Ancho Chile Salsa (or Relish, or Pickle, or Viniagrette)!


Ancho Chile Salsa (or Relish, or Pickle, or Viniagrette)!

This marinated salsa – more like a pickle or relish – is sweet, mildly spicy, and beguiling.

It is a very versatile salsa, too, as you can use it like a regular salsa and spoon it on top of any kind of antojito, like tacos, quesadillas, and even scoop it up with chips. It can also act as a luxurious relish for grilled meat, chicken or seafood, not to mention paninis, tortas or hamburgers. You can also use it as the surprising final touch on crostinis with a base of goat or fresh cheese, or cherry tomatoes… And these are just a few options.

I am so crazy about it, I can eat it like candy. I even said so below… (right after I showed you how to make it).

Yet, one of my favorite ways to use it is as a chunky vinaigrette on top of your mozzarella and tomato salad or over a grilled romaine and red bell pepper salad that I dreamed up with this ancho chile salsa in mind.

That is how I used it on one of my PBS series episodes, where the video clip I just shared with you comes from and got a fabulous response. However, I realized after reading some of the messages like the ones below….

“watching for the 1st time & just caught the end of something that you were just finishing & took a bite out of. you said it was simple to make & will keep in the fridge forever. it looked like a mason jar with some kind of peppers in it. do you know what was in it? thanks, shelley”
“hi i’m asking for the recipe u had in a mason jar i think it was a salsa with chili, i wish i knew the name. Can u help me please, you had it in your show when you did bbq ribs with your sister visiting. thanks again, Cecilia”
“You made something on the Sunday, September 21st TV show that had long dried black peppers that you cut with scissors. You made this jam or salsa and put it in the refrigerator. You said you put it on everything. You keep it in your refrigerator with backup available. Please give me this recipe. Thank you, Crystal”
“Pati, What was in the jar that you made that you said you keep in the refrigerator and eat like candy from the girls just want to have fun episode. it was a pickled something can you tell me what that was? Adam”
“Hi Pati, i always enjoy watching your show. However i missed the first part of your ancho chile vinaigrette. Did u use dried chile or fresh chile. Thanks! Marj”
“Hola Paty Me gusta mucho su programa. En uno de sus programas dio la receta para hacer una conserva de chile ancho, se me pasaron los ingredientes, podria darme los ingredientes. Laura Peña”
“Hi Pati, I just watched your show – Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and you make what I thought was an Ancho Chile Relish. You said it is a staple that you keep in your icebox every day … in a ball jar! I have looked all over for the recipe – could you help me? Rita”
“Dear pati, The show with your girl friends that you made the ribs and the drinks out in your back yard was great. But you made a dressing with Chile’s that you used in the salad you made with I think was onions oil vinegar not to sure , but you and your sister tasted it out side your house you kept it in the fridge. In a jar. Can you give me the recipe it looked so tasty you cut the chile with scissors. Thank you in advance would appreciate a response. Thanks again. Have a great Mother’s day!!!! Judith”
“Pati, I just caught my first show of yours on PBS. Love your passion for great food and will be watching more shows as they air ! Just wondering if you have the recipe for the ancho chile sauce you made in the jar on your website somewhere ? Jim”
“Hola Pati I just watched your episode that featured the Chipotle Honey Ribs. I was intrigued by the Ancho Salsa that you made and kept in the refrigerator. I tried to find it in the recipe from the episode but couldn’t find it. Any way you can post the ingredients? Thanks Dan”
“I do not know if it’s called that but you used ancho chile cut up with a scissor and placed in a jar with other ingredients but I have not been able to find the recipe. You can eat it alone. I do want to try it. Thank you. Love your show Wanda Montanez”

…that the Ancho Chile Vinaigrette (or Salsa or Pickle) should have been a stand alone recipe. It deserves its very own post.

ancho chile

The main star of this salsa (or pickle, or vinaigrette, or relish…) is the ancho chile. A dreamy and spectacular ingredient in its own right.

