Salsa Macha


Salsa Macha

Salsa Macha is a very thick and unusual salsa that comes from the state of Veracruz. Located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it has been for centuries, a gateway for waves of immigrants from all over the world into Mexico (like my paternal grandparents).

Veracruz, being such an important channel for exchange and always immersed in flux, has seen some of the most interesting combinations of ingredients, cooking techniques and traditions. Salsa Macha is an example.

It is made by frying dried chipotle chiles (mainly the morita kind) in a generous amount of olive oil, along with garlic cloves. The last two ingredients courtesy of the Spanish conquest, for sure. Then it is seasoned with salt. Some versions add fresh chiles such as serranos or jalapeños into the mix. Many times peanuts are added and sesame seeds too.

This one here, is my preferred version, and I take the liberty of adding a joyous amount of vinegar and some brown sugar or piloncillo to balance it off. This combination pleases me so much, that I spoon it on crusty bread with much joy.

Since it has a lot of olive oil, the chile paste will sink to the bottom after it rests for a few minutes. You can choose to stir it up and eat it well combined, or you can let it settle, and use the flavored oil.

salsa macha
p.s. The name is a funny one, because macha, is the femenine of the word macho. So it can translate as being a masculine female salsa. Macha can also translate as brave, so you can take your pick!

Salsa Macha

3 cups
Pati Jinich
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: brown sugar, Chipotle, garlic, Peanuts, Sesame Seed, vinegar
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Salsa Macha is a very thick and unusual salsa that comes from the state of Veracruz. Located along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, it has been for centuries, a gateway for waves of immigrants from all over the world into Mexico (like my paternal grandparents).


  • 2 ounces dried chipotle chiles, stemmed, seeded torn into pieces, about 1½ to 2 cups
  • 2 1/2 cups olive oil
  • 1/3 cup raw unsalted peanuts, or unsalted other nuts you may prefer such as pecans or pine nuts
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons white distilled vinegar

To Prepare

  • Set a large heavy skillet over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the garlic cloves. Stir and fry for about one minute, until they start to gain color. Add the chipotle chiles and peanuts, stir and fry for about two minutes. Add the sesame seeds, stir and continue to fry for about a minute. Remove from heat. Carefully transfer all the contents from the skillet into the jar of a blender. Let cool for about 10 minutes.
  • Add the salt, sugar and vinegar. Process until smooth, starting with low speed and building up to high speed. Pour into a container, let cool and refrigerate if the salsa will not be used that day.

135 comments on “Salsa Macha

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  1. I made it using a mix of chile del arbol and guajillo. Needed more salt and I think its better with more seeds although took half out. Added peanuts for visual and texture after blending.

  2. We consistently have a jar of this salsa on hand and love spooning it on everything, from fish tacos to avocado toast to plain rice! I was feeling melancholy last night after the news of Justice Ginsberg’s passing and whipped up a batch of this salsa with additional hazelnuts. I also used ancho and chipotle chilis. Was I consciously doubling the recipe to have strength for the months to come? You know a recipe is a keeper when your mood lifts after one taste. Gracias, Pati.

  3. I love salsa Macha! But it is hard to find made with morita chilies…so I am so happy to find this recipe…Will you please explain a bit about “morita” chilies? Are they the same as chipotle chilies?

    1. Hi Dinah, thanks for your message. The Chipotle chile is the Jalapeño chile, that has been ripened, dried and smoked. The Morita is also a smoked jalapeño, much like a chipotle but smaller and fierier. You can do Salsa Macha with any of them. Enjoy!

    1. I would say between 3 weeks and a month, but good luck making it last that long after you try it Cody 🙂 🙂

      1. Pati, it turned out great! I used piñones instead of cacahuates. It turned out in to a wonderfully complex nutty, sweet, savory, dark chocolaty flavor that we’ll be having with pork chops tonight. Thanks!

