Restaurant-Style Salsa

March 12, 2014 by Ali

Enjoy chips and salsa at home that are as good (or even better!) that your favorite restaurant with this restaurant-style salsa recipe. It's fresh, delicious, and SUPER easy to make!

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

Alright friends — time for a Very Important Pop Quiz:

1) Who of you out there are obsessed with big fans of chips and salsa?

2) Who of you out there always end up asking for a second round of chips and salsa when you’re out at Mexican restaurants??

3) Who of you out there basically end up making chips and salsa your main course when you’re out at Mexican restaurants, taking those quesadillas or tacos you ordered home as leftovers???

(Ahem.) I’m not guilty of any of those.

Just kidding. One peek at my Instagram feed and anyone will know that chips and salsa are a mega importante part of my life. Partly because they are my total version of comfort food. Partly because chips and salsa usually mean that good friends and margaritas are nearby. And partly because they are just so crazy, irresistibly, good.

So today I thought I’d join the ranks of other bloggers who have shared their favorite restaurant-style salsa recipes, and offer you my personal favorite. If you search this site, you’ll see that there are plenty of other salsa recipes on here that I highly recommend. But if you’re looking for a classic, fresh, milder, and super easy to make version that is akin to what you receive in restaurants, today’s your lucky day.



Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

It probably comes to no surprise to you that I’m a big of a salsa snob. Good salsa is an absolute must at Mexican restaurants.

To me, it’s kind of like the egg drop soup test at Chinese restaurants. If the egg drop soup is good, almost always the main dishes that follow will be stellar as well. The same goes for salsa. If the salsa at a restaurant is fresh and well-seasoned and addictive, then chances are the rest of their food will be as well. If it falls flat, ooooh baby, it’s bad news bears with me.


Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

I admit I’m kind of a harsh critic when it comes to salsa, but mostly because it is so darn easy to make!! (And hard to mess up!) So there’s really no excuse why it fresh salsa shouldn’t rock everyone’s socks off. And then have them dipping and double-dipping to get more.

Or…you know…making basically an entire meal out of it. ;)

(And then mega-tipping your waitress/waiter for their awesomeness in refilling that bowl of chips — also very important.)

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

Most of the time when I’m out at Mexican restaurants, I always ask for the “hot” salsa, and spend most of my meal sweating it out from the spicy heat. But I also definitely appreciate a good and milder fresh salsa. So that’s what we’re focusing on today.

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

I have been making essentially this classic recipe for years and years and years. And even though there are no funky extra ingredients in it, this salsa recipe always receives rave reviews from my friends. So here’s the how-to, so that you can make it for your friends. Pronto.

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

First, a quick word about the tomatoes. I think one of the biggest hesitations people have about homemade salsa is that they need to make it with fresh tomatoes. Not true!!! First of all, fresh tomatoes are only in season in the Midwest for about 2 months of the year. (Otherwise they are basically bland and watery.) But by contrast, canned tomatoes are canned at their peak of freshness, they are super inexpensive and easy to buy year-round, and you don’t have to mess with seeding them. Sure, you can go with fresh tomatoes if you really want. But there is zero shame in picking up those pretty cans.

On that note, though, I am a big fan of using fire-roasted tomatoes in my salsa. That extra roasted touch goes a long way in terms of extra flavor, so pick up those cans if they’re available. Otherwise, regular canned tomatoes will work just fine.

Feel free to also adjust the “heat” to taste with the jalapenos. If you’re worried about it being too spicy, just add in half of the (seeded) jalapeno to start. If you like more heat, add in the entire jalapeno with the seeds. (Or do what I like to do, and add two!!) I also usually like to throw in a chipotle in adobo sauce or two, but that probably doesn’t count as classic “restaurant-style” salsa.

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

Still, this salsa is about as easy as it gets. No roasting, drying, or molcajete (mortar/pestle) workouts required. Just toss all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until combined. For this specific salsa, I like to pulse until it reaches a consistency that is smooth but still slightly chunky. But it’s up to you — you can go smoother or chunkier. Whatever’s best.

If your salsa happens to be super water-y, you can also drain some of the extra liquid off. (Or better yet, drain your canned tomatoes before adding them.) I actually don’t mind this salsa recipe being a little runny. It will make the salsa chicken recipe coming tomorrow all the better too… :)

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

Once you have the salsa nice and blended, pop it in a serving bowl and dive in. And then enjoy every last bite.

If you’re a canner, this recipe is also awesome for canning. But mine always disappears immediately. ;)

Happy chips and salsaing, friends!

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

Restaurant-Style Salsa

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Yield: About 4 cups


  • 2 (14-ounce) cans fire-roasted tomatoes, drained if you like a thicker salsa
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
  • 1 bunch (about 2 cups loosely-packed) fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1 jalapeno, stem removed (and seeded, if you want less heat)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper


Pulse all ingredients together in a food processor or blender until smooth, or your desired consistency is reached. Season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days.

(Optional modifications: If you're worried about the salsa being too spicy, just add in half of a (seeded) jalapeno to start, and then see if you want to add more. If you want more heat, add in the entire jalapeno with seeds, or even add in two jalapenos. If you want it extra "smoky", add in 1-2 chipotles in adobo sauce.)

**I am not a canning expert, but do believe this recipe can be canned successfully.**

(c) 2013 Gimme Some Oven. All rights reserved.

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

filed in Appetizers, Sauces

About Ali

Ali Ebright is a freelance recipe developer and food writer/photographer, and blogs at Gimme Some Oven and Gimme Some Life. She also loves all things music, traveling near and far, actually making things from Pinterest, cozying up with a good book and her sweet pup, Henry, and spending time with a wonderful group of friends. Come say hello and follow Ali on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ & Instagram.

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66 thoughts on “Restaurant-Style Salsa

  1. If you are canning, extra acid needs to incorporated. The tomatoes we have today (store bought, garden fresh, heirloom, etc) do not reliably have the acidity level needed to can. This can be done through white vingar, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, etc. Definitely do your canning research first, add-in can drop your acidity level as well (peppers, onikns, etc). Just be safe, you don’t want to see anyone get I’ll – botulism is very serious.

    - Anastasia

  2. This salsa sounds delicious–plan to buy ingredients today. Now, I need the recipe that is promised tomorrow. Thank you for posting this!

    - Barbara

  3. Hi I love the look of this. one question, what are green chiles?


    - Suman Manning

    • Hi Su,

      The green chiles in this recipe are available at the grocery store in the canned foods section, either near the canned vegetables and/or by the Mexican foods. They are very mild, but add a lot of flavor!


      - Ali

  4. Hi Ali! I’m a cilantro hater…is there something else I can substitute for that? I’m also a huge wimp when it comes to anything spicy, so I think the onion and can of green chiles will be plenty of spice for me. Thanks!

    - Kay

  5. With canning, you must reach a certain (5%) acidity to create shelf stable salsa. If you want, play around with lemon/lime juice, or apple cider vinegar. For big batches where you are using 10ish cups of chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh/peeled/unseeded) it equals about 1 cup acidic juice of your choice. Also thicken with tomato paste. The juice had all the flavor so don’t drain it. My thoughts. :)

    - Justin Adair

  6. I can not wait to try this – homemade salsa is an absolute favorite of mine!! :) Looks delicious!

    - Courtney

  7. Made this with regular tomatoes, drained, and half the cumins because i don’t love cumins so much, and a squirt of lime, and hands down best salsa i have tried! Even better than Ree’s drummond salsa.

    - Natalie

  8. Ali,after reading all the comments, I can see everyone understands or knows what is fire-roasted tomatoes, I am a Canadian, I don’t seem to find this kind in here. Would you please give me more details about this product, like the brand name, so when I head to Bellingham, Oregon, I can look it up?

    - Edna Siu

    • Hi Edna,

      Absolutely. In the USA, fire-roasted tomatoes are available next to the traditional canned tomatoes. They just have a bit more flavor since they are roasted and a little charred. Good luck finding some! (If not, the salsa tastes great with traditional canned tomatoes too.) :)


      - Ali

  9. Great recipe! The one I usually use is VERY close to this, but I keep the sugar out. Takes it from “mmm, this is good”, to “I am eating the whole thing and making more. tonight.” Ha!

    - Jenni P

  10. Awesome recipe …..I halved it and made an extra spicy version for me and a not so spicy version for everyone else …..delicious!!!

    - Holly M

  11. I am full out addicted to restaurant salsa. I’ll go out to eat just for that reason! So glad I found this recipe. I just made it and it was delicious! However, the cilantro is too much for my liking. I used leaves only (am I supposed to do that?) and ended up taking out about 1/4-1/3 cup because it looked like a bit much in the blender. I also used a bit more onion and half a jalapeño. I will be making this again!! Thanks so much! :)

    - Lauren

  12. I just made this salsa. I used 1 whole jalepeno without the seeds. It is delishious! Must different than when I make salsa with fresh tomatoes from the garden. Thanks! It will be a standby in our house!

    - Sherri Long

  13. Looks super yummy! Do you have a favorite brand of canned tomatoes? I will try and look for the fire roasted ones!

    - Ruth

  14. My goodness I’m so glad I’m not the only one who eats too many chips before the meal comes! I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect restaurant salsa recipe.. trying this!

    Really loving your blog, by the way!!

    - Meg Sylvia

  15. Oh, how I love homemade restaurant style salsa. Your recipe is very similar to what I make. I always add lime juice, smoked paprika, and a little chipotle powder. So good!!!!!

    - Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles

  16. Ali, Your lighting on this is amazing. I just love what you have been doing with your photos lately. It is so unexpected and different. It is like a breath of fresh air! I feel very inspired.

    - Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes

  17. Sounds and looks delicious! What size cans of fire roasted tomatoes?

    - Pam

  18. I am a big fan of homemade salsa and tortilla chips. I am going to try your recipe. And also thanks for sharing your Instagram, I am a follower now :)

    - LaCuisineHelene

  19. How many ounces are the canned tomatoes?

    - Azgal

  20. Yup, totally end up asking for round 2 of chips and salsa when we are out. But I swear its my husbands fault… hehe.. :) Can’t wait to try this restaurant style salsa Ali, sounds awesome.

    - Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats

  21. It looks delicious!!

    - Eline

  22. Oh my. I have a serious addiction to salsa. Literally cannot live without it. Your photography is stunning, I LOVE following your blog – PINNING this!!

    - Tiffany@CremedelaCrumb

  23. Just to clarify, what size cans of tomatoes are you using for this recipe? I’m guessing they’re around 16 ounces if the yield is 4 cups of salsa.

    - Annie

  24. Oh.My.Goodness….this recipe….AMAZING! As I was scarfing down down some chips and salsa just last night I was thinking that I needed to make some at home and then I saw this, it’s a sign, now i need to make this recipe asap!

    - Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog

  25. Great pictures! Looks really tasty. Love how you use it in the slow cooker too. Was just starting to dig out recipes for cinco de mayo. Thanks!

    - Mark @YeaDadsHome

  26. Absolutely luv it,!
    It will be a family recipe forever! = )

    - Shannon

  27. This recipe is definitely making me crave salsa and chips! Yum!

    - Tereza

  28. Thank you for this awesome recipe!

    - Ambar

  29. Ali, I live in KC as well and am curious as to which Mexican restaurant you think has the best salsa?

    - Lindsey

    • Hey Lindsey! Small world!! Actually, if I were to pick a favorite (hard to do), I’d say the “medium” salsa at Burrito Bros in the River Market. It’s not as spicy as I tend to go, but I think that the flavor absolutely can’t be beat. I could drink it! ;)

      - Ali

      • I’ve heard great things about that place but have never tried it, will have to hit it up soon! I do like the spicy as well, but always appreciate good flavor of course.

        - Lindsey

  30. I actually think I could live on chips and dip if I wanted to, I’m obsessed!!

    - Christine @ Cooking with Cakes

  31. I love salsa and I always order more than a round of it when I’m eating at restaurant. Thanks for sharing your recipe, it looks and sounds so flavorful and refreshing!

    - Tiffany @ Triple Crème Decadence

  32. Great recipe! Any suggestions on using fresh tomatoes? We get TONS from our garden and I would love to whip them into yummy salsa all summer!

    - Mindy

  33. Chips and salsa are the best! Only made better with a bowl of guacamole on the side, too :)

    - Sues

  34. Looks delicious. Adding lime or lemon juice will give it great flavor.

    - Yolanda

  35. Homemade salsa rocks! Gorgeous photos, Ali!

    - Anna@CrunchyCreamySweet

  36. You rock! Thank you soooooooooo much for bringing such tasty recipe ideas to us!!!

    - Christine

  37. looks so tasty!

    - ami@naivecookcooks

  38. I am guilty of all of those ;) Chips and salsa are my favorite! I’ll definitely be trying this. I love spicy things, so I’ll be adding both of those jalapenos in!

    - Liz @ I Heart Vegetables

  39. Love the flavours of this. We’ve given up chips of all kinds for Lent (goodness only knows why…) but I can’t wait to dive into this plate as soon as it’s over!

    - Kathryn

  40. This is gorgeous!! I love the color and yes to the TWO jalapenos! :)

    - Tieghan

  41. I just have to say that you have some of the most GORGEOUS pictures that I have ever seen on a blog! You consistently make me VERY hungry! ;)

    - Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl

  42. I think the chip quality is almost as important as the salsa! What brand do you have pictured? They look yummy!

    - monica

  43. I always fill up on the chips and salsa before my meal arrives and end up leaving miserable and stuffed. Every. Time. Never fails. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

    Love this recipe, but girl, you’re crazy. TWO JALAPENOS? I put a tiny sliver of jalapeno in mine and that’s all I can handle. ;)

    - Karly

  44. Have you made this with jalapenos from a jar? and if so, what would the conversion be? Fresh jalapenos are not a staple item at our small town grocery store. i know they carry the jarred ones, but i’ve never used them to know the hot factor. this recipe looks amazing, thank you for sharing!

    - hickorynut

    • Sure, you could use jarred jalapenos. I would start with half the amount (maybe just about a tablespoon or two), and add more if you’d like.

      - Ali