It's true, you probably never reach for peanuts when you're settling in to make a homemade batch of salsa. But there's a good chance this Peanut Chile Salsa will have you thinking twice about that the next time you're swinging open the pantry door.
In other words...it tastes good. Real good.
Peanut Chile Salsa Recipe
There's a rich, concentrated version of this salsa that you'll sometimes see referred to as either Salsa Macha or Chili Pesto. As an example, here's a traditional Salsa Macha recipe from Rick Bayless. Note the high oil amount, lack of onion, and lack of water. This will result in a concentrated, "few drops at a time" sauce.
By reducing the oil amount and adding some onion (and water), you'll get an expansive, diluted version that still retains the classic peanut-chile flavor profile. That's a technical way of saying that you can eat way more of it because it's not as oily.
The other good news is that the actual chile combo doesn't matter too much. You can get creative with the chiles so feel free to start with what you've got. We're using Guajillo Chiles and Chiles de Arbol.
Don't forget that the smaller the chile, the hotter it gets; this makes for an efficient way to give your salsa some heat. That's why you'll frequently see Chiles de Arbol, Moritas, and Chiles Pequin used in salsas like this.
I usually wipe off the chilis if they have any dusty crevasses, then cut off the stems and de-seed.
De-seeding the chiles isn't crucial here so it's okay to have some stragglers.
Meanwhile, saute half an onion and three garlic cloves in three tablespoons of oil.
Once the onion is tender (a few minutes), add 1/4 cup peanuts and a tablespoon of sesame seeds.
Unroasted, unsalted peanuts would probably be the ideal starting point, but don't be too picky about that the first time you make this salsa. I've used the roasted, salted version plenty of times and still get a good result.
Let the peanuts and seeds cook for a few minutes and then add the chilis.
You don't want to burn the chilis so just 1-2 minutes is enough to release some of their dormant flavors.
Set the pan aside and let cool for a moment before adding to the blender.
Add this mixture to a blender along with:
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon cider vinegar
some freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Blend until thoroughly combined and take a taste for salt level.
You're left with a delicious, rich flavor that will instantly expand your definition of "salsa". I mean...it's got peanuts in it!
This salsa will work great on cuts of meat, tacos, and just about anything else you want to dip into it. So good!
It's worth adding an unconventional salsa like this to your repertoire, so please give this Peanut Chile Salsa a try. It also comes with the added benefit of creating vibrant new brain synapses; now when you see peanuts you'll think...
Peanut Chile Salsa
- 10 Chile de Arbol dried chiles
- 2 Guajillo dried chiles
- 1/4 cup peanuts
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 1/2 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
- freshly cracked pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Roughly chop half an onion and peel 3 garlic cloves. Saute the onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Cook until the onion is tender (a few minutes).
- Wipe off any dusty crevasses on the dried chiles. De-stem and de-seed the chiles but don't worry about getting rid of every last seed.
- Add 1/4 cup peanuts and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds to the onion mixture and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the dried chiles to the mixture and cook for 1-2 minutes. Set the pan aside and let cool for a moment before adding to the blender.
- Add the mixture to a blender along with 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, some freshly cracked pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend until all of the chili pieces are disintegrated. Take a taste for salt level.
- Serve immediately and store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
We also use Chiles de Arbol in this ultra-fiery Chile de Arbol Salsa.
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So…. Any idea how to dial down the spiciness after i made it? May have gone overboard with the arbol chilies
Hi Barb! Hmmmm I have bad news on that one....it's really hard to put it in reverse once there's too much heat for your palate. You can add more peanuts and onion to dilute the heat, but I feel like even that is risky and it's just easier to start over. One other tip to keep in mind is that you can add the heat incrementally if you want, i.e. just add a couple of the Arbol chiles at the beginning, blend, and taste from there, adding more Arbols until it tastes right to you. Cheers.
I just wanted to thank you for putting up REAL Mexican recipes. I used to travel on business to San Luis Potosi City and Agua Caliente and have never ate better food anywhere in the world (yes I even found good food on the outskirts of Cancun on vacation! ) and I met some of the nicest, most humble people that I have ever met in all my travels. I remember all of it fondly but sadly I will never be able to go back because of all the drug problems that seems to have taken over much of Mexico and It's such a shame and tragedy especially for the working class that never had anything to do with it.
Ok… off my soap box now. Thank you again for the site and God Bless you and yours.
Thanks Thom, I hope you find some keeper recipes on my site! Would love to visit that part of Mexico some day. Cheers.
Hi! I am writing from Europe, and here (in Italy, although I am currently writing from Belgium) peanuts are typically sold salted. Are salted or unsalted peanuts needed for this recipe? Thanks in advance!
Hi Francesca! I've used both and each will give you a good result, but unsalted makes it easier to control the salt level. If using salted just hold back on adding additional salt until you give it a taste. Cheers.
Just tried this recipe but did not have the same chilies.
I used 2 x Ancho and 10 x Kashmiri.
Think I should have used less Kashmiri as the salsa came out red and is very hot. It does taste good though and will
be having it with Lamb pittas tonight.
I can not wait to try it with the chilies you used Patrick.
Cheers from the UK.
Thanks much for your note Tim! Good to know that it worked with the Kashmiris as I've never used those before. Cheers.
So, I'm thinking Asian/Mexican Fusion here, Peanut Sauce or Sesame Seed Noodle dish with maybe some
shrimp or pork or chicken thrown in for those that aren't vegetarian or vegan? I have not tried your sauce yet but it
sounds wonderful to me. I will admit that I'd probably use dried versions California or Hatch or Poblano
chilies instead of the hot ones! My days of eating the really hot stuff are pretty much over! Thanks for sharing this
recipe with us!
Thanks Chris, I hope this Salsa treats you well!
Just made this. Unbelievable how easy it is. I have Chile de Arbol enteros and wisely used 3 of them. It's tempting to use a spoon instead of a chip. This would be great for fish or a burger spread. This is soooo tasty.
Oh great thanks for following up Paul, so glad it worked out for you!
I have not made this yet. I give it a 5 anyway for being easy and practical. Can I skip the sesame seeds? They can be expensive. I'm not so sure about using 10 Chile de Arbol because the ones I have are Chile de Arbol entero and those are quite nuclear. Maybe only 3 of those?
Hey Paul! Yeah you can omit the sesame seeds and still get a good result with this salsa. And feel free to dial back on the Chile de Arbols if you want a milder version. Cheers.
I make a version of this with peanut butter and salsa. Very good but yours is much more authentic and interesting.
Ha awesome Randall, that would be a first for me, combining peanut butter and salsa. But after making this one I'm sure your shortcut is pretty darn good 🙂
Sarah Newman, Vegan Chickpea
This sauce sounds amazing! I love that it's vegan, thank you!
Cheers Sarah! Hope it treats you well.