Yucatán-Style Hot Dried-Chili Salsa (K'uut Bi Ik) Recipe

Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Toasting the chilies in the microwave gives them more complex flavor, without requiring you to heat up the oven or use a hot skillet.
  • A combination of lime, orange, and grapefruit juice replaces bitter and aromatic Seville orange juice.

With minimal preparation, you can have an intensely smoky, fruity, fiery salsa on the table to heat up any taco night (or anything else you want spicier, really).

Recipe Facts



Active: 5 mins
Total: 20 mins
Makes: 1 cup salsa

Rate & Comment


  • 1 ounce dried chiles de árbol (30g; about 25 dried chilies) (see note)
  • 1 ounce dried chiles pasillas (30g; 3 to 4 whole chilies) (see note)
  • 1/4 cup fresh juice from 4 to 5 limes (2 ounces; 60ml) (see note)
  • 1/4 cup fresh juice from 1 grapefruit (2 ounces; 60ml) (see note)
  • 1/4 cup fresh juice from 1 orange (2 ounces; 60ml) (see note)
  • Salt


  1. Use kitchen shears to trim stems from all chilies. Discard stems. Place chilies on a microwave-safe plate and microwave on high power until fragrant and pliable, about 20 seconds total, adding time in 5-second increments if chilies do not smell toasted after the initial 20.

  2. Combine chilies, lime juice, grapefruit juice, and orange juice in the jar of a blender with a small pinch of salt. Blend at high speed until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, let rest for 15 to 20 minutes, then stir in more salt to taste. Salsa can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Special equipment



This salsa is typically made with chiles país, which are not widely available outside of the Yucatán. I use a combination of chiles de árbol and chiles pasillas in their place. If you can find bitter oranges (Seville oranges), use 3/4 cup fresh bitter-orange juice in place of the lime, orange, and grapefruit juice combo.

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