Salsa Macha: A Nuts, Seeds & Chiles Love Story

salsa macha

Salsa macha was a revelation to Vivi Abeja of Chicago when she first tasted the spicy, dense salsa made with seeds, nuts and chiles a few years ago. This is surprising to us at Familia Kitchen since Vivi grew up in a family of gifted Mexican homecooks, loves to experiment in the kitchen, and is an experta in most of the dishes of her family’s heritage.

But on a trip with her family to Morelia, Michoacan a few years ago, she tells Familia Kitchen, ”I had salsa macha for the first time in Mexico with my grandmother — and immediately fell in love.” Here’s how she remembers this food lightning-bolt moment, and how she set out to perfect her own recipe for salsa macha when she returned from her Mexico travels.

First of all, explains Vivi, it’s not that surprising that she fell so hard for salsa macha. The sauce is very similar to Asian chili oil, and ”I have been sooo obsessed with chili oil,” she says. ”Like a drug. I used to go to Chinatown and stock up on 4 to 5 chili oils and replenish my stash when I would finish them.”

Watch Vivi make her addictive salsa macha, a recipe she perfected after “falling in love” in a Morelia, Michoacan market while visiting her grandmother.

But she had no idea that there was a Mexican equivalent. Until she went to visit her beloved Abuelita Elisa Abeja in Michoacan, where her grandmother was born. ”I was in Morelia with my family walking through one of the large mercados they’re known for and walked by a salsa shop. There were all types of unique salsas, but one of their top sellers was salsa macha. I bought a couple bottles to bring back home with me. I  couldn’t believe my favorite chile oil had a Mexican version of it and I’m so happy I found it — or it found me.”

How to Blend Salsa Macha to Perfección

But salsa macha is very different in texture and preparation from the traditional red and green salsas Vivi has long been family-famous for making at home. (Like this red salsa molcajete, and the salsa verde she uses in this dish, with 2 jalapeños and 1 serrano chile.)

Vivi makes salsa macha in batches.
Vivi makes salsa macha in batches. ”I’ve tried different combinations and after a couple tries I finally have it down to my favorite combo. It was a process of trial and error. The trick was to not blend it all together.”

To capture the magic that she tasted in that Morelia market, she started with research. ”I looked up many recipes online and on YouTube, and mine is combination of all my favorite things. I love nuts and seeds in my salsa because of the texture they add, so I added all the typical nuts you see in traditional salsa machas. Not all recipes have all these textures, maybe two to three — but I added them all.” And she fine-tuned how she blended the salsa’s ingredients. ”I’ve tried different combinations and, after a couple tries, I finally have it down to my favorite. ”

It was a process of trial and error, Vivi explains. “The trick was to not blend it all together. I blend the salsa in sections to get the consistency and texture that I love: The first time I made it, I blended everything together and I wasn’t too crazy about the texture. It was a single blend of spices, nuts and seeds in oil. The second time, I overcooked the chiles, which gave the salsa a bitter taste. Finally, I cooked all the ingredients in batches, and blended them in batches. I want the chiles to have their own texture, the nuts to have their own texture, the seeds to have their own texture (mostly staying whole). I finished it all by lightly pulsing nuts and seeds to add some larger pieces for a nice crunch.”

Since Vivi fell in salsa macha love, the condiment has become a fixture in her kitchen. ”Now that I’ve perfected this recipe, I add salsa macha to my eggs, my sandwiches, my soups, everything, and anything. Snacking it with some fresh-made tortilla chips is top tier.”

Her family is all in, Vivi says. “I shared my salsa macha with my family, and they loved it so much they want to order jars of it. I recently gave a jar to my sister and her wife, and they are ADDICTED!”

Vivi smiles. ”I may have to make a batch for Christmas gifts this year.”

Check out Vivi’s family recipes for more delicioso Mexican dishes.

Salsa Macha: A Love Story with Nuts, Seeds & Chiles

Recipe by Vivi Abeja
5.0 from 1 vote
Cuisine: Mexican

15 to 20

Prep time


Cooking time




  • 2 cups oil, or to your consistency, divided

  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic

  • 1 corn tortilla

  • 2 chiles guajillo

  • 2 chiles ancho

  • 15 to 20 chiles de árbol

  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds

  • 1/4 cup peanuts

  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds

  • 2 Tbsp salt, to taste, divided

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, to taste


  • Add 1 cup of oil to a hot pan and fry garlic until golden brown. Scoop out the garlic and set aside.
  • Fry tortilla until crispy. Set aside.
  • Fry chiles for about 15 to 20 seconds on each side, making sure not to burn them or the salsa will taste bitter. Set aside.
  • Fry nuts and seeds until golden brown, set aside.
  • In a blender, pulse the tortilla, garlic, chiles and the flavor-infused frying oil from the pan. Blend until the chiles and tortilla are no longer large pieces.
  • Add 1/2 Tbsp salt.
  • Add the nuts and seeds and a fresh 1/2 cup of oil. Pulse about 4 times or until peanuts are at your desired consistency.
  • Pour the salsa in a bowl or container. Stir in apple cider vinegar and the rest of the salt, to taste.
  • Add a final 1/2 cup of oil — or until the salsa reaches your desired consistency. Stir and drizzle on all your favorite dishes, Mexican and beyond, says Vivi.


  • The secret to this salsa is blending its incredients in “sections,” says Vivi Abeja. By mixing the chiles, nuts, seeds and oil in separate batches, she can control salsa macha’s texture for what she promises are the best-tasting results.

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