Toasted Arbol Chile Salsa

Salsa de Chile de Arbol Tatemado
From Season 8, Mexico—One Plate at a Time
Servings: 3/4 Cup


  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1ounce (30 to 40) medium dried arbol chiles, stemmed


In an ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the garlic, turning regularly, until soft and blackened in spots, about 15 minutes. Remove and add the chiles. Stir nearly constantly until the chiles are considerably darker and they fill the kitchen with their toasty aroma, about 1 1/2 minutes. Peel the garlic and place in blender jar with the chiles and 3/4 cup water. Blend until nearly smooth (the salsa is best, I think, if it retains a little texture). Taste a little bit (it’ll be very spicy) and season with salt, usually about 1/2 teaspoon.


    1. 30 to 40 was one ounce for us in testing, but if you find them to be different sizes/weights “1 ounce” is more important that “30 to 40.”

  1. I plan to make this today. I have just made macha salsa and guajillo chile salsa , but have no idea how long these will keep in the fridge. Seems like the macha
    Salsa and the Arbol would keep a while . Thanks in advance for your answer. By the way, I love your show!

    1. If you keep a layer of oil over the top of the salsa it will last refrigerate for at least 3 months. Enjoy!

  2. Hi,

    What causes bitternes in chili sauces? Is it that they are old? This occurred when I made the guajillo salsa, so I would like to figure out my problem prior to making this sauce. Note: I did forget to do the final step on the guajillo sauce (simmering the pureed chili mix in hot oil for 10 minutes), could this have caused the bitternes?

    1. Hi Mike –
      You most likely over toasted your chiles. It can be challenging. There is a fine line between the perfect, sweet, nutty, toasted chile, and a bitter burnt chile. Make sure your pan isn’t too hot, toast it (one at a time) until it just barely changes color and becomes fragrant.

      Best of luck!

  3. Can’t wait to try this recipe. My Mom just brought me a big bag of dried Arbol chile from Mexico & I was unsure what to make with them

  4. I’d love to have some suggestions of how to serve this. It looks and sounds amazing, but I’d have no idea how to use it…

  5. I make this regularly so I always have some in the refrigerator. I grow Arbol chiles in my back yard just for this. I keep the sauce in a typical ketchup/mustard-style squeeze bottle so I do blend it very smooth and use a medium mesh strainer so chunks of Arbol do not plug the tip. When I make bean burritos or tostadas, the squeeze bottle makes applying the sauce very simple, clean and easy. I also use about 1 cup of water instead of the 3/4 cup called for in the recipe.

      1. Hi
        When i go to San Diego or tijanana the taquerias always use 4 ingredients as toppings
        Avacodo sauce and
        A red salsa (watery)

        My question is

        What is that red waters salas traditionally!

  6. Made this last week; hottest hot sauce I’ve tasted in a loooong time, my eyes are still tearing up…

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