Tomatillo red chili salsa is a spicy Mexican sauce with roasted tomatillos and arbol chiles. Make this recipe for a delicious, feisty condiment!
Whether it’s for a flavor-punched addition to tacos, enchiladas and other Mexican foods, or as a dip for tortilla chips, you can’t go wrong with fresh salsa.
Salsa recipes are quick and simple to make, and they freeze well, so you can make a large batch to enjoy any time of the year.
Types of salsa
Salsas are most often either red, like roasted tomato salsa, or green, like avocado salsa. The variety and color of the primary ingredients determines the final color of the sauce. This also determines how spicy or mild the salsa is.
Sweet salsas like pineapple or cherry salsa usually have a milder flavor, but not always!
How spicy is tomatillo red chili salsa?
While it’s not the spiciest salsa in the world, this red tomatillo salsa is definitely not for those with a weak stomach! The roasted red chiles for this recipe are Mexican arbol peppers.
This green salsa is similar to the recipe for tomatillo salsa verde, but instead of arbol chilis, that recipe calls for green chiles, specifically Anaheim and serrano.
Ingredients for this spicy salsa recipe
Aside from the red chile peppers, the primary ingredients in this salsa are onions and roasted tomatillos.
Although they are also known as Mexican husk tomatoes, tomatillos are not actually tomatoes at all. However, like tomatoes, they are nightshade fruits, and they do look a bit like green tomatoes.
The sticky exterior of the fruit is covered with a papery husk called a lantern. As the fruit ripens, the lantern loosens, revealing the fruit inside.
When you shop for ingredients, choose tomatillos that are firm and unwrinkled. Avoid soft spots is a sign that the fruit is overripe.
Parts of tomatillo plants are poisonous/toxic if eaten, including the leaves, papery husk, and stem
Dried Arbol chiles
Chile de Arbol peppers (also known as rat tail chiles or bird’s beak chilis) are small red Mexican chiles, approximately 2 inches long, and they pack a lot of heat for their size.
Dried chiles should be leathery and flexible, never brittle.
Arbol chilis range from 15,000 to 30,000 on the Scoville Heat Unit (SHU) scale, several times hotter than jalapeno peppers, which have a SHU rating of 2,500 to 8,000.
How to make spicy red tomatillo salsa
One fantastic thing about this recipe is that the ingredients are combined in a food processor, making it super quick and easy!
- Dry roast the ingredients.
The salsa ingredients are dry roasted in a pan rather than being boiled in water. Not only does roasting chiles and tomatillos create more flavor, but it also softens them, resulting in a smoother sauce.
The process takes about 15 minutes, so turn and move the ingredients around in the pan at least once. This will prevent anything from burning.
- Transfer to food processor or blender to puree.
If you prefer chunkier salsa, you can certainly stop blending when the consistency is the way you like it.
Want a thinner tomatillo red chili salsa?
If the consistency is thicker than you like, just process in a tablespoon of water at a time to thin it out.
Yes, this salsa freezes beautifully! To save room in your freezer, transfer the sauce to zip top freezer bags. After sealing them closed, lay the bags flat to freeze.
Be sure to store your salsa in a sealed container in the refrigerator. It should keep well for 5-7 days. For longer storage, up to 3 months, it may be frozen.
Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa
- 8 dried chiles de arbol
- 1/2 large white onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 10 tomatillos (about 1 pound), peeled and skins removed
- Put the cut onion and tomatillos in a dry skillet over medium heat and toast for 3 minutes, turning once. Add the garlic cloves and chiles, continue toasting for another 12-15 minutes until all are lightly charred, turning often to get all sides.
- Transfer the onion, tomatillos, garlic and chiles to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add a little water to thin out and add salt to taste.
- Serve as a salsa dip with tortilla chips, over grilled meat, fish or chicken and tacos.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.