Hot, Hot, Hot: How to Make the Ultimate Salsa

The term salsa might by synonymous with chips but, realistically, there are plenty of uses for good ol’ salsa. Salsa makes a great filling for omelets, can be used to spice up – and keep moist – oven-baked chicken, to add bulk (and flavor) to burger patties, and even as a substitute for salad dressing. In fact, one source we referenced suggested that the Aztecs awaited the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors with pots of a boiling salsa in the hopes that theinvading troops would actually become the main course!

Essentially, the term salsa refers to any cooked or raw sauces inspired by basic tomatoes, chili peppers and spices. Though salsa is usually associated without warmer months and climes, salsa can be a great way to turn up the heat on these cold winter months. The following is one of our favorite recipes for fresh salsa:

Spicy Salsa

2 large, red ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
1 anaheim green chili, seeded and cut into thirds
3 green onions, skinned and coarsely chopped
4 oz can of chopped green chilies
1 to 3 whole jalapenos, seeded (this gives the salsa heat, so you’ll want to adjust the number of jalapenos to your own taste!)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

To peel the tomatoes, char lightly under a broiler until peel blisters. Remove from heat and remove the peel, pull out the core, cut tomatoes in half vertically and remove seeds. In a food processor, coarsely chop the garlic, cilantro, green onions and jalapeños. Add all remaining ingredients and process with brief pulses until you reach the desired texture (some like a chunky salsa, others like more of a smooth sauce – make your decision based on what you intend to use the salsa for) Then add salt and pepper to taste and adjust any other ingredients to meet desired taste. Pour into a serving bowl and store in the refrigerator for one hour to chill and allow flavors to mingle.

Yields: 4 servings

Nutritional Analysis:
The nutritional breakdown, courtesy of, for one serving is as follows:

Calories: 70
Fat: 2.5 grams (31% calories from fat)
Carbohydrates: 11.8 grams (59% calories from carbs)
Fiber: 3.4 grams
Protein: 2.6 grams (9% calories from protein)

Do you prefer sweet over heat? Mango salsa is a tasty alternative that can be used to spice up chicken, fish and salads:

Mango Salsa

1 small mango, peeled and chopped
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tbsp lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste


Carefully peel mango and slice flesh from seed. Follow above instructions to peel tomato and coarsely chop. In a food processor, combine chopped red onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper, and lime juice. Pulse until coarsely ground. Add mango and tomato and pulse until desired texture is achieved. Add salt and pepper to taste and adjust any other ingredients as necessary. Pour into serving dish and refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

Yields: 2 servings

Nutrition Analysis:
The nutritional breakdown, courtesy of, for one serving is as follows:

Calories: 161.5
Fat: 1.2 grams (6% calories from fat)
Carbohydrates: 39.1 grams (89% calories from carbs)
Fiber: 8.7 grams
Protein: 5.3 grams (8% calories from protein)

windelbo Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

How to Make the Ultimate Homemade Tomato Sauce

Winter Chili for a Chilly Winter

Primal Energy Bar Redux: Making a Better Bar

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21 thoughts on “Hot, Hot, Hot: How to Make the Ultimate Salsa”

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  1. Yummy. I love to make myself my own salsas, but there is NO ROOM for cilantro. I feel alone , because I seem to be the only one that hates that stuff. If I go to a restaurant and there is a tasty mexican dish that contains cilantro, I lie and tell the waiters that i am very allergic. I might as well be.

    1. ME TOO!!!! It is horrible stuff! i always leave it out of recipes!

      1. I actually went into a restaurant once and the waiter asked if it was OK that one of the dishes had cilantro. Apparently there’s a portion of the population for whom cilantro tastes like soap. Him being one of them, he was courteous enough to ask others if they shared his hatred.

  2. JE, I hate cilantro too! Which is weird because I love Mexican food. So, you’re not alone. Not at all.

  3. Fresh Salsa is great stuff. Nice to see the Mango variety included.

    I can understand the cilantro dislike, used to be in that lonely camp myself. I don’t hate cilantro, but consider it an acquired taste. Not growing up with the stuff it took me many, many years to get used to it. Still not loving it though.

  4. Mango salsa is my favorite! I could almost have a meal with entirely that! So happy to have the recipe now

  5. My mother feels the same way about cilantro, which I believe is also a common ingredient used in Thai food.

    Thanks for the recipes Mark! I wonder how long these could be kept in the fridge and/or made in larger batches and frozen?

    I’m one of those the prefer sweet over heat (being pretty sensitive to spicy food), and would probably try the recipe, eliminating the jalapeno pepper altogether. I think the red onion would give it just enough bite 🙂

  6. Sounds delicious! I’ll second the questions about storage life and how it would survive freezing. I always like to make large batches of things when possible and save the headache of constantly making the same things.

  7. Sounds delicious – what’s the primal alternative for tortilla chips?

  8. Great site, great recipes! I love the mango version, but with mine, I add diced fresh pineapple. My kids love it too. We also make salsa verde (green) using tomatillos.

  9. Mmm, cilantro. Excellent in salads. My mother loves the stuff, too, and when she makes salsa, it is loaded with cilantro. A good foil to the loads of jalapenos she uses to make sure my father doesn’t eat it!

  10. Ah, but you’ve left out the biggest secret to a lovely salsa: multiple KINDS of tomatoes! More is better here — yellow ones, heirlooms, cherry or grape tomatoes if you have ’em (I’m especially fond of Sun Golds). Oh, and double the garlic!

  11. I love this stuff, although I have never made it fresh its a staple of my fridge. Amazing to use as a dip for Celery or Carrots or even to compliment chicken. Thanks for the guide I’ll try making a huge batch that can last me for the week!

  12. I definitely prefer heat to sweet. I made my own salsa last week. It had slightly different ingredients to your version but was still very tasty.

    I’ve also got to back your recommendation of adding salsa to an omelet. I had never tried it before but had a bit of salsa leftover so thought I would whip up an omelet for my lunch. It was a taste sensation 🙂

  13. I grew a few tomatillo plants, and to be honest the fruit is not that nice, makes a good green salsa though

  14. Can anybody explain to me what the nutritional value of average salsa is??

    I’ve been searching the internet and cannot find a straight answer of whether the vegetables in canned salsa maintain their vitamin/mineral content or not.
    The “Nutrition Facts” labeled on most brand-name salsas found in grocery stores are no help, as they typically list all vitamins and minerals as 0%.
    One would assume that it would be similar to any other type of canned vegetable, and obviously the nutrition depends on whether the salsa has been cooked or not.

    This is a concern for me because I’ve made salsa out of the vegetables from my garden, and I’m wondering if I am getting any actual nourishment out of it or just taste……it’s a lot of work and a lot of wasted vegetables if there are no vitamins or minerals to obtain from eating the salsa.