Tomatillo Chile de Arbol Salsa

This tomatillo chile de arbol salsa is a recipe I got from my brother who got it from our Abuelita.  It is not the salsa my Papi remembers growing up with in Mexico but one that developed after they came to the United States and became a part of the Mexican American community.  So this recipe has been in the works since the early 1970s.  I do remember having this as a kid whenever we went back to visit my abuelos.  It reminds me of my Abuelita’s love and her always cooking something since it was always time to eat!  If I close my eyes I can see her working in the kitchen.

Salsa is not an exact science and it was really difficult for me to try to be exact for the purposes of writing down this tomatillo chile de arbol recipe.  Salsa is created by feel and taste; you can adjust the amount of each ingredient as you like but below is what I have found to be a good starting point.  The heat from the chiles don’t overpower the taste and you have a nice medium spicy salsa.

Prepping all the garlic does take time but allow that process to slow you down and remember why you may be making the recipe.  I make it to share with my daughter in the hopes she can connect with a part of the family.

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Makes approximately 1.25 liters


  • 1 lb. tomatillos, quartered
  • 1 large yellow onion, cubed
  • 20 pieces of dried chile de arbol, no stems
  • 1 bunch of green onions, chopped
  • 3 bulbs of garlic (yes, you are reading this correctly.  3 BULBS of garlic!!)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro roughly chopped

Tomatillo Chile de Arbol Salsa Directions

  1. Shuck, rinse and chop tomatillos into quarters. 
  2. Place tomatillos, cubed onion, chile arbols, green onions, garlic and water into a large stockpot.  Bring to a boil, cover and cook for 15 minutes until everything is soft and cooked through. 
  3. Let the mixture cool in the pot then transfer to a blender.  Make sure all liquid is transferred to blender. 
  4. Add salt, pepper and cilantro.  Blend to desired consistency.  Salsa is ready to serve or you can chill and serve.

Serve it with Abuelita’s Ground Beef + Potato Flautas.  Promise you will love me for these!

Tools Needed

Green in the Kitchen

I try my best to be as green as possible in the kitchen using organic ingredients and using tools that can be handed down through the generations and/or are sustainably made.  I am always on the lookout for products that support this vision.  Though not perfect I still have tools that are not completely in line with this vision; however, I look forward to taking great care of them and using them as long as possible so they stay out of landfills.  Once they have reached their end of life I look forward to introducing an eco-friendly version to the home.

I also look forward to sharing with you what can be composted from each dish so less food waste is sent to landfills.  If you have an opportunity to use the unused portions of ingredients in another dish all the better but if you don’t have plans for… let’s say, that whole head of lettuce YOU CAN COMPOST IT!

What Can Be Composted From This Dish?

Cilantro, onion, tomatillo husks, garlic husks, and stems from the chile arbol if there were any can all be composted for sure!

Green onions can be composted as well. But why does the store provide so much?!  We love green onions and use them often but could never go through the whole bundle.  While I used to compost the leftovers; I always wondered why I got so much to begin with.  That is when my husband and I decided to grow green onions in our garden and only use what we need.  We grew our green onions from seed but you can also propagate them.

Propagating Green Onions

  • Cut the green onions down to about 1 inch, leaving roots attached.
  • Stand the root-end down in a small vase/jar/water holding vessel. Add enough water to cover the roots.
  • Keep in a sunny place with plenty of water. Change the water out about once a week.
  • New shoots should come out within a couple days.
  • Plant in a pot with soil once shoots reach about five inches tall. Or plant outside in your garden or anywhere in the yard really.
  • Snip off what you need as you need it! Green onions are a really easy plant to take care of; water when you water your yard (we do three times per week when it is dry and MAYBE once a week when it is really nice out).

We also tried growing cilantro but it is just too freaking hot here; it always bolted and went to seed.  I am jealous if you are able to grow cilantro!  Enjoy!

Mexican Recipe Ideas

Pork Shoulder Chile Ancho Tamales

Arrachera Tacos

Abuelita’s Ground Beef + Potato Flautas

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