This easy homemade Salsa Recipe is rich with flavor! 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!
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 sauce 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, too. There’s no such thing as too much salsa!
Ingredients for 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 – To make this salsa extra spicy, don’t deseed the peppers. The seeds of a jalapeño is where most of the spice is stored!
- Garlic – Just a couple cloves of 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 any bottled stuff.
- Cilantro – Double check that your cilantro is fresh! If it’s vibrantly green, not limp, and has no dark spots, it should be perfect.
- Sugar – A very small amount of white granulated sugar is excellent at balancing out acidic ingredients.
- Salt – Just add enough to taste.
- Cumin – This seasoning is peppery and earthy, which helps to deepen the richness of the salsa.
- Chipotle Chili Powder – This smoky, spicy ingredient is key to making this salsa taste like it’s fresh out of a Mexican restaurant!
How to Use Fresh Tomatoes Instead of Canned
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.
How to Make Restaurant-Style Salsa
This salsa recipe is super easy! Start off by combining all of the ingredients in a blender.
Pulse the blender a few times until the salsa is thoroughly blended. 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!
Salsa Vs. Pico de Gallo
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 blended. Usually, Pico is a little more basic, but both dishes have almost the same ingredients.
How to Make Salsa Spicier
When it comes to spice levels, it’s all in the peppers! 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!
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.
Fry tortillas for a couple of minutes, until golden and crispy, 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.
Planning a fiesta?! Here are some more Mexican-inspired recipes:
The BEST Guacamole – This guacamole recipe features fresh avocados mashed and loaded with tomatoes, red onions, lime juice, and jalapenos, as well as fresh herbs and spices.
White Queso Dip – smooth, flavorful, made with real cheese and vegetables. It’s a spicy, cheesy dip made with two kinds of cheese, jalapenos, bell peppers, and green onions.
Carne Asada Tacos – tacos filled with steak marinated in an easy, flavorful marinade and topped with homemade Pico de Gallo and cilantro vinaigrette.
Queso Blanco Dip with Chorizo – a delicious cheesy Mexican dip made with sautéed chorizo sausage, peppers, and onions.
- 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.
Overall it was a good base! I had to do quite a bit of modifications to make it how we like it.
I added a habanero pepper for more heat, and added quite a bit of garlic powder, chili powder, cumin and cayenne powder to deepen the flavors. It naturally has a light flavor to it, which is not a bad thing! We just tend to like richer flavor in our salsas!
I would definitely recommend this recipe though to anyone who wants to enjoy an easy homemade salsa 🙂
Thank you, Bailey!
Cate W says
I made this and it was all but inhaled! My jalapeño was not spicy so I added a little jalapeño powder for a kick and it was absolutely incredible. It has already been requested that I make this again
I am so glad you liked it, Cate!
Can you can this recipe as well?
This is really good! I made a couple modifications. I diced and sautéed the onion, garlic and jalapeño before adding to the tomatoes and other ingredients, then pulsed in a blender. Love the smokey flavor.
Yum! Glad you were able to modify it to your taste!
Susan Beckerman says
Lyuba what is the volume of salsa when you calculated the nutritional values?
The commercial salsas (about 10 different brands) that we buy show 2 tablespoons (30 ml.) at around 1 gm of sugar, 15 calories, 2 net carbs etc.
Please clarify how much salsa (in grams, or mls. or tablespoons ) corresponds to your nutritional numbers
Thank you – can’t wait to try it!
The nutritional information is for the whole bowl of salsa, I hope that helps and that you enjoy the recipe!