    1. I guess you can Shannan, just expect your salsa to be less spicy because guajillos are milder and sweeter 😉

  4. Thanks for introducing me to salsa macha! Since learning this recipe, I always keep a jar in the fridge. I find it’s especially good with winter squash, sweet potatoes, and brussel sprouts. Sweet potato and black bean tacos with salsa macha and crema… mmmm!

  5. Pati you are a blessing….there was a place in San Diego called Tacos Perla and we cried before they closed because this is the salsa that they featured…..

    Keep up the great work and blogging!

  6. I know I’m late to discover this recipe but once I found you on YouTube, I’ve wanted to try making all of your recipes! One question, if I do use piloncillo instead of brown sugar, would I use the same amount?

  7. I lived in San Diego 35 years and I am a Salsa freak. I never ran into this is AMAZING..! sent some to my step-daughter and her boyfriend, and he loved it, and I sent them your recipe. I made minor adjustment..less brown sugar, 1/2 cup less oil, mostly chili Arbol’s with 3 or so Chili Morita’s ( it’s what I had at the time ) and sunflower seed’s vs peanuts. Still it’s a fantastic Salsa, thanks for sharing it !

  8. Omg ! I just made your Salsa Macha and it was a huge hit! We had it on our fish tacos (your recipe too). Hubby and I love you and your show! Thanks Pati!!

  9. The recipe used on Season 7 episode “Ensenada’s Epic Seafood” was different in several respects from this one. I don’t have access to that episode anymore, so could you please list ingredients from the latest version? I know it had morita chilies and another variety. Thanks!

    1. You can use morita chiles if you like, Bob…I usually use a mix of morita and mecca chipotle chiles. I hope you enjoy the salsa.

  10. Just made this today and am SO glad I did!!! If you are a whimp like me when it comes to anything spicy just cut the peppers open with kitchen shears and scrape the seeds out. It’s still a bit spicy but more manageable, atleast for my tender taste buds! Love love LOVE your show and look forward to making more of your recipes!!!

  11. I just tried this at my local restaurant & I had no idea what it was until the server informed me. I loved it so much & searched for a recipe, and I came upon yours. I can’t wait to make this tomorrow, as yours look just as tasty if not more! Thanks so much for sharing this delicious recipe!

  12. I am soooo in love with you and your show and your cooking and just everything! You have given me this renewed love for mexican/south of the border cuisine! I secretly want to be in your pocket when you go traveling to markets and restarants! I cannot wait to try this recipe and many more. I am so glad I was watching the marathon on KERA/PBS. Thank you for being the joy that you are to watch…..don’t ever change!

  13. Hi Pati!

    I enjoy your show and the travel/food aspects of your show. My question is where is a source that explains the flavor concepts or notes of the various chilis, both fresh and dried. I’d really like to know what each chili tastes like and how hot each is on a scale if 1-10 for example or in comparison to a jalapeño. Thank you Pati!

  14. This is off. It’s good, but not delicious. First, it is way too much oil. Second, the peanuts aren’t right. I’m thinking maybe pepitas. A good start, but I’ll continue to experiment.

  15. Hi Pati!
    Made your Salsa Macha tonight and we loved it. We used it simply as a dipping sauce with bread. Thank you for sharing. Veracruz is a hidden culinary spot!

  16. Patti, I just learned about Salsa Macha in 2016 thanks to a friend’s gift of some Ki Gourmet’s bottled version. LOVE IT! But since it’s not available in states, glad to find your recipe. My question: Recognizing your recipe makes 3 cups and looking at the ingredients, I wonder, does the remainder really have to be refrigerated?

  17. Hi Pati.
    I attended and thoroughly enjoyed your dinner in Laredo back in October. I’ve made several of your salsas and taco recipes, and my family loves every bit of it. I just finished making this one, Salsa Macha, and I was wondering if you might suggest what to serve it with, or cook with it. It doesn’t seem to be something we would just eat with chips. Do you use it to cook meats, or verges, or just as a sauce to dip into. Love the aroma, and unique taste of it. I want to make sure to put it to good use, in as many ways as possible.

