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Smoky Two Chile Salsa Recipe

Smoky Two Chile Salsa Recipe

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  • 8 large dried guajillo chiles or New Mexico chiles, stemmed, seeded, coarsely torn
  • 1/2 medium onion, halved lengthwise through core end
  • 1 to 2 chipotle chiles and 1 to 2 teaspoons adobo from canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Recipe Preparation

  • Place torn chiles in bowl. Add 2 cups hot water; soak at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid.

  • Heat small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to dry skillet; cook until browned in spots, about 6 minutes for garlic and 10 minutes for onion. Trim core from onion. Place onion and garlic in blender. Add drained chiles, 1 cup soaking liquid, 1 chipotle chile, 1 teaspoon adobo, cilantro, and lime juice; puree until smooth. Add remaining chipotle and 1 teaspoon adobo, if desired; puree. Transfer to bowl. Season to taste with coarse salt. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 week ahead. Cover and chill.

Recipe by Steven RaichlenReviews Section


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 Time under 30 minutes

Occasion Family Get-together, game day

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

Taste and Texture hot & spicy

Type of Dish Condiments, 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


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.

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

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.

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.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) can kidney beans (Optional)
  • 2 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

Cook sausage and ground beef in a large pot over medium-high heat until lightly browned and crumbly. When the meat has released its grease, and has begun to brown, drain off accumulated grease, and season with chili powder, cumin, and coriander. Cook and stir for 1 minute until fragrant, then stir in the garlic and onion. Cook until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 4 minutes.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kidney beans, chipotle peppers, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then pour the chili into a slow cooker. Cover, and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours. Stir in tomato paste an hour before the chili is done.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon salted butter
  • 4 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, diced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon dark red chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dark red chili powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle beer
  • 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle hot sauce, or more to taste
  • 1 (16 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (16 ounce) can red kidney beans

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add onion, cover, and cook until translucent, 4 to 8 minutes. Add garlic cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add ground beef and cook and stir until browned and crumbly, 6 to 10 minutes. Stir in chili powder, paprika, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper cook for 2 to 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, beer, tomato sauce, Worcestershire, and hot sauce stir well.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover partially and cook until reduced, 30 to 45 minutes. Stir in black and kidney beans. Cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.

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  • 1/2 cup grapeseed or olive oil
  • 1/4 pound chile de arbol stems removed (2 cups)
  • 5 chile Guajillo stems and seeds removed
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • More oil if needed




Tried this recipe? Mention @pinaenlacocina or tag #pinaenlacocina!

Chile de arbol and chile japones have very similar flavor profiles, so you could use either in this recipe.

If you have not noticed, I have slowly switched over to using grapeseed in most of my recipes. I prefer it over canola oil when I need a mild oil or oil with no flavor. Plus it’s a natural oil, where the canola oil is not. Don’t quote me on that, but that’s what i have read. The olive oil is good, but sometimes has slight bitter note when using it in this type of recipe.

Here is a variation on a Salsa macha recipe that I prepared in the molcajete. I will often mix in some chile morita, chipotle or piquin for a smoky finish on the salsa.

Salsa Macha-Variation

20 chile de arbol
6 chile morita
1 full tablespoon chile piquin
6 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup grapeseed oil
1/2 tablespoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt. More to taste.
2 tablespoons white vinegar, optional

1. Combine the dried chiles(stems removed) with garlic and oil in a saucepan. Heat to medium. When it comes to a rapid simmer, reduce to medium/low and continue cooking, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes. The larger chile morita should puff up and other chiles should darken a little. Garlic should look golden.

2. Strain the peppers and garlic, reserving all of the oil. Transfer to the molcajete, add salt and crush until broken down pretty fine. If the larger peppers are hard to break down, they did not get toasted enough. That’s ok, just chop them really well with a knife. Add all of the reserved oil to the molcajete. Stir in the vinegar if using and taste for salt.

Like this:

As far back as I can remember, chile piquin was a staple ingredient in our house. Especially the family trips to Monterrey, you could count on seeing a small bowl on my abuelita’s kitchen table. My abuelito Ismael owned a ranch in Higueras, N.L., Mexico. Besides the aromatic oregano plants, there were rows of chile piquin(bird pepper) bushes. And without fail before we would make the long cross country trip back to California, my abuelita always gifted us a jar filled with chiles in escabeche(pickled chiles). Piquin, of course! Today I share with you my most recent chile piquin salsa recipes. Enjoy!

Thanks to my dear friend Mely Martinez Mexico In My Kitchen I was able to enjoy the fresh green chile piquin. She has a wonderful garden in her home in Texas. The third salsa was adapted from one of Mely’s recipes. It’s very specual to me. Stop by her blog and see what she currently cooking! I love the fact that my husband, Richard, who did not grow up with spicy foods, absolutelty loves chile piquin too! I got him hooked! Lol!

This beautuful dried chile piquin I purchased while in Texas. It had the most delicious smoky aroma and flavor!


  • 2 whole dried ancho chilies
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) canola oil, divided
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted (such as Muir Glen)
  • 2 whole chipotle chilies packed in adobo, plus 2 tablespoons (30ml) sauce from can
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves and fine stems (1/4 ounce 7g), plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) juice from 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Up to 12 fresh corn tortillas (2 per serving)
  • Up to 12 eggs (2 per serving)
  • Crumbled Cotija cheese, for serving
  • Hot store-bought or homemade refried beans, for serving

Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos

  • Quick Glance
  • (3)
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Makes about 1 1/4 cups


  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 medium (about 8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo (or more if you like really spicy salsa)
  • Salt


Set a large (10-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat if you don’t have a non-stick skillet, lay in a piece of foil. Lay in the garlic and tomatillos, cut side down.

