Bright red with hints of smokey cumin, this guajillo sauce is an easy blended salsa full of pantry staples like onion, garlic, and oregano. Served in chilaquiles or enchiladas, it’ll add some spicy Mexican personality to your favorite dishes.
Why You’ll Love This Guajillo Sauce
Chile guajillo salsa will earn a place in your fridge week after week once you see how easy it is to make and all the things you can do with it.
- Versatile. You can use the sauce to make lots of your favorite Mexican recipes, like Chilaquiles Rojos, so you’ll never get tired of it.
- Pantry-friendly. Even if you haven’t been grocery shopping for a while, you likely have most of the ingredients at home already.
- Freezer-friendly. Pop the sauce out of the freezer so that it’s ready to be reheated and served when you come home. It’s super convenient.
- Easy. Just toast the chiles, rehydrate them, and blend the sauce. That’s it!
The main ingredient is, of course, guajillo chile. Check the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact ingredient amounts.
- Guajillo Chiles: You will need dried guajillo chiles.
- Onion: White or yellow onion work.
- Garlic: Don’t use garlic powder for this, you want fresh garlic.
- Mexican Oregano: No Italian oregano, please.
- Ground Cumin: You can also use 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds.
- Ground Black Pepper: Use the same amount of whole peppercorns if you prefer.
- Oil: I prefer vegetable, corn, or canola oil. Feel free to use lard as well.
How to Make Guajillo Sauce
This sauce is all about toasting and rehydrating the chile for the sauce. If you’re using whole spices, check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for more detailed instructions on how to incorporate them into the sauce.
- Toast the chiles. Heat a large pan and toast the chiles on all sides. Don’t let them burn.
- Rehydrate them. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add the chiles. Let them sit in the water until completely softened.
- Blend the sauce. Strain the chiles and reserve some of the liquid. Blend the onion, garlic, oregano, cumin, guajillos, salt, pepper, and reserved liquid until smooth.
- Simmer it. Heat the oil in a pot and add the sauce. Stir and let it cook for 15 minutes.
- Serve. Remove the pot from the heat and serve the sauce with your favorite Mexican recipes.
Tips for Success
These tips will help you successfully make any chile-based sauce.
- Reduce the heat. Add 3 to 4 Roma tomatoes to the recipe in order to reduce the heat. You can also bring down the number of guajillos to 5 to 7 for a milder sauce.
- Wear gloves. Using plastic gloves to seed and stem the chilis will help you avoid teary eyes later when you accidentally rub your eyes or scratch your nose.
- Strain the sauce. In case you used whole peppercorns or cumin seeds and want to make sure your sauce is super smooth, strain it into the pot before simmering it.
- Pick fresh chilis. Even though the chiles are dried, some are fresher than others. The best dried chilis should be slightly bendy and not crack when bent.
The answers to these FAQs will help you figure out whether or not to reduce the amount of chiles in the sauce so that it’s not overly spicy.
Guajillo peppers are the dried version of fresh Mirasol chiles. They’ve got a bright, fruity flavor with a mild-medium heat level and are typically used as a base for many Mexican dishes.
Not really, but it does depend on your tolerance to heat. They have 2,500-5,000 Scoville Heat Units, making them spicier than an anaheim, but less spicy than chilis like habaneros, cayenne, and serrano peppers.
No. The hottest guajillo is as spicy as the mildest jalapeño, but according to the Scoville heat scale they can’t be spicier.
Ways to Use Chile Guajillo Sauce
Use this chile guajillo salsa as a flavor-base or topping for lots of your favorite Mexican recipes:
- Chilaquiles. Top my Air Fryer Tortilla Chips or Tortilla Chips with the sauce to make breakfast chilaquiles.
- Enchiladas. Swap the sauce in any of my Buffalo Chicken Enchiladas or Cheese Enchiladas for a yummy twist.
- Burritos. Simmer shredded pork or beef with the sauce to make awesome burritos with Refried Beans.
- Tacos. Use the sauce as a topping for your favorite tacos like my Carne Asada Tacos.
- Tamales. Mix the sauce with shredded pork, beef, or chicken and use it as a filling for Tamales.
Once fully cooled, refrigerate leftover guajillo sauce in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Keep it away from heat and sunlight when on the counter for reheating or serving.
To reheat it, pop it into the microwave for up to a minute or until warm. You can also heat it in a small pot over medium heat for 6-9 minutes. You can also serve it at room temperature or chilled if you’re using it as an appetizer with chips or a topping for tacos.
Can I Freeze This?
Yes! Freeze it in 1/2-1 cup portions so that you don’t have to worry about defrosting a huge batch of salsa later. Thaw overnight in the fridge and then reheat or serve as usual.
More Mexican Salsas to Try
- Strawberry Watermelon Salsa
- Tomatillo Avocado Salsa
- Avocado Salsa
- Salsa Verde
- Restaurant Style Salsa
- Salsa Ranchera
- Creamy Avocado Salsa
- Heat a pan and toast the peppers on all sides. They may get a few dark spots, but you don’t want them to blacken too much or they may become bitter.
- Heat 4 cups of water to boiling. Once boiling, turn off the stove. Place the toasted chilis in the hot water and let sit for 15 minutes, until they are softened.
- Remove the chilis from the water (reserving 1 cup of the water the chiles cooked in) and place the chiles in a blender, or food processor. Add the remaining cup of reserved chili water, onion, garlic, Mexican oregano, cumin, pepper, and salt. Blend until smooth. (If using whole peppercorns and whole cumin seeds, you will need to grind them with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder before adding them to the food processor.)
- Heat the oil in a deep pan over medium heat and pour the sauce into the pan. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often.
- Use the sauce, as desired, or in tamales, birria, soups or chiliquiles.
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