Tomatillo Arbol Chile Salsa

Recipe from Season 6, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 13/4 cups


  • 1/2ounce (about 16) chile de arbol
  • 6 large garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1pound (10 to 12 medium)tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • Salt
  • About 1/2teaspoon sugar (optional)


In an ungreased skillet set over medium heat, toast the chiles, stirring them around for a minute or so until they are very aromatic (some will have slightly darkened spots on them). Cover with hot tap water and let rehydrate for 30 minutes.

In the same skillet, roast the garlic, turning regularly, until soft and blotchy-dark in places, about 15 minutes. Cool and slip off the papery skin.

Roast the tomatillos on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler until darkly roasted, even blackened in spots, about 5 minutes. Flip them over and roast the other side - 4 or 5 minutes more will give you splotchy-black and blistered tomatillos. Cool, then transfer the contents of the baking sheet (including any juices) to a blender or food processor.

Drain the chiles and add them to the tomatillos along with the garlic. Puree, then scrape into a serving dish. Stir in enough water to give the salsa a spoonable consistency, usually about 1/4 cup. Season with salt, usually a scant teaspoon, and the sugar. Refrigerated, the salsa keeps for several days.


  1. if the recipe calls for arbol chiles is it fresh or dried and what if fresh is not availalble I’m making the short ribs with beer and mushrroms, white bean recipe

    1. Hi Marissa, it calls for dried arbor peppers. The very first instructions are to roast the chiles and then cover them with hot tap water for 30 minutes to rehydrate them.

  2. marinara sauce and enchilada sauce cetnairly. I think I’d also use some of the marinara as a base for vegetable soup and freeze some of that. and how about barbeque sauce?

  3. Hey. Love all the shows! I don’t get the best pepper selection where I am. One of my faves is a dried stash of what I believe to be puyah chiles. Any thoughts on subbing them for the arbol? Or a suggestion for a great recipe w them?


  4. I’ve made this recipe several times with success. The sauce always comes out tart, spicy and delicious. I decided to try something a little different with my home-grown tomatillos and arbol chiles yesterday. I added a large roasted tomato and roasted onion to the mix. I doubled the garlic and salt, and skipped the sugar. The sauce came out very sweet and spicy with just a hint of tartness. I think this batch with the tomato and onion turned out even more delicious than the previous batches.

  5. This salsa always surprises and delights with flavor — Eat it on chips, tacos, quesadillas, and eggs. Sometimes I add cilantro or green onion (cooked with the tomatillos). You can also go easy on the pureeing and add diced avocado to add some texture. I’m always tempted to add more chilis, but it is not needed. Also, I usually add another 1/2 tsp of salt.

    1. Yes, I would remove the stems and seeds before blending. You don’t have to get EVERY seed but i would remove the stems.

      1. Yeah. It would be nice if it said this in the recipe! MY batch came out super hot. I love spicy, but not crazy spicy…

  6. This recipe is easy and delicious. Thanks, Rick! On the last batch that I made I added a tsp of toasted sesame seeds and 1/4 cup toasted almonds and then pureed everything. Turned out to be a nice addition. Hope I didn’t offend Rick or his devotees by deviating from his recipe.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *