Salsa Macha Recipe
If you have yet to try the magnificent Mexican condiment known as Salsa Macha, you’re about to enter a brave new world of flavor. This deeply spiced salsa is incredibly versatile, bringing a zesty bite to everything from eggs and toast to tacos and bowls.
Salsa macha is perhaps one of my greatest kitchen discoveries. This yummy condiment is at once spicy, sweet, tangy, and crunchy, making it the perfect way to add interest to any savory meal. Come learn how to make this gorgeous red sauce – it’s so easy, super customizable and will last for up to a month in your fridge!
What is Salsa Macha?
Up until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of salsa macha. Literally translated, it means “brave sauce,” which I think is a perfect descriptor; this sauce adds an adventurous level of flavor to everything that it touches! Originating in the coastal city of Veracruz, salsa macha is the epitome of the Mexican melting pot.
Pairing old world and new world ingredients has long been part of Veracruz cuisine’s history, which is no surprise. The state – which is lined with ports – was the initial landing place for many Mexican immigrants from all over the world. These immigrants brought with them flavors of their homelands, including olive oil, garlic, and almonds.
Salsa macha is a delightful hybrid recipe that reminds me of Asian-style chile crisp sauce. Rather than relying on what we might consider salsa staples – e.g. tomatoes, tomatillos, fresh peppers, and onions – this condiment is primarily made with dried chiles, nuts, and seeds. The application is also different: rather than using as a dip for chips, this tasty sauce is used to add flavor and texture to meals.
About This Recipe
For my first attempt into the world of salsa macha, I turned to one of my all-time favorite food idols – Pati Jinich. If you don’t know Pati yet, she’s incredible!!! I often turn to her when I am in need of some kitchen inspiration. This recipe is actually from her new New York Times bestselling cookbook, Treasures of the Mexican Table. My friends, it is flawless.
Pati’s recipe combines spicy chiles de árbol with chocolate-tinged anchos, creamy pine nuts, tannic walnuts, piney pistachios, sweet piloncillo, tangy apple cider vinegar, and sweet pepitas and amaranth seeds. (I could not find amaranth seeds, so I omitted them). The result is a crunchy flavor explosion that I can’t seem to get enough of!
While I love Pati’s recipe, salsa macha is wonderfully adaptive to your own flavor preferences. Feel free to swap in your own favorite combination of nuts and seeds, or use different chiles to amp up or lessen the amount of spicy heat. You can also easily change out the vinegar or sweetener according to whatever you have on hand.
Once made, you’ll want to put this stuff on everything. I’ve been dabbling it on my morning molletes, drizzling it on guacamole, adding it to my potato tacos, serving it alongside my grilled steaks… honestly, there’s no end to what this smoky, spicy, tangy, crunchy salsa can do!
How To Make
If you still need some encouragement to make homemade salsa macha, this might make you feel better: the whole recipe takes just about 10 minutes of active work. Here’s how it’s done:
Heat both oils in a medium skillet over medium heat. NOTE: Don’t skip out on the vegetable oil. While olive oil has the better flavor, adding vegetable oil increases the smoke point of the mixture, which helps ensure that you don’t burn your salsa.
Add the chiles, garlic, and all the nuts and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat; add the vinegar, brown sugar, and salt, and mix. Stir in the pumpkin and amaranth seeds, if using. Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Scrape into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely ground. The salsa will keep in an airtight container for at least a month in the refrigerator.
Once you try a bite of this easy, smoky salsa macha, I have a feeling you’ll want to put it on everything! I feel like I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what this immense flavor booster can do. Here are some of my current ways to use it:
- As a marinade for beef, chicken, or seafood.
- Served alongside grilled meats and veggies.
- Drizzled over poke or burrito bowls.
- Spooned over savory breakfasts like my Huevos a la Mexicana (Mexican Style Scrambled Eggs) or Baked Eggs with Chorizo and Potatoes.
- As a dip with chips.
- Dolloped on a bowl of soup.
No matter how you use this nutty, smoky, spicy sauce, I have a feeling you’re going to love it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope! This recipe from Pati Jinich has a bit of heat, but I would place it firmly in the “mild” category of salsas. Feel free to swap out your peppers for a more or less intense heat! This guide to Mexican chiles is a great place to find what you’re looking for.
Also, remember that capsacin (the compound that makes food taste spicy) lives primarily in the seeds and membranes of the peppers. To reduce the heat of your salsa macha without taking away from the flavor, simply remove them before toasting in oil.
Sure! Simply swap in your favorite seeds in place of the nuts here – sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and pepitas are all good options.
I personally am a fan of texture, so I prefer to keep my salsa macha relatively chunky. That said, this is your salsa, so do with it as you please. I have seen salsa machas that are chunky like mine, or that are blended into more of a pesto consistency.
Traditionally speaking, salsa macha is made with peanuts. That said, I love the combination of walnuts, pine nuts, and pistachios that Pati’s recipe calls for. You can also switch things up and use any other kinds of nuts that you prefer, including but not limited to cashews, macadamia nuts, almonds, or brazil nuts. If you come up with a winning combo, let me know in the comments below!
Not to be confused with the Japanese green tea powder, macha is the feminine inflection of the word “macho.” Macha can also be interpreted to mean “brave.” Since salsa simply means sauce, salsa macha can therefore be translated to “brave (or macho) sauce.”
If you tried this delightful recipe for Mixed Nut Salsa Macha (Salsa Macha con Muchas Nueces), please be sure to rate and review it below!
Mixed Nut Salsa Macha (Salsa Macha con Muchas Nueces)
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 5 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and cut with scissors into small pieces
- 4 to 5 dried chiles de arbol, stems removed (keep seeds), cut into small pieces
- 6 garlic cloves, sliced
- 1/3 cup unsalted walnuts
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted pistachios
- 1/3 cup raw unsalted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar or grated piloncillo, or to taste
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1/3 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
- 1/3 cup amaranth seeds, (optional)
- Heat both oils in a medium skillet over mediums heat. Add the chiles, garlic, and all the nuts and cook stirring, until lightly toasted and fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, add the vinegar, brown sugar, and salt, and mix.
- Stir in the pumpkin and amaranth seeds, if using.
- Let the mixture sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Scrape into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times until coarsely ground.
- The salsa will keep, highly covered, for at least a month in the refrigerator.
- Recipe by: Treasures of the Mexican Table
- Traditionally speaking, salsa macha is made with peanuts. You can switch things up and use any other kinds of nuts or seeds that you prefer.
- This recipe makes approximately 3 cups of salsa macha.