Chipotle Hot Salsa

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If you love Chipotle’s signature smoky, tangy hot red salsa, you’ll love this copycat version you can make at home!

A person holding a tortilla chip in a Copycat Chipotle Red Salsa.
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Copycat Chipotle Red Salsa served with tortilla chips and limes.

Copycat Chipotle Hot Red Salsa

If you’re a fan of Chipotle’s fiery and flavorful hot salsa, you’re in for a treat. This copycat recipe allows you to recreate that signature taste right in your own kitchen. Chipotle’s hot salsa is known for its bold, smoky, and spicy profile, making it a must-have condiment for burritos, tacos, bowls, and more.

To make this homemade hot salsa, you’ll start with ripe and juicy tomatoes. These tomatoes are blended with fiery jalapeños, smoky chipotle peppers, and zesty lime juice. The addition of fresh cilantro and onions brings a burst of freshness and herbal notes, balancing the heat with a touch of brightness. A pinch of salt and a hint of garlic round out the flavors, ensuring a well-balanced and addictive salsa.

One of the best things about this copycat salsa is its versatility. It’s not just a condiment; it’s a flavor enhancer. Drizzle it over grilled chicken, spoon it onto scrambled eggs, or use it as a marinade for meats. Its smoky heat and tangy zest can elevate a wide range of dishes.

The great thing about making your own Chipotle-style hot salsa is that you can customize the heat level to your preference. If you like it scorching hot, use extra jalapeños or keep the seeds in. For a milder version, remove the seeds and membranes from the peppers. Either way, this homemade salsa is a fiery, smoky, and utterly delicious addition to your culinary repertoire. So, get ready to spice up your meals with this Chipotle copycat hot salsa recipe!

A bowl of tomato sauce with Copycat Chipotle Red Salsa.

How to Make Chipotle Hot Salsa

To make this recipe, we will need the following ingredients:

  • Tomatillos (12): Tomatillos are the star of this salsa. They have a slightly tangy and citrusy flavor and provide a bright, green color to the salsa.
  • Garlic Cloves (4, peeled): Garlic adds a robust and aromatic flavor to the salsa. It provides a savory and pungent kick that balances the acidity of the tomatillos.
  • Ground Chili (2 tbsp, adjust for spice tolerance): Ground chili, such as chili powder, brings the heat to the salsa. You can adjust the quantity to control the spiciness according to your taste.
  • Ground Cumin (1 ½ tsp): Cumin is known for its warm and earthy flavor. It complements the heat of the chili and adds depth to the salsa.
  • Lime Juice (2 tbsp) and Lime Zest (2 tsp): Lime juice and zest provide a zesty and citrusy kick to the salsa. They enhance the overall brightness and freshness of the flavors.
  • Salt (¾ tsp, adjust to taste): Salt is a crucial seasoning that enhances all the other flavors in the salsa. It balances the acidity and heat, ensuring a well-rounded taste.

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, we will use this process:

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 400°F. Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and give them a quick rinse. Cut in quarter and place them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they become soft and slightly charred, which usually takes about 12 minutes.
  2. You can either roast the garlic cloves alongside the tomatillos for a milder flavor or leave them raw for a spicier kick. It’s all about personal preference!
  3. Once the tomatillos are done roasting, let them cool down for a moment. Then, in a blender or food processor, combine the roasted tomatillos, garlic cloves, chili, cumin, lime juice, lime zest, and salt. Pulse until you reach your desired consistency. If you like it chunky, a few quick pulses will do the trick. For a smoother texture, blend a bit longer.
  4. Taste it and adjust the salt or lime juice as needed to suit your taste buds.
  5. Transfer your homemade Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa to an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together. 
Homemade Chipotle Salsa in a bowl on a table.

Tips and Tricks for Perfect Chipotle Hot Salsa

Select Ripe Tomatillos: Choose tomatillos that are ripe and firm. They should be bright green with dry, tight-fitting husks. Avoid tomatillos that are yellow or have soft spots.

