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Salsa de Chile de Arbol

Not too long ago, a friend and old colleague of mine sent a picture on Facebook of a simple picture of salsa. That is all it was. A picture of a small ramekin of dark and delicious looking salsa. The foodie that I am, I responded immediately with a comment, and that built some small conversation regarding this small bowl of delicious looking salsa. Another friend and old colleague of mine chimed in and said, ‘hey, that looks like chile de arbol’.

Salsa de Chile de Arbol

I was already hungry, and looked into my cabinets, and brought out the bags of chiles I already I had on hand. Chile de arbol. A pepper that has a great red color to it, and one that carries with it a bit of heat. One that would be perfect to concoct a killer salsa, and I was ready for the heat. After looking at the picture on Facebook, I investigated what could possibly be in there. I noticed the usual suspects, and decided to come up with my own take on chile de arbol.

There are ingredients, in my opinion, that make a really good salsa. As many Americans are used to that jarred crap of chunky salsa (no offense), there are easy techniques, and easy ingredients that can make a salsa any way you want. Whether it be sweet, hot, chunky, or smooth, the beautiful thing about salsa is that you are in control of the situation. Roasting vegetables, or cooking in a hot cast iron skillet, or heck, for that matter, fresh and blended, salsa reigns king in so many ways.


  • 6 tomatillos, husked, cleaned, and cut in half
  • 12-18 chile de arbol peppers (less equals less heat)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
  • 1 shallot, cut in half
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup of cilantro
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Start with a cast iron skillet. If you do not have one, use your oven, on 425 degrees, and place the chilies on the skillet or roasting pan, and cook for about 5 minutes, just enough time to release some of the oils of the chilies. Once the chilies are lightly roasted, place in a bowl with 1/4 cup of the water.

Next, add the garlic, shallots, and tomatillos to the cast iron skillet. Cook for about 10 minutes, until you have a nice charred appearance on all of the items in the skillet.

Get your blender out, and add in the chilies and water, and the roasted vegetables. Toss in the salt and cilantro, and blend until you have a nice puree.  Remove from the blender, and add to a container to let chill.

Now get ready. Get your chips out, get some soft tortillas, or get your favorite slow cooked meat out, and drizzle this salsa all over it. The great heat, the sweetness, and the flavors of this salsa, really make this one awesome. Thanks to Justin and Romke for stirring the conversation. Sometimes that is all that is needed.

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