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Salsa comes in all kinds of flavors, spice levels, and textures. We could easily create an entire section of dedicated to the glory of salsas. The Tomatillo Salsa de Arbol is one of our favorites because it uses the ever-versatile arbol chile. Although the arbol isn’t one of the hottest chiles in the world, it packs a little more kick than a jalapeno, but not quite as much as a habanero. This heat level gives this particular salsa a goldilocks flavor profile with the tartness of the tomatillos.

You won’t be disappointed if you pair this salsa with a warm basket of tortilla chips, or pour it over top some Ancho Corn Cakes.


Prep Work

  • Remove the seeds and ribs from the arbol chiles (this is best done using your fingers, but make sure you don’t touch your eyes after deseeding/ribbing)
  • Remove the husks from the tomatillos and rinse them
  • Peel the garlic and smash them with the flat side of a knife
  • Juice the lime into a container so you make sure you get all the seeds out (if your lime has seeds)


  1. Place a medium skillet on a burner and set it to medium heat
  2. Add the arbol chiles and toast until they start browning lightly (you don’t want them to char) this should take roughly 3 minutes
  3. Once the chiles are browned to your liking, take them out and set them aside
  4. Place a new, medium saucepan on a burner and add the now toasted chiles, husked and rinsed tomatillos, peeled and smashed garlic, and 2 ½ cups of water
  5. Season the mixture with salt (to your liking, but a pinch should work), give it a stir, cover, and bring to a simmer
  6. Cook for 5-8 minutes (you’ll know it’s ready when the tomatillos burst and turn olive green)
  7. Take the saucepan off the heat (still with the lid on) and let it rest for 5 minutes
  8. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chiles, tomatillos, and garlic to either a blender or food processor
  9. Add a ½ cup of the liquid the chiles, tomatillos, and garlic were cooked into the blender or food processor and puree until smooth
  10. Once smooth, add lime juice and season with another pinch of salt (again, to your liking, but a pinch should work)
  11. Allow the salsa to cool before serving

Spice it Up

Don’t want to toast the Arbol? Use Don Juan Chiles Arbol Tostado and skip straight to step 4 in the recipe.

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