Salsa Diablo

De Arbol (Capsicum Annuum) means tree like in Spanish. The plant has thick, upright, woody stems and the chile itself is narrow, curved and bright red in color. Believed to be closely related to the pequin, the De Arbol is thin fleshed, with tannic, smoky, grassy flavor and searing heat. This chile has a heat range of 7.5 on the heat scale of 1-10. De Arbol Chiles are comparable to a Cayenne Pepper. Scoville heat units 15,000 to 30,000.

Suggested Use:
De Arbol is a hot chile and a staple in Southwest kitchens. Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish. Be adventurous and add them to your next stew or chili along with the other spices Add some heat to your next salsa or Mexican dish.

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1/4 pound tomatoes (1/2 medium-large round tomato or 2-3 plum tomatoes)
5 chiles guajillos, stemmed and seeded
3 chiles de arbol, stemmed and seeded
1/4 medium white onion, thickly sliced
5 peeled garlic cloves
1 tsp. fresh marjoram or 1/2 tsp.dried marjoram
2 whole allspice berries
3 black peppercorns
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon butter
1 tsp. sunflower or vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. salt, or more to taste


In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Cut an “X” in the bottom of the tomato or tomatoes and place in the boiling water. Boil for 5 minutes, then remove from the pot and reserve the water. When the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove and discard the skins.

On a dry comal or griddle or in a cast-iron frying pan, toast the chiles over high heat until they give off their aroma. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover them with the reserved tomato water, and soak them for 20 minutes. Remove the chiles from the water and reserve the water.

On the same comal, roast the onion and garlic over medium heat for 8-10 minutes or until transparent.

Place the chiles, tomatoes, onion, garlic, marjoram, allspice, peppercorns, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce in a blender with 1/2 cup of the chile-soaking water and blend well. Pour the blended mixture through a strainer to remove the chile skins and any other unprocessed pieces.

In a medium frying pan, heat the butter and oil, then pour in the chile mixture and add the bay leaf. Fry the ingredients over high heat for 5 minutes; the sauce should sizzle and bubble. Add the salt to taste and it is ready to serve.

Recipe from Texas Monthly Magazine, April 2002.