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5 from 1 vote

Guajillo Chile Dressing

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.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time5 mins
Total Time10 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: guajillo chiles, salad dressing
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 244kcal


The dressing:

  • 2 guajillo chiles (see note)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup avocado or grapeseed oil
  • 1/3 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
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

The salad itself:

  • 4 handfuls arugula leaves
  • 1 or 2 carrots
  • ½ jicama
  • ¼ red cabbage
  • 1 avocado


Make the dressing:

  • 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.
  • Cut off the stems. Tap the chiles upside-down until all of the seeds fall out. Discard the seeds. (see note)
  • 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.
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.


Calories: 244kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 235mg | Potassium: 300mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1844IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg