Restaurant-Style Salsa

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

This restaurant-style salsa recipe is easy to make, and full of amazing fresh flavor.


  • 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.**

If you make this recipe, be sure to snap a photo and hashtag it #gimmesomeoven. I'd love to see what you cook!

Restaurant-Style Salsa Recipe |

Leave a Comment:


  1. hickorynut — March 12, 2014 @ 7:31 am (#)

    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!

    • Ali — July 18, 2014 @ 3:31 pm (#)

      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.

  2. Karly — March 12, 2014 @ 8:14 am (#)

    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. ;)

  3. monica — March 12, 2014 @ 9:12 am (#)

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

    • Ali — July 18, 2014 @ 3:30 pm (#)

      I agree! I’m a big fan of the different brands of super-thin chips lately, like MegaThins.

  4. Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl — March 12, 2014 @ 9:19 am (#)

    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! ;)

  5. Tieghan — March 12, 2014 @ 9:21 am (#)

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

  6. Kathryn — March 12, 2014 @ 9:28 am (#)

    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!

  7. Liz @ I Heart Vegetables — March 12, 2014 @ 9:47 am (#)

    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!

  8. ami@naivecookcooks — March 12, 2014 @ 10:15 am (#)

    looks so tasty!

  9. Christine — March 12, 2014 @ 10:37 am (#)

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

  10. Anna@CrunchyCreamySweet — March 12, 2014 @ 10:59 am (#)

    Homemade salsa rocks! Gorgeous photos, Ali!

  11. Yolanda — March 12, 2014 @ 11:21 am (#)

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

  12. Sues — March 12, 2014 @ 12:31 pm (#)

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

  13. Mindy — March 12, 2014 @ 12:48 pm (#)

    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!

  14. Tiffany @ Triple Crème Decadence — March 12, 2014 @ 1:34 pm (#)

    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!

  15. Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — March 12, 2014 @ 2:06 pm (#)

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

  16. Lindsey — March 12, 2014 @ 2:53 pm (#)

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

    • Ali — March 12, 2014 @ 3:43 pm (#)

      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! ;)

    • Lindsey — March 12, 2014 @ 9:01 pm (#)

      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.

  17. Ambar — March 12, 2014 @ 6:07 pm (#)

    Thank you for this awesome recipe!

  18. Tereza — March 13, 2014 @ 5:56 am (#)

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

  19. Shannon — March 13, 2014 @ 5:59 am (#)

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

  20. Mark @YeaDadsHome — March 13, 2014 @ 8:54 am (#)

    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!

  21. Phi @ The Sweetphi Blog — March 13, 2014 @ 9:10 am (#)

    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!

  22. Annie — March 13, 2014 @ 9:57 am (#)

    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.

    • Ali — April 4, 2014 @ 10:39 pm (#)

      14-ounce cans. Sorry about that!

  23. Tiffany@CremedelaCrumb — March 13, 2014 @ 12:32 pm (#)

    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!!

  24. Eline — March 13, 2014 @ 12:43 pm (#)

    It looks delicious!!

  25. Krista @ Joyful Healthy Eats — March 13, 2014 @ 3:05 pm (#)

    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.

  26. Azgal — March 13, 2014 @ 5:32 pm (#)

    How many ounces are the canned tomatoes?

    • Ali — April 4, 2014 @ 10:39 pm (#)

      14 ounces – sorry about that!

  27. LaCuisineHelene — March 13, 2014 @ 6:16 pm (#)

    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 :)

  28. Pam — March 14, 2014 @ 4:23 pm (#)

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

  29. Katie | Healthy Seasonal Recipes — March 15, 2014 @ 12:46 pm (#)

    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.

  30. Brenda @ a farmgirl's dabbles — March 17, 2014 @ 5:15 pm (#)

    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!!!!!

  31. Meg Sylvia — March 18, 2014 @ 3:53 pm (#)

    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!!

  32. Ruth — March 28, 2014 @ 6:44 am (#)

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

    • Lauren — April 15, 2014 @ 9:00 pm (#)

      I used Hunt’s and it tasted wonderful! Only 98 cents a can at Walmart, too :)

  33. Sherri Long — March 30, 2014 @ 12:23 pm (#)

    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!

  34. Lauren — April 15, 2014 @ 8:58 pm (#)

    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! :)

  35. Holly M — May 20, 2014 @ 3:52 pm (#)

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

  36. Jenni P — June 22, 2014 @ 3:00 pm (#)

    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!

  37. Edna Siu — July 14, 2014 @ 12:56 am (#)

    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?

    • Ali — July 18, 2014 @ 9:16 am (#)

      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.) :)


  38. Natalie — July 21, 2014 @ 12:33 pm (#)

    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.

  39. Sheila — July 24, 2014 @ 3:17 pm (#)

    I am overflowing with fresh tomatoes! How many should I use to make this salsa with fresh tomatoes?


    • Ali — March 19, 2015 @ 2:39 pm (#)

      About 2 lbs. fresh tomatoes. :)

  40. Courtney — July 29, 2014 @ 10:14 pm (#)

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

  41. Justin Adair — July 30, 2014 @ 7:49 am (#)

    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. :)

  42. Kay — August 4, 2014 @ 5:06 pm (#)

    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!

    • Ali — August 4, 2014 @ 6:32 pm (#)

      If you’re not a fan of cilantro, you can totally just leave it out. The salsa will still taste good without it. :)

  43. Suman Manning — August 16, 2014 @ 2:15 pm (#)

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


    • Ali — August 27, 2014 @ 10:29 pm (#)

      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!


  44. Barbara — August 27, 2014 @ 2:07 pm (#)

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

  45. Anastasia — September 10, 2014 @ 10:12 am (#)

    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.

  46. Kara — November 7, 2014 @ 2:27 pm (#)

    Is the sugar in this recipe absolutely necessary? I am on the Whole 30 diet and wanted to make your salsa chicken, but added sugar is a no-no. What exactly does the sugar do for this recipe – would such a small amount affect the taste?  Thanks! 

    • Ali — November 7, 2014 @ 5:41 pm (#)

      Hey Kara!

      It just cuts the acid in the tomatoes a bit, but you can definitely leave it out. Enjoy, and good luck with Whole 30! :)

  47. Kelle — November 11, 2014 @ 7:02 am (#)

    I made this salsa last night in my new Ninja and it is the best me or my roommate has ever had. I added lime, and I’m going to eat the entire second half for lunch today. Thanks for the awesome recipes! 

  48. Andrea — January 5, 2015 @ 1:43 pm (#)

    My husband and I are ADDICTED to this type of salsa! The photos are gorgeous and the recipe looks so so yummy! Very similar to the one that I use, although I think I may try yours soon! :)

  49. Josh — February 9, 2015 @ 8:59 am (#)

    Looks heaps nice. Just to clarify, did you say is best to use canned whole tomatoes or fresh tomatoes deseeded and fire roasted?thanks

    • Ali — March 19, 2015 @ 2:48 pm (#)

      I typically used canned tomatoes for this recipe, but fresh tomatoes (especially when they’re in season!) would also be great. :)

  50. Jaclyn — February 10, 2015 @ 8:33 pm (#)

    I made this salsa today & addded the adobe verde chipotles like suggested. It tasted awesome & will definitely be the staple salsa at my house from now on. I am curious how I can make mine appear a darker/brighter red, like the salsa in the pictures. My salsa child wasn’t nearly as vibrant appearance wise. Any tips would be appreciated. Thank you! 


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