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  • Writer's pictureLulu Perez

Chile Roja (Red Chile made with Tomatillos)

There are so many different types of salsas and chiles. Some people call them salsa, some people call them chile.

In my household and where I grew up, we called it Chile! This chile was a particular one that was always made on a weekly basis. The one I needed to learn how to make for my husband, after we got married. This chile is made with tomatillos and 2 types of dried chiles: chile arbol (dried chile pods) and chile Japones (Japanese chile pods).

Chile Arbol is what makes this chile spicy and the chile Japones is what gives it more flavor and that reddish tint color.

My dad adds a ton of this chile on his eggs and frijoles de la olla (beans cooked in a pot). He loves it!

We enjoy it as a side with our quesadillas, burritos, on our tacos, or with tortilla chips.

This particular chile is my husbands favorite! Specifically, as a sauce for the dish carne con chile, which is typically a couple spoonfuls of this chile with grilled carne asada (thinly sliced steak), chicken, beef, or pork served with a side of beans and rice or eggs.

Yield: Makes about 4 cups


  • 25 medium size tomatillo, husked and cleaned (about 4 cups)

  • 1 ½ cup chile Japones (Japanese chili pods)

  • 8 chile de arbol (chile pods)

  • 2 garlic cloves

  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt

  • 4 tbsp water

You can buy these dried chiles at your local grocery store in the international food aisle.


  1. Set a medium size pot to boil, place all the cleaned tomatillos and boil for about 10-15 minutes, until tender. *Save 4 tbsp water from this pot.

  2. Set a medium saute pan to low heat and place the chiles to slightly roast all around, very lightly. **You don’t want them to burn and turn too dark. This is just to warm them up and wake up the flavors.

  3. Using a high speed blender, place the tomatillos, chiles, garlic cloves, and 4 tbsp water. Blend until smooth or slightly chunky. Ready to serve.

Note: Add a tbsp of water at a time, if desired, for a thinner chile.

For a less spicy chile, you can add 6 chile arbol.

Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

I usually use half this recipe for my husband and I.

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