Chipotle Hot Salsa (Copycat)

Learn to make authentic Chipotle Hot Salsa with roasted tomatillos and spicy red chiles. Whip up this classic copycat recipe in 20 minutes or less using fresh, delicious ingredients. Adjust the heat up or down as your heart desires.

In culinary school this fall, I’m enrolled in a production class called Cafe.

The 9 students in the class, including me, prep and cook a 5-course lunch once per week that anyone in the general public (with $25 in his or her pocket), may come and enjoy.

Each week, there are 3 standard options on the menu plus a Student’s Choice for each course. Last week, my partner and I served Carnitas street tacos for our special. We also made a few salsas and sauces for the plate including this copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa.

Learn to make authentic Chipotle Hot Salsa with roasted tomatillos and spicy red chiles. Whip up this classic copycat recipe in 20 minutes or less using fresh, delicious ingredients. Adjust the heat up or down as your heart desires.

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It’s a really easy recipe, but other folks on the Internet seem to get it wrong a lot.

Per Chipotle’s ingredient statement, their Tomatillo-Red Chili Salsa:

  1. Contains tomatillos and red chilis.
  2. Does not contain tomatoes.

Yet for some reason, a lot of the existing copycat recipes start with a can of tomatoes. Shrug.

Anyway, we 86’d on our Carnitas street tacos so the whole day (and this Chipotle Salsa!) was a success!

(“86’d” is slang in the industry for running out of food. This is somewhat contradictory to what you might read in an online slang dictionary, but this is how it it is used at restaurants.)

Learn to make authentic Chipotle Hot Salsa with roasted tomatillos and spicy red chiles. Whip up this classic copycat recipe in 20 minutes or less using fresh, delicious ingredients. Adjust the heat up or down as your heart desires.

 

Find all of the Chipotle Copycat Recipes on this site. Or, click here to subscribe to emails and receive all the recipes in a beautiful mobile-friendly eBook, FREE!

Chipotle ChickenChipotle SteakChipotle Barbacoa (beef) • Chipotle Carnitas (pork) •
Chipotle Sofritas (tofu) • Chipotle Cilantro Lime RiceChipotle Black BeansChipotle Pinto Beans
Chipotle Fajita VegetablesChipotle GuacamoleHomemade Tortilla Chips
Chipotle Tomato Salsa (mild) • Chipotle Corn Salsa (medium) • Chipotle Tomatillo Salsa (medium) •
Chipotle Hot Salsa (hot) • Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette (salad dressing) •

This copycat Chipotle Steak recipe tastes even better than the real thing. The marinade is quick and easy and full of the smoky, spicy flavors you love!

Save this Chipotle Hot Salsa to your “Appetizers” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

 

4.84 from 6 votes

Chipotle Hot Salsa Recipe (Copycat)

Learn to make authentic Chipotle Hot Salsa with roasted tomatillos and spicy red chiles. Whip up this classic copycat recipe in 20 minutes or less using fresh, delicious ingredients. Adjust the heat up or down as your heart desires.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword salsa
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 58kcal
  • 16 medium tomatillos husks removed and rinsed
  • 6 cloves garlic unpeeled and lightly crushed
  • 3 tablespoons ground chiles such as New Mexico (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Tabasco to taste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tortilla chips for serving
  • Preheat oven to broil and set oven rack 6 inches from broiler. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. 
  • Place the tomatillos and crushed garlic on the baking sheet and place in oven. Broil until charred, about 12 minutes, flipping halfway through. Peel garlic.
  • In a food processor, combine tomatillos, garlic, ground red chiles, cumin, lime zest and juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth. Season to taste with Tabasco.
  • Add 1-2 teaspoons extra ground chiles if you would like it a bit more spicy. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe Notes

Yield: about 3 cups. For even more heat, substitute the ground New Mexico chilies for Chiles de Arbol. Add in small amounts to desired heat. For a looser salsa, gradually drizzle in water to reach desired consistency.

Nutrition

Calories: 58kcal

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  1. David

    I haven’t had good luck with salsa recipes. They always seem like they’re missing something.

