This image courtesy of Jeanine Thurston

The smoky flavor of this salsa pairs well with beef, and Mom always serves it alongside her brisket. In fact, I can always count on finding this salsa in Mom’s refrigerator. She and I like very spicy salsas, and we love the intensity of this one. Grandma always had a mild salsa casera (page 60) in her kitchen and Mom always has a smoky and spicy chile de arbol salsa in hers. I have to confess that Mom and I have eaten an entire bowl of this salsa with a bag of chips in one sitting on more than one occasion. My brother (who is not fond of spicy chiles) once watched in horror as Mom and I managed to do this.



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Make Ahead RecipeYes

OccasionFamily Get-together, game day

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Equipmentfood processor

Taste and Texturehot & spicy

Type of DishCondiments, salsa, sauces


  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 20 chiles de arbol, stemmed (do not remove seeds or veins)
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup canned peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat canola oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add chiles and toast for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly so chiles are fried well and change color.

  2. Add onion and garlic and fry for 2 minutes, again stirring constantly.

  3. Transfer fried ingredients to a food processor or blender and add whole tomatoes, tomato sauce, and salt. Puree until salsa is smooth with specks of chiles. Add salt to taste.

  4. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Serve as a salsa dip or to top off your favorite tacos or tostadas. Chile de arbol salsa can be stored in the refrigerator 3 to 5 days, or frozen for many weeks.


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