BEST Salsa Taquera Recipe (Taqueria Style Salsa Roja)

Do you ever wish your favorite taco shops would give you their secret salsa taquera recipe? Wish no more because with my easy recipe you’ll always have a delicious and spicy taco salsa. 

A small blue bowl filled with spicy salsa taquera and a tortilla chip being dipped into it.
Salsa Taquera

What is Salsa Taquera? 

Salsa taquera translates to salsa for tacos. 

Other Spanish names this red salsa may be called are “salsa taquera roja” or “salsa de chile de arbol”.  They all refer to the same salsa. 

In English you may have heard it called “taqueria-style salsa”. 

This salsa roja is a staple of Mexican cuisine and also always served at taco stands and shops. Many sit down restaurants also serve it – specially with carne asada or other grilled meat dishes. 

There are a few variations for making salsa taquera, and all of the versions are incredibly flavorful and easy to make.

Traditionally taqueria salsa is made with tomatoes, chiles de arbol, onion, and garlic. Some people like to also add tomatillos to enhances the flavors. I love adding the tomatillos, but occasionally make it without them. 

Amigos, you all know that homemade salsas are a million times better than store-bought.

So keep readying to learn the simple secrets of scrumptious homemade salsa taquera and get ready to drizzle it over all your favorite Mexican dishes, not just tacos! 

Why You’ll Love Taqueria Salsa

  • There’s a big difference between homemade salsa and one out of a jar.
  • Short list of ingredients.
  • If you like it hot then this is the salsa for you.
  • If you like it mild, you can adjust the chiles to get the right amount of heat.
  • This recipe is as delicious the one from your favorite Mexican restaurant.
  • Taco Tuesday nights will always have the perfect salsa with a kick. It will become one of your family recipes you make over and over.  
A Mexican terracotta bowl filled with dried arbol chiles, fresh tomatoes and tomatillos, pieces white onion, garlic cloves and salt.

Salsa Taquera Ingredients

My taqueria-style salsa recipe uses clean and simple ingredients that pack a punch.

You should be able to find these ingredients just about anywhere. For the chile peppers I will include a link to Amazon just in case. (I do earn a small commission from Amazon, just so you know.)

  • Arbol Chili PeppersThese are small dried red chiles that are quite spicy, yet so flavorful. They are quite popular in the cuisine of Central Mexico. At the grocery store you will see them labeled as chile de árbol chile, or arbol chilis.
  • Roma Tomatoes: Fresh and juicy tomatoes are a common ingredient in Mexican cooking and in salsas. They lend a touch of sweetness and umami flavor. Sometimes they are called plum tomatoes. 
  • Tomatillos: You have already used these green tomatoes when making salsa verde. They are easily found at the grocery store alongside other fresh vegetables.
  • White Onion: It adds a sharp flavor and combines perfectly with the other ingredients.
  • Garlic Cloves: Fresh garlic adds a nice pop of flavor.
  • Salt: To help bring out all of the delicious taste.
  • Oil: To lightly fry the salsa. I use olive oil but you can also use corn or favorite vegetable oil. 
A black table with one whole dried red chile and red pepper flakes.

Ingredient Substitutions

With a short list of ingredients in this chile de arbol salsa, there isn’t really a need for substitutions because it would change the texture and taste of this authentic Mexican taco sauce recipe. 

But here are a couple you could make when you find yourself in a very tough bind.

If you don’t have white onion then you can use yellow onion.

For the chiles de árbol if you absolutely can’t get them then you could try these different chiles: dried whole cayenne peppers or pequin chile. 

I wouldn’t recommend using canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes. If you do, the flavor will not be like that salsa from your favorite taqueria that you love so much.

As previously mentioned, not everyone adds tomatillos so you can omit them. Just know that the salsa will have more of an orange color. 

How to Make Mexican Salsa Taquera

Amigos the cooking steps for this, and so many other authentic salsa recipes, couldn’t be easier!

The secret to the best taqueria-style salsa is to roast the vegetables and chile. This helps bring out amazing flavors.

Ok let’s take it step-by-step.

Roasting tomato, tomatillos, onion and garlic on a hot pan.

Step 1: Place the tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, and garlic cloves on a hot comal or griddle. Allow to char and roast evenly on all sides, making sure to flip now and then. 

Removing charred tomatoes, tomatillo, onion and garlic from a hot pan to make salsa.

Step 2: Carefully remove the garlic cloves as soon as they begin to char. Then remove the other vegetables as soon as they’re ready.

Dry roasting dried red chiles on a hot pan to make salsa.

Step 3: Add the chile de arbol to the comal and toast just for a minute or two. Then remove. 

A blender processing tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, garlic and toasted chiles to make salsa taquera.

Step 4: Place the roasted ingredients into a high-powered blender cup and blend until you have a smooth thick consistency. Sprinkle in salt to your own taste and blend again. 

Cooking blended taqueria salsa in a frying pan.

