Diabla Sauce – Key Ingredients You Need To Use

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Sauce is what makes the world go round! Well maybe not, but sauce can elevate a meal and add different textures and flavors to a meal.

Knowing where your food comes from and what ingredients are used to make certain foods is important. 

Diabla Sauce - Key Ingredients You Need To Use

Being aware of what is in our food helps us to make healthier and more ethical choices. We all need a healthy, balanced diet to keep us functioning properly and avoid becoming sick.

One way to make healthier food choices is to make more things from scratch.  

Sauces, microwave meals, and processed foods contain huge amounts of fat, salt, and sugar which are detrimental to our health.

Have you ever thought about making a sauce such as diabla from scratch? Not only is it quick and easy, but it tastes so much better! 

In this article, we will be discussing the key ingredients in the popular Mexican diabla sauce. 

What Is Diabla Sauce?

Diabla sauce is a red chili sauce that is popular in Mexican cuisine. The sauce is thought to have originated in Mexico a few hundred years ago and has continued to be a staple in Mexican cooking today.

This thick, rich sauce can be paired with meat or vegetables to create a delicious and spicy meal. Common dishes where you can find this sauce include enchiladas and camarones a la diabla. 

Key Ingredients In Diabla Sauce

Here are the key essential ingredients needed to make a great diabla sauce. Using these specific types of chilis will help to create an authentic and delicious sauce. 

Guajillo Chiles

Guajillo chilies are mild to medium-hot chilies that are a firm favorite in Mexican cuisine.

They have a smoky, fruity flavor which makes them perfect for adding to a thick sauce. The bright colors of the chili help to give the sauce its characteristic color and heat. 

For an indication of the spiciness of the chili, it ranges between 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville Heat Units. This is three times less spicy than a jalapeno, which makes it tolerable for many. 

The most common ways you’ll find these chilis in a dehydrated state.

Most diabla recipes will ask you to soak the chilis in water for around 30 minutes before attempting to puree them. Fresh versions are also available, but they may be harder to find. 

Chile De Arbol Peppers

Chile de árbol refers to a small and potent Mexican chili pepper. These thin peppers typically measure less than half an inch wide. Other names you may know of this chili are the Bird’s beak chile or the Rat’s tail chile. 

Characteristics that clearly distinguish this chili from others include its vibrant red pod and bright green stem. They are mainly added to dishes for their colors and heat levels. 

In terms of heat, the chile de árbol pepper ranges between 15,000 to 30,000 Scoville Heat Units which is a huge step up from the guajillo chiles mentioned above.

At the top end of the scale, these peppers are up to six times hotter than the average jalapeno. 

The chili should have the stems and seeds removed before adding to the puree.

To reduce the heat from the chilis further, only add one to the sauce mixture to still bring in the flavors of the fiery pepper but not to overwhelm people with the heat. 

Red Roma Tomatoes

Roma tomatoes are a type of plum tomato that is commonly used due to their slender shape and firm feel.

The main uses of these tomatoes include canning and making tomato paste. A paste version is added to diabla sauce to bulk it out and combat the heat from the chilis. 

The tomatoes are known for their sweet flavors, if you want to make a slightly sweeter sauce then we recommend adding another tomato to the mixture.

Alternatively, if you don’t have any leftover tomatoes you can add a little tomato ketchup. 

Diabla Sauce - Key Ingredients You Need To Use


Onion can be added to the sauce if desired; onions can add flavor and texture to a sauce giving it extra depth. White onions are normally used in this sauce, but red onions will work just as well. 

Raw onions are preferred as they can release a lot of liquid into the mixture, helping to produce the ideal consistency of the sauce.

If you find the sauce has too much liquid in it, add another tomato or some ketchup to help thicken it.  


Fresh garlic is a key ingredient in many meals, as it’s an aromatic herb that flavors food so well. Unsurprisingly, it is used in diabla sauce to season the sauce and enhance the flavors of the crushed components.  

When it comes to garlic, there is no right or wrong answer as it can be totally dependent on how much the individual likes it. We always tend to add way more garlic to dishes because we love it! 


Salt is a kitchen staple and can be added to almost any dish in the world for some extra flavor. Another reason that salt is added to foods is to balance sweetness and suppress other flavors like bitterness.

In this sauce, salt is added to enhance the flavor and also balance out some of the sweeter elements. When adding salt to the sauce it’s important to do this gradually to avoid overpowering the flavors. 

This also means you can adjust this to your own tastes and needs. For those that need to reduce the amount of salt in their diets, only a pinch can be added to still have a flavorful impact. 

Adjusting The Heat

Not everyone can handle the heat from this sauce, but that’s okay! There are a few things you can do to adjust the taste of the sauce to suit your liking.

Firstly, you can add another tomato to the mixture and blend. Try the sauce here and see if this has made a difference. 

Another option that is popular is to add a few tablespoons of tomato ketchup to the mixture to sauce, this helps to tone down the heat as well as thicken the sauce.

So if you find the sauce to be slightly too runny, this is a great solution. 

What Is The Sauce Usually Served With?

One of the most common dishes associated with this sauce is a typical Mexican dish called ‘Camarones a la diabla’ which directly translates as ‘shrimp of the devil’.

The dish consists of plump and juicy shrimp that are cooked in the rich and spicy diabla sauce. 

You can find this dish in almost any Mexican restaurant if you visit the country. Typically it is served along with a portion of rice and a lime wedge, but it can also be enjoyed on its own as a starter.

If you can’t jet-off to Mexico, then why not try making it in your own kitchen! 

The Bottom Line

The key ingredients in a diabla sauce are the guajillo and chile de árbol peppers, these provide an authentic and unique flavor to the sauce.

When making your own diabla sauce, play around with measurements and flavors to make one that’s just right for you.

Sauce is what makes the world go round! Well maybe not, but sauce can elevate a meal and add different textures and flavors to a meal.