Make your own Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa Chipotle Copycat from scratch and you’ll never look back. When you make it yourself, you control your perfect spicy heat level.
You can use red chili salsa (which means sauce in Spanish) for anything from tacos to burritos and even dipping tortilla chips. With this batch, I made a nice pan of shredded beef enchiladas.
Although I’m listing this as a Chipotle Copycat, I’ve toned down the spicy heat so you can taste all the flavors well. You can alter the heat by adding hotter chiles. Remember that you can add but you can’t take away! Use your red chiles wisely.
- How Spicy is Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa?
- What are Tomatillos?
- Are Tomatillos Spicy?
- How to Use Dried Red Chiles
- Use Gloves When Handling Hot Peppers
- Is Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa Bitter?
Even though this is a tomatillo sauce, look at the deep red color. I wasn’t expecting it to be so red.
I’m using dried red chiles which give this beautiful color. The tomatillos give it a bit of a bright, tart flavor, adding flavor rather than color and heat.
How Spicy is Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa?
I’ve purposely used chiles for a lower level because I like to make my recipes easy for everyone, even children.
The original Chipotle version is very spicy, made with spicier versions of the peppers. The easiest way to increase the spicy heat of this sauce is to use Tabasco or Valentina hot sauce. Stir in a little at a time until you reach the heat you like.
What are Tomatillos?
Although tomatillos look similar to tomatoes, they are very different in taste.
Tomatillos are sort of tart and sour. Instead of the sweetness of tomatoes, they have an almost citrusy flavor.
When you find them at the store, they will have a papery husk on the outside. Keep the tomatillos in the refrigerator. Leave the husk until you’re ready to use them.
Once you remove the husk, be sure to wash off all the sticky residue on the outside.
Are Tomatillos Spicy?
Tomatillos aren’t spicy. Your added ingredients are probably spicy but, tomatillos are more tart and citrusy.
Yes, tomatillos can be chopped for a salad. You can also make a green salsa, running them through a food processor with chiles and onion. For this recipe, I don’t use them raw.
Authentic enchilada sauce is simply a sauce made of red chiles. What chiles you use is entirely up to you. Think of them both as generic terms for a red sauce made of mostly chili peppers so both terms are usually interchangeable.
How to Use Dried Red Chiles
I’ve used Anaheim red chiles to give the deep red color of the sauce. Chiles de arbol are the little ones that look like shrimp tails. Those give the heat.
The Anaheim peppers are the California version of Hatch chiles, which are from New Mexico and much more spicy. If you want spicy, that’s the way to go. You can also use more chiles de arbol. Small but mighty!
I decided to add a chipotle pepper, which is a dried, smoked jalapeno. I love that little bit of smoky flavor.
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Use Gloves When Handling Hot Peppers
Remember that these are chiles and can affect sensitive skin, even if they don’t look very dangerous in their dried form. You may want to consider food service gloves.
At the very least, make sure to wash your hands and under your fingernails really well after you work with them. Don’t scratch your eyes!
Do your research and try different chiles to find your favorite level of heat. Read more about the different chiles with this Scoville Heat Scale.
Remove the Seeds Before Reconstituting
I like to remove the stems and open up the chiles along the sides. Tap them on the counter to remove the loose seeds and then pull out the membranes.
Make sure to wash your red chiles before adding them to the pan to reconstitute. These chiles are usually dried outside in the open air. There is dust and debris that you don’t want in your food.
Onions Will Change the Color of Your Salsa
I like to use onions in my salsas and sauces. If you want to use onion, quarter it and add it to the saucepan when boiling the tomatillos.
I decided not to use onions this time because it will turn the salsa a little more orange-y. I was going for that deep red color so I didn’t want to take a chance of adding too much white or yellow.
If you decide to add onions, remember that the onion will have volume. It will increase the finished amount of salsa.
Turning Red Chiles into Sauce
The chiles will need to be reconstituted and the rest of the produce needs to soften before you run it through a food processor.
Although the Anaheim chiles, tomatillos and garlic will soften fairly quickly, it will take a little bit longer for the chipotle and chiles de arbol.
Have a look at this Ninja Professional Plus Kitchen System (aff link) at Amazon. It’s the one we use and includes the blender, a food processor bowl and two to-go cups.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a blender. You may need to add a little liquid to get it moving.
Is Red Chile Salsa Bitter?
If the red chili salsa has too much chile flavor, it may taste a little bitter to you. The lime juice tends to tone it down. But, if the strong taste of red chiles is too much, you can try adding one or more other ingredients.
- A teaspoon or two of granulated sugar.
- Some chicken bouillon to taste, granulated or a paste like Better Than Bouillon.
- Add about 2 ounces tomato paste.
How long will this sauce last?
Be sure to use or freeze the chili sauce within 3-5 days. It doesn’t have the preservatives you would find in canned. It will last about 3-4 months in the freezer.
Right after I made this, I used it to make Shredded Beef Green Chiles Enchiladas. It was a little more spicy than the original, but so good.
This red sauce makes a great drizzle for homemade tamales. You don’t need to be intimidated by making tamales. It’s easier than you think. You can learn these 5 Easy Steps to Making Authentic Mexican Tamales.
Find 10 Top Authentic Mexican Sauces here.
Tomatillo Red Chili Sauce Chipotle CopycatTap to leave a star rating
For more information, be sure to check the recipe details in the attached 24Bite® post.
- Medium Saucepan
- Food processor
- 4 Tomatillos, husks removed and cleaned of residue
- 7 Anaheim Red Chiles, stems, seeds and membranes removed
- 2 Chiles de Arbol
- 1 Chipotle Chile, stem, seeds and membranes removed
- 3 Garlic Cloves, peeled
- 1 Lime, juice only
- Peel husk from tomatillos, discard. Clean the residue from the outside and quarter.
- Prepare chiles by removing the stems, seeds and membranes. Wash under cool water.
- Remove peel from cloves of garlic
- Place tomatillos, chiles and garlic in medium saucepan and cover with cool water. Cook on stovetop over medium heat about 15-20 minutes. Turn the heat down to simmer when it begins to boil too quickly. Once the tomatillos, garlic and red chiles become soft, remove them to the food processor with the slotted spoon. The chipotle will take the longest to reconstitute. Continue cooking about 10-15 minutes longer then remove the remaining to the food processor as well.
- Process in the food processor until smooth, or desired consistency.
- If you like, place the lime in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to help break down its juices. Juice the lime and stir well or process lightly into the red sauce mixture.
- If a thinner consistency is desired, add cool water, a little at a time. Remember that you can add, but you can't remove.
- Serve immediately or chill as desired.
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