Chipotle Hot Salsa (Copycat)

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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:

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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.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 61
5 from 206 votes

Ingredients 

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
Did you make this recipe?Tag @culinaryhill on Instagram so we can admire your masterpiece! #culinaryhill
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Meggan Hill is a classically-trained chef and professional writer. Her meticulously-tested recipes and detailed tutorials bring confidence and success to home cooks everywhere. Meggan has been featured on NPR, HuffPost, FoxNews, LA Times, and more.

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Comments

  1. I tried making this tonight. Not sure if I did something wrong but it didn’t turn out right. Looked more of a greeny brown color and didn’t have the flavor I was expecting. It was also a lot thicker than Chipotle’s salsa. That all being said it was very tasty.

    1. Hi Colin, I’m sorry the color wasn’t right, but I’m glad it was still tasty! The red color comes from the dried chilies, so it’s possible that the type you used were darker or not as bright red. If you prefer your salsa thinner, you can always add a little water to the food processor to adjust the consistency. Hope this helps! – Meggan

  2. Delicious! I always run out of Chipotle’s hot salsa before the chips are gone. With this recipe, I have an unlimited supply whenever I want. It took me about 15 minutes. I used ancho chiles, Cholula, an a little extra lime juice. I mixed everything in the Vitamix. So delicious and easy.5 stars

    1. Hi Erika! THank you so much for your comment, I’m so glad you loved it! – Meggan

  3. Hi Megan , We all LOVE your Recipes! LOVE Your website and can’t wait to try more items! I have tried your Chipotle line with great success!! We are so lucky to have you! :)
    However, with this recipe, I was short on time so I just used the chile powder out of the package, I wish I would have cooked it first or something because it was soooo bitter! I regret not grinding the chiles myself! I had to toss it. I am going to try it again, do you recommend roasting the chiles in the oven beforehand? Or does it matter? Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi B, I’m so sorry! I love grinding the dried New Mexico (and ancho!) chilies myself, no roasting necessary! I would suggest to remove the stem and seeds before grinding them up. – Meggan

    1. Hi Hannah, this recipe has not been tested for canning. I would suggest finding a recipe that has been tested if you are wanting to can it, sorry about that! – Meggan

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