Salpicon (Mexican Chilled Beef Salad)

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
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Served in crunchy lettuce leaves, this easy salpicon de res recipe is a refreshing lunch for the summer days ahead. Drizzled with a homemade chili sauce and topped with avocado, you’ll love the tang, creaminess and heat in these simple lettuce tacos.

Mexican Salpicon de Res

Loaded with veggies and homemade chili sauce, these salpicon lettuce tacos are the most refreshing tacos you’ll set on the table this summer. Served straight out of the fridge in crunchy greens, it’s an easy recipe to beat the heat with flying colors.

Made with shredded beef, tomatoes, onion, and chile tossed in vinegar, salpicon de res has an unexpected tang that is totally irresistible. Topped with a bit of sliced avocado for creaminess, the homemade peanut-chili sauce is the perfect finishing touch on these tacos. For extra texture, you can even make the sauce a bit chunky!

To save yourself some time, use store-bought salsa to speed things up on busy weeknights. With such a delightful crunch, nobody’s going to tell on you if you cut a few corners to put this dish on the table.

A spoon putting Salpicon into lettuce.

What Is Salpicon de Res?

It’s a chilled Mexican salad made with shredded beef, diced tomatoes, onion, and chile. The mixture is tossed in white vinegar and left to absorb its flavor. Some versions of the recipe include shredded lettuce, but this is best only when eaten on the same day because the lettuce tends to get bitter. It’s served on tostadas (or lettuce leaves for a healthier alternative) and topped with salsa and/or avocado.

Recipe Ingredients

The most important ingredients for this dish are beef and vinegar. Check the recipe card at the bottom of the post for exact amounts.

For the Beef

  • Chuck roast – Brisket is a good substitute.
  • Water

For the Mexican Chili Sauce

  • Guajillo Peppers – Ancho or morita peppers are great substitutes, but the sauce will be much smokier. Use 4 large ancho chiles or 3 small morita chiles.
  • Chile de Arbol You can leave these out if you’d like to control the heat.
  • Water
  • Olive Oil – Vegetable, corn, or canola oil work too.
  • White Sesame Seeds
  • Salted Peanuts – Using unsalted peanuts is a good alternative.
  • Garlic Powder – You can use 1 large garlic clove instead.
  • Chile Soaking Liquid
  • Salt

To Make the Lettuce Tacos

  • White Vinegar – Don’t use apple cider vinegar because it gives off a certain fruitiness.
  • Roma Tomatoes – Please don’t use canned tomatoes.
  • White Onion – Red onion is okay.
  • Cilantro
  • Serrano Pepper – Feel free to use jalapeño.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • French Lettuce Heads – Butter lettuce is great, but iceberg lettuce works too.
  • Sliced Avocado
Salpicon wrapped in lettuce with fresh avocado on a plate with homemade chile sauce drizzled on top.

How to Make Salpicon de Res Lettuce Tacos

Making this recipe mostly involves shredding the beef and then tossing it with vinegar and veggies. It’s easy!

For the Shredded Beef

  • Boil the beef. Place the chuck roast in a large pot. Cover it with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 2.5-3.5 hours or until it falls apart. Add more water as needed so that it’s always covered in liquid. You can also use a slow cooker over HIGH for 3.5-4.5 hours or LOW for 6-8 hours. Remove it from the heat.
  • Shred it. Remove the chuck roast from the pot and set it aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. Carefully use two forks to shred the meat. Remove any large chunks of fat. Set the shredded beef aside until completely cooled.
  • Add the vinegar. Toss the shredded beef and white vinegar in a large bowl until well combined. Add the tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, and serrano. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Chill it. Place the beef-vinegar mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. While you can skip this step, it helps the meat absorb the vinegar.

To Make the Sauce

  • Make the sauce. Place the guajillo peppers and arbol chiles in a medium heat-proof bowl. Add the hot water and let them soak for 10-15 minutes or until softened. The water will be slightly red.
  • Strain the chiles. Drain the chiles using a strainer and reserve their liquid. Place the rehydrated chiles in the blender. Set the liquid aside.
  • Blend the sauce. Add the olive oil, sesame seeds, salted peanuts, and garlic powder to the blender. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Adjust the consistency by adding some of the chile’s soaking liquid. Season with salt to taste. You can also leave the sauce slightly chunky for a nice bite. Set it aside.

For the Lettuce Tacos

  • Serve. Remove the beef mixture from the fridge and place it in a large serving bowl. Serve it chilled or at room temperature. Separate the lettuce leaves and place them on a separate plate. Let everyone assemble their own tacos using the lettuce as “tortillas.” Drizzle with sauce to taste and top with sliced avocado.
Salpicon wrapped in lettuce boats with Mexican Chili Sauce on top.

