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Chile de Arbol Salsa

Fiery hot and loaded with flavor, Chile de Arbol Salsa is a must for any hot sauce and spicy salsa fans. Made quickly and easily at home, this taqueria sauce is the perfect touch to a Mexican or Tex-Mex meal!

chile de arbol salsa on a platter with chips

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With a fiery hot heat courtesy of small, dried chiles, this amazing salsa is packed with flavor. It’s popular in taquerias and taco huts, where it is drizzled on top of tacos, tostadas, or for heat-seekers, served with chips.

There are dozens of versions of this tasty Mexican fresh salsa recipe, and this is mine. Inspired by Texas’s big and bold flavors and my love of chiles, this is an easy dish to make and master. If you love spicy food and Mexican cuisine, this salsa de arbol recipe is a must-try!

What you’ll love About This Recipe

  • It adds amazing flavor to SO many dishes!
  • It’s crazy hot and has a great texture.
  • Ready in about 20 minutes.

What Is Chile de Arbol Salsa?

Salsa de arbol is a pureed sauce or salsa, packed with heat and spice. It’s made from chiles de arbol (chile de arbol peppers) which you can find dried at most Latin markets or large grocery stores, especially in the Southwest.

They are small but hot peppers, getting up to about 30,000 Scoville Heat Units. That’s about 6 times spicier than a jalapeno, which is why you need so few of them for this recipe.

They’re also bright red and retain much of their color when dried, which is why the salsa is such a pretty color.

What You’ll Need

  • Oil – vegetable oil is fine
  • Onion – sweet or yellow/white onion
  • Fresh Tomatoes – I use Roma tomatoes for their texture
  • Garlic – fresh garlic cloves
  • Chiles de arbol – about an ounce, or 8-ish chiles


How to Make Chile de Arbol Salsa

For a complete list of ingredients and instructions, please scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of this page.

  1. Cut or break off the ends of the arbol chiles and tap them open end down to remove the seeds.
  2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then toast the chiles. Cook them in the oil for a minute, then flip them. Do NOT burn them, or your salsa will be bitter.
  3. Set the chiles in a small bowl and cover them with just enough water to cover them. About a cup.
  4. Saute the garlic and onion in the same skillet until they start to soften.
  5. Add the tomatoes and saute until they start to soften.
  6. Add the soaked chiles (reserve the water), onions, garlic, and tomatoes to a blender and puree until smooth. Add a spoonful or two of the reserved chile soaking liquid to create a smoother salsa.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • When toasting the chiles in oil, don’t burn them! If they look black, they’re burned – start over. Burned chilies will make your salsa chile de arbol taste bitter.
  • This salsa can be as thick or thin as you like it. For dipping chips, keep it thicker. For using it on tacos and in other Mexican dishes, thin it out so it can be drizzled.
  • Use dried chilis for this salsa – they have a more concentrated flavor.
  • If it’s too spicy for you, add more tomatoes and puree it again.

Serving Suggestions

Salsa roja chile de arbol is perfect in and on so many dishes! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Dunk tortilla chips into this fiery sauce
  • Add it as a drizzle on top of Birria Pizza
  • Jazz up your tostadas with a bit of chile de arbol sauce
  • It’s perfect on tacos of all kinds, even fish tacos
  • Add it to enchiladas
  • Use chile de arbol salsa for birria
  • and use it wherever you’d use hot sauce!
chile de arbol salsa on a platter with chips

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does chile de arbol salsa last?

This salsa will keep in your fridge for up to a week. If you want to keep it for longer, freeze it! It can be thawed and used just as it is. No heating or cooking is required after thawing it.

How hot is chile de arbol salsa?

It is HOT! Of course, everyone’s spice tolerance is different, but this is way hotter than any national brand taco sauce and even many hot sauces. It is hotter than Cholula Hot Sauce, for example.

Is this an easy chile de arbol salsa recipe?

Yes, it is very easy. After toasting the chillies and cooking the veggies, it all goes into the blender and that’s it!

step by step process

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Chile de Arbol Salsa on a platter with chips
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4.84 from 6 votes

Salsa de Arbol

Fiery hot but still creamy and delicious, a little of this Salsa de Arbol goes a long way! Add great Mexican chili flavor to your tacos, tostadas, burritos, and more!
Course Sauces / Spices / Dressings
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword hot sauce, salsa, Salsa de Arbol
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 51kcal



  • 2 tablespoons vegatble oil
  • 1/2 onion roughly chopped
  • 3 roma tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 ounce dried chiles de arbol about 6-8, seeds removed


  • Add the oil to a skillet and heat it over medium heat. Add the chilis and toast them in the skillet for 1 minute, turning often so they don't burn.
  • Remove the chiles from the skillet and put them into a small bowl. Cover the chilis with enough water to cover them.
  • Add the onions and garlic to the remaining oil in the skillet and sautee until the onion just starts to soften, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes to the skillet and cook an additonal 2-3 minutes just until the tomatoes start to soften.
  • Add the soaked chilis, onions, garlic, and tomatoes to a blender. Blend on high to create a smooth sauce. Add a tablespoon of chili soaking water at a time to thin the sauce to a pourable consistency.
  • Serve and enjoy!


Chef Jenn’s Tips

  • When toasting the chiles in oil, don’t burn them! If they look black, they’re burned – start over. Burned chilis will make your salsa taste bitter.
  • This salsa can be as thick or thin as you like it. For dipping chips, keep it thicker. For using it on tacos, thin it out so it’s more pourable.
  • Use dried chilis for this salsa – they have a more concentrated flavor.


Serving: 2tablespoons | Calories: 51kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 137mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 1133IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg

A Note on Nutritional Information

Nutritional information for this recipe is provided as a courtesy and is calculated based on available online ingredient information. It is only an approximate value. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site cannot be guaranteed.



5 thoughts on “Chile de Arbol Salsa”

  1. 5 stars
    Everything about this hits the spot for me. I love the ingredients, and I’m a BIG fan of anything that packs a kick of heat.

  2. 5 stars
    My boys LOVE HOT FOOD! So I surprised them this week with this fiery salsa! They loved it, slathered it on their burritos and ate with chips!


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