By Request: Simple Guajillo Salsa

Here is a recipe for a simple guajillo salsa that I often make for certain Mexican dishes. It is based on a number of recipes for different salsas that I have found over the years. A number of friends have asked for the recipe, so I am writing it up here.

a pile of dried dark maroon chiles with a sign saying "guajillo nuevo"
Guajillos for sale in Mexico. (Photo Paul Sableman/Flickr via CC)

Guajillos are the dried form of the mirasol chili pepper and one of the most common in Mexican cooking – and though the state of Zacatecas produces the most (link in Spanish), they are used all over Mexico. Cascabels are a dried version of a different form of the mirasol pepper. Both of them have a mild to medium heat – which adds perk but also a wonderful, savory richness.

Dark red salsa in a gray bowl
The salsa. (Photo mine/January 2023)

When preparing dried chiles, it is best to remove the stems and seeds first. Usually, I just rip off the stem and shake out the seeds, but if a chili is being particularly annoying (it happens), you can snip with scissors as well.

Simple Guajillo Salsa

Makes about 1 ½-2 cups

8 dried guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed

4 dried cascabel chiles, stems and seeds removed

Hot water

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

½ tsp cumin

2 tbsp lime juice (I just use from the bottle)

2 tbsp vegetable oil

  1. First, you will need to toast your chiles. You can do so in one of two ways:

    (a) Lay them out on a dry skillet or comal on medium heat for about 20-30 seconds on each side. Make sure they do not burn! Then remove. I flip them over with tongs.
    (b) You can also microwave them on high for about 30 seconds.
  2. Put the chiles in a bowl or container, cover with hot water, and then cover the bowl. The chiles may float on top a bit – do not fret. Let soak for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the chiles from the water and put in a blender with the garlic, salt, cumin, and lime juice. Do not discard the water quite yet.
  4. Puree the mix. Then, add a few splashes of the (colorful!) chili soaking water until you get to a smoothie-like, but still thick, consistency.
  5. Heat a skillet over a medium low heat. Add the oil, then immediately add the puree. Stir around for about 2 minutes. If it starts to bubble, move off the heat and keep stirring.
  6. Move to a container or bowl and let sit for at least 20 minutes.
  7. Serve at any temperature, though I find that room temperature is best. Store in a sealed container for up to a week in the fridge.


  1. Lori says:

    Is it ok to freeze this?

    1. Yes! Freeze in a Ziploc bag for up to 4 months.

Leave a Reply