Tips & Variations

Using pico de gallo, pork, and store-bought salsas are just some of the tips and variations ideas I love for salpicon de res.

  • Use tostadas. Swap the lettuce for tostadas and you’ll get a crunchier, taco-like bite.
  • Use store-bought salsa. Your favorite salsa is a great way to cut down on prep time. Red chile-based ones are best for this recipe, but feel free to use green tomatillo salsa.
  • Add more veggies. Feel free to add up to 3/4 cup of tomatoes or onions. You can also add more cilantro to taste.
  • Use pork. Don’t worry if you’re out of beef, pork works just as well.
  • Prep ahead. Chopping up all the veggies and making the sauce ahead of time will help make these the easiest tacos ever.
  • Use store-bought. Buying pre-shredded beef is a great way to save time.
  • Add pico de gallo. You can add some pico de gallo salsa to these for even more flavors!
A hand holding Salpicon with fresh avocado.

What to Serve With Beef Salpicon

This recipe is great on its own or with a side of Homemade Tortilla Chips for a bit of crunch. You can also spread the lettuce or corn chips with some Frijoles Puercos (Mexican Bean Dip) for a creamier bite.

If you really want to add more dishes to your meal, try my Easy Authentic Mexican Rice, Arroz Blanco Puertorriqueño, or Calabacitas Recipe (Mexican Squash).

Salpicon with Mexican Chili Sauce wrapped in lettuce with fresh avocado.

How to Store Leftovers

Salpicon can be refrigerated for up to 5 days in an airtight container. If you’re making the shredded pork variation, refrigerate it for 3-4 days. The homemade Mexican chile sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days.

It should not be reheated when served, but rather eaten straight out of the fridge or at room temperature. If you’re serving it at room temperature, keep it away from any heat and sunlight to prevent the risk of food poisoning and spoilage.

More Mexican Recipes:

Salpicon wrapped in lettuce with fresh avocado and chile sauce drizzled on top.
5 from 3 votes
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Yield: 4 servings

Salpicon

This beef salpicon with veggies is the perfect chilled salad for the summer. Served in lettuce leaves, you'll love its tangy, refreshing bite. 
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time2 hours 40 minutes
Additional Time30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

For the Beef

  • 1.5 lbs chuck roast
  • Water, for boiling

For the Mexican Chili Sauce

  • 6 large guajillo peppers, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 small chile de arbol, stemmed and seeded
  • Hot water, for soaking
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon white sesame seeds
  • 5 tablespoons salted peanuts
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3-4 tablespoons chile’s soaking liquid
  • Salt, to taste

For. the Salpicon

  • 5 ½ tablespoons white vinegar
  • ½ cup tomatoes, diced and seeds removed
  • ½ cup diced white onion
  • ½ cup thinly sliced cilantro
  • 1/4-1/2 small serrano, seeds removed
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 medium French lettuce heads or butter lettuce
  • Sliced avocado, to taste

Instructions 

  • Place the chuck roast in a large pot. Cover it with water and bring it to a boil over high heat. Immediately reduce the heat to medium and let it simmer for 2.5-3.5 hours or until it falls apart. Remove it from the heat.
  • Remove the chuck roast from the pot and set it aside to cool for 10-15 minutes. Carefully use two forks to shred the meat. Remove any large chunks of fat. Set the shredded beef aside until completely cooled.
  • Place the guajillo and arbol chiles in a medium heat-proof bowl. Add the hot water and let them soak for 10-15 minutes or until softened.
  • Drain the chiles using a strainer and reserve their liquid. Place the rehydrated chiles in the blender. Set the liquid aside.
  • Add the olive oil, sesame seeds, salted peanuts, and garlic powder to the blender. Process until you get a smooth mixture. Season with salt to taste. Set it aside.
  • Toss the shredded beef and white vinegar in a large bowl until well combined. Add the tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, and serrano. Mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Place the beef-vinegar mixture in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Remove the salpicon from the fridge and place it in a large serving bowl. Separate the lettuce leaves and place them on a separate plate. Let everyone assemble their own tacos using the lettuce as "tortillas." Drizzle with sauce to taste and top with sliced avocado.

Notes

Storage: Salpicon can be refrigerated for up to 5 days in an airtight container. If you're making the shredded pork variation, refrigerate it for 3-4 days. Mexican Chile Sauce can be stored for up to a week in an airtight container in the fridge.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 862kcal, Carbohydrates: 26g, Protein: 47g, Fat: 66g, Saturated Fat: 16g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 46g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 135mg, Sodium: 410mg, Fiber: 8g, Sugar: 9g

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Jessica
For the past 15 years, Jorge & Jessica have loved getting to share their families' favorite recipes with all of you. They live in Florida with their 3 kids.