Step 5: Over medium heat, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and once hot, very carefully pour in the blended salsa – it may splash so extra caution is needed. 

Step 6: Cook for about 8 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to cool slightly before pouring into serving container and let it come to room temperature before serving. 

Nancy’s Tips & Notes

  • Use ripe tomatoes to get a creamier salsa.
  • Make sure the tomatillos are firm and as fresh as possible. 
  • For a milder salsa, and to adjust the spice level, simply use less árbol chile and remove all of the seeds.
  • If this is your first time toasting chiles be aware that they may make you cough from their heat.
  • If you don’t want to fry the salsa you don’t have to. Just make sure that the vegetables are roasted and cooked through. 
A small blue bowl filled with red salsa for tacos, on top of a brown table and red tablecloth.

Is Salsa Taquera Spicy?

Yes it is!

Arbol chiles pack quite the heat. They are much spicier than a jalapeno pepper and as far as dried Mexican chiles go, they are nothing like a mild guajillo chili.

But don’t worry because this salsa isn’t just about the heat, there’s lots of flavors from the other ingredients. 

What It Tastes Like

Salsa taquera has a slight smokiness to it from roasting the arbol chiles and the veggies. 

While this is a very spicy salsa (specially if it’s your first time eating it) it’s not all heat. You can still taste the touches of sweetness both from the roasted tomato and onion. 

This flavorful and easy to make salsa will transform ordinary tacos into the best tacos! 

Spoonful of red chile de arbol salsa used for tacos.

How to Serve Salsa Taquera

As the name suggests, this taqueria style salsa goes particularly delicious over tacos dorados. Before going meatless I loved to drizzle it over beef tacos and al pastor tacos with a squeeze of lime juice.

You can serve it with any of your meat-free favorite tacos and it’s amazing over grilled veggies and tofu tacos or fajitas.

Occasionally when I make my vegan birria tacos and have salsa taquera I will drizzle it over the cheesy birria tacos. It gives them a different touch that’s quite pleasant.

Of course let’s now forget that all salsas go perfectly with tortilla chips as an appetizer.  

How to Store

Store salsa leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It will keep fresh for about 5 days – that’s if you don’t eat it all before then.

Yes you can freeze salsa taquera. Just pour into a freezer-safe container. It will keep fresh in the freezer for about 3 months. 

To defrost let it sit in the fridge overnight or on the counter until defrosted. Give it a quick stir and serve like normal.

Small blue bowl filled with a spicy tomato and chile de arbol salsa on a wood table.

Try These Other Salsa Recipes

Do check out these other authentic salsa recipes. They range from mild to spicy so there’s something for everyone.

Nancy Lopez author of Mexican Made Meatless


I’m so happy you stopped by. If you have any questions or want to let me know how you liked this recipe, do leave a comment. Muchas gracias, I appreciate you!

Small white and blue bowl filled with salsa taquera that's made with tomato, tomatillos, onion, garlic and chile de arbol.
A small blue bowl filled with spicy salsa taquera and a tortilla chip being dipped into it.

BEST Salsa Taquera Recipe

Nancy Lopez &
This authentic taqueria-style salsa recipe is so easy to make and requires just a few ingredients. It’s delicious on all of your favorite tacos and more!
5 from 1 vote
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Print Recipe
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 28 minutes
Course Appetizer, condiment
Cuisine Mexican
Servings 10 servings
Calories 37 kcal


  • 2 small roma tomatoes rinsed
  • 6 medium tomatillos peeled and thoroughly rinsed
  • ¼ medium onion peeled and rinsed
  • 2 whole garlic cloves peeled
  • 10 chiles de arbol adjust to taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil of choice


  • Place the tomatoes, tomatillos, onion, and garlic cloves on a hot comal or griddle. Allow to char and roast evenly on all sides, making sure to flip now and then. (If you’d like you can lightly grease the pan.)
  • Carefully remove the garlic cloves as soon as they begin to char because if they burn they turn bitter. Then remove the other vegetables as soon as they’re ready. Set aside.
  • Add the chile de arbol to the comal and toast just for a minute or two. Then remove.
  • Place all the roasted ingredients into a high-powered blender cup and blend until you have a smooth thick consistency. Sprinkle in salt to your own taste and blend again just to combine.
  • Over medium heat, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and once hot, very carefully pour in the blended salsa – it may splash so extra caution.
  • 6: Cook for about 8 minutes. Turn heat off and allow to cool slightly before pouring into serving container and let it come to room temperature before serving.


If you don’t want to use any oil in this salsa recipe it’s perfectly fine. Just make sure that the vegetables are roasted and cooked through before blending. 
Do not skip the roasting process because this is the secret to perfect and delicious taquera salsa. 


Serving: 10servingsCalories: 37kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 0.4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.4gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 118mgPotassium: 98mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 259IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 4mgIron: 0.2mg
Tried this recipe?Leave me a ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ review and tag me on social media @MexicanMadeMeatless or tag #mexicanmademeatless!

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