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Best Salsa from a can (gasp!) or jar?

jen maiser Apr 22, 2003 06:21 PM

For years, I have been trying to track down small (7 oz.) cans of "El Pato" salsa here in the Bay Area. When worse comes to worst, I haul it home from Southern California. I like how spicy it is, and I like that it has a lot of other taste to it than just heat.

I think, however, that it is time to expand my salsa horizons. What is your favorite canned or jarred salsa?

Please, no recommendations to make my own, or to buy the refrigerated salsa. I know how to make my own, and do, but often just want to open a can -- especially when tomatoes aren't in season. I need something that I can stock up on.


  1. Bacardi1 Jan 23, 2013 05:21 PM

    Herdez products, Pace "hot", or whatever local fresh "pico de gallo" type floats your boat. Many of them are very good.

    1. c
      cimui May 21, 2008 03:51 PM

      i second missnatalie's santa barbara suggestion -- but i like the regular, hot salsa best! so much that when i first discovered it, i ate it by the spoonful, straight. (the mango's a little too sweet for my tastes.)

      3 Replies
      1. re: cimui
        misnatalie May 21, 2008 04:44 PM

        Yes the hot is awesome, I too can easily eat it out of the jar. Just last night I used it like a salad dressing mixing half hot and half mango.

        1. re: misnatalie
          cimui May 21, 2008 04:59 PM

          ah that's a great idea. mixing would solve the sweetness problem and probably go great over fish, too... thanks!

          1. re: cimui
            misnatalie May 21, 2008 05:26 PM

            My salad had seared scallops on top, it was very good.

      2. misnatalie May 21, 2008 03:11 PM

        I don't know if you have COSTCO by you but their mango salsa is great. If not, Santa Barbara Mango and Peach Salsa and Habanero Lime Salsa http://www.sbsalsa.com/index.html
        also Desert Pepper Trading Co. 2 Olive Roasted Garlic Salsa

        1. d
          dana43chow Apr 15, 2008 08:33 PM

          Newmans own pineapple is great too!!!!!!!!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: dana43chow
            BerkshireTsarina May 21, 2008 10:31 AM

            And yet another vote for Newmans Pineapple Salsa; everybody loves it. Gets inhaled at parties, and my husband and I can make quite a dent by ourselves.

          2. c
            Chimayo Joe Apr 24, 2003 04:39 PM

            I ran across El Pato in a Wal-Mart Supercenter, yesterday. I don't know if you have those in your area, but it might be worth checking. Picked up a small can each of something labeled Salsa de Jalapeno/Jalapeno Salsa and Salsa de Chile Fresco/Tomato Sauce(Mexican Hot Style). Haven't had a chance to try them yet.

            1. m
              Missy P. Apr 24, 2003 02:32 PM


              You should check out the stores along International Blvd in Fruitvale. I'm 99% sure I've seen El Pato there--maybe in the produce market on International and 39th. I even think that the big Albertson's next to the 880 at Fruitvale Ave. has El Pato.

              Okay, maybe it's a wild goose chase, but if you're ever in the area...say, for Cinco de Mayo?

              Good luck!


              1. c
                chowfish Apr 23, 2003 11:06 PM

                My favorite store bought salsa is Kjalii. Comes in a plastic container in the refrigerator section (even our local Safeway carries several varieties). Mainly sold in California but I see from their website they are available in other states. They make several varieties--my favorites are their citrus papaya chipolte, papaya mango, avomango and guacamole salsas. The good news is they're fresh w/ no preservatives. The bad news is they're fresh w/ no preservatives. Unless I'm entertaining I rarely use it up before the cover poofs up and blows. This weekend I bought Trader Joe's Avo Mango Salsa. It's quite good and less expensive than Kjalii and has stayed fresh longer.

                Link: http://www.sfsalsa.com/index.htm

                1. s
                  suzannapilaf Apr 23, 2003 01:11 PM

                  I love El Pato too! The flavor is great and just seeing the can makes me feel good. Another that I like is Herdez Salsa Casera. Their Rancho is good too. Haven't found a salsa in a jar that I care for, but in bottles I like Cholula, Valentina (black label), and El Tapatio.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: suzannapilaf
                    Cristina Apr 23, 2003 11:19 PM

                    The best red sauce in a bottle I've ever tried is AMOR extra picante. I've only found it in Tijuana; where I live in Mexico, Cholula is the gold standard. It's made 10 kilometers from my house.

