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Brilliant Guajillo Chile Salad Dressing

Tart and spicy, honey sweet and just a little bit smoky, this vivid orange-red guajillo chile dressing gives brilliant zing to salads. Paired with a rainbow of dark green arugula, white jicama and carrot matchsticks, and thin-sliced purple cabbage—we’re talking bling. Zing.

Guajillo Chile Dressing

You will love this brilliant dressing! It’s simply a blend of easy-to-find guajillo chiles, blended with honey, key limes, tequila and oil!

Guajillo (gwah-HEE-yoh) chiles have a tapered shape and reddish-brown color and mild tart flavor. You can easily find them in see-through bags in your supermarket Mexican aisle.

Guajillo Chile Dressing ingredients
Click here to Pin this brilliant Guajillo Chile Dressing.


Last week we flew over to San Miguel de Allende, the historic colonial city about 4 hours north of Mexico City. At a pretty patio restaurant, I ordered a goat cheese salad with the spicy red guajillo salad dressing that inspired this recipe. We like this version much better than the original!

San Miguel de Allende--Guajillo Chile Dressing

San Miguel de Allende--Guajillo Chile Dressing

San Miguel de Allende, Guajillo Chile Dressing

Back in Los Barriles, I’ve been busy in our little trailer kitchen. Not only did I blend up this guajillo chile dressing for our salads, I pressure-cooked brothy black beans for soup and tacos. I made granola with agave and coconut oil and lots of nuts. (Roasting granola in a one-rack trailer oven eats up more time than a slow-loading Internet connection.)

And then I char-roasted poblano chiles for chiles rellenos, whipped up a batch of green salsa, and steeped hibiscus flowers for pink margaritas. Talk about a pile of dirty dishes!

Guajillo Chile Dressing

 Arugula, carrots, jicama, red cabbage for Guajillo Chile Dressing

To cut the skinny matchstick-looking carrots and jicama, slice them 1/8-inch thick. (I used my trusty Oxo hand-held mandolin slicer.) Stacked about 5 slices high, the sliced vegetables are easy to cut into julienne strips.

Wishing you a fabulous week–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

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5 from 1 vote
Guajillo Chile Dressing
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
5 mins
Total Time
10 mins

Guajillo chile dressing brightens many different foods, not just salads. Try it over plain brown rice. The mild chile bite balances peppery arugula. Add carrots, jicama and red cabbage for crunch and color, and creamy avocado to soften the whole combination. Makes about 1 cup dressing.

Course: Salad
Cuisine: Dairy Free, Mexican, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 servings
The dressing:
  • 2 guajillo chiles (see note)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup avocado or grapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup fresh-squeezed key lime juice or rice wine vinegar (see note)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons 100% agave tequila, optional
  • 1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
The salad itself:
  • 4 handfuls arugula leaves
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • ½ jicama
  • ¼ red cabbage
  • 1 avocado
Make the dressing:
  1. Warm the chiles on a comal or griddle, or in a dry cast iron skillet. You want the chiles to soften—do not allow them to burn.
  2. Cut off the stems. Tap the chiles upside-down until all of the seeds fall out. Discard the seeds. (see note)
  3. Place the chiles in a bowl and cover with the boiling water. Weigh them down with a small plate to keep them submerged. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  4. Drain the chiles. Coarsely slice into rings, about ½ -inch wide. Place the chiles and the remaining ingredients in a blender. Blend until very smooth.
Make the salad itself:
  1. Tear arugula in bite-size pieces. Cut jicama and carrots into julienne (matchstick) strips. Slice cabbage as thinly as possible. One cup each of carrots, jicama and cabbage is a good amount for 4 servings.
  2. Arrange arugula, jicama, carrots, cabbage and avocado in a bowl or on chilled plates. Serve with the dressing in a separate bowl, or toss it over the salad at the last minute.
Recipe Notes
  • Guajillo (gwah-HEE-yoh) chiles have a tapered shape and reddish-brown color and mild tart flavor. Find them in see-through bags in your supermarket Mexican aisle.
  • Guajillo chile dressing definitely has a spicy kick. If you prefer milder, use only one chile. And be sure to knock out all the seeds, which carry much of the picante heat.
  • Many cooks (and eaters) prefer a ratio of 2:1 ratio oil to acid; if you like, cut the olive and sunflower oil down to ¼ cup each.
  • The key limes (limones) that grow here in Baja pack an acidic punch. For less acid, use rice vinegar. Lemon juice can also substitute for the lime juice.
  • Tequila optional. Resposado or añejo tequila adds subtle smokiness.


  • I can imagine how frustrating the internet stuff is. I got this post from Feedly, where I follow your blog on RSS. That seems to be working just fine.

    Jealous that you were in San Miguel Allende. One of my dear friends was living there the past few years. She was killed in a car crash last year, so thinking about that place makes me miss her! Reply · 8 February, 2015

    • Letty

      Thank goodness the post went to you and other rss feeds. I guess you received the enchilada post a second time–with new date.
      I remember you telling me about your beautiful friend. I wish I had met her. Reply · 8 February, 2015

  • You’re in a beautiful place and the internet sucks. That’s my dream! Seriously though. I got a notice this AM. Though it might have come from Blog Lovin. That’s how I usually get notified. GREG Reply · 8 February, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Greg, I think the rss feeds like Feedly and Bloglovin go out immediately. Whereas the Mailchimp to subscribers is auto scheduled to go out at 8am, the first 8am that rolls around after the post goes up–no matter whether I publish at 8:30am the day before or at 7:55am 5 minutes before. Reply · 8 February, 2015

  • Got it in my inbox but it did seem a tiny bit odd – here’s what it said, “The post Guajillo Chile Dressing and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico appeared first on Letty’s Kitchen.” Reply · 8 February, 2015

    • Letty

      Thanks Tammy,
      The email is supposed to have the first 55 words of the post just before it says just what you put in quotations above. Reply · 8 February, 2015

  • […] Make sure you have salad dressing prepared. Make easy mellow miso dressing or blend up another delicious vinaigrette, like this or this. […] Reply · 28 April, 2015

  • […] might also want to try this spicier red chile vinaigrette, made with the more picante hot guajillo chiles. Also, check out my simple homemade red chile […] Reply · 5 August, 2015

  • […] I posted a brief story about Oscar and his veggies, along with this recipe for a bright orange salad dressing seasoned with guajillo chiles. Today’s goat cheese and herb vinaigrette is even easier to make than the chile one. They […] Reply · 31 December, 2015

  • Justamom

    My son gave me this link. They grew tired of salad till they foun your recipe. I plan to search for exact ingredients on my next trip to grocery store. Thanks for the substitutions. Small cities don’t have access to a lot of recipe ingredients for today’s recipes. Reply · 24 February, 2019

    • Yay! Thank you! Here’s to everyone loving salads with fun new dressings! Reply · 26 February, 2019

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