Traditional Arbol Chile Salsa

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If you've never had a Traditional Arbol Chile Salsa before, prepare yourselves. You might never make any other way, ever again!

First things first - you're going to need some Dried Arbol Chiles for this recipe. I buy them in bulk on Amazon and keep them on hand to make this salsa whenever the mood strikes! The Chile de Arbol is a pepper native of Mexico and part of Central America. It's a tad bit spicy and incredibly delicious. It's one of the most used dried peppers in Mexican cooking, principally in salsas and we ate it every single day when we were visiting Mexico City!

When it comes to cooking, you can grind it down and use it as a powder, but I tend to reconstitute it in some kind of liquid and then use it in a salsa. Below the peppers are brought to a boil with some water and then added to the rest of the salsa mixture before pureeing into a smooth consistency! Couldn't be easier!

And if you're making this - you might as well make my whole Mexico City inspired happy hour menu! Recipes are all linked above + below!

  • To Start: El Sueno Cocktails – the recipe makes enough for 2 drinks. But it’s easily scalable depending on how many you need to serve. Also you can make this ahead of time and store in a pitcher. Just add ice into a glass and pour in. ** don’t add ice into the pitcher if you prep ahead as it will water down the taste**
  • Next up: Chicken Taquitos! One of my fav quick and easy snacks ever. And puts the store bought ones to shame!
  • Crispy Cheese Quesadillas are basically inside out quesadillas with marinated caramelized mushrooms and OMG they are fantastic.
  • We’re rounding out the happy hour menu with a Traditional Salsa and a Roasted Hot Salsa! Both are freaking phenomenal!

Traditional Arbol Chile Salsa

Author: Gaby Dalkin
5 from 1 vote
This Traditional Arbol Chile Salsa is truly incredible. You'll want to make a triple batch and freeze some because it's some of the best homemade salsa you'll ever have!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 4 people


  • 6-10 dry arbol chiles, cleaned with a damp cloth
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 4 small tomatillos, husks removed and cleaned
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Kosher salt


  • Fill a medium pot with 6 cups cold water and add the dry chilies, bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling add in the tomatoes, garlic and tomatillos.  Cook 10 min. Remove from heat, strain and discard the water, place everything into a blender and pulse the blender to chop everything up, smooth but chunky.
  • Add the onions and cilantro to the blender and pulse a few more times, or until you have the consistency you like. Remove to a bowl and stir in salt and lime juice. Let cool to room temp and refrigerate 3-5 days


No blender jar handy? A food processor or immersion blender will work just as well.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 34kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Sodium: 4mg | Potassium: 236mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 572IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 19mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this Recipe? Tag me Today!Mention @WhatsGabyCookin or tag #whatsgabycooking!


  1. Hi Gaby! This looks amazing! Is there a recommended alternative to an Arbol Chile that is just a small step down? I found Ancho, Pasilla or Cascabel onlike but not sure which may be a good substitute for a milder heat ?

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness Gaby this is so good. I’m officially ruined on any other salsa for good. So, here’s to double batching! I have to try the spicier version!

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