                    1. re: Cristina
                      suzannapilaf Apr 24, 2003 12:54 PM

                      Lucky you! I have visited there and enjoyed it very much depite the volcano spewing eye-burning fumes. We watched it from the roof of our hotel in Puebla. We ate great crayfish in a little cafe in Cholula and in Puebla I found a retablo depicting a culinary milagro that occurred on my birthday no less! Also had the most awesome sopa de ajo there. Hope I get back some day!

                  2. m
                    MichaelB Apr 23, 2003 12:40 PM

                    If you have a Whole Foods Market nearby, they have their own brand of good salsas at very reasonable prices. The medium, corn, and especially the roasted chile salsa are all very good, especially for something out of a jar. Other than that, I'll also add my voice to the Green Mountain Gringo chorus, although they're a little on the sweet side for my taste.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MichaelB
                      fldhkybnva Jan 23, 2013 01:23 PM

                      I picked up a container of the medium Cantina salsa this past weekend and it was delicious. It's now my new favorite.

                    2. e
                      e.d. Apr 23, 2003 10:31 AM

                      When I have to buy canned, it's Herdez. But usually I just bring pint containers with me to my favorite Mexican restaurants and take some of theirs home with me. The Cost is no more than jarred salsas and the taste is better.


                      2 Replies
                      1. re: e.d.
                        mari Apr 23, 2003 10:37 AM

                        Perhaps this is a sin, but I like to take Chevy's (the big Pepsico chain restaurant) salsa home with me. It is quite good, as are their flour tortillas

                        1. re: mari
                          M. Allen Apr 23, 2003 11:28 AM

                          I love their salsa too, I have a friend who works there, so I get alot of it. I also like Carrie & Loni's black bean salsa.

                      2. c
                        Chimayo Joe Apr 23, 2003 04:52 AM

                        What I've had over the past several months:

                        Some I like best are DL Jardine's Campfire Roasted(Medium), DL Jardine's Chipotle Salsa(Medium), Herdez Salsa Casera, and On the Border Salsa(Hot). I don't consider any of those to be particularly hot.

                        Another I get from time to time is Sadies' Not So Hot, but it's a little too simple in flavor to suit me. The Not So Hot is still hotter than the salsas I previously mentioned.

                        Some of the 505 brand salsas taste decent, but they have an aroma that I don't care for.

                        I've had Arriba Fire Roasted Red which was decent. Can't remember if I had the Medium or Hot(I think it was Hot), but I remember thinking it needed more heat.

                        I've had Frontera Cilantro Jalapeno. Thought it was okay but had a little too much cilantro in it for my tastes. Also needed more heat. (I wish Herdez Salsa Casera had a little more cilantro in it which would make it about as good as bottled/canned salsa could probably be.)

                        Also had a few others that don't deserve mention.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Chimayo Joe
                          Chimayo Joe Apr 23, 2003 05:39 AM

                          Correction on the Jardine salsas--it's Jardine 7J Ranch brand not DL Jardine. Same company, different product line.

                        2. z
                          zora Apr 22, 2003 09:06 PM

                          Rick Bayless' Frontera Salsas are expensive, but are really good. For a special occasion, when you don't have time to make your own...they are worthy of serving to guests. My favorites are the chipotle and roasted tomato ones--can't remember the official names offhand. I make roasted chile salsa every few months and break it down into small containers for the freezer. That way I have it on hand whenever I need it, and only make it when I'm in the mood...

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: zora
                            david in NOLa Apr 22, 2003 11:34 PM

                            I agree that the Frontera stuff is quite good. I make salsa 90% of the time that I eat it, but when I buy it, it's almost always one of the Frontera varieties.

                            1. re: david in NOLa
                              Coyote Apr 23, 2003 06:55 AM

                              I've used Frontera Grill salsas for years--since first falling in love with the restaurant in Chicago. What I do with them, however, is braise chicken and pork in them. Not just the ones labelled "cooking salsa" but in the regular ones too. All are good.

                              1. re: Coyote
                                JudiAU Apr 23, 2003 02:01 PM

                                Frontera brand salsas are available for a reasonable price at Cost Plus.

