Chile de Arbol Pipián with Toasted Pecans

Chile de Arbol pipián is a spicy sauce made with chile de arbol, pecans and pumpkin seeds.


This Chile de Arbol Pipián type sauce is another way to enjoy the spicy and smoky de arbol chile.  The de arbol chile is totally different from the traditional New Mexico red chiles and quite a bit hotter. You’ll find them in my Chile de Arbol Salsa, Red Chile Paste, and Chile de Arbol Hot Sauce.  Chile de Arbol Pipián highlights the flavor of the chile but in a totally different way from these previous sauces.  This sauce is similar to a Mexican molé or pipián sauce which are puréed seed/nut/chile sauces used for a variety of dishes.

The Chile de Arbol pipián I’m sharing with you today is a purée of a few toasted ingredients which include chile de arbol, pecans, pumpkin seeds and coriander seeds.  It’s a very quick and easy sauce to throw together (less than 30 minutes), and has a very bold and unique flavor. It’s pretty awesome! Smother some chicken and vegetables with it, or add a dollop to a serving of sauteed vegetables like calabacitas and mushrooms. It also makes a great sauce for tacos. OR you could do like I do and just grab a spoon and eat it right out of the blender. 🙂  Believe me, you’ll be seeing more of this chile de arbol pipián in future posts.


This Chile de Arbol pipián is a spicy, nutty sauce made with chile de arbol, pecans and pumpkin seeds. #chiledearbol @mjskitchen


Chile de Arbol Pipián Recipe

Makes about 2 cups
Prep and Cook Time: less than 30 minutes

Recipe author:  MJ of MJ’s Kitchen


1 ¼ cups water + ¼ cup
Chile de arbol peppers – 4 for medium heat, 8 for hot – remove stems and seeds*
¼ tsp. coriander seed
¼ cup pumpkin seeds*
1 cup pecans*
1/2 medium onion (~1 cup), chopped
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Salt to taste
juice from 1 lime

*See Kitchen Notes


  1. Heat a heavy skillet over a medium high heat.
  2. On another burner, bring 1 ¼ cups water and 1/8 tsp. salt to a boil then reduce to a low simmer.
  3. To the hot skillet, add the chile de arbol and lightly toast by tossing the chile over and over for about 2 minutes. Transfer the chile to the simmering water.
  4. Add the coriander to the hot skillet and brown lightly by tossing around the skillet for 1 to 2 minutes or until the seeds become aromatic and start to darken. Transfer to the pot with the chile and water.
  5. Repeat this process with the pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seeds are ready when they start to turn, swell and pop. Transfer to simmering pot.
  6. Repeat the process for lightly toasted pecans. Transfer to simmering pot.
  7. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet, remove from the heat and stir until the onion quit cooking. Transfer to the simmering pot. Add ¼ cup water to the skillet to deglaze. Pour that water into the simmering pot.
  8. Remove the pot of water and ingredients from the heat and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
  9. Transfer all ingredients to a blender. Add the lime juice and blend on high until smooth. If it gets too thick, add a little water, but be careful not to add to much. You want the consistency of a thick sauce but thinner than a paste.

It keeps in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days.  Freeze what you don’t use.



This Chile de Arbol pipián is spicy and nutty, made with chile de arbols, pecans and pumpkin seeds,


Kitchen Notes

The Chile de Arbol – Even though there are only 4 to 8 peppers in this sauce, they still provide a tremendous amount of flavor (and heat) that rises above all of the other flavors.  So don’t be afraid to use just 4 peppers thinking you won’t get enough flavor of the chile.  Believe me, you will definitely taste them and you’ll get heat from them as well.  I’ll make this sauce with up to about 8 peppers, but after that, it gets too hot for us to eat.  If you don’t have chile de arbol, then give your favorite chile pepper a try.  Any flavorful, spicy little chile should work just fine in this recipe.

The Pumpkin Seeds – Sunflower seeds can be used in place of pumpkin seeds as well as a mix of sunflower and pumpkin.  You could also throw in a few sesame seeds.

The Pecans – Well it wouldn’t be a pecan sauce without the pecans, but if you don’t have any, you can definitely substitute with almonds.  And if you want a completely different flavor, then use peanuts with a sesame/pumpkin seed mix.  This combination works great with pork and shrimp.


Pecans from Diaz Farms in southern New Mexico

New Mexico Pecans

Did you know that New Mexico is one of the top three pecan producers in the United States (Georgia and Texas being the other two)?  This year New Mexico has had its best crop in 10 years.   Even though we’ve been in a pretty bad drought, this year’s rains came at the right time and we’re getting a bumper crop.  So it is a good year to buy pecans.  Like chile, I usually buy pecans in bulk and freeze them.  They freeze quite well and it’s always nice being able to grab a handful of pecans when you need them.

