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Chile de Árbol Salsa


This rich and spicy five-ingredient chile de árbol salsa is so easy to make and takes just 20-minutes. It’s great for dipping chips or to top your Mexican dish. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.

Small bowl of chile de arbol salsa with chip and pile of chips on side.

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Homemade salsa has got to be the simplest way to up your Mexican food game. Seriously, it’s so so easy and nearly impossible to mess up. So go now, give it a go!

What you’ll love about this recipe?

  • It’s so simple! As I mentioned above, making salsa from scratch is so easy. You only need five ingredients and about 20-minutes to prepare this salsa de chile de árbol. If that doesn’t have you wondering why you haven’t made it before, it should!
  • It’s spicy! Aside from being a bit tangy and earthy, this rich salsa is plenty spicy. Think hotter than Serrano pepper but milder than a cayenne.
  • You can use it in so many ways! You can keep it simple and serve it with chips for dipping or spread it on your favorite Mexican dish including tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.

  • Tomatillos: Tomatillos are a husked fruit. They may look like tomatoes, but they actually are not. They do belong to the nightshade family, however. Choose tomatillos that have filled out their husk and are firm rather than mushy and shriveled. After removing the husks it is important to rinse them as they are often dirty and sticky.
  • Dried chile de árbol peppers: Chile de árobl are a small Mexican chile pepper. Your local grocery store mary carry them if they have a decent Mexican food section. If not, they can be found at Mexican markets and are available for purchase online. Check out my product recommendations below for a link to my favorite chile de árbol on Amazon. Additionally, the chiles will need to be destemmed and deseeded. The stems can easily be pulled off. The simplest way to deseed them is to cut them open with kitchen shears and then scoop/scrape out the seeds.
  • Garlic: I used four cloves, but as always feel free to use as many or as few as you please.
  • Kosher salt
  • Apple cider vinegar: To brighten the flavors.
Four tomatillos, four garlic cloves, and pile of chile de árbol chiles on a distressed wood surface shot from above.

How do you make chile de árbol salsa? (+tips)

Bring eight cups of water to a boil in a medium pot.

Add the tomatillos, chile de árbol peppers, and garlic and boil for 15 minutes. The ingredients will have softened significantly at this point.

Next transfer the tomatillos, chiles, and garlic to a blender. Add 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, the salt, and the apple cider vinegar. You may strain the ingredients or simply transfer them using a slotted spoon.

Pulse until smooth.

Salsa in blender shot from above.

If desired add additional salt to taste. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.


Refrigerate salsa de chile de árbol in an airtight container for up to one month or freeze for up to six months.


Are chile de árbol the same as cayenne peppers?

Although they look similar and are close on the Scoville scale, chile de árbol and cayenne are not the same. Arbol chile peppers originated in Mexico and cayenne from French Guiana.

Are chile de árbol spicy?

On the Scoville Scale, these chiles sit between Serrano and Cayenne at 15,000 to 30,000 units which means that they are decently spicy. That being said, if you’re not a fan of spicy food and/or find it intolerable, I would not recommend this salsa.

Close up of chip dipped in bowl of salsa.
Hand holding chip dipped in salsa above bowl of salsa with chips in background.

More recipes featuring chile de árbol:

  • Chile de Árbol Hot Sauce: Smoky and spicy; this quick and easy five-ingredient chile de árbol hot sauce packs a mighty punch. The use of Mexican chiles makes it an ideal addition to dishes like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. Naturally gluten-free and vegan.
  • Chile de Árbol Chicken Wings: A Mexican twist on a classic, these smoky and spicy chile de árbol chicken wings are perfectly crispy on the outside, yet tender and juicy on the inside.
  • Beef Birria (Mexican Stew): Beef birria is a slow-cooked, savory Mexican stew made with beef, a blend of chile peppers, onion, garlic, and a variety of spices. This dish is warm and inviting with a depth of flavor that goes unmatched. Naturally gluten-free.

More homemade salsa recipes you may enjoy:

  • Habanero Salsa: This made from scratch habanero salsa brings the heat. Its fresh, easy, and takes only 15 minutes. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
  • Roasted Salsa Verde Salsa: This roasted salsa verdé combines tomatillos, onions, garlic, and cilantro with three different peppers; including jalapeno, poblano, and Serrano. It’s got just the right amount of heat, is easy to prepare, and is ready to go in just 20 minutes. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.
  • Roasted Pineapple Habanero Salsa: Simple and fresh roasted pineapple habanero salsa that takes just 15 minutes to make. Spicy with a touch of sweetness.

If you make this chile de árbol salsa I’d love your feedback. Please leave a comment and/or a rating below as I greatly value your opinion. Or snap a pic and tag me on Instagram @taoofspiceblog. Love, light, and happy cooking ya’ll ♥

Small bowl of chile de arbol salsa with chip and pile of chips on side.

Chile de Árbol Salsa

Yield: ~1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

This rich and spicy five-ingredient chile de árbol salsa is so easy to make and takes only 20 minutes. Great for dipping chips or to top your favorite tacos. Naturally vegan and gluten-free.


  • 1 pound tomatillos, husked 
  • 40 dried chile de árbol peppers, destemmed 
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar 


  1. In a medium pot, bring eight cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add the tomatillos, chile de arbol peppers, and garlic; boil for 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the tomatillos, chile de arbol peppers, and garlic to a food processor along with 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid, salt, and apple cider vinegar.
  4. Pulse until smooth. Serve immediately or refrigerate for later.

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one month. or freeze for up to six months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 24 Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 38Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 51mgCarbohydrates: 8gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g

The nutritional information provided is computer generated. It is only an estimate and intended for informational purposes only. Nutrition details may vary depending on various factors such as origin, freshness of ingredients, etc.

Did you make this recipe?

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Saturday 28th of August 2021

This is delicious! It's my third time making it and I made extra to use as flavoring for a chuck roast. It smells awesome and hope the roast taste just as good!

Jessica Halverstadt

Sunday 29th of August 2021

What a fabulous idea!!! I can't imagine it wouldn't turn out amazing - let me know. Thanks for the positive feedback. I'm glad you're a fan of the recipe.

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