This easy Salsa Recipe is rich with flavor and takes 5 minutes to make! A few key ingredients like fire roasted tomatoes, seasoning, fresh cilantro, and lime juice blend together to make an incredibly mouthwatering restaurant style salsa. Serve it with warm homemade tortilla chips for a real treat!
Table of Contents
Restaurant Style Salsa
In Mexico, this salsa is known as salsa roja (red sauce) or salsa de mesa (table sauce). “Salsa” literally means sauce. You will find it in every Mexican restaurant served before dinner with warm fried tortilla chips. It’s incredibly addicting!
This salsa is so good, it’s notorious for filling up your belly before the main courses ever arrive to the table. You know the saying, “bet you can’t have just one?” That’s absolutely applicable to tortilla chips dipped in this bold red salsa. It’s impossible to just have one.
If you’re thinking about doing anything fun for Cinco de Mayo this year, this salsa needs to be included in your plans! It’s a great restaurant-style salsa recipe that’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser. And if you really want to impress your friends and family, serve this red salsa and homemade tortilla chips alongside some Salsa Verde, Queso, and Corn Salsa too. There’s no such thing as too much salsa!
Fire Roasted Canned Tomatoes – If you need to use plain canned tomatoes, that will also work, but your salsa won’t be quite as flavorful. The fire roasted tomatoes really bring something special!
White Onion – In a pinch, a yellow onion may be used instead, but white onions are preferred for this salsa recipe.
Jalapeños – Use fresh jalapeños and you can adjust the spice level just by choose older or younger jalapenos. Young jalapenos are less spicy and they have smooth, deep green skin. Older jalapenos get spicier as they age and they will have brown veins running along the skin. The more veins, the spicier the jalapeno. You can also discard jalapeno seeds if you want less spice of leave them in for more spice.
Garlic – Just a couple cloves of fresh garlic will deepen the other flavors without overpowering them.
Lime – The juice of one fresh lime will add the perfect amount of mouthwatering tang to the salsa but if you wish, you can have more. Be sure to use a fresh lime, and not bottled.
Cilantro – choose cilantro that is vibrantly green, not limp, and has no dark spots. Cilantro adds a great layer of flavor and aroma and brings other ingredients together.
Seasoning – you will need salt, sugar, cumin, and chili powder.
See recipe card for complete information on ingredients and quantities.
How To Make It
This salsa recipe is super easy! Start off by combining all of the ingredients in a blender (1).
Pulse the blender a few times until the salsa is thoroughly blended (2). Be sure that there are no large chunks, as no one wants to bite into a large chunk of onion, garlic, or jalapeño!
Serve the salsa right away, or store it in a glass jar with a lid in the refrigerator. There, it will stay fresh for up to a week!
How to Make Tortilla Chips
This is totally optional, but you’ll love the full restaurant experience at home!
To fry the chips: Use small taco corn tortillas and cut them into quarters. Preheat about 2 cups of oil in a skillet until it reaches 350°F. Set a wire rack inside a baking sheet and cover it with a paper towels to catch excess oil.
Add a few chips at a time to the oil (3) and fry tortillas for a couple of minutes, until golden and crispy (4), flipping them half way through. Make sure to use metal tongs or metal spatula.
To bake them: Spread cut tortillas on a large metal baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 350° and bake them for 5-6 minutes. Flip each tortilla chip and bake another 6-8 minutes.
To start, salsa is often cooked or made with canned tomatoes, while Pico de Gallo is made with all fresh ingredients.
The consistency is also very different: Pico de Gallo is chopped, while salsa is often blended (although sometimes comes as chunky). Usually, Pico is a little more basic, but both dishes have almost the same ingredients.
I prefer using canned tomatoes over fresh because it gives the salsa flavor that is closest to one served at restaurants. While fresh is great for Pico de Gallo, if you want that Mexican style restaurant flavor, use canned tomatoes.
However, if you really want to use fresh tomatoes, it’s possible! You can use fresh tomatoes and simmer the salsa with a little cooking oil for about 15 minutes to get similar flavor. Using just fresh tomatoes, won’t give you this exact flavor though. If you want to use fresh, use about 1.25-1.5 lbs. of fresh Roma or San Marzano tomatoes for best results.
When it comes to spice levels, it’s all in the chili peppers! Jalapeños are a pretty mild chili pepper, so you can use spicier peppers, like habanero or serrano.
Older jalapeños are also spicier than younger ones, and you can tell the older ones by the veins on their skin. Younger jalapeños have smooth green skin and older have dry veins running on the skin. The older the jalapeño, the more veins it has, and the spicier it will be!
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- 28 oz fire roasted canned tomatoes
- 1/2 medium white onion
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 lime – juice only
- 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
- 1/2 tsp white granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt more or less to taste
- 1 tsp cumin if needed
- 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
- Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse a few times until it's blended to small, coarse chunks. Don't make it too chunky because you don't' want to bite into a big piece of garlic or jalapeno.
- Serve right away to transfer into a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate.
- Store homemade salsa in the refrigerator, in an air-tight container, for up to a week.
- Need To Use Fresh Tomatoes? While canned tomatoes will give you the best restaurant style salsa and is easier, you can still use fresh tomatoes if you prefer. You can use fresh tomatoes in this recipe and simmer the blended salsa with a little cooking oil for about 15 minutes to get similar flavor. Use about 1.25-1.5 lbs. of fresh Roma or San Marzano tomatoes for best results.
- Make It Spicier: Jalapeños are a pretty mild chili pepper, so you can use spicier peppers. Older jalapeños are also spicier than younger ones, and you can tell the older ones by the veins on their skin. Younger jalapeños have smooth green skin and older have dry veins running on the skin. The older the jalapeño, the more veins it has, and the spicier it will be! You can also leave the seeds of the chili pepper in to get much more spice.