Salsa Roja or Salsa de Mesa or Salsa Mexicana
Simple, fresh, and easy to make. A winning Mexican restaurant style salsa prepared with plum tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and serrano peppers. Fresh tomatoes, not canned, star in this recipe.
In Mexico, it is known as salsa roja (red sauce)or salsa de mesa (table sauce). And just like in the U.S., it is served in every restaurant before your meal with tortilla chips.
Try With These Dishes
This salsa goes really well with quesadillas, carne asada, chorizo tacos, chicken fajitas, chicken taquitos, and nachos.
This is an easy Mexican salsa recipe that you will make again and again. Follow the simple steps to get great results every time.
Start with Fresh Ingredients. They Count
Homemade salsa starts with fresh ingredients. The fresher they are the better the results. Don’t use canned tomatoes. It gives the salsa a metallic taste.
You’ll notice that there aren’t any limes in the recipe. Whhhaaattt? Lime juice throws off the balance of flavors by overpowering the flavor of the tomatoes. But, if you prefer your salsa with lime try adding the juice from only one lime at a time until you get it perfect.
- 1 pound plum (Roma) tomatoes
- 1 half medium white onion
- 2 serrano chiles or small jalapeños
- 1 clove garlic (optional)
- 8 sprigs fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
Chop the Ingredients Before Blending
You need to chop the ingredients before adding them to the blender. Precise chopping isn’t important. You just need smaller pieces so that it is easier to blend without adding water.
Don’t Add Water
Put all of the ingredients in your blender. Adding the tomatoes first makes it much easier to blend.
Do not add water unless it won’t blend and then only add 2 tablespoons of water at a time. Most of the time you won’t have to add any. Too much water makes the salsa runny.
You want a full-bodied slightly chunky tomato salsa.
Pulse to Get It Started
The easiest way to get it started it to pulse the blender 5 or 6 times until the blades start to catch. Then blend for about 30 to 45 seconds until it is fully blended but still has a coarse texture. The salsa sticks to tortilla chips better when it has a little texture.
Fry in Hot Oil
Once the salsa is blended, you are going to fry it in 2 tablespoons of hot cooking oil. To fry it you just pour it into the hot oil. This step is important to develop the flavor of the salsa and helps bind it. Don’t skip it.
Simmer Until Perfect
Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes until it has taken on a deep red color and has more body. Looks good, doesn’t it? The tomatoes need to be very ripe for the sauce to take on the deep red color in the photos.
There you have it, a delicious cooked salsa recipe!
Cool and Serve
Allow your restaurant salsa to cool and then serve with tortilla chips, tacos, or anything else you enjoy with salsa.
It is so easy to make you should always have some in your refrigerator. Let us know what you think!
Make it Your Go To Homemade Salsa Recipe. Provecho!
Restaurant Salsa Recipe
- 1 pound plum Roma tomatoes
- 1 half medium white onion
- 2 serrano chiles or small jalapeños
- 1 clove garlic optional
- 8 sprigs cilantro fresh
- 2 tbsp. cooking oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- Remove the seeds and veins from the chiles (Leave them in if you want a hotter salsa)
- Roughly chop the tomatoes, onion, chiles, and cilantro
- Add the chopped vegetables to your blender (Do not add extra water unless needed and then add a couple of tablespoons at a time)
- Add ½ teaspoon salt
- Blend the salsa until it has a coarse texture
- Preheat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan
- Pour the blended salsa in the hot oil
- Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low
- Simmer for 15 minutes
- Adjust the salt
- 1 clove of garlic
- Juice from 1 lime
- ¼ teaspoon cumin
- Cutting board
- Kitchen knife
- 4-quart pot
- Kitchen spoon
- Serving bowl
Ralph B Frahm II says
The simplicity is great, the flavor is bland. I live in Mexico and this would make a good base for a salsa, but I would be embarrassed to serve it to my neighbors. It needs some fire roasting on the tomatoes and the chiles. I will experiment a little and revise my comment later if possible.
Sandy Talley says
What is the main ingredient that the American Mexican restaurants use to make their salsa, I know it’s more that just peppers, tomatoes, garlic and onions???
I know cilantro for sure, I can see the leaves in the salsa. I also think they use lime juice too. Definitely salt, other than that, I can’t tell what else I’m missing. One cook once told me garlic salt, but he worked at a more Americanized Mexican restaurant.
Claudia J Davis says
How long will this keep in refrigerator and can you freeze it??
Lambert Helena says
In my experience, adding just a bit of sugar to tomato dishes cuts the acidity. Unless you re using canned tomatoes that already have sugar added, or San Marzano tomatoes which are naturally sweeter, I always add a bit of sugar to my tomato recipes, like spaghetti sauce. But if you re a person that prefers without, you definitely wouldn t have to add it. :) If you can find them Dei Fratelli Seasoned diced tomatoes make a great salsa. This recipe is very similar to what we make and it is marvelous!
Delight Connelly says
I Love the dishes that you serve this Wonderful Mexican Food on!
Where can I buy them?
For me, they add to the dining experience and is a “must have “ on my table at home.
Thanks in advance.
I grew up in San Diego, and lived in Jalisco for about a year. I was looking for the basic, straightforward salsa recipe I remembered for years. This is EXACTLY as I remember…incredible. I use a little more cilantro, omit the garlic, and add only a pinch of cumin, but this will be my go-to recipe. I was so happy, I ate it at literally every meal after I made it the first time, and somehow managed to lose 3 lbs. that week as well…lol…it made vegetables tolerable. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
I made this today and added in lime and pinch of sugar as someone suggested,plenty of cumin and it was delish.
I put my tomatoes, peppers, and onion the smoker and smoked for 2 hours; then followed recipe.
Ronald D Morrison says
That sounds like a great idea. I will try it.
Rosemarie ALHOLM-DICK says
Since you do not recommend the lime, when should you add it? Before or after you simmer it for 15 minutes?
Douglas Cullen says
I would add it after simmering.
Thank you, Douglas! A note for all ‘restaurant’ style salsa roja makers is that you can tweak the recipe to your liking. Want it spicier? Add more chiles (jalapeño, serrano, habanero, etc.). For less spicy salsa use milder chiles like Anaheim or poblanos. You can roast or charbroil some or all of your veggies if you want a smokier flavor or stew them if you do not. Also to balance excess acidity from fresh tomatoes you can add a sweet mini bell (‘snacking’) pepper in place of adding white granulated sugar. Baby bells are naturally sweet, even more so when roasted or charred and add chile pepper flavor to the sauce. Chunkier salsa? Blend less, add fresh hand diced and rinsed onion. Thinner? Add small amount of water, lime juice or stock and balance your flavors with a bit of salt.
In other words the sky’s the limit, experiment and enjoy! And don’t forget the chips and guacamole!
I don’t blend the ingredients first. It tastes better when you roast the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and peppers on a comal first so they get nice and charred on all sides. Then take out the seeds if you don’t like it really hot or keep them in if you do.
Then you can blend to the consistency you like for your salsa and add the salt and cilantro at this time. Really easy and tastes great! You can keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days but I freeze it in a couple different bags and I believe that lasts up to 3 months in freezer.
Everyone who has tried this is obsessed and told me I should sell it. Thank you for this, I feel like a rock star.
Feeling is believing.
Susan. Hewston says
Really good but I think roasting the veggies may give it a good flavor also. How can I can this in jars for winter with my fresh veggies and have it on my shelf to grab and use?