Chipotle Hot Salsa, a tomatillo and red chili salsa based on Chipotle’s famous version, puts a little fire on your burritos, tacos, and salads. Break open that bag of tortilla chips; this salsa is ready to dip in just under twenty minutes.

Copycat chipotle hot salsa in a white dish on a black plate with tortilla chips.

Red chili salsa is the spiciest salsa that Chipotle offers. But if you like it even hotter, you can add a bit of chile de árbol to nudge the Scoville units up to where you want them. Either way, it’s a delicious tomatillo-based salsa that’s full of bright, spicy flavor.

Recipe ingredients:

Some recipes out there add tomatoes to this salsa, but Chipotle’s ingredient label doesn’t include any.

  • Tomatillos: Even though they look like small green tomatoes, they are not. When shopping for tomatillos, look for firm, shiny, green fruit under the papery shell. Stay away from any with brown or soft spots. It’s absolutely fine that they feel sticky to the touch under the husk–it’s a natural insect repellent that the plant makes! Don’t worry, it rinses off easily.

Tomatillos on a gray counter.

  • New Mexican chiles: Vibrant red New Mexican peppers have a moderate heat level, and they’re often used in enchiladas. They’re what give this salsa a bright red color. You can use my tutorial on homemade ancho chile powder for more information on grinding chiles.
  • Tabasco sauce: Former employees of the restaurant tell me that this is an important ingredient, and we have to believe them. Chipotle lists vinegar in the salsa, which Tabasco definitely has.
  • Garlic and cumin
  • Lime zest and juice
  • Salt and pepper

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Place the tomatillos and the crushed garlic on the baking sheet and broil until the tomatillos begin to char. Occasionally, flip the tomatillos to make sure they char evenly. The whole process should take about 12 minutes.
  2. Next, to a food processor or blender, add the garlic, charred tomatillos, ground red chilies, cumin, lime zest and juice, and some salt and pepper to the bowl of the food processor. Process until smooth, then adjust the seasoning with Tabasco sauce, plus more salt and pepper if needed. If the salsa is a little too thick, drizzle in a bit of water to thin it out.

Copycat chipotle hot salsa in a white dish on a black plate with tortilla chips.

Recipe tips and variations:

  • Yield: This recipe makes about 3 cups of salsa.
  • Tomatoes: Can’t find tomatillos? Substitute an equal amount of tomatoes. It won’t taste the same, but it will still be delicious.
  • Too thick: For a looser salsa, gradually drizzle water in until you like the consistency.
  • Spicy: Substitute guajillo or chiles de arbol for a fiery salsa.
  • Make your own chips: My in-depth recipe for Homemade Tortilla Chips uses thin corn tortillas and an option to oven-bake or fry, depending on how wild you want to get.
  • Chipotle Guacamole: Nothing goes with Chipotle’s hot salsa like their guacamole!

More Chipotle recipes:

Copycat chipotle hot salsa in a white dish on a black plate with tortilla chips.

Chipotle Hot Salsa (Copycat)

Chipotle Hot Salsa, a tomatillo and red chili salsa based on Chipotle's famous version, puts a little fire on your burritos, tacos, and salads. Break open that bag of tortilla chips; this salsa is ready to dip in just under twenty minutes.
4.96 from 49 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 6 servings
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 61

Ingredients 

  • 16 medium tomatillos husks removed and rinsed (see note 1)
  • 6 cloves garlic unpeeled and lightly crushed
  • 3 tablespoons ground chiles such as New Mexico (see note 2)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest from 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Tabasco sauce to taste (see note 3)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • tortilla chips for serving

Instructions 

  • 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 ¼ 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 Video