Making it is so easy, simply stem and seed the anchos and cut them with a pair of scissors (that is why in some northern states versions of it are also called Salsa de Tijera).

ancho chiles cut into pieces

Then you add chopped white onion, garlic…

ancho chile pieces, onion and garlic

Vegetable oil…

adding oil to ancho chile salsa ingredients

Rice and white vinegar, brown sugar and salt…

adding sugar to ancho chile salsa

Mix it up, and let it do its thing… After 8 hours, you can store it in the refrigerator, and it will last as long as you have it there to finish it up (ok at least 6 months…)!

finished ancho chile salsa

I usually add everything to a glass jar; the same one I am going to store it in. I then shake it up, close it and place it in the refrigerator. I made it in this red casserole, just to show the steps… Whichever method you choose, I promise it will be worth your while.

Ancho Chile Salsa (or Pickle)

Escabeche de Chile Ancho
2 cups
Pati Jinich
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: ancho chiles, brown sugar, chile, garlic, onion, piloncillo, Recipe, Salsa, vinegar
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
This marinated salsa – more like a pickle or relish – is sweet, mildly spicy, and beguiling. It is a very versatile salsa, too, as you can use it like a regular salsa and spoon it on top of any kind of antojito, like tacos, quesadillas, and even scoop it up with chips. It can also act as a luxurious relish for grilled meat, chicken or seafood, not to mention paninis, tortas or hamburgers. You can also use it as the surprising final touch on crostinis with a base of goat or fresh cheese, or cherry tomatoes… And these are just a few options.


  • 6 to 8 ancho chiles, rinsed, stemmed and seeded, about 3 ounces
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or coarse sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar or grated piloncillo, or to taste

To Prepare

  • Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, cut the stemmed and seeded chiles lengthwise into thin strips and place them in a mixing bowl. Add the onion, garlic, vinegars, oil, salt and sugar to the bowl and toss to mix well. Transfer everything to a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate for at least 8 hours before using.

124 comments on “Ancho Chile Salsa (or Relish, or Pickle, or Viniagrette)!

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  1. Most recipes tell you to prepare the chilli’s by frying for a few seconds before soaking them in hot water for 30 minutes or so. Do you just use them dry?

    1. It depends on the recipe Shep, sometimes I fry them, sometimes I toast or re hydrate them and some others I just use them as they are 😉

  2. Hi Pati, the video says ¼ cup vinegar-vinegar-oil, but the recipe says ½ cup oil; which is correct?

  3. Hi! Im about to make this wonderful recipe! Quick question…when you say rinse the Ancho Peppers….just run them through water real quick?

    1. Yes Jossie, just rinse them really quickly and pat dry them before stemming and seeding them. Good luck!

  4. Pati,
    I make several jars of this Salsa. Input it on salads, make pastas salads and use it as a topping for baked potatoes. This salsa is addictive! I will eat it out of the jar. 🤣 My husband and four girls love watching your show and making your fun recipes.
    You’re awesome!

  5. I made this while living in Mexico using the Ancho chiles in Mexico. It turned out to be very hot. What did I do wrong. the only step I skipped was rinsing the chiles first.

  6. Hi there how could I use this with fresh caught Alaska Halibut. read you mentioned as a relish ,?? like I don’t know what that means. and what veggie would go with it ,,,,?????? I will prepare it as soon as I hear from you ,,thank you.

  7. This salsa/pickle/relish is maybe the best thing I have ever made! Thank you For sharing this Pati. Mucho gusto! Every time I empty the jar I make another double batch. I know you said it’ll keep for 6 months but it only lasts a day or two at my house. My whole family, AND all my friends love it! It goes well with just about everything I’ve tried it on.

  8. Oh yeah – that is good! I made some up yesterday and tried it as soon as I got through the door this evening. Now I have to make a bunch of stuff to go with it… or maybe just eat it out of the jar.

  9. I just made three of your salsa recipes from salsa week, including this one! I always thought mexican salsas were too complicated until I started watching your show 🙂 gracias Pati!! My family is loving all your salsas <3

    1. Hmmm well, tomatoes are a fruit and they go great with this salsa, Michael. Or tacos, quesadillas, and even scoop it up with chips. It can also be a great relish for grilled meat, chicken or seafood, not to mention paninis, tortas or hamburgers. You can also use it as the surprising final touch on crostinis with a base of goat or fresh cheese, or….cherry tomatoes.

  10. I made this salsa many times – and it’s wonderful! It has become a staple in my fridge – ALL YEAR LONG. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Hi Pati, i made the relish by inadvertently using pasilla-ancho chili pods. I found the relish to have a strongly bitter taste. Could that be the pasilla element or should the relush be on the bitter side? Thanks.