                                1. re: JudiAU
                                  Coyote Apr 23, 2003 03:04 PM

                                  Frontera Grill salsas are also available for a less reasonable price at William Sonoma. How I wish I had Cost Plus and Trader Joe's in FL!

                                2. re: Coyote
                                  BerkshireTsarina May 21, 2008 10:29 AM

                                  Frontera Guajillo Salsa has a terrific recipe (quick and easy) for doing shrimp on the stove. Works for me!

                            2. l
                              LisaN Apr 22, 2003 07:52 PM

                              I recently discovered Paul Newman's Pineapple Salsa. Sounds unusual, but it tastes terrific!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: LisaN
                                Marion Morgenthal Apr 22, 2003 08:20 PM

                                I absolutely concur about Newman's Pineapple salsa---I just wish it were easier to find. Equally good, and harder yet to find is Newman's Peach salsa.

                                1. re: Marion Morgenthal
                                  Dipsy Apr 22, 2003 08:32 PM

                                  Marion - from your post on another board it seems you may live in Brooklyn. If so, the dreaded Met Food on Smith and Baltic carries several varieties of the Newman's salsas.

                                  1. re: Dipsy
                                    Marion Morgenthal Apr 22, 2003 10:37 PM

                                    Thanks Dipsy. I do indeed live in Carroll Gardens--I'll have to check it out. I usually use the dreaded Key Food on Court Street--except when I do my real shopping at Shoprite on Avenue I.

                                2. re: LisaN
                                  Dipsy Apr 22, 2003 08:20 PM

                                  My husband the salsa fiend also loves the Newman's pineapple salsa. I'm not a big jarred salsa fan but I serve it to guests and it's always devoured.

                                3. g
                                  GG Mora Apr 22, 2003 07:27 PM

                                  This is surely a geographical bias, but we live and die by Green Mountain Gringo. Comes in three "heats" -- the mild is even a little too spicy for the pups. The couple who make it lived in SoCal for a while, and when they moved back to Vermont, the only way they could get the decent salsa they craved was to make it themselves. And then they started bottling it. And the rest is history. Damn good.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: GG Mora
                                    Laughing Goddess Apr 23, 2003 01:03 AM

                                    Gotta second the Green Mountain Gringo in a jar. Good stuff, and the hot stuff makes me especially happy. Must be those endorphins. :-)

                                    Link: http://www.greenmountaingringo.com/

                                    1. re: Laughing Goddess
                                      alex Apr 23, 2003 09:44 AM

                                      Third-ing the Green Mtn. Gringo, they have the freshest tasting salsa of all jarred brands :}

                                      1. re: alex
                                        budino Apr 23, 2003 09:48 AM

                                        add another vote for Green Mountain Gringo!
                                        LOVE it. Very fresh. When in a pinch, I even (gasp) make gazpacho with it...

                                        1. re: budino
                                          Brendan T. Apr 23, 2003 10:41 AM

                                          Nothing much to add, but I love it too. Definitely my favorite salsa. I like the mild, because you can taste the veggies more and even the medium is quite hot.

                                          1. re: budino
                                            Laughing Goddess Apr 23, 2003 11:20 AM

                                            Ooh, how do you doctor it up to make gazpacho? It's almost gazpacho time of year, ya know. :-)

                                            1. re: Laughing Goddess
                                              GG Mora Apr 23, 2003 12:03 PM

                                              I suspect a quick pulse or two in the Cuisinart, some diced cuke and splash of OO would do it. Damn. I'm gonna have to run out and try that.

                                              Just to make you all jealous, there's a place nearby where I can get the food-service sized (gallon?) jars for about 20 bucks.

                                              1. re: GG Mora
                                                budino Apr 23, 2003 12:37 PM

                                                DEFINITELY jealous of the huge jar availabiltiy! We go through a ton of this stuff in the summer.

                                                Here's the gazpacho recipe, though I'm sure any natural improvised method would work too (as GG mentioned). I call this "trash gazpacho" because of the jarred salsa and the boxed croutons (I'm generally much more of a naturalist), but I swear it's fantastic.

                                                Link: http://www.epicurious.com/run/recipe/...

                                    2. n
                                      Neta Apr 22, 2003 06:31 PM

                                      I know you said not to say make your own but...open a can of chipotle chiles and then open a can of tomatillos and dump them both into a blender with some garlic cloves, 3 or 4 or more and blend a couple of seconds. If not, Herdez Salsa Casera or Embasa Chile Ranchera.