Notes

  1. Tomatillos: Even though they look like small green tomatoes, they are not. When shopping for tomatillos, look for firm, shiny, green fruit under the papery shell. Stay away from any with brown or soft spots. It's absolutely fine that they feel sticky to the touch under the husk--it's a natural insect repellent that the plant makes! Don't worry, it rinses off easily.
  2. New Mexican chiles: Vibrant red New Mexican peppers have a moderate heat level, and they’re often used in enchiladas. They're what give this salsa a bright red color. You can use my tutorial on homemade ancho chile powder for more information on grinding chiles.
  3. Tabasco sauce: Former employees of the restaurant tell me that this is an important ingredient, and we have to believe them. Chipotle lists vinegar in the salsa, which Tabasco definitely has.
  4. Yield: This recipe makes about 3 cups of salsa. 
  5. Tomatoes: Can't find tomatillos? Substitute an equal amount of tomatoes. It won't taste the same, but it will still be delicious.
  6. Too thick: For a looser salsa, gradually drizzle water in until you like the consistency.
  7. Spicy: Substitute guajillo or chiles de arbol for a fiery salsa.
  8. Make your own chips: My in-depth recipe for Homemade Tortilla Chips uses thin corn tortillas and an option to oven-bake or fry, depending on how wild you want to get.
  9. Chipotle Guacamole: Nothing goes with Chipotle's hot salsa like their guacamole!

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 61kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 2gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 9mgPotassium: 405mgFiber: 4gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 2070IUVitamin C: 16mgCalcium: 21mgIron: 2mg
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Meggan Hill

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Comments

  1. I just did this recipe today and did a few modifications while making it. I found adding one Tbsp of cumin vs two Tsp added a good earthiness to it and I added 2.5 Tbsp of lime juice. The biggest thing you must do is use Chipotle Tabasco! That adds the vinegar and smoke aspect that I love from the stores hot sauce, 8 dashes felt good. I also found that using the New Mexico dried chilies didn’t add the heat I have found from the store, so I also added one chipotle pepper from a can. After those few tweets, it tastes 100% like what you get from Chipotle it self!

    TL:DR to modify the recipe
    1 Tbsp Cumin not 2 Tsp
    2.5 Tbsp Lime juice, not 2 Tbsp
    Chipotle Tabasco not regular Tabasco
    1 Chipotle pepper from a can for heat.5 stars

  2. Careful, don’t be like me, used an air fryer 12min at 450F, tomatillos began exploding @ 10 Min.

    1. Hi James, I’m so sorry that happened to you, must have been startling! I looked into it and it seems like they do pop when they are in the air fryer about 10 minutes. I hope your salsa still came out delicious! – Meggan

    1. Hi there! I don’t have much personal experience with canning. I would say if you want to can this salsa, I would look for a recipe that has been tested for canning, and follow the instructions to a T. Best to be careful and watch out for food illness. Good luck! -Meggan

  3. Added half tsp of fresh geound ancho chili and a fresh serrano. I needed that fresh pepper heat to really make the flavor pop. Great recipe otherwise!5 stars

  4. Thank you for the recipe. I used this as a base but made substitutions dictated more on what I had on hand. It turned out great! Pretty darn close to Chipotle’s recipe. If it wasn’t for your recipe, I wouldn’t have gotten there! Thanks again!

  5. I, for the life of me, have not been able to faithfully duplicate their tomatillo red salsa. Tried dozens of recipe variations including a few changes with this particular one and it’s always the same turnout—good salsa but not quite there. This one is by far the closest one I’ve found but using a different hot sauce. I just finished a new batch following the recipe exactly with the Tabasco and I feel like it’s further off than my last attempt even though they apparently actually use Tabasco. Chipotles where I live have been raising prices and drastically skimping on portions so I guess I’ll have to keep tinkering at home.4 stars

    1. Hi Jennifer, you can use tomatoes. It won’t be exactly the same as Chipotle’s, but it will still taste great. If you’re happy, that’s really all that matters. Thanks! -Meggan

  6. I’m planning a DIY Chipotle feast this week and your recipes are amazing! Their chips and hot salsa are my absolute favorite-what type of oil do you usually use to fry the chips? Thanks a million!

    1. Hi Amanda! The best oil for frying chips is corn oil because you’re frying corn tortillas. It also has high smoke point. Otherwise you could use vegetable oil, canola oil, or peanut oil. Avocado oil has a ridiculously high smoke point too, but it might add flavor you don’t like. So see what you have on hand – if you don’t have anything, corn oil is the best but anything neutral works. Thank you! I”m so glad you like the recipes! -Meggan

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