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Chile de Arbol Salsa

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Spicy Mexican Salsa made with roasted Chile de Arbol pods and fresh Tomatillos. This salsa is perfect on all your favorite Mexican dishes.

Up close view of salsa in a clay bowl on a marble board.

Salsa is a staple in Mexican cuisine and this Chile de Arbol salsa compliments so many dishes. It’s smoky, spicy, but balanced from the tomatillos.

If you’ve been intimidated to make your own salsa, I’m here to show you that it’s not complicated and you’ll want to have this salsa on hand every week!

What is Chili de Arbol?

Chile de Arbol is a long red pepper and in Spanish is sometimes called Bird’s beak chile. The spice level is higher than that of a jalapeno but not as spicy as a habanero. Chile de arbol are sold dried at most grocery stores or online.

Cutting board with tomatillos, red peppers, garlic, and a glass of water.

The other ingredients for this salsa are fresh tomatillos, garlic, and a little water.

How to Roast Chile de Arbol and Tomatillos

Remove the stems from the pepper, and shake out some of the seeds. The salsa will be less spicy this way.

Then place peppers in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast lightly to bring out the aroma. Make sure they don’t burn.

Chile's toasting in a stainless steel skillet.

Place the toasted chile de arbol in a blender or food processor, and in the same skillet add the tomatillos. The tomatillos need to have the husk removed, washed, and dried.

Roasting the tomatillos does take some time, about 10-15 minutes. You want them to get blistered and softened. Once they are slightly soft, I recommend turning off the heat and leave them on the skillet to cool and soften more for a few minutes.

Tomatillos roasting on a pan.

Roasting the tomatillos can also be done in the oven or on the grill.

How can I control the spice level?

Removing the seeds from the chile de arbol will make the salsa less spicy. If it’s still to spicy, add a roasted roma tomato to help cool it down. Also refrigerating the salsa will lower some of the spice as well.

Want more spice?? Add a roasted habanero or serrano pepper to make it spicier. You can also add more chile de arbol as well.

Storing the Salsa

Once the salsa is blended taste and see if additional salt is needed. You can serve the salsa right away or pour it into a jar with a lid and have it cool down in the refrigerator.

Sala in a clay bowl with a yellow napkin on the side.

Salsa will keep fresh in a sealed container up to 7 days in the refrigerator.

Use this salsa on Carne Asada Tacos, Chicken Tinga, or Breakfast Burritos. Chile de Arbol salsa pairs well with many Mexican Dishes!

Up close view of salsa in a clay bowl with chili's on the side.

Chile de Arbol Salsa Recipe

Spicy Mexican Salsa made with roasted Chile de Arbol and tomatillos.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 oz


  • Blender or Food Processor



  • Peel husk from tomatillos and wash well to remove residue from skin. Allow to dry.
  • Remove stems from chile de arbol pods. You can also remove the seeds if you want it less seedy and spicy. Place peppers in a dry skillet over medium heat. Toast lightly to bring out the aroma, but don't burn them. Transfer toasted chili's to a blender or food processor and set aside.
  • Place dry tomatillos in the same skillet (no oil). Roast tomatillos over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, until they blister and soften. Once the tomatillos start softening, turn off the heat and leave them on the skillet to cool and soften more for a few minutes. The salsa may turn out bitter if you blend hot tomatillos.
  • Add 1/4 cup of water to the blender or food processor with the chili's and blend until a paste forms. Then add cooled and softened tomatillos, garlic, and salt to blender. Pulse until salsa is incorporated and desired consistency is reached.
    Salsa can be used right away or store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator to cool.



If salsa is too spicy, add a roasted roma tomato. For more spice add a roasted habanero or serrano pepper. Taste the salsa and adjust the amount of salt to your liking.
Salsa will store in a sealed jar up to 7 days in the refrigerator.
More Salsa Recipe:
Salsa Verde
Tomato Salsa
Thai Salsa Roja


Serving: 1ozCalories: 13kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2mgPotassium: 95mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 281IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 3mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is provided as an estimate only and depends on ingredients and amounts used. Thai Caliente makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.

Keyword Chile de Arbol Salsa, Salsa de Arbol, Salsa de Tomatillo Roja
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  1. Figured someone would have commented on this. This is fantastic! I was looking for the same kinda sauce my favorite mexican restaurant offers. This tastes the exact same…and now I can make it!!

  2. Recipe is phenomenal. You can make so much for so cheap and not labor intensive at all. I doubled the peppers, tomatillos, added one more clove but only 1/4 of water to make it a little thicker.

    Also, I didn’t pull stems and put half the seeds in from what was left to make it a tad spicier than the hottest chipotle salsa.

  3. I have no idea what I did wrong. My Dried Chile de Arbol and water did not make a paste. Also, the outcome was very green and not red and very very hot even with removing many of the seeds.
    I added the roasted Roma tomatoes to reduce the heat but it just doesn’t seem right.
    Can you give me any advice?

    1. Hi Tina, try soaking the chile de arbols in hot water and see if that softens them. I used a high-powered blender so that’s a factor. And yes, the peppers are very hot. Use less chiles and add a dried guajillo that is rehydrated in hot water.

  4. I LOVE this salsa and so did everyone in the family. I didn’t have Chile the Arbol so I used Chile Japones. It was so good, I can only imagine how much better it’ll be with Chile de Arbol. This is definitely a keeper. Thank you.

  5. This is so good! I have been trying to figure out how to make this for a long time, after having it in Laredo, TX the first time. It came out perfectly. I will definitely be making this again and again.