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Salsa (Restaurant-Style)

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Whip up a restaurant-style, chip-worthy salsa in just 10 minutes using canned tomatoes and a blender.

Salsa (Restaurant-Style)

Back in high school, my younger sister worked a summer job as a hostess at a popular Mexican restaurant known for its chips and salsa. She absolutely loved that salsa and made the most of the free salsa perk, gobbling it up by the literal bucketful. As a result, the distinct salsa fragrance that lingered with her that summer remains etched in our memories to this day. For years, she’s been nudging me to come up with a recipe reminiscent of that salsa, and with this one, I believe I’ve nailed it.

The best part about this salsa is how easily you can whip it up. Start with a can of whole peeled tomatoes, add in onions, garlic, cilantro, and a dash of spices, then blend. In just 10 minutes, you’ll have a delicious homemade salsa similar to the one served at your favorite Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants. The ultimate seal of approval came from my sister herself, who tasted this version and declared it a keeper.

“Great right out of the blender, but even better a day later. The best salsa I have ever made.”

Andrew

What You’ll Need To Make Restaurant-Style Salsa

salsa ingredients
  • Canned Whole Peeled Tomatoes: The foundation of the salsa, providing a rich, tomatoey base. Whole peeled tomatoes are higher quality than diced tomatoes.
  • Fresh Cilantro: Adds a bright, herbal freshness.
  • White Onion and Garlic: The onion offers a sharp, slightly sweet flavor, while garlic contributes a pungent kick.
  • Red Wine Vinegar: Adds acidity that brightens the salsa, balancing the sweetness of the tomatoes and the warmth of the spices.
  • Spices (Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, Mexican Oregano, Smoked Paprika, and Cumin): Together, they create a smoky, spicy and richly flavored salsa. Note that Mexican oregano is not the same as regular oregano; it is widely available in the spice section of most large supermarkets.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by roughly chopping the onions and garlic. Even though they’re going into the blender, it’s important to give them a rough chop first to ensure they mix in evenly in the short time it takes to achieve the perfect consistency for the salsa.

chopped onions and garlic

Next, combine all of the salsa ingredients in a blender or large food processor fitted with the steel blade.

tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, wine vinegar, oil and seasoning in blender

Blend until puréed but still just slightly chunky.

blended salsa in blender

Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 week. Serve with tortilla chips.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between Mediterranean oregano and Mexican oregano?

Mexican oregano is a traditional herb in Mexican cuisine, offering a more intense and slightly citrusy flavor compared to regular Mediterranean oregano. If you can’t find Mexican oregano, marjarom makes a better substitute than regular Mediterranean oregano.

How long does salsa keep in the refrigerator?

When stored properly in an airtight container, homemade salsa can last in the refrigerator for about 1 week. Freezing is not recommended.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned?

I actually prefer canned tomatoes for this recipe. Not only are they super convenient, but they’re also harvested and canned at peak ripeness, ensuring a consistent and vibrant flavor year-round. The canning process also intensifies the tomatoes’ natural sweetness and depth of flavor. However, fresh tomatoes can be used; just be sure to blanch and peel them first.

Can I replace the cilantro with another herb?

Yes, you can substitute cilantro in salsa with Italian flat-leaf parsley if you’re not a fan of cilantro. Use it in the same quantity as cilantro called for in the recipe. Keep in mind that the flavor will be slightly different, but it will still be delicious. Alternatively, you can simply leave the cilantro out.

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Salsa (Restaurant-Style)

Whip up a restaurant-style, chip-worthy salsa in just 10 minutes using canned tomatoes and a blender.

Servings: Makes 4 cups (8 to 10 servings)
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Total Time: 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 (28 oz.) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 cup roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup diced white onion, from 1 small white onion
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (use less for mild salsa)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar

Instructions

  1. In a blender or large food processor fitted with the steel blade, blend all of the ingredients together until the salsa is puréed but still just slightly chunky. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 week. Serve with tortilla chips.
  2. Note: Mexican oregano is widely available in the spice section of most large supermarkets (it is part of the McCormick Gourmet line). Note that it is not the same as regular oregano. If you can't find it, marjoram makes a better substitute than regular oregano.
  3. Make-Ahead Instructions: The salsa will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 29
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 6 g
  • Sugar: 4 g
  • Fiber: 3 g
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Sodium: 294 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

See more recipes:

Comments

  • Very good, turned out great with my homemade chips.

