Salsa Macha: The Mexican Salsa With A Crunch

salsa macha
Salsa macha is a complex salsa of dried peppers, garlic, nuts, and seeds infused in oil to create a tangy and crunchy condiment with a perfect balance of spiciness and smokiness. It’s delicious drizzled over meat, veggies, or tacos. Add a dollop to stews and chilis for a pop of flavor and texture.

What Is Salsa Macha?

Also called macha crunch, salsa macha is an oil-based sauce or condiment with chile peppers that originated in Veracruz, Mexico.

The original or traditional Mexican version of the salsa features peanuts, sesame seeds, and chile de Arbol infused with a neutral-flavored oil.

Salsa macha has a thick, crunchy consistency because of the addition of ground nuts and seeds. It may also feature other ingredients that add to the crunchy texture, such as onions and scallions.

Salsa macha.
Salsa macha.

As a complex condiment featuring many different-tasting ingredients, salsa macha is full of flavor and is traditionally super spicy.

The nuts and seeds contribute the earthy, nutty flavor, while the hot chiles bring the spice and subtle smoky flavor. Adding white vinegar or apple cider vinegar brings tartness and a tangy taste to the chile-laced condiment.

Authentic Mexican salsa macha is traditionally very spicy since it uses Chile de Arbol, which scores 15,000-30,000 SHUs on the Scoville Scale. However, you can modify the recipe to use milder dried chilies, like ancho (1,000-2,000 SHUs). For medium heat and more smoke, consider a chipotle pepper, like the chile morita.

What Are The Ingredients In Salsa Macha?

Salsa macha typically incorporates neutral-flavored cooking oil, salt, garlic, and various nuts, seeds, and dried peppers. Chile de Arbol, sesame seeds, and peanuts are traditionally featured in the salsa, but many variations exist.

Depending on the chef or home cook, salsa macha may have the following ingredient combinations:

Oil: Grapeseed oil or light olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil), or other neutral vegetable oil

Salt: Kosher salt/sea salt (preferably Mexican sea salt)

Fresh garlic

Dried chile peppers: chile de arbol is traditional.

Seeds: Sesame seeds are traditional.

Nuts: Unsalted peanuts are traditional.

salsa macha ingredients
Salsa macha ingredients.

Salsa macha may also feature additional but optional ingredients, depending on the specific salsa macha recipe you find. Such ingredients include:

  • Fresh jalapeno peppers and serrano peppers (instead of dried peppers if you are making the salsa macha Verde version)
  • Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • Onions and scallions to add texture
  • Other spices like Mexican oregano, cumin, or coriander
  • Adobo sauce or chili powder, such as chipotle powder, to add smokiness and heat
  • Sichuan peppercorns
  • Brown sugar to add sweetness
  • Fried tortillas for more crunch

What Nuts And Seeds Can Be Used In Salsa Macha?

Salsa macha traditionally incorporates peanuts and sesame seeds for a nutty and earthy flavor. Other recipes use different types of nut/seed combinations.

One thing to love about salsa macha, apart from its spicy crunchy nature, is its customizability. You can skip some ingredients or add more or less to achieve the different flavor and spice levels you prefer.

It’s a great pantry-pull recipe when you need to use up some nuts and seeds. You may be surprised at some of the tasty combinations you come up with!

Salsa macha recipes include a variety of nuts and seeds used either singly or in combinations. Apart from unsalted peanuts and sesame seeds, you can also use the following alternative or complementary ingredients:

  • Seeds: almonds, toasted or untoasted sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sunflower seeds, , and cacao nibs (pieces of cocoa beans).
  • Nutspecans, pine nuts, cashews, almonds (which are actually classified as seeds!), walnuts, or pistachios

What Dried Chiles Can You Use In Salsa Macha?

Chile de Arbol is the preferred chile pepper in salsa macha, but you can expand your salsa macha recipe to include any combination of dried chiles.

Your macha crunch can incorporate one or a combination of other dried peppers, such as:

What’s The Difference Between Salsa Macha And Salsa Roja?

Although they are both Mexican condiments, salsa roja (Spanish for red salsa) and salsa macha differ in taste, ingredients, and preparation.

While salsa macha traditionally uses chile de Arbor as the preferred dried pepper, salsa roja uses guajillo chile as the preferred pepper. 

The guajillo in salsa roja can be subbed with arbol chiles, jalapeno peppers, or serrano peppers, depending on your desired heat level.

Another critical difference between the two salsas is that salsa roja incorporates tomatoes while salsa macha doesn’t feature them.

While both salsas require a blender to puree the ingredients, the next step in the preparation differs: salsa roja is simmered, then cooled and served cold. Salsa macha is not cooked and is served at room temperature.

How Do You Eat Salsa Macha?

Salsa macha is a highly versatile and tasty condiment that you can eat with almost anything.

You can use salsa macha to marinate fish, chicken, pork, steak, or even tofu.

Salsa macha is also eaten as a seasoning agent in stews and soups.

If you like salsa-sprinkled dishes, you can eat salsa macha as a garnish on eggs, fajitas, tacos, roasted vegetables, burritos, enchiladas, salads, pasta, nachos, and quesadillas.

You can also eat salsa macha as a dipping sauce for tortilla chips and other snacks, although this is less common since it’s an oil-based salsa.

How To Make Salsa Macha

It’s easy to make your own salsa macha at home if you have all the ingredients and a good recipe to follow.

You’ll want to have all the ingredients mise en place (a French preparation method where you have all of your ingredients measured and at hand before starting a recipe). The process goes quite quickly once you start.

Making salsa is a two-way process involving cooking some ingredients and blending them with the remaining ones.

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salsa macha

Salsa Macha (Macha Crunch)

  • Total Time: 20 minutes


Use the ingredients and instructions below to produce an excellent homemade salsa macha.


Units Scale
  • 510 dried chile de arbol (more or less depending on heat preference)
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles
  • 2 dried ancho chiles
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 cup neutral oil
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregeno
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw unsalted peanuts
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp kosher or sea salt


  1. Add ½ cup oil to a skillet and saute garlic until slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl.
  2. To the same skillet, add another ½ cup oil and saute the dried chiles for about 2 minutes. Do not overcook or they will become bitter. Transfer oil and chilis to the bowl with the oil and garlic.
  3. To the same skillet, add the peanuts and sesame seeds and lightly toast them, about 2 minutes.
  4. Place everything in a blender, along with salt, oregano, and vinegar. Puree until smooth. For a chunkier consistency, pulse until you reach the desired texture.
  5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month. For the best flavor and texture, let the oil come to room temperature before serving so the oil isn't too thick.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: sauce
  • Cuisine: Mexican


Peppers have become the meeting point for three of Alex's greatest passions—gardening, cooking and writing. He is happiest watching small plants grow big and heavy with produce, and he can't wait to harvest self-grown fresh produce for his kitchen. When he is not taking care of his pepper plants, you'll find him busy cooking and sampling different peppers as he seeks the next hotter pepper.

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