Don Pepe’s Chiles de Árbol Salsa and Guacamole

  • Serves

    serves 6

  • Cook

    25 minutes


Inspired by Don Pepe Taqueria in Fresno, this fiery salsa and cooling guacamole accompany hearty shrimp tacos; but you can use the two sauces to add dimension to any taco night. This recipe was featured in Sara Deseran's story On the California Taco Trail


  • 5 chiles de árbol, stemmed and seeded
  • 14 cup boiliing water
  • 5 plum tomatoes (4 cored, 1 minced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (half peeled, half minced)
  • 2 serrano chiles (half stemmed, half minced)
  • 13 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 14 tsp. sugar
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and mashed


Step 1

Make the salsa: Heat a 12″ skillet over medium-high. Cook chiles de árbol until lightly toasted, 1–2 minutes, and transfer to a blender; add water and let sit 10 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 4 cored tomatoes, unpeeled garlic, and stemmed serrano, turning as needed, until charred all over, 8–10 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool. Peel garlic and seed serrano; transfer to blender with charred tomatoes. Add half the cilantro, the sugar, half the onion, and salt; purée until smooth and set salsa aside.

Step 2

Make the guacamole: Stir minced garlic, tomato, and serrano, the remaining cilantro and onion, the lime juice, avocado, and salt in another bowl; cover guacamole and chill.

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