Victoria’s Salsa Verde (TacoDeli’s Dona Sauce)


I’d found this wonderful creamy sauce in Austin’s TacoDeli, at the East end of Barton Skyway. Very powerful day one, it ages quickly and takes on brain-melting properties after just a few days. Yummmm… They (obviously) wouldn’t give out the recipe, but I serendipitously found it when visiting friends in El Paso who had a live-in cook. The recipe that follows is hers, with comments in brackets “[]” on my part.

In the name of full disclosure, I need to say I haven’t taken my batch down to the good folks out there: they might not let me leave without telling them how I cracked their code!

1/2/10 update: Modified recipe to address comments using a bold font. There are no additional ingredients, needed to make it, however the optional avocado would make for a creamy, instead of liquid, sauce.


  • 10 Serrano peppers [Try 7 Serrano and 6 Jalapeno]
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced [2 bulbs instead, and crush the garlic to release more flavor (can you see where sweating might come in???)]
  • 1T oil (canola works, but I’d use olive oil — watch the temperature so it doesn’t get past the smoke point!)
  • 1/2C water
  • Optional: 1/4 Ettinger or  1/2 Haas or Fuerte avocado [This provides creaminess. Other commenters have suggested using sour cream.]
  • 1t salt [You might want to add more later]


  1. Remove the stems from the chilis and perforate them all over with the tip of a knife
  2. Place chilis and garlic in a sauce pan with the oil
  3. Saute over a low flame (remember: olive oil has a low smoke point!) until the Serrano skins begin to peel off the chilis (about 6 minutes)
  4. Put the chilis (with their skins) and the garlic (and the optional avocado) in a blender with water and salt and blend thoroughly.
  5. Pour salsa back into the sauce pan with the oil and cook for 3 minutes or so, to blend the flavors


About 3/4C sauce. Remember, the older the sauce, the more you sweat!


Prep time: 10 minutes Elapsed time: 20 minutes

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9 comments for “Victoria’s Salsa Verde (TacoDeli’s Dona Sauce)

  1. April 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    I read this recipe post and then made a batch of Dona and agree: it’s perfect. I then noticed I’ve known the author for 10 years!

    Thanks Shlomi!

  2. Anonymous
    November 25, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve been searching for this recipe for years!

  3. Anonymous
    January 2, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    Thanks for the recipe! A couple of questions:

    1) What do you mean by perfomate the chilis?
    2) Do you blend the chilis with the skin on or do you take the skin off?
    3) Do you add any more oil into the blender? I assume you are using canola?
    4) Is there a missing ingredient? I keep making it and think there is some sort of dairy product like buttermilk, cream, or sour cream? Any thoughts?

    Thanks for posting.. maybe we can all really get this recipe right!

  4. Anonymous
    February 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm

    I agree to the last post. I have made this recipe several times and have not been able to figure out the missing ingredient. It does seem as though the creaminess, smell and the flavor are lacking with this recipe. I honestly do not think avocado is in the original Dona recipe. Can someone please help? I have found this sauce at so many other taco stands – so it is definitely out there.

  5. Anonymous
    March 1, 2010 at 12:03 am

    I have been experimenting with a couple dairy products. Creme Fraiche, yogurt, creme, sour cream. Have not found the right ingredient yet, but I have found that adding a little dairy does make the “color” of the dona closer to Taco Deli’s version. What do you all think?

  6. March 1, 2010 at 12:07 am

    A followup on the comments, which are GREAT and I really appreciate them.

    1. Perforate, as in prick it with a knife.
    2. I know it’s not the same color/texture as the Dona sauce from TacoDeli, but it _is_ close in flavor. It’s also the name of the sauce as I got the recipe.
    3. It occurs to me that the creamy texture might be adding oil to it after it’s cool. That would add the ‘cream’ texture and smooth it out. It would also explain why the sauce isn’t stable for long periods of time; I’d guess it’d start to separate…

  7. Anonymous
    November 22, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    i believe you would need to actually take all the ingredients and blend them WITH THE OIL. This is what will whip it an make it creamy.


  8. March 4, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Just puree some roasted jalapenos or serranos together with garlic and oil and you have dona sauce.

    Sweetwater Spice Co.

  9. December 5, 2012 at 11:50 am

    HI, I know this is an old post but maybe someone’s still monitoring this. They had an interview in the Austin American Statesman today (12/5/12)about the dona sauce (no recipe included) but a big clue which folks have alluded to here on comments about dairy.

    Quote from paper: “But then Gonales handed over a plastic sour cream container filled with a thick, creamy salsa that was unlike anything Espinosa had ever seen” (referencing the dona sauce)

    Sour Cream might very well be our missing ingredient! I can post a link to the full post online if someone wants me to track it down.

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