Homemade salsa can be made in just minutes so you can skip the store-bought versions. This red salsa combines fire-roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice for a delicious appetizer.
When a bowl of homemade salsa and chips hits the table at my house, it’s gone within minutes! This recipe is even better than some Mexican restaurants, and it can be prepared with ease! Just seven simple ingredients and a few essential preparation steps, and this tasty salsa recipe can be available at a moment’s notice.
This recipe uses a few key ingredients to maximize flavor. Fire-roasted tomatoes and fresh ingredients like jalapenos, onions, garlic, cilantro and a little bit of lime juice. All you need is a food processor or blender, some crunchy tortilla chips, and this fresh salsa will be ready to devour!
How to make homemade salsa
Do you have moments where you crave chips and salsa? Or need to make a fast and easy recipe for a celebration like Cinco De Mayo? This delicious salsa recipe is inspired by a local Mexican restaurant that my family often visits that I wanted to recreate right at home.
The canned and diced variety of fire-roasted tomatoes are used in this recipe. Not only are they ripe and sweet, but the surfaces are lightly charred from being pre-cooked. The Maillard reaction is the key to adding depth to the salsa.
Buying canned tomatoes also helps cut down on prep time. I recommend draining the excess juice before processing to prevent the salsa consistency from becoming too watery. The liquid can always be reserved and some added back if desired.
To complement the earthy flavor from the tomatoes, lightly roast sliced jalapenos and unpeeled garlic cloves in a small pan. It takes a few extra minutes, but the enhanced flavors will be worthwhile! The garlic becomes sweet and roasted, cutting out some of the pungent taste of raw garlic. I use this same technique when making pesto sauce.
The trick to making homemade salsa with the right texture is how the ingredients are layered in the processor, the ratio of components and processing time.
I add the garlic and jalapeno in the food processor or blender first to ensure that the blade chops them up fine. Otherwise, there will be more substantial chunks in the sauce. Then add the white onions, drained tomatoes, cilantro, lime, and salt.
Pulse the ingredients until the desired consistency is reached. I like to check the taste before it breaks down too much, that way more salt or lime juice can be added without becoming too thin like tomato soup.
The target salsa texture is light and chunky with small tomato bits of similar size that can easily be spooned onto a chip or protein without being too runny.
This homemade salsa recipe will be your new go-to when you need a quick dip that requires little effort. If you like a bit more heat, feel free to roast a few extra jalapenos or add in some minced serrano pepper for an extra kick!
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Fresh tomatoes vs. canned for salsa
Canned tomatoes are typically picked at their peak ripeness, which means they will be more flavorful and sweet. They are then processed within hours of being harvested to maintain the best flavor. There are different types of canned tomato products, however, diced or whole for salsas will achieve the proper consistency. Fresh tomatoes can be used in combination to add texture, however, they are much more watery since they have not been cooked to release some of the moisture. They are however excellent for chunkier dips like pico de gallo.
- 1 jalapeño, cut in half lengthwise, steam, seeds and membrane removed
- 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 30 ounces (850 g) diced canned tomatoes, fire-roasted
- ¾ cup (117 g) diced white onions, ½-inch dice
- ½ cup (8 g) cilantro leaves, packed
- 3 tablespoons (45 ml) lime juice
- ¾ teaspoon (2 g) kosher salt
- Heat a small pan over medium-high heat. Add jalapeno skin-side down and unpeeled garlic cloves into the pan.
- Cook jalapeno until lightly blistered and garlic lightly charred, 4 minutes.
- Flip over jalapeno and garlic cloves, and cook another 2 minutes.
- Remove peel from garlic and add to food processor or blender. Add roasted jalapenos to the food processor.
- Drain the tomatoes in a colander to remove the excess liquid from the can.
- Add white onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
- Pulse the salsa about 6 times, scrape down the sides, and taste. Add more salt or lime juice as needed.
- Pulse the salsa an additonal 2 to 4 times, until the desired consistency is acheived.
- Immediately serve.
- Serving Size: 1/4 cup
- Recipe Yield: 2 1/2 cups
- Store in an airtight container for up to 7 days.
- MAKE IT WHOLE 30: Substitute sea salt for kosher salt.