    1. Hola Lilli! The possibilities are endless! You can choose to stir it up and serve the salsa as a paste, you can let the tasty solids settle… or you can use a bit of the flavored oil for multiple purposes such as drizzling on fish or shrimp, cooked potatoes, pizza, toast, cooked vegetables, or even an omelet!

  18. This is a delicious salsa! I decided it would taste good with a pan-fried Tilapia filet topped with the Salsa Macha. What do you think, Pati? All I can say is that it blew my taste buds away with so many delightful flavors and some heat! Definitely a keeper!! I also will try this Salsa Macha with a pork loin or a turkey breast, both stuffed and rolled up. I can already tell they would taste fabulous!

    1. I think that is a great idea, Gloria! Some warm corn tortillas on the side and you can also tuck the fish into some tacos…

  19. Hi, Pati. You are a beautiful cook inside and out, putting fun in the kitchen like it should be. I like watching your show and learning new things to cook for my family as well as all the interesting things about Mexico. In this salsa recipe, would it be totally different to use fresh chilis from the garden or do you need to dry them first? I have recently discovered how easy and wonderful to make an orange-red chili sauce (like a sriracha) and I thought I would try this salsa.
    Today your shrimp ceviche cocktail had me drooling. : )
    Blessings to you and yours.

      1. Oh, ok. I see what you mean with the smoky flavor. I look forward to trying salsa verde and habanero salsa (taking the advice on removing seeds, ha). Love all the cilantro you cook with. It’s an addictive flavor and healthy.

  20. Pati,

    Great looking recipe. What are some of the ways you would use this salsa? Since it is from Veracruz, are there any fish recipes you could recommend? Thanks for sharing–

  21. Wow! I mean wow! I just made your salsa macha recipe for my staff. It is absolutely delicous. We fried fresh chips, and also made guacamole. We piled the guacamole and topped it off with a mound of salsa on our plates. Everyone is loving it! Thank you Pati for the great recipes. Haven’t found one yet that wasn’t a hit!

  22. Superb..used a combo of Guajillo’s and 5 or 6 whole arbol’s and was just perfect heat..about a gringo “5”. Also substituted a bit of lime juice for the some of the vinegar and it added a fresh touch.

    1. Hola! La salsa macha en verdad se hace con chiles secos, no en adobo. Si no encuentras Chipotles secos, busca Chile de árbol o Chile ancho… Te va a encantar. Saludos!

  23. Pati,
    I just finished making the salsa macha. Wonderful. I was afraid that it would not taste good, but
    I was pleasantly surprised and I love it. I hope my guests for tonight dinner enjoy it too. Thank you very much and I will continue to use your recipes. I bought one of your cookbooks and I proudly
    display it in my kitchen.

    1. Hi Roxana, I hope your guests enjoy it, too! Thank you for trying the recipe and THANK YOU for getting my cookbook!!

    1. Hola Barb, Thanks for you message! If you are measuring the dried chipotle chiles in cups then, yes, I would tear them up and then measure. You may try it with ancho chiles, but you will get a very different flavor with the anchos.

  24. Pati, your great and so is your show. I was disgusted at some of the comments. People will always have something negative to say and 90percent don’t have the courage, talent or knowledge to do what you kudos to you!!!!
    Love ya Pati

  25. Pati,

    I love your speech, your show and your food! You are one of my favorite PBS shows to watch and much more genuine than anything on Food Network! Thank you for offering these experiences!

    Steve Bolstad

  26. Pati, your recipes take me back to my mom’s home cooking, and I am enjoying the visit. Thank you so much for the pride you show in our Mexican heritage and in our most flavorful dishes. Love your show!!

  27. Dear Pati,
    I love your show so much. You make Mexican cooking sound so simple and fun. Your recipes are fantastic.
    The first time I watched your show, I had difficulty understanding your accent, but I got used to it quickly. Mike needs to have more patience, or is he just a hostile, intolerant person? Anyway, I like you, your show, and your wonderful recipes.

    Carmell Waters

    1. Carmell,
      Thank you so much for your kind message, and thank you so much for having the patience to get used to my accent! Thanks so much for taking the time to write and I hope you enjoy all my episodes: more new coming your way!

  28. Dear pati’s Mexican table I began to watch you’re show recently on create tv . But as a home cook myself I felt that each of the recipes that were being presented were simple and that anyone can put it together. I was hoping to see more changeling recipes something that would wow all the viewers who enjoyed watching this show .I understand that every chef has their own style. I would like to challenge you to take Mexican cuisine to a whole different level surprise us with something different.

    Thank you
    Rebeca Cabanillas

  29. I made this with raw sunflower seed kernels I toasted, as I am allergic to peanuts and tree nuts. Superb! I thought I might share in case others have similar allergies. 🙂

  30. The name of the sauce is a misnomer. The reason it is “Macha” is because the word “Salsa” is feminine, anything else and it would not be proper Spanish. In other words, “Macha” does not mean feminine, the word is adapted to describe the sauce. Nevertheless, I am going to try this soon it looks really good. I make an “Asian” version of this using dried Chile de Arbol and I use Peanut Oil instead of Olive Oil, much like what you find at Chinese restaurants. Grind the dried Chiles and fresh garlic in a food processor and pour hot oil (Smoking hot) over the mixture. Let it sit a couple of hours and you are done. Thanks

    1. Are you Mexican? How do you know the nuances of Mexican culture for this word? Pati is a well-educated bi-lingual cultural and political analyst. Are you going by a literal translation? And why peanut oil? Peanut oil is so unhealthy especially when you heat to smoke point. The Omega-6 oils oxidize so easily and become unhealthy and plus it’s probably GMO. High quality EVOO and/or coconut oil instead would be the more healthy fat option. Her recipe is amazing and tried and tested. Why not try it as she wrote it! ???

      1. Yes I am Mexican, and I have spoken Spanish all of my life. If you would not be so quick to judge comments posted on this blog you would take time to read. I was not offering a way to change Pati’s recipe I was mentioning an “Asian” version of this sauce which I make.. This after all is a discussion, isn’t it? And as for using EVOO, the smoking point of it is way too low. EVOO is ideally used for dressings and such. Pati’s recipe calls for regular olive oil which has a higher smoking point.. Next time read and be informed before you post!

  31. Holy taste explosion of flavor Pati! I got so inspired by your show that I ran out and got the cookbook this Christmas. As apart of my resolutions to do more healthy but satisfying cooking for my family in 2014 I am finding great ideas in your blog and book! Living in Austin, Tx we have many of the ingredients for your style of recipes. I made the salsa Macha with chiles de aboles and fresh roasted peanuts (shelled by my 3 yr old). I have never made latkes before! Wow I just love you used sweet potatoes in these. Thanks to the creama we could handle the heat of the salsa. Wow such a party in the mouth!

    1. Yey Cara, so happy to hear!! I also get the help from my littlest boy to shell the peanuts, though he eats half as he goes along… Thank you for buying the cookbook: I hope you enjoy cooking from it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

  32. Pati, made salsa macha for Thanksgiving and the whole family loved it. We also love you, your show, your accent and your recipes. I have never had one fail me, on the contrary, your recipes take me back to my childhood. muchisimas gracias

  33. Here in the Los Angeles area, folks that refer to chipotle chilies understand generally they are smoked jalapenos. Your recipe suggests they are a different pepper. I have never seen chipotle except the canned variety, even in several latino markets just a few blocks from where I live. Could they be known also under a different name?

    1. Exactly Gary, they are dried and smoked jalapeños. There are two kinds of the dried chipotles: mecos and moritas. Either can be turned into a Chipotle in adobo.

  34. sounds delicious but does it really take 2 and a half cups of oil? just want to be sure because I really want to make this salsa