When the tomatillos are well browned, 3 or 4 minutes, turn everything over and brown the other side. The tomatillos should be completely soft.

Scoop the garlic and tomatillos into a blender jar or food processor along with the chiles and 1/4 cup water. Process to a coarse purée. Pour into a dish and let cool.

Thin the salsa with a little additional water, if necessary, to give it an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous 1/2 teaspoon.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Now THIS is good salsa. Roasting the tomatillos and garlic in a pan that has been lined with foil is a brilliant idea. When I make salsa, I often roast the tomatillos and/or tomatoes in the oven, but this is a great method as well. Roasting really brings out the natural sweetness of whatever it is you are using. If you like the smokiness of chipotle, look no further than this recipe. The tang of the tomatillo is so lovely with the chipotle. We used it with chips and also as a topper for nachos. We enjoyed it so much that I'm making another batch today to freeze, as tomatillos are difficult to find here. The only small thing I would change, and it is a matter of personal taste, is to add one more chipotle chile to the mix. I think that would be perfect. This will be one of my go-to salsas from now on.

So few ingredients, so little time, so easily the best salsa you've ever tasted. Amazing! I don't think I have ever done less in a recipe that tasted this good. The tangy flavor of the tomatillos blended with the spicy chipotle chiles and the hint of roasted garlic produced the perfect Mexican salsa. This salsa is, of course, great with tortilla chips, but was also the perfect topping for our fish tacos tonight and I think would complement any meat. I also plan to try it in place of my regular salsa in a Mexican salad dressing we use on taco salads. I can not always find tomatillos at my local grocery store, so I will try it with tomatoes on those occasions, and I think it will just change the salsa from smoky and tangy to smoky and sweet.


#LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


I made this for a salsa competition in school and it turned out great and has a great smoky taste. WOULD RECOMMEND!

When One Type of Salsa Just Isn’t Enough

You know what one of the best parts of going to an actual, real-life, brick-and-mortar Mexican restaurant is? Invariably, as is true in many parts of Mexico, you’ll have more than one salsa option. They’re fresh, they’re fascinating, they’re often sweet, spicy or smoky, and they make the rest of the meal that much more interesting.

Consider making your own home an homage to the gloriousness and variety of Mexican cuisine this Cinco de Mayo. (Remember, it’s not “Mexican Independence Day”—which is September 16 th —but a celebration of a Mexican victory over France during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862.) Cinco de Mayo is largely celebrated in the USA and in the Puebla state in Mexico, where it is often called “Battle of Puebla” day. We’ll consider its history over all sorts of salsa this year. Because why stop at one or two? We have more than 80 salsa recipes on our website. Really good salsa—with fish, grilled chicken, steak, or almost anything—can straight-up transform a meal. Here’s how to think beyond chips and pico de gallo this year.

1. Fresh Tomato Salsa

Eggs. Grilled chicken. Tacos. Even burgers, if you do ’em right. What isn’t improved by fresh tomato salsa? The traditional centerpiece of the chips and salsa party standby is worth keeping around for about a million reasons. It’s as simple as tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and serrano or jalapeño chiles, and during fresh tomato season, it’s incredible.

2. Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa

Bored by your salsa routine? Consider adding more heat… literally. Fire-roasted tomato salsa is as simple as throwing oil-slicked tomatoes, onions chiles and limes on to a grill. It’s so marvelous, as the heat caramelizes and deepens the tomato flavor in just the right way, taking the edge off the onion. And it works just as well on an indoor grill.

3. Tomatillo Salsa Verde

A really good blender is all you need for the fresh tomatillo salsa of your dreams. Tomatillos, white onion, plenty of cilantro, serrano chile and white onion mingle in this super-simple recipe from Chef Traci Des Jardins. (Note: green salsas like this one are often just called “salsa verde,” but they’re different from the Italian salsa verde with which they share a name.)

4. Fruit Salsa

Think about it: What’s not improved by an epic fruit salsa? Think: shrimp with pineapple and corn. Mango with a grilled, buttery white fish. Nectarines with Chinese five-spice pork, tucked into tacos. Melon with a gorgeous wild salmon fillet. Or pineapple, perhaps with grilled pork skewers. When in doubt with fruit, think: fish! But it’s enormously flexible, and if you need to mix it up, just grill it!

5. Corn Salsa

When was the last time you ate a really good corn salsa? When it’s in season, corn doesn’t need much beyond tomatoes, cilantro, lime and salt to become an epic foil for grilled fish, chili, or slow-cooked meats. But this recipe, featuring avocado, corn kernels that have been toasted in a pan, tomato, and smoky chipotle chiles, really does it for us.

6. Avocado Salsa

Avocado salsa and guacamole: not the same thing. Many purists insist that “good guac” contains just avocados, lime juice, chiles, cilantro and salt. Avocado salsa, which you’ll see at many taquerias that also offer guacamole, are often green (involving tomatillos), but they can also be a mélange of related ingredients. It can be as simple as avocado salsa including garlic and onion, which is wonderful on skirt steak in these fajitas. Or you can conjoin it with its buddy mango and fresh orange juice for a piquant accompaniment to swordfish steaks. Whether you’ve got fish, steak, chicken or vegetables, there’s almost always a way to incorporate a plush avocado salsa if you’ve got the appetite.


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