn, the chile will be bitter.
I assure you that bitter is not better, and that’s no bueno.
When you do this, the room can get smokey. People might start coughing.
I highly advise you to open up the windows and let in some fresh air.
The other thing… and most importantly … don’t touch your eyes.
I am used to cooking with chiles, but if that’s not you, use gloves.
If you don’t own gloves, carefully use tongs.
- To a blender, add all the chile de arbol.
- Also add as much of the oil as you can get from the pan.
The oil adds a smooth texture.
You don’t have to, but I really like the silkiness the oil adds to the Chile de Arbol Salsa.
Time to add the roasted tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, and garlic to the blender.
The tomatoes and the tomatillos will make this salsa liquid and not very chunky.
You can also make this salsa in a molcajete if you have one.
In my opinion, molcajete salsas are the best, but they require too much work. lol.
I absolutely love the colors in the blender.
Everything already looks so yummy.
You can’t forget the salt. That is very important too.
I would start small with the salt.
Blend then taste.
If it needs more salt, then add more salt.
You can always add salt, but taking salt out is virtually impossible.
Only add as much water as you need to blend everything.
I used about 1/4 cup of water. You can also use vegetable broth or chicken broth for another layer of flavor.
Blend until smooth.
Have you ever tried cooking with salsa? I do this quite a bit actually.
I sear the protein on both sides- chicken, beef, fish. Then, I add the salsa to finish the cooking process.
It makes for a simple and quick dinner especially if you have the salsas already ready to go.
In the case of Chile de Arbol Salsa because it’s so super hot, you can cook with it. However, I would only add a bit of the salsa and some broth.
Let this salsa cool a bit before tasting.
It is always spicier when it is still warm.
For all my fellow nerds what’s happening is that the molecules are excited, and they’ll overwhelm your tongue.
Chill out, molecules!
It can be hard to resist. I get it. You want to taste your creation right away.
Chile de Arbol Salsa is NOT for spicy food haters.
The chile de arbol pepper is almost as hot as habanero. A good substitute for chile de arbol is chile japones.
The easiest way to add more spice to your life is by making this Chile de Arbol Salsa.
Use it sparingly, or you’ll start shooting smoke out of your ears.
Hope you enjoy!
Watch How to Make Chile de Arbol Salsa
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 tomatillos
- ¼ onion
- 1 garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup dried chile de arbol (stems removed)
- ½ tablespoon salt
- ¼ cup water
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