Salsa Endiablada and Salsa Papera – Bottled Sauces to Make at Home, Again

The word “deviled” , in culinary  terms, refers to a dish or foodstuff that is spicy, for example, deviled eggs.  Salsa endiablada translates from Spanish to English as “deviled sauce”, and it also refers to a particularly spicy preparation; the recipe for this classic sauce calls for dry red hot peppers, responsible for the spicy punch, and does not include tomatoes or other vegetables to make it milder, only vinegar, oil, and aromatics to build a bold flavour.  The original salsa endiablada comes from the Mexican state of Oaxaca, but probably almost everyone in Mexico has tasted one version or another of it, from a sample of bottled hot sauce; it only takes a visit to the display at a Mexican supermarket to find something for every taste:

Bottled spicy sauce display at a supermarket in Mexico (Culiacan, Sinaloa, 2019)

Amongst the abundance of thick, runny and powdered condiments, in different colours, from yellow habanero, to green jalapeño, there is a majority of red sauces; these will all have, just like endiablada, a type of dry red hot pepper, vinegar and salt as their main ingredients.  In this category, popular Mexican brands such as Valentina™, Búfalo™, Guacamaya™, or Tapatía™ may be seen on the shelves above, and even a couple of brands from Uncle Sam’s land, such as Tabasco™ and Frank’s Red Hot™ .  Salsa endiablada is similar to some of these brand name sauces, but with a deeper flavour and colour, from the use of pasilla peppers; it goes amazingly well with corn dishes, such as the prepared tlayudas from my last post:

A backward glance at the recipe shows that if guajillo peppers are used instead of pasilla, the flavour profile of the sauce becomes that of a true “salsa papera” – “hot sauce for potato chips (crisps)”, with the characteristic bright red tone, perfect to top a plate of old-fashioned fried potatoes, along with a generous sprinkle of lime juice:

A variety of bottled sauces to top potato chips and other street snacks (Tlaquepaque, Jalisco, 2019)

Potato chips, limes and salsa papera at a bookstore cafeteria (Mexico City, 2019)

Nowadays not many people make their own red hot sauce, because of the availability of already bottled options, but they are so simple to fix, and so hard to find (at least around here), that it is easier to get dry red peppers and cook up a small batch.  For the old-fashioned taste of Oaxaca’s salsa endiablada, pasilla peppers are a most, as are guajillos for the closest match to salsa papera, but if these peppers are not available, experimenting with other dry red hot peppers, such as New Mexico, California, or ancho, might result in interesting new flavours, and will certainly not alienate the concept of reclaiming bottled sauces as a homemade condiment.

Deviled Sauce (or Sauce for Potato Chips) – Salsa endiablada (o salsa papera)


5 dry red pasilla peppers (or guajillo, for salsa papera); wiped clean, stem and seeds removed
¼ onion; peeled
2 cloves garlic; peeled
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ tsp dry marjoram
½ tsp Mexican oregano (or omit if not available)
1 bay leaf; broken into pieces
½ tsp salt, or to taste
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ cup water, or as needed
¼ cup olive oil

Gather all the ingredients; notice the deep dark tone of the pasilla peppers in the photo below:

Roast peppers, onions and garlic in a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat until charred, but making sure not to burn the peppers:

This technique to toast without fat is called tatemar in Mexico.  Set aside.  In a pot over high heat, bring vinegar to a boil, then add spices and herbs (photo below, left); incorporate tatemado peppers, onions and garlic and bring back to boil (photo below, centre).  Lower heat to a simmer, and cook for twenty minutes; remove from heat and allow to cool down to room temperature, then transfer to a blender jar (photo below, right):

Add any remaining liquid from the pot, as well; if it looks too dry for processing, add some water, just enough to blend into a very smooth paste.  Continue processing while slowly adding oil:

Process for an extra minute, to ensure there are no chunks left.  Transfer sauce to a clean jar; makes approximately three quarters of a cup:

If using guajillo peppers, wipe clean and remove stems and seeds, as shown below; notice the bright red colour of these peppers:

Following the recipe exactly as before, I was able to recreate a delicious plater of papitas con salsa y limón – potato chips with sauce and lime, by pouring the sauce into an emptied plastic dispenser from another condiment, and the addition of a sliced lime and some bagged kettle potato chips (crisps):

Once the plain potatoes out of a bag are sprinkled with lime juice and studded with thick droplets of salsa papera, they become an authentic Mexican street snack, as shown at the top of this post, and below: 

Keep these sauces refrigerated; they will develop a deeper flavour profile as they age.

I am sharing my recipe at What’s for Dinner? Sunday Link-Up #257 with Helen @ The Lazy Gastronome.

12 thoughts on “Salsa Endiablada and Salsa Papera – Bottled Sauces to Make at Home, Again

  1. We don’t have those peppers available here except dried but as I can grow ancho and mulata I suspect if I can pick up some seeds then I can give it a go thank you 😀


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