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Love Chipotle’s hot salsa sauce but want to learn how to recreate it at home? Then this tomatillo red chili salsa recipe is what you need. You’ll end up with that classic tangy and spicy flavor and be able to customize it just the way you like it. Trust me, this recipe will be the only hot salsa recipe you’ll ever need.

A wooden bowl of copycat Chipotle hot salsa (Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa) with a tortilla chip dipped in it, surrounded by fresh ingredients on a wooden surface.

This tomatillo red chili salsa is such an incredible copycat of Chipotle’s hot salsa sauce. It’s fresh, vibrant, and better than store-bought salsa with a chunky yet smooth texture which is perfect for scooping with tortilla chips.

If you’re a fan of Mexican-inspired appetizers and snacks, you’ll definitely want to check out my chunky mango salsa, loaded slow cooker taco dip, and roasted red pepper cream cheese dip recipes.

A wooden bowl filled with Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa and a spoon, accompanied by tortilla chips.
A cast iron skillet with copycat Chipotle hot salsa on a wooden cutting board surrounded by ingredients like limes, tomatillos, and chili peppers.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Better Than Store-Bought: This salsa is a spot-on copycat of Chipotle’s hot salsa sauce and it’s so good you’ll be eating it with a spoon straight out of the jar (if you had enough even left to jar that is!).
Completely Customizable: It’s a great base recipe for a salsa that you can make slight adjustments to easily. Want it less spicy? Take out some of the chili peppers. Want it smokier? Add more chipotle peppers. Make this recipe your own!
No Preservatives: Premade and preservative-filled food just can’t compare to this delicious combination of fresh ingredients. Trust me, this salsa tastes delicious!

A jar of copycat Chipotle hot salsa (Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa) on a wooden table.

Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa Sauce Recipe Ingredients

A complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.

Tomatillos: These are the star of the salsa and will add a lovely, tangy flavor to your salsa. Remove the husks and give them a good rinse to get rid of the sticky residue before using. They’re also known as Mexican husk tomatoes.
Garlic: It’s best to use fresh garlic for this recipe as it has a stronger flavor than pre-minced garlic.
Jalapeño and red chili peppers: These will add a spicy kick to your salsa. Remember that the heat of the peppers is concentrated in the ribs and seeds, so remove them if you prefer a milder salsa.
Ancho chili powder and chipotle peppers in adobo: These will add a smoky flavor to your salsa.
Tabasco sauce and white vinegar: These ingredients will add a tangy kick to your salsa.
Limes: Freshly squeezed lime juice will add a zesty, citrusy flavor to the salsa, balancing out the sweetness of the tomatillos.
Rotel (tomatoes and green chiles blend): This will add a nice, chunky texture and a bit of extra heat to your salsa.
Cilantro: Chopped fresh cilantro will add a lovely, herby flavor to your salsa. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, you can use parsley or leave it out entirely.

Assorted Mexican cooking ingredients arranged on a wooden surface, including tomatillos, chilies, garlic, limes, and spices to make a Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa.

How to Make Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa

For more detailed instructions with weights and measurements, jump to the printable recipe card.

Prepare the tomatillos and peppers: Remove the husks from the tomatillos and cut them in half. Also, cut the jalapeño and red chili peppers in half and remove the seeds.
Cook the tomatillos and peppers: Heat some olive oil in a cast iron skillet and add the tomatillos and jalapeño slices, cut side up. Cook until lightly brown, then squeeze lime juice over them and add the crushed garlic, tomatoes and green chiles, and chipotle peppers. Cook for 4 minutes.
Blend all the ingredients: Transfer the cooked ingredients to a food processor or blender, add the remaining ingredients and pulse for 30 seconds, or until you reach your desired consistency.
Serve: Transfer the salsa to a serving dish and serve with tortilla chips.

Colorful array of sliced vegetables in a cast-iron skillet, ready for cooking.
Roasted tomatillos and chili peppers in a cast iron skillet, surrounded by various spices and ingredients for Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa preparation.

