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If you’re a salsa lover, you should really try guajillo sauce! Rich, earthy, and fruity, this recipe is perfect to pair with all your favorite Mexican dishes like tacos, tamales, and tortas.
Let’s get cooking!
Table of Contents
There is an infinite number of ways to make a tasty salsa, but today we’re highlighting the guajillo chile (pronounced gwah-hee-oh). This guajillo sauce works with all sorts of meals from tacos and burritos to quesadillas, and pambazos.
What is guajillo sauce?
Guajillo sauce (also known as salsa de guajillo) is an extremely simple and delicious Mexican condiment made from (you guessed it) guajillo chiles.
Guajillo chiles are the dried form of mirasol peppers, and they’re actually one of the most widely used chiles in Mexican food (for good reason too). For more information, check out our guide to guajillo chiles.
They are delicious!
Guajillo chiles carry notes of tomatoes, berries, and tea that elevate each and every Mexican dish they’re added to.
All you need for this recipe is guajillo chiles, onion, garlic, and a little bit of oil. Feel free to customize your sauce from there!
Salsa has been around for a loooong time — since the era of the Aztecs and Mayans.
Typically, some combination of tomatoes, chiles, and vegetables would be crushed up and served atop seafood and meat dishes.
Fast-forward to today and there are now thousands of unique recipes like salsa verde, salsa taquera, salsa ranchera, and mango habanero salsa, just to name a few.
Although salsa began in Mexico, it has spread to all corners of the world to be enjoyed by many cultures and cuisines.
If you are patient enough, let your guajillo sauce sit overnight to help the flavors come together. Serve it alongside delicious recipes like:
We hope you love this salsa as much as we do. If you know of any other recipes to pair guajillo sauce with, leave us a comment!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: guajillo chiles have a rich, slightly earthy, and fruity flavor profile, making them an excellent choice for salsa. They are relatively mild compared to other Mexican chiles, coming in at around 2,500-5,000 Scoville Heat Units.
Health: guajillo chiles are an incredible source of vitamin C, but they also contain a special compound called capsaicin. Capsaicin is what makes some peppers spicy, but it also contains anti-inflammatory, metabolism-boosting, and pain-relieving properties.
Taste: with the sharpest and most pungent flavor of all onions, white onion is the first choice when it comes to guajillo salsa. Once cooked, the flavor mellows out and becomes sweeter to compliment the chiles.
Health: full of vitamins and minerals, onions have some very intriguing health benefits. They are filled with antioxidants, which help reduce your chances of succumbing to diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Taste: we don’t know about you, but we love the spicy, earthy, and zesty flavors of garlic in our salsas. We definitely lean on the side of overusing garlic, but we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Health: garlic has long been used to flavor dishes, but what you may not know is that it’s also been used in medicine for its profound health benefits. It is known to boost the immune system, which can lessen the severity of illnesses like influenza or the common cold.
If you have questions about this guajillo sauce recipe, don’t forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: remove the stems, seeds, and veins of the guajillo chiles. In a cast-iron skillet over medium, dry toast them for ~30-60 seconds per side, or until fragrant.
Step 2: rehydrate the chiles in a pot of hot water for 10-15 minutes, or until they are softened. Sauté some onions and garlic in a little olive oil in the same cast-iron skillet over medium.
Step 3: drain the guajillo chiles (saving the water) and transfer them to a blender along with the onion mixture. Add sea salt and cumin and mix on high until smooth, adding soaking water or vegetable broth as needed.
Step 4: add a little more olive oil to your pot, and strain the sauce back in. Simmer it until the color deepens, then taste and adjust the seasonings to your liking. Serve your guajillo sauce immediately, or let it chill in your fridge for a few hours. Happy eating!
You’ll rarely catch us without a guajillo sauce in our fridge or freezer. Follow these storage tips, so you can keep some on-hand too!
Once your guajillo salsa is cool, transfer it to an airtight container and it will last in your fridge for up to a week.
Guajillo sauce is extremely freezer-friendly and will last up to 6 months. Just let it cool completely, then transfer it to a freezer-safe container for storage.
💭 Pro tips
We’d like to share some tips and tricks we learned while experimenting with this guajillo sauce recipe:
- Add more flavors. This is an excellent “base” salsa to add other components to. Think arbol chiles, serranos, Mexican oregano, cloves, etc.
- Make it tangy. Try adding an acid like vinegar, lime juice, or lemon juice to your guajillo chile salsa for extra tang.
- Reserve the chile water. If you need to thin your guajillo sauce, use the water you rehydrated the chiles in. Just taste it first as the flavor can sometimes turn bitter.
- Toast the chiles. Try not to skip this step because it helps to “activate” the flavors of your chiles.
🍴 Tasting notes
Guajillo sauce is a condiment you’re really going to want to keep on hand. It’s:
If you try this guajillo salsa, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
- 12 guajillo chiles ($0.48)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil ($0.11)
- 1 small white onion, diced ($0.24)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced ($0.16)
- 2 teaspoons sea salt ($0.01)
- ¼ teaspoon cumin optional
- Remove the stems, seeds, and veins of the guajillo chiles. In a cast-iron skillet over medium, dry toast them for ~30-60 seconds per side, or until fragrant.
- Add the guajillos to a pot of water. Bring it to a boil, then turn the heat off, cover the pot, and let the chiles rehydrate for 10-15 minutes, or until softened.
- Heat olive oil in the same cast-iron skillet over medium. Add in diced onions and sauté for 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add in minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Drain the guajillo chiles (saving the water) and transfer them to a blender along with the onion mixture. Add sea salt and cumin and mix on high until smooth, adding soaking water or vegetable broth as needed until it properly blends.
- Add a little more olive oil to your pot heated over medium, and strain the sauce back in. Season for 5-10 minutes, or until the color deepens. Taste and adjust salt to your liking. Serve immediately, or let it chill in your fridge for a few hours. Happy eating!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more delicious salsa ideas, check out our:
- Salsa taquera for a fruity, spicy, and addicting sauce made from arbol chiles.
- Mango habanero salsa if you love the sweet and spicy taste of mangoes and habanero chiles paired together. This salsa is flavor-packed!
- Salsa roja for a classic red table salsa that Mexico is known and loved for.
- Pico de gallo if you’re looking for a light, bright, and zesty salsa that makes a perfect chip dip, taco topper, burrito filler, and more.
Guajillo chiles are considered mild to medium, ranging from 2,500-5,000 Scoville Heat Units.
The closest replacements for guajillo chiles are cascabel, New Mexico, California, or pasilla chiles. Although not exact, they have a similar flavor profile and spice level.
If your salsa is bitter, you likely burned the guajillo chiles while toasting them. Try adding 1 teaspoon of sugar at a time to see if the bitterness subdues.