Chile de Arbol Salsa Recipe

chile de arbol salsa

Watch the salsa video on YouTube!

I’ve been working on this chile de arbol salsa for at least five years. My first serious notes about it are dated summer of 2012, but I’d been trying out variations before then. You may not know, when we started this cooking show and website in 2010, I had a full-time job as a dental assistant. There was a woman who’d come by the office about every two weeks right around lunch time carrying a cooler filled with hot tamales, wrapped up by the dozen. God, they were perfect.

I’d get the queso and chile ones; they had a white cheese and strips of roasted jalapeño inside. Each dozen came with a tiny baggie of a smooth, runny, pure red salsa that was SO hot and SO delicious I could never stop eating it. I’d always run out before I finished my tamales. I asked her once what was in it and she just said chile de arbol and salt. I suspect there was more to it than that, but I do not blame her for keeping it secret.

Here’s my version of chile de arbol salsa. Try it on tamales, fried tacos, breakfast tacos, even pizza. Pretty much rules on everything.

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chile de arbol salsa

Chile De Arbol Salsa Recipe


Chile de Arbol Salsa Recipe

5 from 2 reviews

  • Author:
  • Yield: 24 ounces


  • 3 ounces (85 grams) dried chile de arbol
  • 6 (20 g) garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons (12 g) salt
  • 2 cups (500 mL) water
  • 1/4 cup (50 mL) apple cider vinegar


  1. Remove stems from chiles and discard.
  2. Cover chiles and peeled garlic cloves with boiling water. Cover and let soak 3 hours or longer.
  3. Drain and add to blender with remaining ingredients.
  4. Blend until smooth. Taste to see if you’d like more salt.
  5. Pour into a jar and cover loosely. Allow to age in a dark cabinet for a week, maybe longer. It might bubble a little so we want to wait for that to finish before pouring into salsa jars.
  6. Transfer to smaller jars and seal. Keeps at room temperature for 6 months.


Chile de Arbol Salsa Video


  1. The Other Randy says:

    Actually, whether or not salsa outsells ketchup depends on how you measure sales. If measured by sales in terms of dollars, salsa wins because it costs more per bottle than ketchup. But if measured by units sold, ketchup is still numero uno. Of course, I read this in a book called “Ketchup” (the history of ketchup is a lot more interesting than you might think).

    Yours truly is not part of the statistics for either product as I make my own ketchups and salsas. Most of the salsa recipes are yours and I’m glad I’ll be adding another. I’ve actually been ready for a couple of weeks with a bottle labeled “Hilah’s Top Secret Hot Sauce”. I’m going to have to switch it to a bigger bottle, though 🙂

  2. Any tips on sterilizing the jars and the bottles?

    • Great question. I just run them through the dishwasher first for this salsa recipe. I’ve never had a batch get contaminated – might be the vinegar but I suspect the high volume of capsaicin retards bacterial growth, too.

  3. Hey Hilah! I’m not too experienced in aging or canning, but I’m wondering, what makes this salsa safe to stay outside refrigeration for a week or so? Is it the vinegar?

  4. Justin and Toby says:

    Hot damn, Hilah! That Chili De Arbol sauce is hot hot hot hot hot! We just made some and are looking forward to it aging a bit. 🙂

  5. Hey Hilah, I was wondering if this will ferment in the fridge? I think Ive seen videos where kimchi is fermented in the fridge. Or does it have to be on the counter?


  6. Oh shoot, I think I used the wrong vinegar. I used filtered apple cider vinegar. Will it not ferment if it’s not the unfiltered kind?

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