These little Chile De Arbol peppers pack a punch of heat and are loaded with rich flavors. They’re perfect for making salsas, sauces, and spicing up many of your favorite Mexican dishes. Stick around to find out more about Chiles De Arbol, what they taste like, and how to prepare them for cooking.
What Is Chile De Arbol?
Chile De Arbol (“tree chili”) is a small red pepper which originates from Mexico and packs some serious heat. They are commonly used to make salsas but can also be added to soups, sauces, and many other dishes if you’re looking to add a little heat. They can be used in dried form, powdered, or fresh.
What Do They Taste Like?
Earthy and slightly smoky would be the best description. My first experience cooking with these chilis was when I made salsa taquera. Salsa taquera is a type of salsa made with Chile De Arbol, garlic, tomatoes, and white onion. It was so good I literally inhaled almost the entire batch of salsa. The smoky flavor of the chilis when combined with garlic and tomatoes creates something warm, rustic, and so delicious.
Check out my full recipe for Salsa Taquera and see for yourself! It’s actually the best recipe to begin with for those new to using these chilis.
Are They Healthy?
Chile De Arbol, and chili peppers in general, are loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C, B6, and potassium. Additionally, peppers contain a plant compound called capsanthin which is believed to combat heart burn and acts as a pain-reliever. Finally, some studies have shown that capsanthin helps to curb appetite which is beneficial for weight-management. (1)(2)
How Hot Is Chile De Arbol?
The Scoville Scale is used to determine the heat level of peppers. The range of this scale begins with mild peppers like bell peppers (0 Scoville heat units) to the intolerably hot Carolina Reaper (1.5 million Scoville heat units). Chile De Arbol ranges between 15,000 and 30,000 heat units making them considerably hotter than jalapeno peppers but slightly less spicy than cayenne peppers.
Cooking With Chiles De Arbol
The flavor of these chilis is mild which makes them easy to include in most dishes. Though I don’t use these chilis in every salsa recipe, they can be added to most salsas if you want to up the heat level a bit. Try adding them to my Salsa Roja or Chipotle Tomato Salsa. You can also add them to soups like my Vegan Tortilla Soup. Finally, they can be used to make hot sauce, spice up enchilada sauce, or infused in oil to make chili oil.
You can either grind the chilis up into flakes and then add them to your dishes or rehydrate them and blend them up with other ingredients.
Rehydrating Dried Chile De Arbol
To rehydrate these chilis, simply fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Then soak the chilis in the boiling water for roughly 20 minutes.
As a cautionary tip, you will want to use gloves or a towel when handling these peppers because they can potentially irritate the skin.
Where Can I Buy Them?
Chile De Arbol can be found in most large grocery stores and are often sold in clear plastic wrappers. You will likely find them displayed alongside other traditional Mexican ingredients in the international aisle. However, you can most certainly locate them at any Mexican grocery store because they are a common ingredient frequently used in Mexican cuisine. And, if all else fails, buy them online.
How Long Does Dried Chile De Arbol Last?
Dried Chile De Arbol will last for up to 6 months if kept in an airtight container or Ziplock bag. Frequently the package they are sold in isn’t resealable so you’ll have to buy something to store them in. You can keep them in your pantry, no refrigeration required after opening.