No more buying salsa from the store! Instead, you can whip up my easy homemade salsa recipe with fresh tomatoes that are packed full of flavor.
You know that old saying “never order at a restaurant what you can make at home”? I think we should apply that same thinking to dips – “never buy dips at a store that you can make at home”. Making salsa is so easy and perfect to make for parties or even just to keep in the refrigerator for whenever a chip and dip craving hits. And there’s no one way how to make homemade salsa – it’s easy to adapt.
What is salsa
Not to be confused with the dance, “salsa” refers to a variety of Mexican sauces, the most popular of which is tomato salsa. Popularised by Mexican restaurants in the US during the 1980s, a simple salsa recipe is usually accompanied by tortilla chips or used to flavor tacos.
Is salsa spicy
It depends on how you take it. Varieties that use tomatoes for salsa tend to be slightly milder, though may incorporate chilies, jalapenos, and other spices. The great thing about a homemade salsa recipe is you can always adjust the spice level to make a mild salsa, so there are no surprises.
Is homemade salsa healthy
Yes! Homemade salsa with fresh tomatoes is high in Vitamin C, potassium, citric acid, and quercetin. It has also been shown to help keep you hydrated (salsa tomatoes have a high water content). Plus it helps regulate blood sugar levels and is naturally cholesterol-free and low in calories.
Difference between salsa, picanto sauce, and pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo and Picanto Sauce are all different varieties of basic salsa recipes, using many of the standard salsa ingredients. A traditional, easy salsa recipe would use salsa tomatoes, alongside flavors like coriander, onion, garlic, and lime.
Consider a Picanto Sauce as the spicy cousin of fresh tomato salsa. It gets its name from the Spanish for “hot” – using jalapenos, cayenne pepper, habanero pepper, and chilies in its recipe.
Pico de Gallo – or salsa fresca – follows a similar recipe for salsa, but incorporates chopped onion, corn, and other ingredients.
Homemade salsa ingredients
- Fresh tomatoes: Integral for any homemade fresh salsa recipe, you want red, ripe tomatoes – not too firm or too soft.
- Chopped tomatoes: You want these straight from a can to save you the work – shortcuts like this make creating an easy salsa recipe, well…easy!
- Onion: I use white, but red onions are also great in homemade salsa recipes.
- Fresh cilantro: You can use Thai Basil, parsley, or even mint if you’re a coriander hater.
- Lime juice: Just for a bit of tang.
- Jalapeño: This is for spice. If you want a really mild tomato salsa recipe, you can leave it out.
- Garlic: It’s the perfect aromatic for this mix.
- Spices: Salt, chili powder, black pepper, cumin (optional).
- Sugar: Optional, but it’s a great way to balance out the acidity of salsa recipes.
What tomatoes are best for salsa
For the best homemade salsa recipe, I find Roma tomatoes best. They’re meatier and less watery than salad tomatoes – that’s how to make salsa that stays on your chip. You can also use plum tomatoes – though any fresh, ripe tomato will do for this fresh salsa recipe.
What are the best canned tomatoes for salsa
For a blender or food processor salsa, you want high-quality canned tomatoes that give flavor – and not water. I like DOP San Marzano tomatoes and Hunt’s Tomatoes, though you can use whatever you have to hand.
How to make salsa
To begin this easy salsa recipe, prepare your fresh ingredients. Quarter the tomatoes and the peeled onion. Cut the garlic cloves in two. Halve and deseed the jalapeno pepper.
Then juice the lime – you can follow my handy guide on how to get the most juice out of your limes without a juicer.
Add all the salsa ingredients to a food processor and pulse in quick bursts. We want to keep some of the texture, it should be chunky so don’t overdo it. I like to keep the cilantro separate – roughly blend the ingredients for salsa, then add the cilantro and blitz once or twice more.
Taste and adjust if needed – add a bit more salt to taste, sugar or spice as desired.
You can also make this quick salsa recipe in a blender or chop everything finely by hand and mix it together.
Is it better to make salsa the day before
Yes! To make fresh salsa taste even better, you’ll want to let it sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend and balance. There are plenty of uses for salsa, why not make a big tub and store it in your refrigerator? The flavor gets even better after 24 hours in the cold.
How long will homemade salsa keep in the fridge
Fresh salsa will keep for up to 10 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container.
What to eat with salsa
Salsa uses are infinite – but these are some of my favorite ways to enjoy my best salsa recipe:
- Serve quick salsa recipes traditionally with tortilla chips as an appetizer before a meal.
- Top over burrito bowls for a burst of flavor, like with my colorful Veggie Burrito Bowl.
- Use as a dipping sauce or flavor enhancer for tacos – it goes with chicken, beef, and even vegetarian tacos.
- Pour it onto a breakfast burrito for a blast of flavor in the morning.
More salsa and dip recipes
If you try this restaurant style salsa recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Quick & Easy Homemade Salsa
- 16 oz ripe tomatoes 5 small tomatoes
- 13.8 oz chopped tomatoes 1.5 cups/1 can
- 5.2 oz onion 1 medium, white or red
- 1 lime small
- 0.7 oz cilantro 1 handful, alternatively use Thai Basil, parsley, or even mint
- 0.7 oz jalapeno 1 deseeded – or omit
- 0.4 oz garlic 2 cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cumin powder optional
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar optional
This will yield about 4 cups of salsa
- Prepare the fresh ingredients. Quarter the tomatoes and the peeled onion. Cut the garlic cloves in two. Halve and deseed the jalapeno pepper. Juice the lime – you can follow my handy guide on how to get the most juice out of your limes without a juicer.
- Add all the salsa ingredients to a food processor and pulse in quick bursts. We want to keep some of the texture, it should be chunky so don't overdo it. I like to keep the cilantro separate – roughly blend the ingredients for salsa, then add the cilantro and blitz once or twice more.You can also make this quick salsa recipe in a blender or chop everything finely by hand and mix it together.
- Taste and adjust if needed – add a bit more salt to taste, sugar or spice as desired. Then let sit for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors blend and balance.
- Fresh salsa will keep for up to 10 days in the fridge when stored in an airtight container.You can also freeze it in a freezer-safe container or ziplock bag. Thaw in the refrigerateor overnight, then stir well.