  12. I just got back from a month in Oaxaca, our annual “flee the winter cold” trip. Came home with five packets of dried chilis so am now looking for recipes for them. My question is are the Ancho chilis is this salsa dried or fresh? If they are dried then I have a use for the package I brought back. And if the are fresh can you direct me to a recipe for dried ones. Thanks.
    Love your shows and how you unpack the complexity of the Mexican cuisine.
    Cheers, Joyce, Ontario, Canada

  13. Pati,

    We love this salsa. We really do eat if right out of the jar. We had it on our venison sausage breakfast burritos and last night we added it to our bowl of ancho and adobe chili. I was making cornbread muffins to go with the chili and asked my husband if he wanted fresh jalapenos in them and he said “what would Pati do”.

    You’ve become our go to for recipe inspirations.

    1. Oh you don’t put rice in this recipe…the white stuff in the pictures is the chopped up onion. And you can use 1 clove of garlic. Enjoy Laura!

  14. These pickled chiles are absolutely delicious. Tonight I added them on top of rice and black beans (made those using the instructions in your cookbook because I finally found fresh epazote at the market). SO GREAT!

  15. Pati, I saw the show where you ‘braised’ the garlic and peppers in the oil along with oregano I think, then blended everything with the other ingredients, am I correct the oregano went in the blender too?
    Before reading your recipe I bought pasilla chiles, too hot or will they work do you think?
    Thanks for the great show seen on Create in Miami.

  16. Wow! I was making Nachos for dinner and was making fresh Salsa to go on top when I found this recipe. So I made this instead. My husband loved it. He was delighted with the taste and managed to eat almost the whole jar himself! I would say this was a big hit with him!

  17. Hello Pati,

    Thank you for your great site & great PBS Program. I love your stories, family & I also love how you describe the cooking process & how you make the foods you prepare sounds so delicious.

    I’m such a picky eater &
    I’m not a person with an adventurous pallet, but you make me want to try them!

    I found your show quite by accident. I started watching it during Season 6 on PBS.

    Season 3 is now showing.

    You’ve made me want to visit Oaxaca & I did decide to try the Oaxaca Cheese…delicious!
    I love how it melts.

    This Ancho Chile is the first recipe of yours that I’ve tried to make.

    When you scooped the chile into your mouth with a spoon & said “It’s like candy” I knew I just had to make this for my husband. I might even try it…lol. (I’m not much into vinegary tasting foods,
    but my husband likes “all foods – Mexican”

    I have 4 questions about the making of this chile:

    1. What type of vegetable oil did you use in the video?
    2. Is Olive Oil okay to use?
    3. How much vegetable oil should we use (1/4 cup or 1/2 cup) ?
    4. Is the final product supposed to he liquidy?

    I think I may have used to many ancho chiles.
    The Chiles in the package were small very shriveled so I guessed how many equaled the 7 you used in the video.

    I just checked the Chile & it looks like the ancho chiles absorbed most of the liquid.
    I made this last night, it’s still in the refrigerator, I haven’t tasted it yet.

    My question is:
    After adding the ingredients into the mason jar I decided to re-view your video & noticed that on the video you said you added 1/4 cup vegetable oil.

    In the printed recipe it says to use 1/2 cup vegetable oil.

    I used 1/2 cup canola oil.
    But really wanted to use Olive oil, but I wasn’t sure if it would affect the final flavor.

    Thank you.


    1. I’m so glad you discovered the show, Tyra! You can swap the vegetable oil for any type of oil you like, including olive oil. Use 1/2 a cup of oil (I sometimes tweak my recipes to make them even better after the show has aired…so go by what it says online). And yes the salsa can get pretty liquidy. I hope you and your husband love it!

  18. This salsa is great. I like to put it on a classic Chicago dog or a hamberger. It’s realy delicious on just about anything like jicama, cucumber, pineapple salad as dressing with a little a sprinkle of cilantro. So good!

  19. Hi Pati, Love your show and I am trying to make lots of your recipes. I bought a big bag of dried Gujaillo peppers and wondered if I could use them in place of the ancho peppers to make this salsa? Thanks!

