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Salsa Roja


Recipe Notes

  • You can substitute the chile de árbol (dry) for 1/4 teaspoon of ground chile de árbol.
  • To reduce the spiciness, use less (or no) chile de árbol.
  • No serrano peppers? Use jalapeño peppers or other hot peppers.
  • The spiciness of the peppers can vary depending on the growing conditions. Peppers usually have a higher level of heat during hot summer months.
  • Chop the leaves and stems of cilantro; all parts are flavorful.
  • No blender? Use a knife or grind with a stone, mortar or molcajete.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Thanks to the Food Hero Latinx Workgroup for this recipe.

Recipe Image for Salsa Roja
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Makes: 1 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts: View Label


  • 3 dried chiles de árbol (omit for mild salsa or see Notes)
  • 3 medium tomatoes, stems removed
  • 1/4 medium onion, cut into big chunks
  • 3 serrano peppers (use 1/4 to 1/2 bell pepper for mild salsa)
  • 1 clove garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro


  1. Wash hands with soap and water.
  2. On a dry skillet on medium heat, grill chiles de árbol until lightly toasted, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  3. In a blender, grind the toasted chiles until pieces are small.
  4. Place vegetables and garlic on the skillet. Grill on medium heat until soft, about 10 minutes. Move around a few times to brown all edges. 
  5. Remove peel from garlic. Add garlic, vegetables, salt and pepper to the blender. Pulse 4 to 5 times, to a thickness you like.
  6. Move salsa to a bowl. Stir in cilantro and serve.
  7. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours.


What an easy and flavorful salsa! I made two batches for a party. One with three peppers for the spicy crowd and one with no peppers for the mild folks. The all loved both. Thanks.

Thanks for this simple and tasty recipe for salsa. I have a feeling that this will be good with any variety of peppers. Tonight we used dried cayenne peppers instead of chile de arbol and fresh poblano instead of serrano. It had just the right amount of spice; cilantro adds more bright flavor!

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