This year I purchased the pecans you see here from my friends at Diaz Farms in southern New Mexico.  I bought 10 pounds of unshelled pecans which is about 5 pounds shelled.  These pecans are excellent! They are very easy to shell, meaty, and have a great flavor.  The difference between these pecans and those you buy at grocery store is night and day.  So if you want some great pecans, check New Mexico pecans out this year.  And while you’re at it, be sure to pick up a bag of chile de arbol peppers as well.   You’re going to need them to make this chile de arbol sauce. 🙂


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50 Responses to “Chile de Arbol Pipián with Toasted Pecans”

  1. Anita September 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm #

    Hello MG!
    Your Chile de Arbol Pecan Sauce recipe would be amazing I can imagine. I love chilies in everything even in my sweet recipes.

    • mj September 28, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks Anita! Love to hear from another chile lover as well as one that likes the “sweet and spicy” like I do. You should check out my New Mexico style chocolate pudding. You’d love it!

  2. Ramona April 15, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    Oh yes.. here’s that gorgeous sauce. Now where’s that spoon! 🙂

  3. Terra March 19, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    This recipe is so unique! I love that you combined nuts and chile de arbol, this would be a delicious snack for sure! It looks fabulous:-) Hugs, Terra

  4. Vicki Bensinger March 18, 2014 at 5:14 am #

    What a flavorful sauce I’ve never tried this before but it sounds so unique. Now to check out the recipe you top this with.

  5. Deena Kakaya March 17, 2014 at 9:01 am #

    Lovely! Creamy, nutty spicy. I did something like this with guajillo chilies and walnuts and it went down really well with black eyed beans x

    • mj March 19, 2014 at 8:22 am #

      Thanks Deena! Oh I love the idea of walnuts and chile sauce with black-eyed peas. I might have to steal that one from you. 🙂

  6. Sanjeeta kk March 17, 2014 at 4:03 am #

    Your sauce is giving wings to my imagination…how lovely this dip would be with some of my pan fried veggies!

  7. Carol at Wild Goose Tea March 13, 2014 at 4:28 pm #

    Oh my goodness. I hope this is as doable as it looks. I don’t think I have ever ever ever had a sauce like this. And as you know the sauce is what makes all the difference. A cooking concept the French have perfected for many years. Wow to have a sauce like this in my book of cooking tricks might change my life! I am being silly, but that is what thinking about this sauce has done to me. Laughing——

    • mj March 13, 2014 at 9:11 pm #

      Thanks so much Carol! Oh yes – this is definitely a doable sauce, so very easy and delicious. I do have to say that it is nothing like a French sauce, more like the sauces one finds in Mexico and the southwest – thick and rich. I hope you get a chance to give it a try. If you do, let me know how you like it.

  8. cquek March 12, 2014 at 2:40 am #

    yummy, that sound so good can’t wait to try the sauce.

  9. Liz March 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

    LOL, I like so many things right out of the mixing bowl, blender, etc. And I’d love to try this sauce 🙂

  10. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles March 11, 2014 at 1:12 pm #

    I don’t think I’ve ever tried chile de arbol — is that possible, what’s wrong with me?? 🙂 this recipe sounds sublime. I’m a big fan of sauces of this nature including molé so I know I would fall for this one too. And I love the idea of combining the warmth of chile pepper with the flavour and texture of nuts/seeds in a sauce. I’m pretty certain I would use it on everything, including my morning eggs!

  11. Sissi March 11, 2014 at 10:31 am #

    Unusual sauce/dip and it sounds so typically southern US to me (pecans and chile!). I would probably try using walnuts instead (pecans are quite expensive here and also difficult to buy unsalted).

  12. Dedy@Dentist Chef March 11, 2014 at 9:29 am #

    I guess all what i needed to enjoying it is my finger and tortilla chips,
    lovin pecan all the way, unfortunately we didn’t eat that a lot eversince the fact pecan is quite expensive, my sister also allergic with it too!!!!

  13. Katerina March 11, 2014 at 2:26 am #

    I would love to try it with crispy pita bread or on a souvlaki skewer! I bet it would be tasty and unique!

    • mj March 11, 2014 at 8:38 am #

      Thanks Katerina! Oh – your suggestions sound perfect!!!! I love it with chicken and now I’m definitely going to try it with a souvlaki skewer!!!

  14. Nancy/SpicieFoodie March 10, 2014 at 11:41 pm #

    MJ, I’m so glad you really like chile de arbol. It is one of my favourites! Your sauce I would totally eat right out of the blender. Love, love the recipe! Can’t wait to see it in your future posts too.:)

    • mj March 11, 2014 at 8:37 am #

      Thanks Nancy! Chile de Arbol become one of my favorite last summer when I tried them for the first time. The flavor is amazing and the heat – if you use too much – quite intense, but a good intense. 🙂 Hope you enjoy the recipe.