      1. Thank you for the link to the guajillo chile salsa but I have a question. Is that recipe and the one above using the ancho chilles are they using the dried chilies or fresh chiles? Where I live I can only find the dried versions and not sure how to use them in these recipes. Do do have any other recipes using the dried gujallio peppers so I know how to prepare them for a recipe? Thanks so much, we just love seeing your family, watching your show and making your delicious food!

  20. I tried it and now crave it!!! I put it on my Chinese food the other night and it was awesome!!!! It’s just like you said, I eat it all by itself. Thank you Pati

  21. I was introduced to this delicious salsa for the first time last night! I can’t wait to make it for myself. This salsa will be a staple in my home from this day forth. LOVE IT!
    Just wondering, does anyone have recommendation for complimentary dishes to serve the salsa with. I think it would be great on sandwiches and this will be my first experiment….anyone have any suggestions?

    1. I like to use it like a regular salsa to top all sorts of dishes like tacos, quesadillas, omelettes…or use it as a dip for chips. It also makes a great relish for meat, fish, and even as a salad dressing.

  22. I was wondering, do you have to use the rice vinegar? That isn’t something I buy or use. Would doubling the white vinegar or adding cider vinegar work as well? I normally don’t like veering from a recipe, but rice vinegar just isn’t in my kitchen. I would love to try this though!

  23. This recipe is addictive! It’s delicious with everything. This is probably a moot question because it is quickly consumed by my family, but how long will it keep in the ‘frig? Could I can it for long term preservation or would the heat from the canning process alter the flavor?

  24. Saw your show Girls want to have fun and loved this salsa recipe. Went out and shopped and now it’s marinating. Can’t wait to taste it. Will post comment after

  25. How do you clean the outside of ancho chiles before using? The seem dusty and dirty. I Have made this recipes several times now, it’s so good, but I feel like I am washing away a lot of the flavor when I am cleaning the peppers under running water.

  26. Hi, just saw your show for the first time today! It was the “Girls just want to have fun” show and I can’t find the recipe on this site, for the cocktail you served the ladies. Is it somewhere that I haven’t found?
    Thank you, Jean

  27. Hi Pati! I love your recipes, they really help me get more acquainted with the wonders of Mexican cuisine. I have a question about this recipe, do you leave the mixture out to ferment and then place it in the fridge after 8 hours or does it go immediately in the fridge after everything is mixed together?

  28. Pati – This is absolutely delicious! Thank you. I may become addicted to it. 😉 Enjoy your show very much. All the best.

  29. Oh my goodness yes! This is delicious stuff! I can’t wait to try more of your recipes. Thanks Pati!

  30. Hola Pati-
    Thank you so much for all the great recipes and ideas on this site. I’m wondering if you can help me name/get a receta for…taco sauce. That thin, orangey-red, highly addictive stuff that comes on street tacos? Must have the secret!
    Thanks again for everything,

  31. After only two weeks, I am already making a second bath of the this. My husband watched me make it and laughed at me. And then has put in on everything since then. It is so delicious! Thank you Pati!!!!

    1. Hi, no you don’t, you cut them and mix them with the rest of the ingredients, let them sit and macerate and that’s pretty much it!

  32. I want to try your Ancho Chile Salsa this weekend, it looks absolutely incredible! . I think my boyfriend John love this! I like also your other healthy recipe for diet. Definitely I will add this to my to-make list! Thanks for your great recipes. Good job friend! Keep updating through your cookbook. Nice post indeed. Excellent!

  33. Patti,

    The reason I asked what is a good dish that could compliment this salsa, is because I have been requested to bring “something Mexican” unknown around here, for a big pot luck group. I have no idea what the others are bringing since it each picked a dish from a hat, and were asked not to reveal it to each other.
    Did not mean to upset you

    1. Hola Velia, You didn’t upset me! 😉 You can use it like a regular salsa to top tacos, quesadillas, etc., or as a dip for chips. It also works great as a relish on top of meat and fish dishes, or as a dressing for salads.

  34. Patti, I love your show and your recipes and ideas
    Also adore you accent.
    I’m always looking to find you on the PBS Stations around us.
    Keep up the good work – and good luck!!!

  35. This is the best salsa I’ve made! I always get lots of compliments on it, and it can be used on anything. Easy to make and lasts a good long while too.