As someone who considers hot sauce a food group, I was thrilled when Chipotle started offering free salsas as a topping option. Since salsas are a favorite of mine, I love making them into delicious combinations, and Chipotle made it happen for me! If you’re new to Chipotle or have stuck to the same sauce out of habit, you’re missing out. Each salsa has a distinct flavor and heat profile, and whether you prefer mild or molten, there’s an option for you. So, what sauces does Chipotle have?
Chipotle has 6 sauces: there’s the tangy Fresh Tomato Salsa, the smoky Roasted Chili Corn Salsa, the hot Tomatillo Green or Red Chili Salsa, the creamy Queso Blanco, and the well-known Guacamole.
In this guide, I’ll take you through Chipotle’s sizzling salsas, from the Fresh Tomato Salsa to the incendiary tomatillo Red chili. I’ll describe what they taste like, the spice levels, what they pair best with, and even how to recreate them at home. Let’s dive in!
List of Chipotle Sauces & Their Spice Levels
I hope this guide will inspire you to get into your kitchen and start crafting custom salsas that are uniquely your own. Your taste buds will thank you! Now that you’ve learned how to make these sauces at home, you can customize the heat and flavors to your exact preferences.
Enjoy experimenting with different peppers, spices, and ingredients to put your own staple to a Chipotle sauce. The possibilities for flavor creations are endless!
Fresh Tomato Salsa: Mild & Tangy
I’m a huge fan of Chipotle’s Fresh Tomato Salsa. Of all their salsas, it has the mildest heat and a bright, tangy flavor that pairs well with almost everything on the menu.
This Chipotle salsa gets its vibrant red color and tomatoey flavor from tomatoes, cilantro, jalapeño pepper, red onion, and lemon juice. The peppers add a subtle kick of heat, but not too much that it overpowers the other ingredients. Overall, I’d rate the heat level around a 3 out of 10. Mild enough for the spice-adverse but enough zing to keep things interesting.
This salsa is extremely versatile and complements burritos, tacos, salads, and even chips. I like to load up my burritos and bowls with a few spoonfuls of this delicious sauce. The tang helps cut through the richness of ingredients like guacamole, beans, and sour cream. The Fresh Tomato Salsa also pairs nicely with their salad bowls and crunchy taco shells for a lighter option.
To make this salsa at home:
- Combine diced tomatoes, lime juice, cilantro, diced onion, minced garlic, and jalapeños or serrano peppers.
- Start with ½ of the pepper and add more to taste. You can also substitute cayenne or red pepper flakes for the fresh chili peppers.
- Mix everything together, chill before serving, and enjoy your homemade version of Chipotle’s famous Fresh Tomato Salsa!
Roasted Chili Corn Salsa: Smoky & Sweet
The Roasted Chili Corn Salsa has the perfect blend of smoky, spicy, and sweet flavors that also pair great with just about anything on the menu, thanks to its medium kick of heat.
This salsa gets its kick from poblano and jalapeño peppers, sweet corn, cilantro, red onion, and lime or lemon juice. What really makes this salsa special is the corn. Grilled corn kernels are stirred right into the salsa, adding a subtle sweetness and extra crunch.
I like to pair this sauce with a burrito bowl, nachos, or tacos. The corn salsa complements the flavors of rice, beans, guacamole, and grilled meat or veggies. You truly can’t go wrong. For extra decadence, add a bit of sour cream or cheese.
To make it at home, start by roasting corn, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. Then combine everything in a food processor with cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Pulse until mostly smooth with some texture remaining. The flavors are even better the next day, so make it ahead if possible.
With the perfect blend of smoky heat and natural sweetness, the Roasted Chili Corn Salsa is a crowd favorite for a good reason. Whether enjoying in-restaurant or at home, keep this one on hand for a quick flavor boost to your favorite Mexican-inspired dishes.
Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa: Tart & Zesty
The Tomatillo Green Chili Salsa has a tart, zesty flavor with a nice kick of heat that pairs perfectly with their carnitas, barbacoa, and steak.
The base of this salsa is tomatillos, green tomato-like fruits with a tangy, citrusy flavor. Tomatillos provide a tartness that balances the heat from the green chilies. The tomatillos are roasted before being blended into the salsa, which enhances their flavor.
Green chilies, like jalapeños or serrano peppers, provide the heat and spice in this salsa. The amount and type of chilies can vary in each batch, so the heat level may differ slightly each time. I find this salsa usually has a moderate heat level with a slow buildup. It’s spicy enough to provide flavor but not overwhelming.
Fresh cilantro and lime juice can also be blended into the salsa, giving it a bright, refreshing flavor. The cilantro adds an herby, citrusy kick, while the lime juice provides a tangy burst of acidity. These ingredients, combined with the tomatillos and green chilies, create a salsa that is tart, spicy, and full of flavor.
To make this zesty delicacy at home, I would recommend roasting tomatillos, jalapeños, or serrano peppers, onion, and garlic. Blend with cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Start with a small amount of peppers and add more to taste, depending on how spicy you want it. Its tart and tangy flavor profile pairs well with grilled dishes in particular.
Adding a bit of honey, agave, or sugar when blending the salsa helps balance the acidity and heat, mellowing the flavors slightly.
Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa: Hot & Hearty
The Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa packs a spicy punch that warms you up without knocking you out. The tomatillos provide a tangy base, while the red chilies bring the heat.
The tangy tomatillos pair perfectly with the smoky red chilies. You get flavors of green tomatoes, chili peppers, garlic, and cilantro all blended together. The heat builds slowly, allowing you to enjoy the complexity of flavors before the spiciness hits.
This salsa classifies as “hot” on Chipotle’s scale. The red chilies, like jalapeños and chipotles, provide a kick of heat that spreads across your tongue and lingers for a while after eating. My mouth always feels pleasantly tingly for at least 30 minutes following a burrito with this salsa. The heat level is spicy enough for chili heads but still accessible for people not accustomed to very spicy food.
The Tomatillo Red Chili Salsa goes excellent with heartier meats like carnitas, barbacoa, or steak. Its robust flavor stands up well to Chipotle’s burritos, tacos, and nachos. I like to add it to the chicken burrito bowl with black beans, rice, and guacamole. The creamy guac helps balance out the heat from the salsa.
You can easily recreate this salsa at home with tomatillos, red chilies like jalapeño or Chipotle, garlic, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. Roast the tomatillos, chilies, and garlic, then blend everything. Start with 1 or 2 chilies and add more based on your heat tolerance. Roasting the ingredients gives it a smoky flavor similar to Chipotle’s version.
This hearty salsa is the perfect combination of tangy, smoky, and spicy.
Queso Blanco: Creamy & Cheesy
Chipotle’s Queso Blanco is a whole different story. This rich, creamy cheese sauce is addictive and perfect for dipping chips or smothering your burrito bowl.
Queso Blanco starts with a blend of Monterey Jack and white cheddar cheeses, which provide a mild but creamy base. Chipotle then adds spices like chili peppers, cumin, oregano, and garlic to pump up the flavor. The result is a cheese sauce with a kick of heat and lots of Mexican-inspired zest. I like to describe it as spicy, cheesy, molten lava.
To replicate this perfect creaminess at home:
- Start by using a blend of Monterey Jack and white cheddar cheese.
- Mix in some whole milk or half and half to achieve a creamy and spoonable consistency.
- Add diced jalapeños or chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for heat.
- Start with 1-2 peppers and add more to taste.
You can also sprinkle in cumin, oregano, garlic powder, and chili powder if you want to. Add ½ teaspoon of each to start and whisk to combine with the cheese and milk.
Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring frequently, until bubbly. Remove from heat and continue stirring for a minute more.
The queso blanco is a must-try for anyone who appreciates a spicy and cheesy dip. The homemade version may not be exactly the same as Chipotle’s, but it captures the essence and allows you to customize the heat level and spices to your own tastes.
Here’s a great order to combine it with!
Guacamole: Cool & Rich
Guacamole is cool, creamy, and perfect for their spicy salsas. Chipotle makes theirs in-house daily using Hass avocados, lime juice, and spices.
The avocados provide a rich, buttery base, while lime juice adds a bright, tangy kick and prevents the avocados from turning brown. Minced garlic, chili peppers, cilantro, and sea salt provide flavor and heat. All the ingredients are blended together until mostly smooth but still slightly chunky.
Chipotle’s Guacamole has rich, creamy avocado notes complemented by zesty lime juice and fresh cilantro. Subtle heat from the chili peppers builds slowly in the background. It’s a harmonious balance of flavors that highlights the quality of the ingredients.
While this guac contains chili or jalapeno peppers, the heat level is very mild. The creamy avocados dominate, with just a subtle warmth in the background to keep things interesting. Even spice-sensitive folks will find it enjoyable.
To DIY this sauce at home, mash 3-4 ripe Hass avocados and mix in the juice from 1 lime, ½ minced jalapeño or serrano pepper, ½ cup chopped cilantro, ½ diced onion or shallot, 2 minced garlic cloves, and salt to taste. Mix everything thoroughly but leave it slightly chunky.
So, out of all these, which one is your favorite Chipotle sauce, and what do you usually combine it with? Let me know in the comments below because I love trying out new combinations!