This smoky, spicy dried chile salsa recipe is my dream appetizer. It’s super spicy and layered with undertones of smoke and fruity chile flavors. This salsa is so addicting, just writing this makes my mouth water. It’s similar to the red chile salsas you find in hole in the wall taco shops, but it’s not as bitter and has a brighter flavor thanks to the tomatoes.
Like most foods that have a lot of flavor and spice, this dried chile salsa melds in the fridge and tastes even better after a few hours. And who doesn’t love make-ahead appetizers? Cooking and cleaning up ahead of a party is my ideal scenario.
Finally, the best part about this red salsa recipe is that it’s super adaptable. I use a variety of dried chiles here, largely because I have an obsession with trying new ones and have a full arsenal in the pantry. I love the depth of flavor and complexity that this range of dried chiles provides.
But don’t worry if you can’t find all of the different types. Further in the post I’ll break down the basic characteristics of the dried chiles I use, so you can work with what you have and achieve your own ideal red chile salsa.
what types of chiles are used in this dried chile salsa?
- guajillo: medium hot, fruity, tangy, slightly smoky (can substitute ancho or pasilla chiles)
- pasilla: medium hot to hot, grassy, rich chile flavor (can substitute ancho or guajillo chiles)
- chipotle morita: hot, smoky, sweet (can substitute any dried or canned chipotle pepper)
- chile de arbol: very hot, bright, straight forward chile flavor (can substitute pequin chiles)
where can I get these dried chiles?
First of all, avoid the dusty plastic bags halfway down the Hispanic aisle in your local grocery store. These chiles tend to be old and dried out. Since this salsa is made almost entirely from dried chiles, it’s really important to use high quality chiles.
I suggest purchasing them from a reputable spice store, either local or online. These stores specialize in high quality spices and their chiles will give you the most flavorful red chile salsa. You’ll find that the difference in quality of dried chiles is huge– they’ll be fresher, more flavorful and much more pliable. It’s really worth the extra effort to hunt down some great chiles.
Personally, I love the quality of chiles that come from The Spice House. They’re clean, fresh and well packaged.
how do I make this dried chile salsa?
- Toast the chiles and unpeeled garlic clove until fragrant
- Remove seeds, if desired, from chiles and peel garlic
- Blend peppers, garlic, water and salt
- Add onion and tomato and blend until mostly smooth
- Taste, adjust seasoning, enjoy!
spicy dried red chile salsa
This is a smoky, spicy, brightly flavored, and infinitely adaptable dried chile salsa. It gets better in the fridge and is the best make-ahead appetizer!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 10 minutes
- Yield: 2 1/2 cups 1x
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Blended
- Cuisine: Mexican
- 2 guajillo chiles, wiped clean
- 1 chipotle chile (such as morita), wiped clean
- 2 pasilla chiles, wiped clean
- 2 chiles de arbol
- 1 garlic clove, unpeeled
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 1/4 of white onion, finely chopped
- 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
- Heat an un-greased skillet over medium heat. Add chiles and garlic and cook, turning often to prevent burning, until garlic softens and chiles are fragrant (they shouldn’t darken much), about 2 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Remove the stems from the chiles, discard about half the seeds and break up into the blender (see note). Peel garlic and add it to the blender, along with water and salt. Blend on high speed until peppers are pureed, 1- 2 minutes.
- Add onion and tomatoes and blend again until mostly smooth (some texture is good). Taste and add more salt, if needed. Serve with tortilla chips.
- Discard all of the seeds for a more mild salsa, and keep all of the seeds for a very hot salsa. If you’re unsure of how much to add, set the seeds aside and blend in a spoonful at a time until you reach your desired heat level.
- If you can’t find dried chipotle peppers, you can use canned instead. Add it to the blender along with the peppers and garlic in step 2.
- Salsa will keep, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days.
- Serving Size: 2 tbsp
- Calories: 18
- Sugar: 2g
- Sodium: 188mg
- Fat: 0.4g
- Saturated Fat: 0g
- Unsaturated Fat: 0.1g
- Trans Fat: 0g
- Carbohydrates: 3.7g
- Fiber: 1.3g
- Protein: 0.8g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: dried chile salsa