Substitutions and Variations

Different Spiciness: Feel free to adjust the chili ratio if you want to reduce the spiciness or increase it. You can also change the kind of chilies you’re using.
Using more than one kind of chili gives a depth of flavor to the tomatillo red chili salsa.
Hot Sauce: You can swap the Tabasco sauce for Sriracha or Cholula if you have that, or any other hot sauce you like.

Homemade red chili salsa in a glass jar on a wooden table.
A cast-iron skillet filled with chunky Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa on a wooden surface.

Serving Suggestions

Snacks: Enjoy this salsa de tomatillo as a snack or appetizer with crackers, chips or anything else you want to dip.
Protein: This copycat Chipotle hot salsa sauce is also great with steak, chicken or alongside any south-of-the-border-inspired meal such as quesadillas, chicken or beef fajitas.
Toppings: Use it as a topping for your favorite tacos or to even add some spice to your breakfast eggs.

Tortilla chip dipping into a bowl of tomatillo salsa with limes in the background.
A skillet of Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa on a wooden table accompanied by limes and chips.

How to Store Red Chili Tomatillo Salsa

Store: Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Your tomatillo red chili salsa should last around 4-5 days.
Freeze: Unfortunately, this salsa doesn’t freeze well. It’s best enjoyed fresh.

A jar of Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa with a wooden spoon, accompanied by tortilla chips and a lime on a wooden surface.

Top Tips 

Prep the Tomatillos Properly: Tomatillos are a lot like tomatoes but are covered in a husk. Simply peel it off and give it a quick rinse to get rid of the sticky residue.
Choose the Right Chilies: For this tomatillo red chili salsa, I recommend using fresh red chili peppers, jalapeño, and chipotle peppers in adobo. These will give your salsa a
nice balance of heat and smoky flavor, and make it the perfect copycat Chipotle recipe.
Roasting Your Tomatillos and Chilies: Before adding them to your salsa, make sure to roast your tomatillos and chilies in a hot cast iron skillet. This will not only enhance their flavor but also give your salsa a nice, smoky undertone.
Adjust the Spiciness: If you’re not a fan of super spicy food, feel free to deseed your chilies or even reduce the amount of hot peppers you use. On the other hand,
If you love the heat, don’t be afraid to add an extra jalapeño or two.
Customize the Consistency: Pulse the mixture in a food processor or blender until the red tomatillo salsa reaches your preferred consistency. You can go for anything from super-smooth to rustic and chunky, depending on what kind of snack or appetizer you’re serving the spicy salsa with.

A jar of Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa with a wooden spoon, accompanied by fresh ingredients on a wooden surface.
A skillet of Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa with tortilla chips and fresh ingredients on a wooden surface.

Red Tomatillo Chili Salsa FAQs

What are tomatillos?

Tomatillos are a type of fruit (like tomatoes). They aren’t, however, a type of tomato. Tomatillos are native to Mexico but are now popular with farmers in the US because they’re disease-resistant. Also known as Mexican husk tomatoes, this fruit isn’t as sweet-tasting as a tomato and it has a bit of a bright, acidic taste too. The sticky exterior of the fruit is covered with a papery husk that is called a lantern.

How do you prep a tomatillo before using it to make salsa?

Tomatillos are similar to tomatoes but are surrounded by a husk that can be removed by hand and given a quick rinse to eliminate the sticky residue.

How else can I use tomatillos?

As well as being delicious in this Chipotle hot salsa recipe, you can puree tomatillos for use in sauces or vinaigrettes. You can even slice them and layer them with ricotta on toast, perhaps drizzled with some Italian olive oil.

Are tomatillos spicy?

Many people mistakenly think that tomatillos are spicy, but they are not hot. They provide body for sauces and salsa and it’s up to you on how you make it hot or mild. It’s tart and goes great with a number of herbs and spices.

Can you make this spicy salsa ahead?

Yes, you can! You can prepare this tomatillo red chili salsa up to 5 days in advance. However, if you happen to have any leftovers after that, don’t worry. This salsa freezes well and will keep for several months.

A wooden spoon scooping up chunky tomatillo salsa from a cast-iron skillet.
A jar of copycat Chipotle hot salsa with a wooden spoon on a wooden table.
A wooden spoon scooping Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa from a glass jar with tortilla chips in the background.

Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa Recipe

5 from 82 votes

Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa – Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa

By: Bella Bucchiotti
For the freshest flavour, make your own tomatillo red chili salsa and enjoy as a snack or appetizer. This copycat Chipotle hot salsa sauce is also great with steak or chicken. Make lots, because this red tomatillo salsa will disappear fast!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 13 minutes
Total Time: 23 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients 

  • 10 tomatillos
  • 8 Cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 3 chili peppers, red
  • 2 Tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoon chipotle peppers, in adobo
  • 1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Can Rotel, 10oz, I used these tomatoes and green chiles
  • 2 Teaspoon cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon black pepper, fresh cracked
  • ½ Teaspoon salt
  • 1 Bunch cilantro

Instructions 

  • Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat
  • Remove husks from tomatillos. Cut in half. Cut the jalapeño and red chili peppers in half and remove the seeds.
  • Add olive oil to the pan to coat the bottom and place the tomatillos and jalapeño slices cut side up. Season lightly with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook for 8 to 9 minutes to lightly brown. Juice 1 lime over them and add the crushed garlic, tomatoes and green chiles, and chipotle peppers. Continue cooking for 4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and add to a food processor or blender with remaining ingredients. Pulse for 30 seconds to break apart. *per your desired consistency*
  • Serve with tortilla chips.

Notes

Prep the Tomatillos Properly: Tomatillos are a lot like tomatoes but are covered in a husk. Simply peel it off and give it a quick rinse to get rid of the sticky residue.
Choose the Right Chilies: For this tomatillo red chili salsa, I recommend using fresh red chili peppers, jalapeño, and chipotle peppers in adobo. These will give your salsa a nice balance of heat and smoky flavor, and make it the perfect copycat Chipotle recipe.
Roasting Your Tomatillos and Chilies: Before adding them to your salsa, make sure to roast your tomatillos and chilies in a hot cast iron skillet. This will not only enhance their flavor but also give your salsa a nice, smoky undertone.
Adjust the Spiciness: If you’re not a fan of super spicy food, feel free to deseed your chilies or even reduce the amount of hot peppers you use. On the other hand,
If you love the heat, don’t be afraid to add an extra jalapeño or two.
Customize the Consistency: Pulse the mixture in a food processor or blender until the red tomatillo salsa reaches your preferred consistency. You can go for anything from super-smooth to rustic and chunky, depending on what kind of snack or appetizer you’re serving the spicy salsa with.

Nutrition

Calories: 54kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 232mg | Potassium: 306mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 857IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg
Like this recipe? Rate and comment below!

This Chipotle tomatillo red salsa recipe tastes fresh and spicy. It’s a mouth-watering copycat Chipotle sauce that boasts fresh flavors and a spicy zip. Once you make this Chipotle red chili salsa recipe, you will consider it your go-to dip!

Other Recipes To Try

Bella Bucchiotti

Bella Bucchiotti is a Canadian-based syndicated food, travel, and lifestyle writer, photographer, and creator at xoxoBella. She founded xoxoBella in 2015, where she shares her love for food, dogs, sustainability, fitness, crafts, outdoor adventures, travel, and philanthropy to encourage others to run the extra mile, try new recipes, visit unfamiliar places, and stand for a cause. Bella creates stress-free and family-friendly recipes for weeknight dinners and festive feasts.

 

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Recipe Rating




12 Comments

    1. Yes, it’s the same ingredient – just ground up into powder form (instead of a whole dried chili pepper).

    1. Hi Abby, you should get 6 cups but since you’re using fresh tomatillos the exact quantity depends on their size since they do vary.

  1. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I used 2 fresh jalapenos, 2 rehydrated guajjilos and 2 rehydrated anchos (ommitted the chili powder).

    Also roasted the garlic with the tomatillos and fresh jalapenos in the oven at a broil. I hear you want a nice char on everything (but the garlic)

    Tip: all of these ingredients are fresh and cheap from your local Mexican grocery don’t go to walmart or target.

  2. 5 stars
    Can’t wait to try this recipe! I wish I had a chip right now to reach into the screen and grab a big scoop!