Super Spicy Salsa with Puya and Árbol Peppers

spicy hot salsa recipe
I got this recipe from a waiter at a small Mexican restaurant that’s about an hour away from where we live. In most of the Mexican restaurants around here, you’re usually offered some tortilla chips and salsa, but the salsa turns out to be just a watery tomato sauce that has no flavor. In this restaurant, however, there were 4 different types of salsas available: “Salsa Verde”, “Pico de Gallo”, “Salsa Roja”, and this particular salsa here. On my first try, I immediately told myself: “This is my kind of salsa!” Just a few drops of it was enough to spice up your meat, tacos, and whatever else you were eating. It is made with roasted “Puya” and Arbol peppers. It’s very hot and does not have any herbs, although you could add some like cumin or Mexican oregano.

spicy hot salsa recipePuya peppers are very similar to Guajillo peppers, except they’re smaller. They measure about 2-inches long and about 1/3-in wide, but these peppers are very spicy. They are used in the gastronomy of Central Mexico, and are usually cooked together with Guajillo peppers in salsas and stews. Look for them at your local Latin Store.
 spicy hot salsa recipe MAKES ABOUT 1/2 CUP OF SALSA

spicy hot salsa recipe
1. In an ungreased skillet, toast the peppers over a medium heat. This will be a very fast process, since the peppers’ skin burns easily, and that gives them an unpleasant bitter taste, so be sure to turn them and roast the peppers without burning them. About 1 minute.
2 Place peppers in a small saucepan and cover with water. Cook until soft  over a medium high heat. About 10 minutes.
3. In the same skillet, roast the garlic until it’s soft and has some brown spots. Cool and remove peel.
4. Once the peppers and garlic have cooled, place them into a blender with 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Process until you have a very smooth sauce and season with salt. This salsa keeps well for several days, and just a few drops is enough to add spiciness to your meals.



  1. Mely, I loved this salsa! Next time I make it I will take out the seed in the puya before blending. Awesome heat factor! It did take a lot of blending to get the consistency but it was worth the time. Thanks.

    1. Hello Donna,

      I glad you like it. You are right, I used one of those powerful blenders that pulverize everything in seconds.
      Happy cooking!

  2. Hola!
    Another quick tip for those who don't have a powerful blender (I wish I have one), you can strain the salsa into a bowl. Like that you get rid of all the seeds and the salsa will have a smoother texture.
    Buen Provecho

  3. I have been searching everywhere on the internet for a thin, red salsa with tiny black specks in made from de Arbol chiles! A tiny restaurant I used to frequent (until the meat got "skunky") would serve these tiny little plastic containers of salsa with your to-go orders. One was green and the beloved thin HOT red salsa! When I knew I wouldn't be frequenting their restaurant anymore, I asked the owner what was in that red salsa. He'd only say "Chile de Arbol". I'm almost certain your recipe will taste identical to his. I've never heard Puya chiles, but I will definitely find them and try this recipe out! Thanks so much for sharing. Subscribing to your blog so I don't miss a post Ü

    1. Tracy,

      As a San Diego native now on the East coast, I've also been searching for a great taqueria-style sauce. Chiles de Arbol seem to be ubiquitous in these sauces, as far as my research has shown. I've experimented a lot with them, but just came across Mely's taqueria-style salsa recipe. I can't wait to try it! Check it out:

  4. I made this but doubled amount of Chile's and put cumino molido, oregano and 3 tomato's ... It was soooo good I love learning how to make different salsas ... Thank you for the receta :)


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