    • — Matt on February 16, 2024
    • Reply
  • This is the BEST salsa I have ever eaten. I agree with one comment about it being even better the next day! Delicious! I have made a bunch to share with family. Can’t wait to get their comments. 😁. Thank you!

    • — Jane on February 11, 2024
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  • My wife has a real aversion to cilantro, claiming that it tastes like soap! Is there an alternate herb to use that adds the same kick to the salsa?

    • — Mike in RC on February 4, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Mike, Yes, you can use Italian flat-leaf parsley but keep in mind that the flavor will be slightly different. Alternatively, you can just leave the cilantro out. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 4, 2024
      • Reply
  • Best salsa I’ve ever had! So easy & great make-ahead dish for a party.

    • — Liz on October 11, 2023
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  • I’ve been making salsa a long time. This one is really good. My new go to.

    • — Wanda on October 2, 2023
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  • Fantastic! No more lousy supermarket or jarred salsa. Finally a superb recipe that you can have at home anytime you want.

    • — LAD on September 21, 2023
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  • Everyone has their own salsa recipe, and this one is very similar to mine, except for the sugar and red pepper flakes. But where are the jalapenos and green chile? I’m going to try this one, but definitely add some hot peppers.

    • — Jane B on September 4, 2023
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  • Is there a substitution for the red pepper flakes? I love the spice here, and I thought I would try a maybe a real pepper?

    • — Andrew on August 31, 2023
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    • Sure, feel free to add a jalapeño or two based on how much heat you like (keep in mind that the majority of heat comes from the ribs and seeds). Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on September 1, 2023
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  • Hi Jenn,

    I have an abundance of tomatoes and jalapenos fresh from our garden. Could I use them without altering the end product too much? If so, is there anything else you would recommend I adjust to ensure I get the same results as all the happy reviewers of the original recipe?

    • — Shannon C on August 22, 2023
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    • Hi Shannon, This salsa is actually better with canned tomatoes. If you want to make a salsa that uses fresh tomatoes, I’d recommend this one instead. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on August 23, 2023
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  • can’t wait to try this. I’m out of red wine vinegar. What do you recommend as a substitute? White vinegar or apple cider vinegar? Lastly, have you tried this with lime juice?

    • — Michelle on August 3, 2023
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    • I’d go with white vinegar or lime juice (and I’d lean toward the lime juice – I think it would be a nice twist). I’d love to hear how it turns out!

      • — Jenn on August 8, 2023
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  • Loved this recipe but made a few adjustments that made it even better:
    -used fire roasted tomatoes and their juice
    -eliminated crushed red pepper flakes
    -added 1 chipotle pepper in sauce
    -additional chipotle sauce to taste
    -let flavors meld overnight before serving

    Family snd friends love this!

    • — Julie on July 31, 2023
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  • Best salsa ever! Quick and easy to whip together. My family loved it.

    • — Lisa on July 30, 2023
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  • This was a hit with my salsa-snob husband. The only thing I did was sauté the onion and garlic for a few minutes just to take the bite out. My kids loved it too, even with the spicy kick. Jenn, your recipes are always a hit with my family! : )

    • — Lisa on July 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • One of the easiest recipes I have ever made and SOOO good!!! I could not find Mexican oregano anywhere locally so ordered from Amazon. I only used 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes and that was plenty of zip for us, 1 tablespoon would have been way too much but that is a personal preference. The whole family gave it a thumbs-up, definitely a keeper.

    • — Rebecca on July 25, 2023
    • Reply
  • This. Is. It. We have not found a single salsa recipe that’s a keeper, but that changed today. This morning, my mother and I offered some to our handyman and the three of us sat at the kitchen counter stuffing our faces – and then gave him the rest to take home! I will need to make more for our dinner. Jenn – thank you! We love love love your site and recipes!

