Imitation Tacodeli Salsa Doña – Claire McWhite's Site – projects, etc.

Imitation Tacodeli Salsa Doña

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Salsa doña is essentially a roasted jalapeño/garlic emulsion that is rich, spicy, and delicious. It was created by Bertha Gonzales for the Austin chain Tacodeli and you can read its history here. Tacodeli recently started selling containers of salsa doña, but currently only in Whole Foods in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

Since I want this sauce constantly, and not only in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Arkansas, this is a record of my attempts to replicate it. It came out pretty successfully in the end.

Left: Original doña sauce, Right: This recipe

There are several salsa doña recipes online, but many include extra ingredients or steps. From my comparison to the original sauce I’ve found a few key things:

  1. The ingredients are only roasted jalapeños, roasted garlic, salt, and vegetable oil (or other neutral oil). i.e. no cilantro or lime
  2. The original sauce includes some jalapeño seeds, not just jalapeño flesh
  3. However, using all seeds from all peppers makes a sauce that is much spicier than the original (and the original is very spicy)
  4. It doesn’t seem like Tacodeli removes the jalapeño skins before blending
  5. During blending, adding more oil or more garlic increases richness and reduces spiciness

For me, the spice level is great with something substantial like a breakfast taco, but is too spicy for eating with tortilla chips. For version meant for a dip, reduce the number of added jalapeño seeds even further.

Final recipe

  • 5 jalapeños
  • 10 cloves garlic (skin on) (As few as 5 cloves are fine)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (5mL)
  • 5 tablespoon vegetable oil (1/3 cup or 75mL)
  1. Chop off jalapeño tops/stems, and place with garlic on baking sheet

  2. Broil on low for 10-15 minutes, or until garlic is squishable. Broilers vary, so time may vary

    Garlic is ready to go

  3. Remove garlic from oven

  4. Flip jalapeños and continue to broil on low for another 10-15 minutes, or until peppers have somewhat internally collapsed

    Jalapeños are done - charred somewhat and begun to collapse in on themselves

  5. Place garlic and peppers in a closed container with a splash of water and let steam at least 15 minutes

    Pre-steaming. Coffee cans are good airtight containers for this step


  6. Remove about 9/10th total seeds from insides of peppers.

  7. Remove skins from garlic cloves

  8. Blend peppers, garlic, oil, and salt on high (“liquify”) for 30 seconds or until very smooth (and oil does not separate)

    Fully blended

  9. Refrigerate over night (or at minimum until cool)

Results of experiments

Round 1:

  • De-seeded jalapeños prior to roasting, added lime juice
  • 3 jalapeños/3 garlic/0.5 tsp salt/3 tbsp oil/2 tsp lime juice
  • Not spicy enough, missing flavor/spice from jalapeno seeds
  • Also salsa doña definitely doesn’t have lime juice
  • However this sauce was delicious, and the low spice level would make it a great party dip

    Left: Original doña sauce, Right: Round 1 sauce. Very good tortilla chip dip, but definitely not salsa doña

Round 2 (after acquiring doña sauce for comparison purposes) :

  • Roasted whole jalapeños, removed skins
  • 3 jalapeños/6 cloves garlic/0.5 tsp salt/3 tbsp oil
  • Much closer to original flavor, but too spicy
  • Consistency is too smooth (the original has more bits in it (jalapeño skins)

    Left: Original doña sauce, Right: Round 2 sauce. Original has more bits of jalapeño

Round 3:

  • Roasted whole jalapeños, kept skins on, removed approximately 2/3rds of seeds
  • 5 jalapeños/10 garlic cloves/5 tbs oil/1 tsp salt

    Left: Original doña sauce, Right: Round 3 sauce. Very close in appearance and flavor, but still somewhat too spicy. Using 9/10ths of seeds in final recipe