Chile de Molcajete {Roasted Tomatillo & Arbol Chile Salsa]

The small town where we now call home is famous for producing the best chile de árbol in the world. Chile de Árbol Yahualica has a unique flavor, aroma, and spiciness unlike any other kind of chile de árbol available on the market. And it is just one of the dried chiles that I always have in my pantry. Now don't let the chile de árbol's small size fool you, this small dried chile pepper packs plenty of heat.

My favorite recipe (and probably the most popular recipe using chile de árbol) is Chile de Molcajete, a delicious roasted tomatillo and árbol chile salsa. Chile de Molcajete is one of two salsas that I make every week. (The other is my Homemade Tomato Salsa.) This salsa is called Chile de Molcajete because traditionally it's made in a molcajete (a Mexican pestle and mortar made of volcanic rock), although nowadays you can also whip this salsa up quickly using a blender or food processor. (Don't worry, I provide directions for both molcajete and blender methods in the recipe below.)

No matter how you choose to make this salsa, I'm sure it will quickly become a household favorite. The thing I love most about Chile de Molcajete, aside from it's intense and addictive flavor, is that it's super versatile. Chile de Molcajete is amazing all on it's own with an endless amount of Homemade Tortilla Chips, but you can also serve it atop eggs, quesadillas, tamales, or whatever else you can think of. I also use it to make recipes like Huevos Rancheros, Chilaquiles, and Carne de Puerco con Chile... just to name a few.    

Chile de Molcajete -

Chile de Molcajete

  • 12 tomatillos, husks removed 
  • 10 to 12 dried arbol chiles*  
  • 1 clove garlic (optional) 

Heat a comal, griddle or non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Roast dried árbol chiles and the clove of garlic, tossing occasionally, for about a minute. Remove from comal and set aside. Rinse tomatillos and pat dry. Roast tomatillos on the same comal over medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes, turning tomatillos occasionally, until the skin has started to char and the tomatillos have softened.

Molcajete method: Grind the roasted chiles de árbol in a molcajete with a couple of pinches of coarse salt, until the chiles resemble red pepper flakes. Add the roasted tomatillos and garlic, lightly breaking up the tomatillos with the pestle while also mixing them in with the chile de árbol until the mixture resembles a chunky salsa. Season with more salt, if necessary. 

Blender method: Puree the roasted chiles de árbol, garlic and half of the tomatillos in a blender until smooth. Add the remaining tomatillos and pulse for a few seconds until salsa is desired consistency. Pour into a bowl and season with salt. Enjoy!

Receta en español

Roasted Tomatillo & Arbol Chile Salsa -

*If super spicy salsa isn't your thing, try making this salsa with only 2 or 3 arbol chiles.

Update: I'm proud to announce that in 2014 this recipe was featured on Woman's Day Magazine's website!


  1. Pete's favorite salsa is tomatillo salsa. It is really popular in San Antonio, Texas. I'll definitely give this a try. Being the "heat freaks" that we are, we'll add more chiles as you suggested. Thanks.

  2. Me encantan tus recetas.


  3. how long can you store this chile??

  4. leslie me encantan tus platos de mexico anywhere you suggest i can purchase some?