Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos

Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos Recipe

I’ve been smitten with this smoky chipotle salsa recipe ever since the first time I tasted it on a crusty sandwich (cemita) in a Pueblan market stall 30 years ago. Its three simple ingredients in perfect balance: the smoky spice of chipotle chiles, the lively, sweet-edged tang of roasted tomatillo, and the alluring complexity of roasted garlic. I like chipotle salsa spooned on practically everything except ice cream, though I’m particularly fond of it with grilled fish or shellfish, chicken, or beef or…here I go again.–Rick Bayless

LC Riffs on Chipotle Salsa Note

Some thoughts from the author regarding riffing on this smoky chipotle salsa…

Replace the tomatillos in this chipotle salsa recipe with tomatoes. (Grab two 4-ounce plum tomatoes and roast them like the tomatillos or opt for half a 15-ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes, drained.) Keep in mind that the tomato will tip the salsa toward the sweet rather than the tangy.

A little cilantro, fresh thyme, or parsley is always welcome in a chipotle salsa, as is green or white onion—especially if it’s grilled.

A splash of mescal (or the less-smoky tequila) makes a borracha (drunken) salsa that’s dynamite.

Instead of puréeing the chiles, you can finely chop them and add them to the puréed tomatillo base. They’ll show up as little red flecks, and the salsa will be less smoky.

Smoky Chipotle Salsa with Pan-Roasted Tomatillos Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 15 M
  • Makes about 1 1/4 cups


  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 medium (about 8 ounces total) tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half
  • 2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo (or more if you like really spicy salsa)
  • Salt


  • 1. Set a large (10-inch) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; if you don’t have a non-stick skillet, lay in a piece of foil. Lay in the garlic and tomatillos, cut side down.
  • 2. When the tomatillos are well browned, 3 or 4 minutes, turn everything over and brown the other side. The tomatillos should be completely soft.
  • 3. Scoop the garlic and tomatillos into a blender jar or food processor along with the chiles and 1/4 cup water. Process to a coarse purée. Pour into a dish and let cool.
  • 4. Thin the salsa with a little additional water, if necessary, to give it an easily spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, usually a generous 1/2 teaspoon.
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