    • — Laura Lynn on July 21, 2023
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    • 😊

      • — Jenn on July 21, 2023
      • Reply
  • I have a bone to pick! I had supper in the oven and I decided to try this salsa as hubby and I had an hour to kill before dinner and OMG it was delicious!! I also made your deep fried nachos. Needless to say, my husband and I couldn’t stop eating! From now on, I will never buy store-bought!
    The recipe made lots of salsa. How long will it last in the fridge and can you freeze it? Thank you for another great recipe. It’s a keeper! Jasha

    • — Jasha on July 17, 2023
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    • LOL – glad you enjoyed it! This will stay good in the fridge for up to a week and I think you can get away with freezing it.

      • — Jenn on July 18, 2023
      • Reply
  • Great right out of the blender, but even better a day later. The best salsa I have ever made.

    • — Andrew on July 16, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hello everyone let me give you my personal al opinion about Salsas.

    First of all in Mexico we make homemade salsas with real and fresh vegetables, no cans or packed. Besides a Mexican salsa includes chiles no Chili (as you call it) and we use different kind of chiles depends how spicy or hot you want the salsa and for which kind of dish. We have a variety of 30 chiles or more and believe each one taste delicious.
    In the past our ancestors use to prepare t in a Molcajete instead of blender like now.
    By the way I’m not a “chef “ I’m a cook (cocinera in Spanish) due that I grew up in a kitchen and learned from my grandmother, aunties and mum thru generations and not in a school of culinary lessons.
    By the way I am Mexican and love cooking❤️
    Nowadays most of the recipies are not genuine in the network and that’s a pity.
    Have a great day

    • — Martha Ramos on July 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Would you be willing to share your recipe for an authentic salsa?

      • — Pamela JorDan on July 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • Have you added fresh jalapenos instead of red pepper flakes?

    • — Michelle on July 16, 2023
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    • No, I can’t say that I have. If you try it, I’d love to hear what you think!

      • — Jenn on July 17, 2023
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    • This is a substitute that I would be interested in making. Please let us know if you tried and what you thought!

      • — Kathy on August 17, 2023
      • Reply
  • My need to go to my favorite Mexican restaurant just got calmed down. This is the best salsa I have ever tasted. Your recipes are so amazing. I did the full amount of red peppers and they were great at that amount. A little heat but didn’t last very long. I make at least one of your recipes every week and they are so spot on! I had a problem finding the Mexican oregano so I ordered it from Amazon. Thank you so much.

    • — Michael Roark on July 15, 2023
    • Reply
    • 😊

      • — Jenn on July 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • I just made the salsa and my only advice for people like me who can not do large amounts of cilantro because it starts to be soapy tasting reduce it to a 1/2 cup which I didn’t 🙁 it still tastes delicious….I also used oregano thats all I had and I haven’t found a Spanish store who sells Mexican oregano anyway I couldn’t tell because of the cilantro…. Tasty.

    • — Grace on July 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Made this for my family a couple days ago. It was a home run! We live in south Texas and there’s no shortage of good, homemade salsa down here. This recipe just became one of our favorites!

    • — Eric on July 13, 2023
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  • Really delicious! Finished dinner then finished ALL the salsa. Quick and easy recipe.

    • — H on July 13, 2023
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  • I loved this. When the tortilla chips were gone, there was a frantic search of the kitchen cupboards to find something else we could scoop it up with!

    • — SueBee on July 13, 2023
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  • Hi Jenn,

    I live in the Southwest where there are many great Mexican restaurants. I really love Mexican food so I had to try this recipe. Every one of your recipes that I’ve made has been fantastic. This one is no exception. My wife and I tried it right out of the blender. She said it was the best salsa she had ever eaten. I have to agree. Love both of your cook books and always look forward to your emails.

    Thanks so much for all you do.

    • — Thom on July 12, 2023
    • Reply
    • 💗

      • — Jenn on July 13, 2023
      • Reply
  • I’m pretty picky about salsa, and have 1 restaurant we go to where I actually enjoy it, but with the comments I’d read about this recipe, I figured I’d give it a try. Right after blending, I had trouble to stop dipping chips and gobbling, and I’ve eaten a hefty serving already because it’s SO good. Can’t wait to see what it’s like after it chills for a while. As noted, I had to use marjoram rather than the Mexican oregano since I couldn’t find it in the store.

    The rest of my family hasn’t tried it yet, but I have the feeling I’ll be making this frequently in the future, as we all love to snack on movie nights. 🙂 Thank you for sharing it.

