Salsa Macha

Salsa Macha

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 8 mins
Total: 13 mins
Servings: 40 servings
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
118 Calories
12g Fat
2g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 40
Amount per serving
Calories 118
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 12g 16%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 75mg 3%
Total Carbohydrate 2g 1%
Dietary Fiber 1g 2%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 6mg 29%
Calcium 8mg 1%
Iron 0mg 1%
Potassium 44mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

When we think of salsa, juicy tomatoes come to mind; or maybe smoky, roasted tomatillos, or even grilled peaches or corn. We think of fresh or preserved fruits and vegetables. And then there's salsa macha. Hailing from the coastal state Veracruz, this is almost more of a chile paste. It's made by toasting dried chiles, garlic, nuts, and seeds in oil and grinding them all together with a touch of vinegar and sugar.

Chipotle peppers are most traditional for this salsa, and you'll most often see it made with peanuts and maybe sesame seeds. Once you learn the basics, you can play around with different combinations to make it your own. Maybe almonds? Maybe a combination of different dried chiles? This recipe adds ancho peppers and chiles de arbol. It has a mild heat thanks to the latter, just barely spicy enough to register.

Salsa macha does not require refrigeration, but you'll want to stir it before using it. And then? It goes with so many things. Shrimp tostadas come to mind. Tacos of all kinds, rotisserie chicken, refried beans, spooned over bites of burrito, drizzled over quesadillas. It is excellent on eggs.


  • 2 cups vegetable oil

  • 10 pepper dried chipotle peppers

  • 2 dried ancho peppers

  • 6 dried chiles de arbol

  • 6 cloves garlic

  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanuts

  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, remove the stems and seeds from the chipotle and ancho chiles; empty the seeds from the arbol chiles as well.

  3. Carefully lower the chiles into the hot oil. Allow the chipotle and ancho chiles to puff (the chiles de arbol will not puff) and turn immediately. Toast on the other side to release aromas, a few seconds. The chiles should need just 30 seconds or so. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a food processor or blender.

  4. Add the whole, peeled garlic cloves into the still-hot pan of oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove and set aside for another use. Now add the peanuts and cook until toasted, about a minute or two. Add the sesame seeds, stir for a few seconds, and then remove the pan from the heat. Allow the pan and its contents to cool, about 15 minutes. Then add everything, including the oil, to the chiles in the food processor or blender.

  5. Add the vinegar, salt, and sugar and blend, pulsing or in short bursts, until everything is coarsely chopped. Pour into a jar and keep tightly sealed in a cool, dark place until ready to use.

Handle Chiles With Care

Take care to wash your hands thoroughly after handling chiles. Some people use gloves or wrap their hands in plastic bags to protect themselves. Oils from the chiles can irritate your eyes and nose if you handle chiles and then absentmindedly touch your face.

Using Dried Chiles

  • When you buy dried ancho and chipotle chiles, avoid any that are completely dried out and crumbly or brittle. Instead, choose chiles that are pliable, almost as soft as dried fruit, if possible.
  • Before using, wipe with a barely-damp cloth to remove any dust or dirt.


Salsa macha will keep for months in a cool, dark place and does not need refrigeration. It will separate; simply stir before serving.