Charred Garlic Salsa

To celebrate the garlic season, we've been eating batch after batch of this sweet, smokey, and nutty Charred Garlic Salsa. It's easy to slip into thinking of garlic as a year-round kitchen workhorse, rather than as a seasonal specialty worth savoring in its own right. If you've never paused to taste the difference between early summer's stale grocery garlic and the in-season local variety, this is the perfect vehicle to indulge. Charred Garlic Salsa is inspired by the flavors and techniques of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, and is delicious with chips, on bread, with grilled meats, tacos, or as an amazing condiment for sandwiches. This recipe is adapted from Daniel Hoyer.

Print Friendly and PDF

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups salsa


  • 36 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 5 wax peppers (substitute a hotter chile for more heat)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Mexican oregano, toasted if possible
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt 


  1. Preheat a grill or heavy pan over high heat. Spread garlic, peppers, and onion slices across the grill or pan. Toast over high heat for 4-5 minutes, turning frequently. Garlic, peppers, and onion will soften, and develop brown (or even black) spots. The peppers will blister. You are looking for a pretty heavy char.
  2. Remove the garlic, peppers, and onion from the heat. When cool enough to handle, cut the stems off the peppers and squeeze out the seeds. Discard stems and seeds. Roughly chop peppers and onion.
  3. Add all ingredients (garlic, peppers, onion, lime juice, vinegar, oregano, and salt) to a blender or food processor. Pulse until well combined and the mixture has a rough salsa consistency. 
  4. Use immediately, or keep covered in the refrigerator for up to one week.