Salsa Roja

Easy Mexican Red Tomato Salsa

**Updated with more step-by-step photos to help you achieve the perfect salsa**

The two most common salsas in Mexico are salsa roja, a red salsa prepared with tomatoes and salsa verde, a green salsa prepared with tomatillos. Both are versatile salsas enjoyed with a wide variety of dishes.  

Every family has its favorite variations. Give this very easy recipe for an authentic salsa roja a try. Guaranteed happiness!  Make a double batch to freeze so that you always have salsa on hand when you want it.

Bowl of Mexican Salsa Roja

Fresh Ingredients Make the Best Salsa

Fresh ingredients always make the best salsas. Make sure that your tomatoes are really red and ripe which gives the salsa better color and a richer flavor. Really fresh cilantro gives the salsa a nice herbal tang. Avoid tired wilted cilantro because it has lost much of its flavor.

Ingredients to make salsa roja.
  • 5 plum Roma tomatoes
  • 1 white onion
  • 12 stalks of cilantro
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt + salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 4 cups water

How to Make

Slice the tomatoes in half.

Roma tomatoes (plum) cut in half.

Slice the onion into quarters.

Quartered White Onion on Cutting Board

Remove the stems, then slice the serrano peppers in half and remove the seeds. You can leave the seeds in if you prefer. This will add more heat to your salsa.

Green Serrano Peppers on Cutting Board

Add all of the ingredients except the cilantro and salt to a pot. Add just enough water to cover the vegetables. (About 2 cups)

Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to low. Simmer 20 minutes.

Simmered Salsa Roja Ingredients

Blend all of the ingredients including the cilantro with the cooking water (Blend in 2 batches.)

Salsa Roja Ingredients in Blender Jar

Preheat 2 tablespoons of oil on high.

Pouring cooking oil into pot to pre-heat.

Slowly pour the blended salsa into the hot oil. This is called “seasoning” the salsa and it’s an important step to develop the flavor of your salsa.

Seasoning Salsa Roja

Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Notice that the salsa has reduced and thickened. Add the salt and stir. Adjust the salt as needed.

Adding Salt to Salsa Roja

The Finished Salsa

Bowl of Mexican salsa roja (closeup).

Homemade Salsa is Always Better

Homemade salsa is always better. It really doesn’t take much work and the results are so much more delicious. Once you get in the habit of making salsa from scratch you will never buy salsa again. Your tastebuds just won’t let you. Really!

Time to make some salsa! Provecho!

Bowl of Mexican Salsa Roja
Print Pin
3.41 from 47 votes

Easy Salsa Roja

Versatile salsa roja recipe that is really easy to prepare. Made with plum tomatoes, white onion, serrano chile, cilantro, and garlic. Great with chilaquiles, eggs, beef, and chicken.
Course Salsa
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword easy salsa roja, How to make salsa roja, salsa roja, salsa roja recipe
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Calories 24kcal
Author Douglas Cullen


  • 1 large pot
  • Kitchen knife
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen spoon
  • Blender
  • Serving bowl


  • 5 plum Roma tomatoes
  • 1 white onion
  • 12 stalks of cilantro
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt + salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp. cooking oil
  • 2 cups water


  • Cut the onion in quarters.
  • Cut the tomatoes in half.
  • Cut the stems off the chiles, slice in half, and remove seeds.
  • Peel the garlic.
  • Add all of the ingredients except the cilantro and salt to a large pot.
  • Add just enough water to almost cover the ingredients (about 4 cups).
  • Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to low. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Blend all of the ingredients including the cilantro with the cooking water (blend in 2 batches).
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil in the same pot over medium heat.
  • Pour the blended salsa into the hot oil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Adjust the salt to taste.


  • With 2 serrano chiles, the salsa is medium hot. Reduce the number of chiles to 1 if you prefer a mild salsa or increase the quantity to 3 if you prefer a very hot salsa.
  • You don’t need to remove the seeds and veins from the chiles.
  • This salsa freezes very well.
  • Divide the salsa into 2 cup batches and pour into freezer bags. The next time you need salsa you will have four 1/2 cup portions ready to use.


Calories: 24kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 247mg | Sugar: 3g

More Mexican Salsa Recipes

Mexico has an endless variety of incredible salsas. Here are a few more that we are sure you will enjoy. Which one is your favorite? They are all worth a try.

Did you enjoy this recipe? Any questions?

Please let us know in the comments below if you have prepared this salsa and how it turned out for you. Also, if you have any questions on preparation you can let us know in the comments too.

35 comments… add one
  • Stevie McCallum

    stupid question but would you serve the Salsa hot, cold or either?

  • P.M.

    I followed this recipe and it worked out really great, still I had to do some changes and substitute the Serrano chiles with a lot of dried De Arbol chiles and no cilantro. Just use water enough to be able to blend the vegetables. Always boiling everything and reducing at the last to really thicken it. Take your time seasoning. It came out really hot just the way I like it. I loved it.

  • Maire

    You have stated 2 cups of water in the ingredients list and 4 in the method

    • Maria

      Advice; drain all ingredients before putting it in the blender { save the liquid } . Blend it and if it’s needed add some liquid . Remember, the tomatoes when cooked , releases a lot of water. So probably 2 cups are to much. I would start with 1 cup.

  • Marvin

    Absolutely no flavor. Not spicy at all. Glad I wasted my time on this!

  • Megan

    After reading all the bad reviews I had to reply. I have been making my own salsa for many years, but always a fresh salsa and having been searching for am authentic recipe like this one. I love the recipe, have been making it over and over and find it absolutely delicious. I never add much of the cooking liquid, I just save some and use it to thin as needed. I love the simplicity of this recipe and the depth of flavor is incredible, and it really does taste better and better as it sits. Everyone I’ve served it to has raved about it. I always uses the freshest, highest quality ingredients I can find, maybe that i enhances the flavor as well. I use organic Roma tomatoes.

    • Deb

      We also have made this salsa. It was great and everyone loved it.

  • Amy

    Can I can this recipe???

  • AL

    Absolute terrible recipe. Followed to a T and as everyone else has mentioned, ended up with what I can only imagine dish water tastes like after cleaning Michelada glasses.

    Look elsewhere (also suspect this recipe has no lime). Terrible this even comes up in the google search it’s so bad.

  • M&M

    Some tweaks, more garlic (used 4 instead of 3), add limon, more cilantro (used half a cup instead of 1/3) a little more salt and some chicken consume (used about a teaspoon, a little trick I learned from my sister). Typically 2 cups of cooking liquid should be good but if you put too much it should cook off in the last step. 15-20 on the stove should be sufficient and dont let it burn! My guy has a very low spice tolerance so I used a half of a jalapeno. He likes salsa for the taste, not so much the spice. Ive always been intimidated at making salsa because it never came out right, but with the little tweaks i made, it was not too shabby.

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