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Best Salsa Recipe?

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I'm always disappointed in any salsa that I make. What's your best salsa recipe? Not the kind you put on chicken or fish - the kind you sit and snarf with chips and can't stop eating it. The kind you bring to a BBQ and everyone asks for the recipe. Red or green, doesn't matter, but no fruit please!


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    1. re: gordeaux

      I've tried all kinds - fire roasted tomato, fresh chunky tomato, tomatillo, chipotle, etc. Maybe I don't get my ratios right, but I've yet to make one and say YES, this is IT.

      1. re: AZCat

        What do you put into your salsa? What ingredients? List them.

    2. I'm not sure what type you are making now, but we make one that is a sort of salsa fresca, and it always goes over well at parties. In fact, now we have to bring multiple versions (hot and mild, with and without cilantro).

      We just course dice some tomatoes, chopped onions, minced cilantro, lime juice, and chopped jalapeno. This is a very course salsa, but it's always popular.

      1. Best salsa, no fruit? Can't be done. The best salsas have fruit in them. Tomatoes, pineapple or strawberries. One way or another, they're fruit based (and my fave is the pineapple salsa - I can eat a ton of that stuff).

        20 Replies
        1. re: Indirect Heat

          Fruit in salsa is like fruit in bagels. Not Kosher by my standards.

          1. re: ChiliDude

            You don't put tomatoes in your salsa?

            1. re: alanbarnes

              Yeah...I know that tomatoes are in reality classified as a fruit, but most people think of them as a vegetable. I try to keep the colors of the Mexican flag in my salsa since it is known as 'pico de gallo.' I guess even chiles can be classified as a fruit since they and tomatoes are taxonomically in the same Family: Solanaceae.

              1. re: ChiliDude

                However there are two distinct types of 'pico de gallo' in Mexico

                One is the coarse dice salsa.

                The other is a mix of fruits and vegetables, often cut in sticks, that are seasoned with chile, lime and salt. Jicama and mango are two fruits that are often served this way.

                1. re: paulj

                  I was walking the Dallas Farmers Market a couple of weeks ago and one (Mexican) vendor had samples of jicama sticks hanging out in lime juice which he gave a shake of salt and chili(?) that I thought was paprika...... But guess not.

                  With jicama's fairly non-descript flavor, it would be a great texture enhancer to salsa. I just wonder how long it would "hold-up" with the acid content of tomatoes and lime.... assuming those ingredients were used.

                  1. re: CocoaNut

                    Jicama keeps its crunch well, even in a left over salad that's spent two days in the fridge.

            2. re: ChiliDude

              I'm not one to follow rules for food. (Or at least, the only rule I follow is - make it tasty) Pineapple salsa with habaneros for heat is awesome:


              I've been told by many, many bbq fiends that it isn't real bbq unless it is served with crappy white bread (like Wonder bread). I serve all of my bbq with fresh homemade bread. And off I go, making non-kosher bbq. But it's tasty! Only one rule: Make it tasty.

              1. re: Indirect Heat

                I second the motion about making it tasty!

            3. re: Indirect Heat

              Best salsa, no fruit? Can't be done.

              That's just not true.

              1. re: cajundave

                Well, if tomato counts as a fruit (as Indirect Heat indicates), it is true. Pineapple salsa frightens me, though, and strawberry? Yikes. But that's just me!

                1. re: small h

                  Fresh pineapple and chipotle salsa goes well with pork, chicken, and shrimp.
                  Strawberries are best for ice cream.

                  1. re: Veggo

                    Mango is as far as I go along these lines. And even that requires caution.

                    1. re: small h

                      I honestly don't like pineapple in anything.

                    2. re: Veggo

                      Here is a great recipe for Pineapple salsa thats great.

                      Makes about 2 cups

                      The tropical flavors of pineapple and lime combine with red onion, cilantro and serrano pepper for a salsa that's great with grilled pork, skirt steak, shrimp or tofu. It's also delicious with tortilla chips or spooned over tacos. For the best flavor, make at least 30 minutes ahead of time to allow the flavors to mingle.

                      2 cups diced fresh pineapple
                      1/2 cup chopped cilantro
                      1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
                      1 serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
                      Juice and zest of 1 lime
                      1/8 teaspoon sea salt

                      Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve immediately or cover and chill until ready to use.

                    3. re: small h

                      D'accordo (I agree) small h! I like to keep it basic and, of course, incendiary.

                      1. re: ChiliDude

                        Count me in as well - love pineapple, just not in my salsa!

                      2. re: small h

                        Pineapple salsa is not particularly exotic. It's really a natural and delicious combination. Many years ago, I wasn in Thailand and the street vendors were selling grilled pineapple with a very spicy pepper glaze. Chile and pineapple were made for each other.

                        1. re: sbp

                          "Delicious" is subjective. I'm just not a fan of spicy fruit, or fruit with seafood (citrus excepted). I know that people throw chili powder on mangoes also, but I usually find this a waste of a good mango.

                          1. re: small h

                            I'd consider it a waste of good chili powder.

                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                              Well, there you go. Tropical fruit & peppers: gotta keep 'em separated.

                  2. I agree with Indirect Heat on the fruit thing. My husband and I live here in Hawaii and you can't beat an amazing mango or pineapple salsa. But there is definitely something to be said for a good Mexican salsa too.

                    My recipe for regular delish salsa is 3 sun-ripened tomato, 1 small sweet onion, 1 jalapeno, de-seeded, the juice of 1 lime (or 1 T), 1 tiny diced garlic clove, course salt and chopped cilantro to taste.

                    For tomatillo salsa I just replace the tomatoes with fresh tomatillos and cut out the onion. Roasting the jalapeno is a nice touch too.

                    Some tips that might help you are:
                    1. Chop and de-seed your tomato, then sprinkle with some salt and set in a fine strainer over a bowl to drain some of the juice from your tomatoes. This will help your salsa have more concentrated flavors, not be as watery and you can always add in some of the tomato water if you need it

                    2. Soak your chopped onion in water if you hate raw onion flavor, this will cut the sharpness

                    3. Make your salsa the night before to allow the flavors to meld.

                    Good luck!

                    1. Here's my old standby:

                      1/2 cup pickled jalapeno slices
                      1 chipotle pepper
                      4 fresh jalapenos coarsley chopped
                      1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
                      2 1/2 t. pepper sauce #1
                      2 1/2 t. pepper sauce #2
                      1 1/2 t. garlic powder
                      1 t. salt
                      1 t. sugar

                      1. In food processer, chop first three ingredients to desired consistency (I like them almost pureed).

                      2. Empty peppers into small mixing bowl and add tomato sauce and pepper sauces. Mix well.

                      3. Add garlic powder, sugar and salt and mix well.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                        No onions????? Maybe your forgot????????

                        1. re: CocoaNut

                          Nah, actually there are no onions in the recipe. Strange, I know, but still spiffing good stuff. That's not to say a couple of T. of diced onion wouldn't improve it, though.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            :) Looks pretty good to me.... and thanks for giving a nod to taking that liberty with the onion! Honestly, does anyone ever follow a recipe to the letter without tweaking it to their own preferences?

                        2. re: Perilagu Khan

                          That recipe is beyond harsh. You must have a fiberglass.....nevermind.

                          1. re: Veggo

                            Sort of depends upon which pepper sauces you use. If you go the bhut jolokia/red savina route then, yes, it can be pretty tough stuff. If, on the other hand, you throw in some Frank's and Tabasco Jalapeno then it's pretty bearable.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            That would be delicious on fish tacos. I have become a believer in chiles de arbol, and the roasted flavors including toasting the pumpkin seeds would provide a nice finish.
                            For a chip salsa, a fresh, fresh pico de gallo is my favorite. Good tortilla chips are a subject of their own.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              I predict the chile de arbol will be the next "in" pepper, much the way habaneros swept onto the American culinary scene approximately five years ago. And if this comes to pass I will approve because I too love chiles de arbol.

                              Another pepper that has potential to really make a name for itself is the chilaca. Magnificent for stuffing (better than the poblano, IMO), but I've not tried it in a salsa yet.

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                For rellenos, I will defend the poblano hasta que las vacas regresan. (Until the cows come home).

                                1. re: Veggo

                                  There will always be a poblano army to safeguard its reputation.

                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                    Y tambien una Armada. Y no soy marinero, soy capitan...;)

                                2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  Do you roast and peal the chilaca? The skin seems to be a lot thinner than the poblano's. Also how do you stuff the chilaca? With a piping bag? They have a rather small cross section.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Yep. Roast and peel just like a poblano. And the chilaca's I've gotten have been just large enough to stuff without too much difficulty.

                                3. re: Veggo

                                  I love a good pico de gallo, but because it's so simple, the quality of the tomatoes is critical. This time of year good ones are still hard to come by in California. I tried a new hybrid plant this summer called "Fourth of July." We're five days away from that deadline, and although there's some good fruit set, none of it shows any red. Cool spring or false advertising?

                                  By the way, the recipe linked to calls for "ground pasilla peppers." That's good as far as it goes, but it only goes as far as California and some contiguous states. In the rest of the Spanish-speaking world, those peppers are called chile ancho. So if you're in California, buy "pasilla." Elsewhere, use "ancho."

                                  1. re: alanbarnes

                                    Pasilla is any bastard chili that can be dried like a raisin. Ancho is a dried poblano. And if either is so dry that it can be ground, it is past its prime, unlike el arboles.

                                    1. re: Veggo

                                      I always wondered how they ground anchos. I never use the stuff; instead, I toast the whole chiles, soak 'em for a while, then take 'em for a spin in the blender. My grandmother claimed the blender produced inferior results and insisted on using a food mill.

                                      1. re: Veggo

                                        I don't follow that bit about 'so dry it is past its prime'. Most dried chiles are dried after being picked, They may be picked and dried when green, or ripe. Many can be sun dried. Some like Jalapenos are too-thick fleshed for this and have to be smoke dried (i.e. chipotle). Cultures that know their chiles use both the fresh and dried ones. Often in Mexico the fresh and dried forms have different names, and are used in quite different ways.

                                        There are two common usages of 'pasilla'. One is the dried chilaca (typical Mexican usage), the other is the fresh poblano (typical California grocery usage).

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          In California groceries, both the fresh and the dried poblano chile are referred to as "pasilla." Unlike dried chilaca peppers (or chiles de arbol, or cascabels), poblanos should still be pliable even when they've been dried. If they're brittle enough to be turned into powder in the blender, they are indeed past their prime.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            I prefer the fleshy dried chiles to have some moisture content, and be a bit supple and flexible, almost leather-like. When chiles, including the ones you mentioned, can be pulverized into dust in a molcajete, I think they have lost flavor permanently. El arbol and some other less fleshy chiles are exceptions that can be completely desiccated and reconstituted without a loss of flavor. JMO.

                                            1. re: Veggo

                                              Curious, I don't have problems turning leathery dried chiles (ancho, pasilla, aji panca, etc) into powder in a spice grinder (coffee whirly blade). Admittedly it is a coarse powder. And, yes, there is a difference in flavor between a fresh chile (e.g. poblano) and a reconstituted dried one. I wouldn't describe it as a loss of flavor, just a difference. The biggest difference is in texture, which is true of almost any dried food.

                                              1. re: Veggo

                                                Really "fresh" powdered chile will actually clump a bit because of the oil still in the pepper. And this goes for the thin-fleshed chiles as well as those that are thicker skinned.

                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                  I think you, Paul, and I are not far apart here. I prefer to work with a reconstituted paste than semi-dry clumps. I think the softness of dried chilis indicates relative freshness, whereas bone-dry can be from the stone age and suffer loss of flavor.

                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                    If I need multiple chiles in my dish, reconstituted dried is good way to go, but if I need just a 'sprinkling' dried ground is more convenient. Apparently competition chili cooks prefer ground dried because it gives a more consistent result. Individual chiles, even of the mild poblano/ancho type can vary in heat level.

                                                    The powdered chile used to seasoning fruits (as in a jicama pico de gallo), is likely to be mostly ground guajillo (a bright red, medium hot), with something like arbol added for extra heat.

                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                      You're right about the competition chili cooks using powdered chile. They also use dried onion and garlic powder for the same reason--consistency.

                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                        I have nice memories of little ladies selling wonderful fresh fruit cups in the shade of banyan trees all around Mexico, but I always passed on the chili with fruit. I did learn to like the corn on the cob with mayo, lime, and chili.

                                        2. re: alanbarnes

                                          great salsa, the pumpkin seeds add an interesting layer to the flavour.

                                        3. I think this was originally from Rick Bayless:
                                          Roast tomatillos, onions, and a few garlic cloves coated with oil in a hot oven until tomatillos are blistered. Soak a couple of chipotles in hot water and rough chop. Puree all in blender with salt to taste and a little sugar or honey. Pretty good multi-purpose verde sauce, chipotles give a nice smoky flavor.

                                            1. re: glacier206

                                              I use canned tomatoes in mine when tomatoes aren't in season.

                                              1 can diced tomatoes (I use Red Gold, but there's supposed to be a really good brand that I can't find. Name escapes me)
                                              1 small red onion
                                              1 jalapeno
                                              1 red bell pepper
                                              lots of cilantro
                                              lime juice
                                              salt and pepper to taste
                                              I put this in my food processor until smooth, yet still chunky.
                                              I'm going to try adding a poblano pepper to it next.

                                              1. re: glacier206

                                                I don't think I've ever seen a Martha (or Emeril) recipe w/less than a dozen ingredients. This is pretty basic and for a simple snack w/chips, is probably delicious.

                                              2. OK, so sometimes you want good AND fast, and it can be done.

                                                This is my favorite because I always have everything on hand.

                                                2 (14.5 oz) cans stewed tomatoes, undrained (one if you like hot salsa)
                                                1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, Mexican Lime & Cilantro flavor, undrained (such as RoTel® Mexican Festival Lime y Cilantro)
                                                1 (7.75 ounce) can Mexican style hot tomato sauce (such as El Pato Salsa de Chile Fresco®)
                                                Juice of one medium lime
                                                chopped cilantro, optional, to taste
                                                salt to taste, optional

                                                Process lightly in a food processor, leaving the salsa slightly chunky (or to taste).

                                                Here's a bookmarkable page from my allrecipes private recipes:

                                                I'm not saying it's the best OMG, awesome salsa!! but it IS really REALLY good, and pretty damned close to awesome, all things considered.

                                                1. Our "house" salsa recipe originated with one from Rick Bayless. Unfortunately, the original link is now dead, but here's one that's similar. I always use 2-3 red onions in mine!


                                                  1. Just made a bomb fire-roasted salsa verde this afternoon . . . try it and let me know what you think!



                                                    1. Some years ago I had a cabbage based salsa at a local Mexican restaurant. I replicate it every now and then. It could almost be thought of as coleslaw with Mexican style seasonings - salt, lime juice, chiles of taste, onion, garlic, lots of cilantro. Today I served it as a salad along with braised beef cheeks (seasoned with aji panca and beer), new potatoes, and home made flour tortillas.

                                                      1. There have been a number of threads about a Peruvian salsa. There are different recipes, a common style uses bread or cracker crumbs, milk or mayo, blended greens such as romaine, and of course, a chile (or aji to use the Andean term).

                                                        In Ecuador restaurants always have a small bowl of aji (or salsa de aji) on the table. The Ecuadorian style is usually a thin sauce, using a small hot chile (aji), onion, and a tart fruit juice/pulp. It could be lime juice, but a popular one is called 'tomate de arbol', tree tomato or tamarillo.. Passion fruit would also work.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          Sounds like all the reason I need for a trip to Ecuador.

                                                        2. Everyone who's tried this salsa I make loves it. My husband sometimes just eats it with a spoon.
                                                          Combine in a food processor:
                                                          1 can crushed tomatoes
                                                          Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, to desired spiciness level. IMO, the chipotle pepper in adobo sauce is the key flavor component, adding heat and a sweet smoky taste
                                                          1 red or yellow bell pepper, seeded
                                                          Juice from 1-2 limes
                                                          General amount of fresh cilantro
                                                          3+ cloves of crushed, roasted garlic (or browned in olive oil, add oil to salsa too)

                                                          Another salsa I like to make combines tomatillos, cilantro, lime juice, some fresh jalapeno and sometimes raw pumpkin seeds in the food processor.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: colfaxBee

                                                            I just found, at a Big Lots, a squeeze bottle of 'Chopped Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce'. It's Clemente Jacques brand from Mexico. The picture shows it being squeezed out, ketch style, onto a hamburger. Tastes like the canned chipotles in adobo, just in blended.

                                                          2. This is a cooked salsa that a co-worker brought to an office pot-luck. I find that cooked salsas have a deeper and more satisfying flavor than most fresh salsas. I will now duck as the rebuttals for that opinion come whistling past my head.

                                                            Combine in a pot:
                                                            4-5 jalapenos, quartered, seeds and stems removed
                                                            3 large tomatoes, quartered (blanch and peel if you dislike tomato skins)
                                                            2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled
                                                            1 medium white onion
                                                            1 tomatillo
                                                            1/2 cup water
                                                            1-2 teaspoons salt, adjust to taste

                                                            Bring to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the jalapenos are soft. Wash 6-8 sprigs fresh cilantro and pinch off tougher stems. In a blender, blend the cooked mixture with the fresh cilantro. Good warm or at room temperature. Can be frozen for later use.

                                                            Use more tomatoes if you want to cool the spiciness.
                                                            For a green salsa, skip the red tomatoes and use a total of 6-8 tomatillos.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: mandycat

                                                              Heck, if I posted a cheater-canned-salsa and didn't get flayed, you've got to be safe.

                                                            2. Here is a salsa fresca recipe from Reed Hearon's "Salsa" book that I have been using for at least 15 years with rave results...very addictive. It is best eaten same day it is made, served at room temp of course:

                                                              Salsa Fresca

                                                              3 serrano chiles, diced with seeds
                                                              2 roma tomatos finely chopped
                                                              1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
                                                              1 tsp minced cilantro
                                                              1 tbs ev olive oil - best you can afford
                                                              1/4 tsp salt
                                                              1/4 cup water

                                                              Stir all ingredients together and enjoy! Makes about 2 cups.

                                                              He also has a killer guacamole recipe I love:


                                                              2 large ripe avacados
                                                              1 roma tomato, roasted until blistered, black and soft, then cooled
                                                              1 jalapeno, diced with seeds
                                                              1 tbs minced white onion
                                                              2 tsp minced cilantro
                                                              1/4 tsp salt

                                                              Mash together avacado, tomato and chile in bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

                                                              Good Luck!


                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: devo1960

                                                                hey devo, we almost have the same screen name :)

                                                                I just now made a salsa hoping it would duplicate the salsa from Tico's Taco's in Simi Valley. But it doesn't.
                                                                Asked on the other thread if anyone has or had their recipe.
                                                                Someone in Simi Valley is sure to have worked there at one time or another and could spill the beans.
                                                                What I just did to make mine was:
                                                                Lot's of tomatoes
                                                                1 very small little red pepper from the yard it's SUPER HOT
                                                                salt and pepper
                                                                lemon juice.
                                                                took one tortilla chip to taste and it's only ok :(
                                                                think I'll pull a red onion from the yard and toss that in too, maybe even a yard garlic clove, it's boring and dull.

                                                                still not there, oh I forgot the garlic, out to the yard again.
                                                                better and I added 1 tsp olive oil too.