    You absolutely crushed this one. It tastes SO accurate to me. It’s at least close enough that if someone disagrees, they could make minor tweaks to their satisfaction.

    I used chilies de arbol (and kept the seeds), so it’s a little hotter than in the store — but that was on purpose. I will say that I didn’t end up with something that was a vibrant red, but I think broiling the tomatillos and garlic played into that.

    Nice job!5 stars

  2. Michael Legacy

    Meggan, any luck with the vinegar? 

    I’ve literally tried 50 recipes and I must say yours it’s the first that roasted the tomatillos instead of boiling them with the peppers and it’s makes a world of difference. Very close in underlying flavor (the char really makes it better) but not close in color at all (mine ended up quite brown, even using de Arbol powder). 

    There is definitely something slightly off still and it could be the vinegar for sure. I’ve literally been trying to perfect this recipe for like 5 years on and off and now I feel so close to the end. Just not quite there. Maddening hahaha. 4 stars

  3. Luke

    I made it and it turned out green nothing like the picture what did I do wrong? 

    1. meggan

      I’m actually still confused because Chipotle’s salsa is RED, and they make it the same way that you did. They do add some Tabasco, but clearly the red color comes from the dried chiles. So maybe your red chiles just didn’t have the same red color. If I make this salsa recipe I have posted, it should still be red. So I don’t know. Flabbergasted.

    2. meggan

      Nothing. I was trying to figure that out, and then I remembered that I re-wrote the recipe to more closely match the taste of Chipotle’s salsa. But I never took new photos. So, these photos reflect the old recipe which had tomatoes in it. So this needs to be reshot, thank you for letting me know and sorry for the confusion. The only question that matters is – did you like it? Did it taste good? Sorry again Luke, I’m mortified at this whole situation. Feels like false advertising, but it was just an oversight!

  4. Brittany

    Hi Meggan, great recipe! I just wanted to add that when I worked at chipotle we always added tabasco sauce to the hot salsa mix! We got the salsa verde and hot salsa in a premade bag and added ingredients to them.

    Someone mentioned earlier it the comments that chipotle list vinegar as an ingredient and since tabasco has vinegar in it, it could be what gets this recipe closer to the original. I’m going to test it out myself and see what happens.

    Thanks again for the copycat recipes, great as always!5 stars

  5. Jim

    It seems like there is something missing. Followed this recipe and ended up with what tasted like chili salsa. No heat either. Not good. New Mexico chili pepper powder is often used in traditional chili so I was a little skeptical when I saw it on the list of ingredients. Tried it anyway but it doesn’t work. There must be some other pepper that is being used. I loved the other Chipotle salsa recipe which was spot on.

  6. Matt Ruefer

    I just made it and thought it was really good!  Thanks for the recipe!  I was thinking it was lacking a little sour flavor (maybe lime)…but looking at Chipotle’s website, they list distilled vinegar as an ingredient.  Have you dabbled with that?5 stars

    1. meggan

      Hi Matt, thanks for the comment! I swear, Chipotle is always changing things around these days. I literally work off the ingredient list when I create my copycats, and white vinegar wasn’t listed before. But now it is. I will definitely have to retest and revise! Thank you for letting me know and sorry about that. I’m glad you still liked it. :) Take care!

  7. Barrett Darling

    Hey megan! I was wondering if its 16 whole tomatillos or 16 halves to be baked. Thanks! Excited to make this!

    1. Megan

      Do you cut them in half before you bake them? 

    2. meggan

      Hi Barrett! 16 whole tomatillos which you then cut in half to have 32 halves. So sorry for the delay in my response! Thank you!

  8. Barrett Darling

    Are you talking 16 whole tomatillos or 16 halfs to bake?
    Just trying to make sure i get it right!5 stars

  9. lauren perry

    is the ground red chiles the spice or the paste?5 stars

    1. Jana Lynette Velia

      Hi Lauren! It’s the spice. It’s the whole, dried chilies ground in a food processor.

  10. If I were there, I’d be a regular at your cafe, for sure!

    Love all your copycat recipes, Meggan.

    Hope culinary school is going well 😍

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