This restaurant style salsa recipe is so good, it’s the very first recipe I ever shared on my blog. More than a decade later, it’s still the best salsa recipe ever, blending fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, garlic, cilantro, onion, and serrano peppers together into the most vibrant and flavorful chip dip you can imagine. It’s truly restaurant quality, seeing as it’s an exact copycat of the salsa from my all-time favorite Mexican restaurant!
🌶️ About This Recipe
I’ve been making this incredible salsa for well over a decade at this point. In fact, the first time I made it was back in law school (did you know I went to law school?). Back then, 40 Aprons was just a tiny little personal online journal called Legally Eating. It was mainly my attempt at a creative outlet in the midst of the dry, immersive wasteland that is the legal world. Dramatic? Maybe a tad, but that’s how it felt to me.
Since you’re here now, reading my 15-plus-year-later update to my favorite salsa recipe, you can probably guess how much longer the law school thing and I lasted. But this restaurant style salsa and me? We’re still going strong.
🍅 What Makes This Recipe So Good
- I’m not exaggerating when I call this a restaurant style salsa. It’s so restaurant style, in fact, that it literally IS the salsa from my favorite Mexican restaurant. How I got the recipe is a long story that includes outdated references to things like recipezaar, but believe me. This is an authentic salsa recipe, straight from the woman who ran the restaurant. (And for anyone wondering just how outdated we’re talking, recipezaar became food.com back in 2007, so.)
- This recipe uses a handful of simple ingredients, with no added sugar, no liquid smoke, and no vinegar. Just gorgeous, fresh flavors. What really separates this salsa from all the others, though, is the combination of the fresh Roma tomatoes and the cooked canned tomatoes. While other salsas use exclusively cooked tomatoes or exclusively fresh tomatoes, this recipe uses both. That gives it a depth that the other variations lack, and believe me, it really makes a difference!
- Homemade salsa is not only ridiculously easy to make, it’s also pretty cost-effective, too. Sure, you can usually get chips and salsa for free at your local Mexican restaurant. That “free” salsa comes with the understanding that you’ll be ordering more food to follow it up, though, so you could end up paying a good bit for it by the end of the meal. And yes, store-bought jarred salsa is cheaper than a full restaurant meal, but you’d be looking at a minimum of $2.00 or so for 16 ounces of salsa. Ingredients for this restaurant style salsa recipe come out to around $4.50-ish, and you get at least twice as much salsa. Plus it tastes better, so.
👩🏼🍳 Chef’s Tips
- While you’re welcome to blend the ingredients as much or as little as you like, this restaurant style salsa is not meant to be thick and chunky like some other salsas. Ideally, it should be pretty smooth, with some very fine chunks. How liquid it is depends on how much juice is in your Roma tomatoes and how well you rain the canned tomatoes.
- The burning question on everyone’s mind when it comes to salsa is always some variation of “is it super spicy?” That’s totally a matter of personal preference and tolerance. In general, serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeños, landing anywhere from 10,000-23,000 SHUs on the Scoville scale. Jalapeños are typically in the 2,500-8,000 range, so the difference is pretty substantial. You can control the intensity of your salsa by limiting the number of peppers you use. Removing some or all of the seeds from the peppers will also make them less hot.
- You can totally eat this salsa as soon as you make it. For the very best restaurant style salsa, though, let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes first. Letting it chill gives it time for the ingredients to all mingle and meld, developing and deepening the flavors. The longer it chills, the better it’ll be.
🍲 More of Our Favorite Restaurant-Style Recipes
- Asiago Tortelloni Alfredo With Grilled Chicken
- Texas Roadhouse Chili
- Restaurant-Style Chicken Fried Rice
- Chicken Savoy
- Chimichurri Flank Steak
- The Best Lobster Bisque (Ruth’s Chris Copycat Recipe)
- Hibachi Steak with Fried Rice and Vegetables
- McAlister’s Chicken Tortilla Soup Copycat
- Crusted Chicken Romano
- Oyster Brie Soup (from Hollywood Brown Derby)
- Texas Roadhouse Green Beans
- 1-3 medium serrano chili peppers approximately 4 ounces each, see Notes for heat levels
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- ½ of one bunch cilantro approximately ¾ cup loosely packed leaves
- ½ of one medium yellow onion or white onion, approximately 3 ounces
- ¾ pound Roma tomatoes approximately 6 medium tomatoes
- 3 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes drained; 42 ounces diced tomatoes total, drained
- 1 teaspoon salt more or less to taste
- Cutting board
- Sharp chef's knife
- Food processor
- serving bowl or airtight container
To Prepare the Ingredients
- Using sharp chef's knife, remove stem(s) of 1-3 medium serrano chili peppers. Quarter each pepper, and remove seeds from pepper(s) if desired. Discard stems and seeds. Add quartered pepper(s) to food processor bowl.
- Slice ½ of one medium yellow onion into 1-inch long pieces. Set aside.
- Slice ¾ pound Roma tomatoes into 1-inch long pieces. Set aside.
To Make the Salsa
- Add 4 cloves garlic (peeled) and ½ of one bunch cilantro to food processor with peppers. Pulse peppers, garlic, and cilantro together until ingredients are minced and well combined.
- Add sliced onions to food processor bowl. Pulse ingredients together until onions are finely chopped and mixture is fairly smooth.
- Add sliced tomatoes to food processor bowl. Pulse ingredients together until no large chunks of tomato remain.
- Add 3 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes (well drained) and 1 teaspoon salt to food processor. Pulse all ingredients together until desired salsa consistency is achieved. Taste salsa and adjust salt if desired.
- When satisfied with flavor, transfer prepared salsa to serving bowl and serve immediately with tortilla chips. Alternately, transfer prepared salsa to airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Serrano Peppers: For a mild salsa, use 1 serrano chile with the seeds removed. For a medium salsa, use 1 serrano chile, including seeds. For a hot salsa, use 2 serrano chiles, including seeds. For fiery salsa, use 3 serrano peppers, including seeds. You can replace the serrano peppers with jalapeño peppers if you prefer them, but it will change the overall flavor slightly.
- Diced Tomatoes: Choose a brand without any added sugar.
- Consistency: This is not intended to be a super chunky salsa. Ideally, the end consistency should be fairly smooth with some small chunks, but you can make it whatever consistency you like best.
- Leftovers: Refrigerate salsa in an airtight container. Salsa will keep approximately 2 to 3 weeks if stored properly.
Number of total servings shown is approximate. Actual number of servings will depend on your preferred portion sizes.
Nutritional values shown are general guidelines and reflect information for 1 serving using the ingredients listed, not including any optional ingredients. Actual macros may vary slightly depending on specific brands and types of ingredients used.
To determine the weight of one serving, prepare the recipe as instructed. Weigh the finished recipe, then divide the weight of the finished recipe (not including the weight of the container the food is in) by the desired number of servings. Result will be the weight of one serving.