This Habanero Salsa is the ultimate super spicy salsa. Made with roasted habanero peppers, garlic, onion, lime juice, orange juice, and salt, this salsa tastes amazing on tacos, grilled meats, nachos, burrito bowls, and so much more.
In need of a little more spice in your life? Lucky for you, this Yucatán inspired Habanero Salsa will give you just that. Packed with tons of spice from fresh habanero peppers combined with citrus and garlic. This salsa packs a serious punch but is so good with classic Mexican recipes like Cochinita Pibil, Pollo Pibil, and any tacos.
If you absolutely love heat and spice, this homemade habanero salsa is for you. It tastes so much better than store-bought habanero hot sauce and is made with clean ingredients. Plus it doesn't have a super strong vinegar flavor as you would find in most store-bought hot sauce.
The other great thing about this salsa is that it is easy to make and comes together in under 15 minutes.
To bring this homemade salsa to life, you will need the following key ingredients:
- Habanero peppers: These chile peppers seriously know how to pack the heat and are up to 100 times hotter than a standard jalapeno. However, the spiciness is somewhat mellowed out by the citrus juice and salt for a more enjoyable heat. For a less spicy dish, you can swap these out for jalapenos or even bell peppers.
- Citrus juice: I like to use a combination of orange juice and lime juice to enhance the fresh and delicious flavors of this dish. It is meant to create a simmer flavor to Seville oranges (bitter orange juice) that is usually used in Yucatan cooking.
- Tomatillos or Roma tomatoes: To mellow out the flavor of the habaneros, you will want to add some fresh tomatoes or tomatillos to this salsa. I prefer tomatillos but tomatoes are also delicious.
- Garlic: For maximum flavor and freshness, garlic cloves are the way to go.
- Salt: A little bit of salt goes a long way in enhancing the mouth-watering flavors of this dish.
How to Make Habanero Salsa
This spicy salsa is actually very easy to make. Just make sure to protect your hands and eyes when making it since the habaneros release spicy oils and fumes.
1. Roast the chile peppers, tomatoes, and garlic
There are a few different ways to roast the peppers, tomatoes or tomatillos, and garlic. The fastest way is to place the whole habaneros, garlic cloves, and tomatoes/tomatillos in a hot cast iron skillet. Roast for about 5 minutes, turning as needed, until they are charred and roasted.
If you tend to be bothered by pepper fumes, consider roasting the peppers under the broiler instead. Broil for 5-7 minutes, flipping halfway through, until lightly charred.
2. Blend the peppers with citrus and salt
Blend or pulse the habanero peppers, garlic, tomatoes/tomatillos, fresh lime juice, fresh orange juice, and salt in a food processor or blender.
For a chunkier salsa with texture, just pulse the salsa a few times in a food processor. For a smooth salsa, more like hot sauce, blend until nice and smooth.
Here are my top tips for making this habanero salsa your own. These are also very important if you want a less spicy salsa!
- Make it chunky. If you prefer your salsa to be a bit on the chunky side, pulse your ingredients instead of blending them! That will keep things nice and thick.
- Swap your peppers. For a milder flavor, try swapping habanero peppers for serrano peppers, jalapeno peppers, or bell peppers.
- Make it less spicy. A great way to slightly lower the spice level of this salsa is to remove the seeds and membranes from the habanero peppers.
- Ad fruit: One of the best ways to balance the spice is with fruit. This salsa is absolutely delicious with the addition of a peeled mango or 1-2 cups of pineapple.
- Add carrots: Another popular way to balance the spice in habanero salsa is carrots. Make sure to roast or saute the carrots until they are soft before blending them into the salsa.
- Add fresh herbs: For additional flavor, try adding some fresh cilantro to the mix.
- Add onion: Create a more complex flavor by adding some roasted or sauteed red or white onions to the salsa. Raw onion could also be used but the flavor will compete with the habanero.
Habanero Safety: Wear Gloves and Protect Your Eyes
Habanero peppers are extremely hot and spicy. If you get some of the oil from the peppers on your hands and then touch your eyes or skin, it will hurt! Always use gloves when working with habanero peppers to prevent this.
Additionally, it is important to shield your eyes when you are roasting the papers. The peppers release fumes and they can bother your sinuses.
Lastly, protect your eyes when blending the salsa. When you first remove the lid from your food processor or blender, be careful. The aroma that fills the air directly above the blender is going to be hot and spicy, and it can potentially burn your eyes if you aren’t careful.
What to Serve with Habanero Salsa
One of the reasons I love homemade salsa is because of how versatile it is. Believe me when I say this dish is a great addition to nearly any Mexican recipe. If you need some inspiration, here are some of my favorite ways to serve habanero salsa:
- Chips: Chips and salsa is a classic combination, so why not crank things up a bit? Serving this salsa as a dip alongside some baked tortilla chips is a great way of adding some incredible flavor and heat.
- Tacos: For a refreshing twist on taco night, spoon some Yucatán Habanero Salsa into your favorite tacos like this classic Steak Tacos or Shrimp Tacos with Slaw.
- Burrito bowls: No burrito bowl is complete without a generous spoonful of salsa. This recipe is a great way to spice up (literally) your burrito bowls.
- Grilled meat: Habanero salsa pairs beautifully with your favorite grilled meats. Try adding some to Mexican Grilled Chicken or Grilled Red Snapper.
- Tostadas: Seafood tostadas in Mexico are almost always served with a really spicy habanero hot sauce. Try this salsa with these Shrimp Tostadas or Salmon Tostadas.
How to Store This Dish
Yucatán Habanero Salsa is great for making ahead and meal prepping because it stores incredibly well. I always recommend making a big batch and saving the rest to serve with tacos, salads, or chips throughout the week.
- Let it cool: This salsa tastes best after it has been given time to cool. For best results, let the dish refrigerate overnight.
To store leftover salsa, simply seal it up in an airtight storage container. Then, you can store it one of two ways:
- In the fridge for up 2-3 weeks.
- In the freezer for up to 2 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this dish:
Habanero peppers are known for their heat, which definitely puts this salsa on the spicier side! To make things milder, you can remove the seeds and inner membranes from the peppers.
Alternatively, you could swap out half (or all) of the peppers for jalapenos or bell peppers.
You can also balance the spice with something sweet like mango, pineapple, or additional tomatoes.
Hot pepper, including habaneros and jalapenos, are full of vitamins, minerals, and essential antioxidants. These antioxidants have tons of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and reducing inflammation. To sum it up, this is a very healthy dish!
If you’re looking to keep the heat, you can swap habanero peppers for scotch bonnet peppers. However, if you are looking for a milder alternative, jalapenos or serrano peppers are great supermarket-friendly options.
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- 12 habanero peppers
- 2 Roma tomatoes (or 4 tomatillos)
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- Salt to taste
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Add the habaneros, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, and tomatoes to a cast iron skillet. Cook until habaneros begin to char and brown, about 5 minutes, stirring as they char. These can also be broiled in the oven for 5-8 minutes, flipping always, until they are lightly charred. Let the habanero, tomatoes, and garlic cool. Using plastic gloves (habaneros are super spicy), remove the stems from the peppers and peel the garlic.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
To make a sweeter salsa that is slightly less spicy, add fresh mango or 1 cup of fresh pineapple to the salsa.
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