Roast the Tomatillos and Garlic: Roasting the tomatillos and garlic enhances their flavors and adds a smoky dimension to the salsa. You can do this by placing them under the broiler or on a hot skillet until they char and soften.

Control the Spice: Adjust the amount of ground chili to your spice tolerance. If you like it extra hot, add more chili. For a milder salsa, reduce the amount or remove the seeds and membranes from the chili peppers.

Balance with Lime: Lime juice and zest are essential for adding a tangy and citrusy kick to the salsa. Taste as you go and adjust the lime juice to achieve the right level of acidity.

Season Gradually: Add salt gradually and taste as you season. Salt enhances the flavors but can easily be overdone, so it’s best to add it incrementally.

Blend to the Right Consistency: Blend the salsa until it reaches your preferred consistency. Some like it chunky, while others prefer it smoother. Pulse the blender for shorter times for a chunkier texture.

Chill for Flavor Development: Allow the salsa to chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or overnight. This helps the flavors meld and develop, resulting in a more complex and delicious salsa.

Customize with Cilantro: If you love cilantro, consider adding a handful of fresh cilantro leaves to the salsa after blending. It adds a burst of freshness and herbaceous flavor.

Store Properly: Store any leftover salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It can be kept for several days and may even improve in flavor over time.

Experiment and Adjust: Don’t be afraid to experiment with the ingredients and quantities to tailor the salsa to your taste preferences. It’s all about finding the perfect balance of heat, acidity, and smokiness.

A bowl of Chipotle salsa with tortilla chips.

FAQs

What is the main flavor profile of Chipotle hot salsa?

Chipotle hot salsa is known for its smoky, spicy, and tangy flavor profile. It’s characterized by the smokiness of chipotle peppers, the heat of chili, and the citrusy kick of lime.

Can I adjust the spiciness of the salsa to my preference?

Yes, you can adjust the spiciness by varying the amount of ground chili used. If you prefer a milder salsa, reduce the amount of chili. For extra heat, add more chili or keep the seeds and membranes in the chili peppers.

Are tomatillos necessary for this salsa, or can I use regular tomatoes?

Tomatillos are a key ingredient in Chipotle hot salsa, as they contribute a distinct tangy flavor and green color. While you can use regular tomatoes as a substitute, it will result in a different flavor profile.

Can I use fresh chili peppers instead of ground chili?

Absolutely! Using fresh chili peppers like jalapeños or serranos can add a vibrant and fresher heat to the salsa. Just adjust the quantity based on your spice tolerance.

How long can I store homemade Chipotle hot salsa?

Homemade salsa can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. It may even taste better the next day as the flavors meld.

Can I freeze Chipotle hot salsa?

While it’s not common to freeze salsa due to its high moisture content, you can try freezing small portions if needed. Be aware that freezing may alter the texture and flavor slightly.

Is there a way to make this salsa milder for kids or those who prefer less heat?

To make a milder version, reduce the amount of chili used or omit it altogether. You can also adjust the lime juice and salt to balance the flavors.

Can I use bottled lime juice instead of fresh lime juice and zest?

While fresh lime juice and zest provide the best flavor, you can use bottled lime juice as a convenient substitute. However, fresh lime juice will give the salsa a brighter and fresher taste.

How can I incorporate this salsa into my meals?

Chipotle hot salsa is a versatile condiment. Use it as a topping for tacos, burritos, grilled meats, or as a dip for tortilla chips. It adds a spicy and smoky kick to various dishes.

Can I make a larger batch of this salsa for a crowd?

Absolutely! Simply scale up the ingredients accordingly to make a larger batch for gatherings or parties.

A bowl of Mexican salsa with tortilla chips, spiced with chipotle peppers.

What to Serve With Chipotle Hot Salsa

Tacos: Whether you’re making beef, chicken, pork, or vegetarian tacos, a spoonful of Chipotle hot salsa adds a smoky and spicy kick to your taco filling.

Burritos: Roll up a flavorful burrito filled with rice, beans, grilled vegetables, and your choice of protein. Top it with Chipotle hot salsa for extra flavor.

