Whether served as a dip or as a garnish for Mexican cuisine, this chile de arbol salsa combines a rich, earthy flavor with a punch of searing, acidic heat.

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Bowl of chile de arbol salas surrounded by chips and sliced limes, with a single tip resting in the top of the dip.

About Chile de Arbol Salsa

Perfect as a delicious party dip or as a garnish for your favorite meal, this chile de arbol salsa is packed full of spicy, crowd-pleasing flavor.

What does chile de arbol salsa taste like?

The flavor in this salsa is driven by the chilies, which have an earthy, grassy flavor and a hint of nuttiness. The chilies also bring a searing, acidic heat, but this is tamed slightly by plumb tomatoes, tomatillos, and vegetable broth. Dashes of garlic and lime juice also help mellow the sharper edges of the other ingredients.

Is this salsa spicy?

Yes, this chile de arbol salsa is quite spicy. When it comes to peppers and chilies, a general rule of thumb is that they tend to get hotter as they get smaller, and this is very much the case for these chilies, because they are tiny.

To give you an example, this recipe calls for only one ounce of chilies – a relatively small amount – but this adds up to be anywhere between 25-50 arbol chilies, depending on the batch.

On the Scoville Scale, these chilies can be anywhere from 15,000-30,000 units. They are hotter than a jalapeno but milder than habanero and ghost pepper.

Top down view of a bowl full of chile de arbol salsa, surrounded by chips, sliced limes, and dried arbol chiles.

What can you use arbol chile salsa for?

  • As an easy appetizer with crispy chips or toasted bread for dipping.
  • As a sauce or garnish in Mexican-themed dishes, such as tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and soups.
  • As a thicker hot sauce. Think of any recipe where you would normally garnish with tobacco sauce.

How long is arbol chile salsa good for?

Once prepared and cooled, this salsa can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

Can you freeze this salsa?

Yes! This salsa freezes very well.

Once prepared and cooled, this salsa can be stored in a sealed container or freezer bag for up to six months.

TIP: Freeze this salsa in small cubes (like in an ice cube tray) to make it easy to use as garnishes or per-serving portions as needed.

Notes & tips for chile de arbol salsa

  • Whenever you are preparing hot chilies or peppers, be sure that you are wearing food safety gloves while handling them and avoid any contact with your eyes while you work.
  • If you’d like a milder salsa, remove the seeds from the chile de arbol before cooking. You can also add additional tomatoes or tomatillos to help dilute the punch of the chile de arbol.
  • Never worked with tomatillos before? No problem! It’s easier than you’d think to husk and prepare them. Check out this video on how to do it: Preparing Tomatillos.
  • You will need a blender of some sort to make this salsa. I recently got this KitchenAid food processor and highly recommend it!
Dipping a tortilla chip into chile de arbol salsa.

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How to make chile de arbol salsa

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a large skillet, heat the avocado oil, toss in the arbol chilies, and then quickly cook them until the red color begins to deepen.

Step 2 – Add the garlic, tomatoes, and tomatillos to the skillet and cool until vegetables are tender.

Step 3 – Pour in the vegetable broth and cook until the liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are soft.

Step 4 – Allow the contents of the skillet to cool slightly, then transfer it all to a food processor. Toss in the lime juice and salt (to taste) and then blend until the consistency is smooth.

Step 5 – If desired, store the salsa in the refrigerator to cool everything down.

Step 6 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Bowl of chile de arbol salas surrounded by chips and sliced limes, with a single tip resting in the top of the dip.
4.50 from 2 votes

Chile de Arbol Salsa

20 mins prep + 20 mins cook + 1 hr Cooling Time
26 kcal
Yields: 16 servings (2 tbsp per)
Whether served as a dip or as a garnish for Mexican cuisine, this chile de arbol salsa combines a rich, earthy flavor with a punch of searing, acidic heat.

Ingredients 

Instructions

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, warm avocado oil. Once hot, add dried arbol chilies and cook, stirring constantly, until color begins to deepen, about 2-3 minutes.
    2 tablespoons avocado oil, 1 ounce dried arbol chilies
  • Add garlic, tomatoes, and tomatillos to skillet. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant and vegetables begin to soften, about another 2-3 minutes.
    1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic, 2 plum tomatoes, 2 tomatillos
  • Pour vegetable broth into skillet. If needed, use a spatula to gently scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any stuck-on bits. Bring mixture to a simmer and cook until liquid has evaporated and vegetables are soft, about 10-15 minutes.
    1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • Remove skillet from heat. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then carefully pour contents into a food processor. Add lime juice and season with sea salt. Blend on high until smooth or desired consistency is reached, about 2-3 minutes.
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt, 1/4 cup lime juice
  • Transfer salsa to a sealed container and chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (optional).
  • Serve immediately as a dip, garnish, or ingredient for another recipe.

Notes

Recipe makes roughly 2 cups salsa.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 26kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 104mg | Potassium: 68mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 556IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy