Restaurant Style Salsa
Ever go out to eat just for that irresistible salsa? You won’t believe how easy it is to make restaurant style salsa at home. You’ll find that this homemade salsa quickly becomes a staple in your fridge.
Why you’ll love it: This recipe comes together in a matter of minutes and is great on chips and so much more!
How long it takes: 10 minutes
Equipment you’ll need: sharp knife, blender or food processor
Servings: makes 3 cups
So there’s this Mexican restaurant nearby. It’s pretty amazing. Here’s how you know it’s amazing: Every time we go, we wait thirty-five to forty minutes for a table. With children. And then I consume a week’s worth of calories in a single meal, topped off by a killer margarita (on the rocks, sugar rim).
And their salsa. Oh, my, their salsa. I could literally drink the stuff. But I don’t, obviously. Because, chips. So there’s another week’s worth of calories. But hey, you gotta live a little and this place is certainly worth it.
About This Recipe
I decided it was pretty necessary to at least come close to this salsa in my own kitchen. And you won’t believe how easy it is to make homemade salsa. SO easy. If you’re wondering how Mexican restaurants make their salsa, you’ve come to the right place!
The base of the salsa is canned tomatoes. You add a bunch of fresh ingredients like garlic, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers, and process it all in a food processor or blender. That’s it. You don’t even have to spend a lot of time chopping things up in tiny pieces.
I’ll get you started on this easy recipe right here but as always, look for the printable recipe card near the end of the post. It has complete instructions, measurements, and nutrition information.
What You’ll Need
- Canned Tomatoes: You’ll need a large can (28 ounces) of peeled whole tomatoes. Look for low or no sodium tomatoes if you can find them. If you prefer to use fresh tomatoes, try pico de gallo, a fresh tomato salsa.
- Jalapeño Pepper: These small green peppers vary widely in size and heat. Taste a tiny bit to determine how hot your pepper is. If it’s a very spicy pepper, you may want to use less, depending on what you like. Remove the ribs and seeds to decrease the spiciness, leave them in to make it a little hotter.
- Onion: Really, any type of onion is fine. You’ll need half of a small onion.
- Garlic: The recipe calls for 2 cloves. Use more or less according to how much you like garlic. If I know I’m serving this to people who don’t love garlic, I’ll just use a sprinkle of garlic powder (1/2 teaspoon).
- Fresh Cilantro: You can use both the leaves and the smaller stems. Cilantro stems are fine to eat and since they get all chopped up, no one is going to say, Hey, there’s a stem in here!
- Fresh Lime Juice: The lime juice adds flavor and a touch of acidity. Use freshly squeezed lime juice.
- Sugar or Agave Nectar: It may sound strange but with all those tomatoes, a bit of sweetness is needed to balance all the acidity. It’s not much, just a half teaspoon, but it makes a difference in flavor.
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
how To Make Homemade Salsa
Roughly chop onion, garlic and jalapeño. It doesn’t have to be perfect since you’re adding them to the blender.
Add to a blender or food processor with the rest of the ingredients and pulse until ingredients are combined and salsa is the desired consistency. Don’t overprocess it until it’s completely smooth (unless you prefer it that way!). There should be small evenly sized chunks.
Pour into a container and cover. This salsa will taste even better after it sits for about 30 minutes in the fridge!
That’s pretty much all there is to it. It’s SO EASY. I’m confident you can handle it. I don’t know if it’s authentic but I’m going to authentically stuff my face with it.
Don’t forget the guacamole! And did you ever try making your own baked tortilla chips? They’re super good (warm chips right out of the oven!) and you only need 3 ingredients: corn tortillas, a sprinkling of salt, and and light spray of olive oil! You can also make air fryer tortilla chips, they’re so easy!
Enjoy! Margarita optional. Sorta. A spicy Paloma is fantastic with chips and salsa, too.
How To Make Spicy Salsa
If this salsa isn’t hot enough for you, there are a few ways you can increase the burn.
- Use 2 jalapeño peppers. Include the ribs and seeds (they contain much of the heat).
- Add a half teaspoon (or more) of red pepper flakes.
- Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
- Throw in a can of chopped green chiles.
- For a spicier salsa recipe, try my chipotle salsa with fire roasted tomatoes and a couple of canned chipotle chiles.
How To Make Salsa Without Garlic
I get it, not everyone is a fan of garlic. That’s the beauty of making your own homemade salsa, you can leave out the ingredients you don’t care for. Just omit the garlic cloves or substitute 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder for a much milder garlic flavor.
How To Make Salsa Without Cilantro
Does cilantro taste like soap to you? It seems like folks either love it or hate it. While restaurant salsa usually contains fresh cilantro, since you’re the cook today, just leave it out if you don’t care for it. Substitute fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley for the cilantro, or if you’re against things green and leafy in your salsa, substitute a 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin.
Personally, I at least double the cilantro. I love it!
How To Make Salsa With Fresh Tomatoes
Prefer salsa with fresh tomatoes? Maybe you have a garden full of vine ripened tomatoes or just got back from the farmers’ market. Instead of this recipe, try pico de gallo, which is a chunky fresh tomato salsa.
More than anything, it means it tastes a lot like the salsa from your favorite restaurant! It’s not the thick cooked salsa you’ll find in jars in the middle aisles of the grocery store but more like the refrigerated fresh kind you can buy in your produce department.
Honestly, it’s much cheaper to make it! The ingredients needed are all very reasonably priced: a can of tomatoes, garlic, onion, jalapeño pepper, cilantro, lime juice.
You can begin by adding more of any of the flavors in this recipe. Try adding a little more salt if it tastes bland. A little more lime juice really brightens things up. If you love cilantro, increase the amount a little. Obsessed with garlic? Add an extra clove or try roasting it first. More heat? Add more jalapeño. I also love adding a can of chopped green chiles. You get the point.
Used in this recipe
Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to a week. Salsa can be frozen for up to 2 months in a freezer safe container. Allow a little room for expansion. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and give it a good stir before serving.
Use leftover salsa to make Instant Pot shredded chicken with this salsa and taco seasoning. So yummy for tacos or burritos.
Craving more dips suitable for chips?
You’re not alone.
- Chipotle Salsa — similar to the restaurant salsa but with the smoky flavor of chipotle
- Pico de Gallo — fresh tomato salsa
- Citrus Salsa — really good on fish tacos, too!
- Healthy Southwestern Creamy Black Bean Dip
- Stovetop Spinach Dip with Sundried Tomatoes
- Homemade Salsa Verde (so delicious, much better than store bought!)
- Black Bean and Avocado Salad/Dip (similar to cowboy caviar or Texas caviar)
- Ultimate 7 Layer Dip Recipe (with a couple of twists that really make it stand out!)
- Mexican Corn Dip – skinny and easy to make!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @rachelcooksblog on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!
- 1 can (28 ounces) peeled whole tomatoes, undrained
- 1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped (remove seeds and ribs, if desired, to decrease spiciness)
- ½ small onion, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (see note)
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and stems
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar or agave nectar
- ground black pepper, to taste
- Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender. Pulse/blend until combined, scraping down sides as needed. Watch carefully for right consistency. The salsa should be slightly chunky with no large pieces remaining.
- Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container.
- If you don’t love garlic, omit the garlic cloves. For more subtle garlic flavor, substitute ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
- Makes about 3 cups.
- Nutrition information does not include chips.
- Salsa can be refrigerated for up to one week in a covered container.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
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