Guajillo Chile Hot Sauce

The Guajillo (wha-hee-oh) chile is the most common dried chile in Mexico after the Ancho. The flavor of the Guajillo is distinct, slightly fruity with a strong piney, berry under taste. Guajillo flavors dished easily so a little goes a long way. This chile is between a 2-4 on the heat scale of 1-10. Guajillo, combined with the Passilla and Ancho, form the holy trinity of chiles used to prepare the traditional mole sauces.

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Makes about 3 1/2 cups

15 Guajillo Chiles, stems and seeds removed*
2 cups water, more as needed
5 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 small white onion
2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar, to taste
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt, to taste

Heat a large cast iron skillet or comal over very high heat. Once the pan is smoking hot, place the chiles on in a single layer (work in batches) and toast for a few seconds on each side. The chiles should turn bright red and become pliable, but be careful not to let them burn. It can happen in a matter of seconds and will turn the chiles bitter.

Transfer the chiles to a bowl and cover with about 2 cups of boiling water, or more as needed. Set aside and allow to soak for at least ten minutes. While the chiles are soaking, place the garlic cloves and whole piece of onion on the hot skillet, and turn until charred on all sides, about 8 minutes. Allow the garlic to cool, then remove the skins. Transfer the garlic, onion, chiles, about half of the water, vinegar and salt to a blender.

Blend on high until nice and smooth, then taste and add more water, vinegar and salt as needed to adjust the seasoning and thickness. Continue blending until totally smooth. Transfer to a bowl or squeeze bottle and keep refrigerated** for up to 2 months.

*Feel free to substitute your favorite dried chile, or a combination of a few different ones. Choose dried chiles that are slightly pliable and not brittle, an indicator of their freshness. Removing the seeds will result in a less spicy, smoother sauce. Leave the seeds in for added heat and texture.
**For longer storage, seal in an airtight container and freeze for up to 6 months.

Recipe by Nicole Gaffney from