Quesadillas: Dip your cheesy quesadillas into Chipotle hot salsa for a burst of heat and smokiness that complements the cheesy goodness.

Grilled Meats: Chipotle hot salsa makes an excellent marinade or topping for grilled meats like chicken, steak, or shrimp. It adds depth of flavor and a touch of spice.

Nachos: Drizzle Chipotle hot salsa over a plate of nachos loaded with melted cheese, jalapeños, and guacamole. It’s a zesty and spicy topping.

Burgers: Use Chipotle hot salsa as a condiment for your burgers. It pairs particularly well with beef, turkey, or veggie burgers.

Grilled Vegetables: Roasted or grilled vegetables like bell peppers, zucchini, and onions can be elevated with a dollop of Chipotle hot salsa.

Rice Bowls: Create a rice bowl with your choice of grains, proteins, and vegetables. Top it with Chipotle hot salsa for added flavor and spice.

Eggs: Add a spoonful of Chipotle hot salsa to scrambled eggs, omelets, or breakfast burritos for a spicy breakfast kick.

Potato Dishes: Whether it’s baked potatoes, hash browns, or potato wedges, Chipotle hot salsa can be a flavorful topping or dipping sauce.

Tostadas: Spread Chipotle hot salsa on crispy tostadas and build your own toppings with beans, lettuce, cheese, and more.

Fajitas: Serve Chipotle hot salsa alongside sizzling fajitas, enhancing the flavors of the grilled meat and vegetables.

Dips: Use Chipotle hot salsa as a dip for tortilla chips, potato chips, or fresh vegetable sticks.

Salads: Add a unique twist to your taco salads by using Chipotle hot salsa as a zesty dressing or drizzle.

Sandwiches: Spread Chipotle hot salsa on sandwiches or wraps for an extra layer of flavor.

Seafood: Whether it’s grilled shrimp, fish tacos, or seafood ceviche, Chipotle hot salsa pairs wonderfully with seafood dishes.

A bowl of spicy Mexican salsa with chipotle and hot tortilla chips.

Chipotle Hot Salsa

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Chipotle hot salsa

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A person holding a tortilla chip with Chipotle sauce on it.

Chipotle Hot Salsa

Yield: 1.5 cups
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes

A Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa that's going to bring the bold and spicy flavors of your favorite Mexican grill right into your kitchen. 

Ingredients

  • 12 tomatillos
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tbsp ground chili (you can adjust for your spice tolerance)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp lime zest
  • ¾ tsp salt (adjust to taste)

Instructions

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 400°F. Remove the papery husks from the tomatillos and give them a quick rinse. Cut in quarter and place them on a baking sheet and roast them in the oven until they become soft and slightly charred, which usually takes about 12 minutes.
  2. You can either roast the garlic cloves alongside the tomatillos for a milder flavor or leave them raw for a spicier kick. It's all about personal preference!
  3. Once the tomatillos are done roasting, let them cool down for a moment. Then, in a blender or food processor, combine the roasted tomatillos, garlic cloves, chili, cumin, lime juice, lime zest, and salt. Pulse until you reach your desired consistency. If you like it chunky, a few quick pulses will do the trick. For a smoother texture, blend a bit longer.
  4. Taste it and adjust the salt or lime juice as needed to suit your taste buds.
  5. Transfer your homemade Copycat Chipotle Hot Salsa to an airtight container and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld together.
Nutrition Information
Yield 8 Serving Size 3 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving Calories 26Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 1mgSodium 235mgCarbohydrates 4gFiber 1gSugar 2gProtein 1g

Nutrition is automatically calculated by Nutritionix - please verify all nutrition information independently and consult with a doctor or nutritionist for any and all medical and diet advice.

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Courtney loves to share great wine, good food, and loves to explore far flung places- all while masting an everyday elegant and easy style at lifestyle blog Sweet C’s Designs. Sweet C's devoted to finding the best food and drinks you'll want to make or find, around the world!

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