                                      13 Replies
                                      1. re: Neta
                                        DanaB Apr 22, 2003 06:40 PM

                                        I second the recommendation for Herdez Salsa Casera. Herdez' Salsa Verde is okay too, but the Casera rocks.

                                        1. re: DanaB
                                          ChrissieH Apr 22, 2003 06:49 PM

                                          Herdez Salsa Casera is packed in cans and jars. It's probably just my imagination, but I think that the stuff in the cans is not as good.

                                          So, my recommendation is also for Herdez Salsa Casera. In jars.

                                          1. re: ChrissieH
                                            Cristina Apr 22, 2003 07:20 PM

                                            Herdez Salsa Casera by a landslide. No cabe duda.

                                            1. re: ChrissieH
                                              DanaB Apr 22, 2003 09:46 PM

                                              That's funny! I think it's better in the cans. Plus, the size of the can is perfect for one serving (although the leftovers keep pretty well in the fridge). Perhaps it's a difference in the heat? I think the cans are "hot" and the jars are medium (at least at my market).

                                              1. re: DanaB
                                                ChrissieH Apr 23, 2003 02:18 PM

                                                Well, maybe then there's no real difference - and it's all in my imagination.

                                                The stuff in jars comes in mild, medium and hot - I believe. The hot is really hot. I suspect that where you are, you're not getting the hot stuff in the jars.

                                                To me, the canned variety has a metallic taste.

                                                But I've never done a side-by-side test. Probably should.

                                                1. re: DanaB
                                                  ChrissieH Apr 23, 2003 02:40 PM

                                                  Wanted to add that what I do when I open a jar of Herdez (either the Casera or the Verde), is to have some as a snack or appetizer, but plan to use the remainder to prepare dinner sometime later that week.

                                                  My favorite is to take some fillets of fish (I keep a big bag of Orange Roughy fillets from Sam's in the freezer), put them on a baking sheet, dump the rest of the salsa over, and bake for about 15 minutes or so.

                                                  This is a wonderful, healthful, quick and easy main course.

                                                  With it I usually serve some corn, refried beans, tortillas, and avocado and orange salad.

                                                  You simply can't beat it. It's my very favorite way to prepare fish and I never have the problem of a jar of salsa going bad in the fridge.

                                            2. re: Neta
                                              butterfly Apr 22, 2003 09:12 PM

                                              I like the Herdez salsa verde, but prefer La Costeña brand (also from Mexico) for salsa casera. Comes in both a can or a jar. I prefer the cans, only because I can stack them up better in my cramped kitchen.

                                              1. re: butterfly
                                                elyhtak Apr 23, 2003 10:01 AM

                                                Butterfly, where can I get Herdez or La Costena in the DC area? Thanks.

                                                1. re: elyhtak
                                                  butterfly Apr 23, 2003 11:11 AM

                                                  You live in Dupont Circle, right? You should be able to get Herdez and La Costena at the Pena Spanish Store on 17th (they also have pretty good sandwiches). They also usually sell them at Safeway (at least they do on Columbia Road). If you want to go a bit further, Todito grocery on Columbia is a very good latin store with a somewhat wider variety from Mexico, Central and South America (the salsa is in the aisle furthest to the left). There's also a latin store near 14 and S (El Paraiso, I think, next to Go Mama Go!).

                                                  1. re: elyhtak
                                                    asok Apr 23, 2003 01:04 PM

                                                    Herdez is also avaliable at Harris Teeter stores

                                                2. re: Neta
                                                  ocdreamr Apr 22, 2003 09:29 PM

                                                  I like Herdez Salsa Ranchera. I put it on everything and anything

                                                  1. re: Neta
                                                    Sharuf Apr 24, 2003 02:47 PM

                                                    When you blend tomatillos and chipotles, don't you end up with something looking like mud? A lot of the charm of salsas verde is their color.

                                                    1. re: Sharuf
                                                      Neta Apr 27, 2003 11:29 AM

                                                      No, it doesn't faintly resemble mud. You end up with a delicious dark red smoky hot salsa that goes great on everything. I did forget to mention you add the liquid from the tomatillos and then some water if too thick for ones preference.

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