    • — Scott M on July 11, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this salsa tonight – It was delicious and mild – next time I’ll add a jalapeño or two and maybe a red pepper

    • — Jessica on July 10, 2023
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  • I am pretty sure this is it. My favorite Mexican place makes the BEST salsa. I can relate to wanting to eat it by the bucket. It is thin, sticks to the chip, and has amazing flavor.

    I recently asked how they make it, the lady shrugged and said they used canned tomatoes and named the spices. Now I see it written, I think the canned tomatoes are the secret. Most salsas use fresh tomato and that is where it become drippy and messy to eat, as well as inconsistent flavor.

    Thank you so much! I am so excited, and thanks for the tip about the Mexican oregano.

    • — Ruby on July 10, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, I know the quality of canned tomatoes vary greatly by brand. What’s your favourite?

    • — L on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi, my favorite are San Marzano. Hope you enjoy the salsa if you make it!

      • — Jenn on July 10, 2023
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn–I followed that link to Amazon and wanted to make sure you were aware that the products pictured there are NOT actually true San Marzano tomatoes, even though their price is comparable to the real ones. There is a class action lawsuit against them for false, misleading advertising since the image on their label is of a San Marzano tomato, but if you look closely at the small print on the “SMT” it says “San Merican Tomato”, and the contents are actually Roma tomatoes. I found this article about the lawsuit when I went searching online for where to buy this brand locally (rather than on Amazon): https://www.classaction.org/news/san-merican-tomatoes-falsely-advertised-as-san-marzano-variety-class-action-says . Anyway, the lawyer in me always likes to know these things, and I thought you would appreciate the info, too! (And I agree the salsa is fantastic! 😊)

        • — Julie on September 20, 2023
        • Reply
        • Hi Julie, that’s wild! Thanks for pointing that out — I just removed the link (and so glad you like the salsa)!

          • — Jenn on September 25, 2023
          • Reply
  • Hi! I am really looking forward to trying this recipe! How would I use fresh tomatoes with this recipe? I have so many from my garden I need to use up!

    • — Michele on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Michele, This salsa is actually better with canned tomatoes. If you want to make a salsa that uses fresh tomatoes, I’d recommend this one. 🙂

      • — Jenn on July 11, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you Jenn for the suggestion. I will try it!

        • — Michele on July 13, 2023
        • Reply
  • I generally prefer pico over salsa but I was intrigued by this recipe. Turned out really good and it got rave reviews from the family. I love that it can be put together quickly.

    • — Steph on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • I love the Pioneer Woman’s restaurant salsa but this one has more spices so will try it too! So addictive! Wish the chips weren’t so high calorie.

    • — Nanci on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, I’m a big fan and absolutely love all of your recipes that I have tried! Question about this recipe. My garden is bursting with fresh tomatoes. Can I substitute fresh for canned? If yes, how do I adjust the recipe? Thanks in advance!

    • — Peggy on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Peggy! Believe it or not, this salsa is better with canned tomatoes. If you want to make a salsa to use some of your bounty, I’d recommend this one. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on July 11, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thanks Jen, I tried this when with the canned tomatoes and we really liked it. I already have your Roasted Tomato Salsa recipe and make it at least once a week. My husband smells the ingredients roasting and refuses to leave the kitchen until the salsa is done! It’s great cold, but over the top when it’s hot!!

        • — Peggy on July 13, 2023
        • Reply
  • How long do you think it will keep in the refrigerator?

    I’m surprised that there are no peppers in the recipe, but like what I see.

    • — Ed on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Ed, It should keep nicely for up to a week.

      • — Jenn on July 10, 2023
      • Reply
  • Jenn, can this salsa be frozen?

    • — Mac on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • I haven’t tried it, but I think it will freeze nicely.

      • — Jenn on July 11, 2023
      • Reply
    • I froze half of our batch and it was fine when thawed a few weeks later.

      • — Julie on September 20, 2023
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  • Made this about thirty minutes ago…it is very yummy and I know it will just be incredible this afternoon with our street tacos…once the onion, garlic, spices and tomatoes all hang out and get happy together!!

    • — Tracey on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jen, quick question. Do you drain the tomatoes before putting them in the blender?

    • — Sandi H on July 9, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Sandi, No need to drain the tomatoes – it all goes in. I will clarify in the recipe.

      • — Jenn on July 9, 2023
      • Reply

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