  15. Amy (Savory Moments) March 10, 2014 at 4:41 am #

    This is a new sauce to me – it’s so different and interesting. I bet it is really delicious, too. It sounds like it would be really great on chicken.

    • mj March 11, 2014 at 8:31 am #

      Thanks Amy! It is great on chicken. A recipe for that is coming very soon. 🙂

  16. Maureen | Orgasmic Chef March 9, 2014 at 11:06 pm #

    My tongue tingles just looking at the photos ! Yum !

    • mj March 11, 2014 at 8:30 am #

      Thanks Maureen! The chile definitely makes your tongue tingle and if you use too many (like I did the first time I made this), it will make it sizzle. 🙂

  17. Nami | Just One Cookbook March 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    I had never tried pecan this way (pureed form) and I had fun learning about this sauce! I’d love to use it for dip or spread.

    • mj March 11, 2014 at 8:28 am #

      Thanks Nami! Pureed pecans is definitely not something that one sees a lot, but it’s quite good, especially if you’re a pecan lover like me. 🙂 The added spice really makes this sauce special.

  18. Minnie@thelady8home March 9, 2014 at 6:56 pm #

    What a fancy little name for what I have known as ‘dry red chillies’ all my life…and what an incredible recipe!!! This is going for a bookmark. Now, Yumm. You are just too good.

    • mj March 11, 2014 at 8:25 am #

      Thanks Minnie! Oh there are SO many of those “dried red chillies”. 🙂 And I’m always amazing at how different they each taste. This sauce can really be made with any of them so I hope you give it a try and enjoy!

  19. Gloria March 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    this is new to me..i loved it full of flavors…I’m going to give it a try soon…

    • mj March 11, 2014 at 8:23 am #

      Thanks Gloria! If you can’t find the chile de arbol where you are, bird’s eye would work. Hope you enjoy it.

  20. Asmita March 9, 2014 at 6:55 am #

    Yum! This sounds like an incredible sauce!

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      Thanks Asmita!

  21. Hotly Spiced March 8, 2014 at 2:19 pm #

    I’ve never heard of this sauce. The list of ingredients looks very yummy. I’m looking forward to your chicken recipe where you use this sauce xx

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:48 pm #

      Thanks Charlie! Actually, I had never heard of this sauce either. 🙂 But it sure is good.

  22. Barb Bamber March 8, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    How wonderful to be able to pick up a large bag of fresh pecans like that. Does this mean the almond growers are also out of the risk of drought as well? I love the flavors in this one, it’s a completely new dip for me.. it must taste amazing!! I’ll have to see if we have those peppers here.xx

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

      Thanks Barb! I have no idea about the almond growers. I honestly don’t know of any almond growers here in New Mexico or anywhere for that matter. Hope you get to give this a try.

  23. Debra March 8, 2014 at 7:30 am #

    This sounds totally delicious. It looks so creamy. Hand me a spoon too please.

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

      Thanks Debra!! I’ve got an extra spoon for you. 🙂

  24. Choc Chip Uru March 8, 2014 at 2:59 am #

    I will definitely bookmark this sauce, it looks like a lovely seasoning 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:43 pm #

      Thanks Uru! Hope you get a chance to make it.

  25. The Wimpy Vegetarian March 7, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    What a great sauce to keep on hand. I’ll bet there’s all kinds of ways to use it!

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

      Thanks Susan! I’m still discovering more and more ways to use it.

  26. Angie@Angie's Recipes March 7, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    I bet this would be great as pizza sauce too. So creamy and packed with flavours.
    Have a lovely weekend, MJ!

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Oh I LOVE the idea of the pizza sauce! Didn’t think about that one, but now I’ve got to give it a try. Thanks Angie!

  27. John@Kitchen Riffs March 7, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    We used to live in Texas so I know all about how great fresh pecans are! Didn’t know New Mexico was #3 in production, though. And I’ve heard about chile de arbol, but I don’t believe I’ve ever had it in a dish. Or if I did, I didn’t know it. I should go looking for it, so I can make this sauce! It looks really, really good — thanks.

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:39 pm #

      Thanks John! As much as you enjoy chiles, I think you would thorough enjoy these chiles. Quite a bit different flavor – very earthy.

  28. Jennie @themessybakerblog March 7, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    I can picture myself dipping pita chips in this sauce. Yum!

    • mj March 9, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

      It’s pretty darn good that way. 🙂 Thanks Jennie!


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