This homemade guajillo sauce recipe is perfect for any Mexican dishes, from tamales and enchiladas to soups, tacos, meats and more. It's so easy to make.
We're making homemade guajillo sauce in the Chili Pepper Madness kitchen today, my friends. You are going to love this recipe, so get the print button ready. It may become your next go-to sauce.
Guajilo sauce is slightly earthy and rich with flavor, and it's ideal for any number of recipes and Mexican food. I like to swirl it into soups and stews for a big flavor burst, and just let it simmer a while in the pot. I also heat it up and spoon it over all of my quick taco dinners and lunches, or use it in place of taco seasoning.
It's really easy to make so you can make a big batch on Sunday and use it all throughout the week for quick and easy, yet flavorful, meals.
The key, of course, are the guajillo peppers, so grab yourself some of these wonder peppers and get cooking.
About Guajillo Peppers – Why They are so Great!
The Guajillo is one of the most popular chili peppers in Mexican cuisine. It is the dried form of the mirasol pepper. The peppers are grown then dried, and are then called guajillo peppers. It is a mild to moderately hot pepper with dark red skin, with a flavor described as either fruity or green-tea like, with hints of berries.
I often buy them in bulk, as I can find them in large plastic bags at my local grocery store. I make tons of sauces from them.
Let's talk about how to make guajillo sauce, shall we?
Guajillo Sauce Ingredients
- Dried Guajillo Peppers. Stemmed and seeded.
- Olive Oil.
- Small Onion. Chopped.
- Garlic Cloves. Chopped.
- Coarse Sea Salt.
How to Make Guajillo Sauce - the Recipe Method
First, dry toast the dried guajillo peppers in a skillet over medium high heat. Toast them a couple minutes per side, until they start to puff up slightly.
Cool, then set them into a heavy bowl with enough hot water to cover them. You shouldn't need more than a few cups of water.
Let them soak for 20 to 30 minutes, or until they become very soft. Some dried chiles can soften in 15 minutes or less. Remove them and place them in a blender or food processor. Reserve 1 cup of the dark soaking water, if desired.
Heat the olive oil in the same heated pan. Cook the onion about 3 minutes, or until it becomes translucent.
Add the garlic and cook another minute, until you can smell the garlic.
Add them to the food processor along with the sea salt and cumin.
Pour in the reserved soaking liquid and process to form a sauce or smooth puree. It will be very thick at this point. Or, use water to thin it out.
Add in more water, a half cup at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.
Strain, if desired, and serve as needed.
Boom! Easy enough, my friends! Use it to add zest and zing and HUGE flavor to so many different meals.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Spice It Up. Recipes can vary from kitchen to kitchen, mostly depending on the different spices used. I use simple cumin and sea salt, along with fresh garlic, and let the guajillo peppers shine, as they have a wonderful flavor on their own. Feel free to use this as a base recipe, and adjust with other herbs and seasonings you prefer, such as spicy chili powders, Mexican oregano, dried basil, cloves. You can also add a touch of sweetness by adding honey or brown sugar.
- Add an Acid. Consider adding vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, or a combination of any of these ingredients. Guajillo sauce is very tasty with a nice pop of tang and citrus. The acid can also help to preserve the sauce so you can keep it longer in the refrigerator.
- Soaking Water. You’ll notice that the soaking water used to soften up the dried guajillo chiles becomes very dark. This is because some of the nutrients from the peppers seeps into the water. You can use this steeped water to thin out your guajillo sauce, though some people consider it to be slightly bitter. Give it a taste for yourself and if you feel it is too bitter, use fresh water to thin your sauce instead.
- Freeze It. Guajillo sauce freezes nicely. You can freeze it in freezer friendly containers, or freeze them in ice cube trays, then bag them to use smaller portions as needed.
How are you serving yours? Here are some ideas.
Recipe Ideas for Guajillo Sauce
- Enchiladas. Use guajillo sauce in place of red enchilada sauce the next time you make chicken enchiladas. Delicious!
- Tamales. This sauce is outstanding for making homemade tamales.
- Soups and Stews. Spoon some of this sauce to add great Mexican flavor to soups like Mexican chicken posole or taco soup.
- Flavor Meats. Use it to season meats for dishes like beef barbacoa, carne asada, easy shredded chicken, or pulled pork carnitas.
- Salsa. Serve it in a bowl along with tortilla chips and you have an instant guajillo salsa!
See my Mexican Recipes for even more ideas.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy it! Let me know how yours turns out, and how you wind up serving it. I'd love to hear!
Try Some of My Other Popular Sauce Recipes
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Guajillo Sauce Recipe
- 10-12 dried guajillo peppers stemmed and seeded
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 small onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic chopped
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- Water as needed
- Dry toast the dried guajillo peppers in a heated pan over medium heat. Toast them a couple minutes per side, until they start to puff up slightly.
- Cool, then set them into a heavy bowl with enough hot water to cover them.
- Let them soak for 20 minutes, or until they become very soft. Remove them and place them in a blender or food processor.
- Reserve 1 cup of the dark soaking water, if desired.
- In the same heated pan, add the olive oil. Cook the onion about 3 minutes, or until it becomes translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute, until you can smell the garlic.
- Add them to the food processor along with the sea salt and cumin.
- Pour in the reserved soaking liquid and process to form a sauce. It will be very thick at this point. Or, use water to thin it out.
- Add in more water, a half cup at a time, until you achieve your desired consistency.
- Strain, if desired, and serve as needed.
Serving = 1/4 cup.
Keeps about 1 week in the refrigerator. Freeze it for longer storage.