Angled shot of salsa roja in a jar surrounded by dried chiles and a spoon dipped in salsa.

Salsa Roja

  • Author: Nicole Cutchall
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/4 cup 1x


Fruity, smoky salsa roja packed with the flavors of guajillo, ancho, and morita chiles; a perfect sauce for enchiladas.



  • 2 plum tomatoes, halved
  • 6 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 1 dried chipotle morita chiles
  • ⅛ tsp ground cumin
  • ⅛ tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp agave
  • ¼ white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, whole with peel on
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • Juice of ½ a lime
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Heat a medium cast iron skillet (or other heavy bottomed skillet) over high heat. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with hot water, set aside.
  2. Toast the dried guajillo, ancho, and morita chiles for 2-3 seconds per side, being careful not to scorch the chiles.
  3. Place the dried chiles in the bowl with hot water. Place a plate or other heavy object over the chiles to keep them submerged under water. Set aside for 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, reduce the heat under the skillet to medium-high. Add in the garlic, onion, and plum tomatoes. Turn frequently to make sure the veggies don’t burn.
  5. Remove the garlic from the pan after 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, remove the skin from the garlic.
  6. Remove the onions and tomatoes from the pan after 8-9 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  7. After the chiles have soaked, remove the stems, seeds, and veins. Use gloves! *See note
  8. Add all ingredients to a blender, and blend on high until smooth.
  9. If desired, strain the salsa through a fine mesh strainer. *See note
  10. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months.


  • I find it easiest to remove the seeds while the chile is submerged in water. Tear off the stem and tear the chili in half. Run your fingers over the inside of the chile to remove the seeds and veins.
  • Deciding to strain the salsa depends on your personal preference and your blender. If you are using a high quality blender, like a Vitamix, you shouldn’t be left with tiny pieces of chile. However, a less powerful blender may not catch every piece of chile. You want the salsa to be smooth, so if you find pieces of chiles, pass the salsa through a strainer before serving.
  • Category: Sauces, Condiments
  • Cuisine: Mexican

Keywords: dried chiles, guajillo, ancho, chipotle, chipotle morita, salsa roja, red salsa, tomato, garlic, white onion, cumin, oregano, chile peppers, jalapeño, poblano, enchilada sauce, salsa