Salsas & Sauces/

Salsa Macha

From Season 8, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 22/3 cups


  • 2ounces dried chiles (one or more of the following: arbol, chiltepin,pequin, serrano seco, chipotle, morita, puya, guajillo, ancho, mulato, pasilla -depending on the flavors and spiciness you want to go for)
  • 1 1/2ounces (1/3 cup) nuts (one or more of the following: almonds, peanuts, pecan pieces)
  • 1tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 2cups olive oil
  • 1tablespoon vinegar (cider vinegar works well here)
  • 1teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2teaspoondried herbs (one or more of the following: Mexican oregano, marjoram, or thyme)


Stem the chiles, then break or cut them open and scrape/brush/let fall out most of the seeds; cut into 1/4-inch pieces - you will have about 1 cup. (Simply use chiltepin or pequin whole.)

In a large (4-quart) saucepan, combine the nuts, sesame seeds, garlic and oil. Set over medium-high heat and cook until garlic and sesame seeds are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chiles. Let cool 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix the vinegar with the salt until the salt dissolves, then add it to the pan along with the herbs. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it into a blender or food processor and pulse until everything is chopped into small pieces. Run the processor for a few seconds until everything is finely chopped—but not pureed. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to use.


  1. Was born in Mexico, raised in Mexico and am 87 yrs old. I am still amazed a how much I have missed of the wonderful food Rick Bayless is presenting in his shows. Of the ones I have tried I have not had a bad one. Sauces, appetizers, entrees and all.
    The show is great and the food is excellent.

      1. Chili Beak spicy oil is really good. It sells on Amazon and highly recommended. It has smooth smoky notes and goes really well on many Mexican dishes or pizza.

  2. I love love the salsa macha! I always have extra after using on my lamb chops. How long can I store it in the refrigerator?

  3. My dad Valente, aka Conejo, used to make a “Agua de Gallo”, no one, except sister Chi-la, my big sis, can make it now. Has anyone else heard of this? The reason I’m reaching out to you, Rick, is because you talk about working with chilitipin, a favorite of my dad or mom, at this point I am not sure who’s thing this was. But for me, I love it in my salsas, etc. Thanks Rick, love your show, it always makes me hungry and happy. BTW, Primal Grill really started it all??? GMAB! Baba Ghanouj, doesn’t do anything for me or anyone I know

  4. I like Rick Bayless’ recipe for the most part. I do have a couple comments. His list of dried chiles to try is almost exhaustive, but what Mexicans call chile japonés (I’m not sure why other than it’s the same dried chile served whole in some Sichuan Chinese dishes) is often the base. Adding herbs is not typical, although it shouldn’t hurt. I would avoid vinegar altogether, with the general rule that Mexican salsas should never have vinegar, sugar, nor tomato products that aren’t actual fresh tomatoes. Otherwise, the technique is very sound. Do realize that this is very spicy. It’s not meant to cover dishes like enchiladas. A dab on some scrambled eggs is more like it.

    1. You are spot on. I live in Mexico and while the various salsa macha we might run into could have peanuts and maybe sesame, they never have vinegar nor any herbs.

      One of the primary things I learned from real Mexican mothers and grandmothers is that salsas are simple. Usually 2-4 ingredients including the salt. Gringo recipes generally add extras.

      Never vinegar except in bottled sauces. No sugar.

      1. Not true. Pati Jinich, a Mexican chef and not a gringo, uses both vinegar and sugar in her salsa Macha. As do countless other Mexican cook’s.

  5. Salsa Macha is a staple here at our home. Goes into justabout everythiing, but it is a bit to spicy for my wife. Perfect on top of saltine crackers as a snack!

  6. I used this recipe as a base for a more Asian inspired salsa. I included about a tablespoon each of fermented black beans and those little dried shrimp. I also added about 1 to 2 tablespoons szechuan pepper corns. Plus about 2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice instead of the oregano. Oh man. This is lights out. Fantastic on anything with rice.

  7. I made mine w/raw Spanish peanuts and only 1 chile de arbol. Otherwise no changes. Mine was creamy and not very spicy. Next time I’ll try VA peanuts and use another chile. Still good though.

  8. I have lived in Merida Yucatan for 10 years. The only thing I would suggest for salsa macha is that you do not puree the peanuts with the other ingredients – chop them and leave them in little chunks. It is more real and more delicious.

    1. pureeing the nuts and ingredients turns it into more of a thai peanut butter sauce – which is not salsa macha at all. The ingredients need to be chopped fine and added/float on their own separately. Great as a condiment on meats or chicken, salsa for chips, etc.

      1. Good to have this feedback. With my first attempt, the nuts and sesame seeds completely emulsified the salsa into a thick paste. Granted, I might have had some of the measurements off, but I will try not blending the nuts/seeds next time. Thanks!

  9. Acid balances flavor, it brings all elements in a sauce together. Chiles are bitter, adding acid such as vinegar or citrus will create contrast with other ingredients to balance and heighten flavor!
    Quiet honestly if you are not a highly decorated chef that has spent their entire life to perfect their craft, mentor and educate countless successful chefs than STFU!! 😉
    BTW, yes I am a trained professional chef.

Leave a Reply

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