Dried chilies do not offer the same freshness, fruitiness and immediate punch that fresh chilies do. On the other hand, though, they have a complexity and depth of flavor that fresh chilies simply do not possess: A raisiny, dried fruit sort of quality with a hint of smoked earthiness and a slow, lasting warmth rather than an initial burst of heat. In applications such as Salsa Roja, I much prefer this added depth and complexity as well as the consistency from batch to batch achieved by using a dried product.
Do take a look at this post about how to choose hot peppers, when making your decision, but if you are just starting out, we would recommend starting with jalapenos. Jalapenos will give your salsa a flavor similar to a lot of store-bought brands, and they can be anywhere from mild to spicy, depending on how much veining appears on the individual pepper.
Remove the skins from the tomatoes. To do this, make an “X” in the bottom of the tomatoes, than place in boiling water for 60 seconds. Then, remove the tomatoes from the water and place directly into a bowl if iced water to shock. The skins should slip right off. (I use my spider to transfer the tomatoes from the boiling water to the ice water without getting splashed.)

I have 2 Victorio brand steam canners that I love hard. They both have temperature gauges on top and show when you are in the correct temperature range to start timing. It’s been life changing! I had two other steam canners without the gauges that I got rid of and replaced with these. I have also found by watching the temp gauges that I can turn the heat down to med-low and still keep the temp in the correct range. Yay! It saves propane! (I can outside on my camp stove.)
This is the BEST salsa! The Verde is great too. I didn’t habe Serranos so used jalapenos. Salsa wasn’t “right” so sent son to store, added Serranos. Perfection! Note i use both peppers in recipe. When people come in and see tomatillos on counter they get very happy! This recipe had enhanced our lives bc it’s great. Freezes well and i can use non gmo organic ingredients. Thank you.
I just made this. It’s great. The prep time and cooking time combined took me 6 hours. I did it all by hand. Also, I used only 6 garlic and will probably go down to 5 next time. I only used half the tomato paste and it’s still too thick, so next time I may sub half the paste with another can of sauce if that’s ok. Otherwise, the taste is great. Is there a faster way to cut and chop everything and remove all the seeds? The tomatoes took the longest by far. It tool about 3 hours just to core, cut, seed and strain them. I used to make tomatoes and I used about 12-15 pounds.
This was incredible to make. I’m so thankful I found this recipe. I did double it as I had enough tomatoes from the garden to do so. I even let them sit overnight in the fridge in a container to help them lose a bit more water content. I also used different peppers. I did half green bell peppers and half poblano. I didn’t have enough sweet bell peppers yet in my garden. I also didn’t have any jalapeños so I subbed in the heatless habaneros I grew just for the purpose of trying them in salsa. They were perfect. All the flavor of the habanero but none of the burn. Bought the seeds from Bakers Creek for those wondering about them. I’ve been asked by my family to forgo all of the chili sauce and stewed tomatoes I also make from my garden bounty and to just make the salsa. Thank you again for such a wonderful recipe. I have been going about it so wrong for years. 
Rinse tomatoes and peppers. Core tomatoes and score a small "X" in the blossom end. Place tomatoes and peppers on hot grill and close lid. Turn frequently until peppers are charred and blistered and pretty much black all over. Tomatoes should have some blackened spots and blistered enough to remove the skins. Remove from grill. Place peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam for several minutes. Let tomatoes cool a bit on a cutting board until you can handle.

This dish should be baked at the previously mentioned temperature for 25 to 35 minutes or until the chicken is tender and juicy. At this point, all of its juices should run clear. Once this task is done, then the cheddar cheese should be spread over the chicken halves before the dish is sent back into the oven for three to five minutes. During this time, the cheese will have the chance to melt over top of the chicken. It can be served hot and bubbly, and sour cream can be served on it by option.
I made several batches of this salsa last year. The very best salsa. Everyone loves this salsa. Planting a lot more tomatoes this year. Plan on making & canning a room full of this salsa. I can’t wait for canning time. The very best salsa ever. Gave so much to friends & family & everyone wants more. I even decorated my jars & gave some for gifts. Love it

Well first off I took your advice and bought a Breville Food processor ….I love it. Then I made your salsa recipe …. then I made more ….made over 50 pints and have about 12 left. I give it to everyone … then they want more. What a wonderful recipe ….I have given to people at work and then others come and ask me if I have more. yesterday I went and got 4 more bushels of tomatoes and here I go again. Thank you for the good tips and wonderful recipe.
Had some tomatoes from the Albuquerque grower’s market at their peak (and perhaps a tad beyond). Made the recipe as written except for an extra 3rd serrano (seeds, ribs, and all), 3 large and very fresh garlic cloves, and one chipotle en adobo. It’s cooling in the pan on the stove as I write, but I can already tell this is my new “signature” salsa. Hot diggity!
Pura Vida- Wow- thanks for your kind words! And your new house sounds fantastic- and such a deal. What a great opportunity (and work!). And yes, I think your idea to get the garden bed ready for next year is great- just go ahead and add some nice compost to it as you till so it can be working in the soil over the winter (under the weed-killing plastic, of course…).
Chris Munn, it's so nice to meet someone with Peruvian connections! What a treat that your wife has introduced you to so many Peruvian favorites. I've found that Peruvians are very proud of their cuisine and every region has their own specialties. I'm glad you found this salsa recipe. It's simple to prepare and my favorite salsa. Thanks for coming by and leaving a meaningful comment.
The price of jars has gotten ridiculous. I blame the home decorating trend that uses mason jars. Whenever something gets trendy, prices go up. It used to be that I could pick up jars at the local thrift stores for 25 cents each. Now, they want a dollar or more for those same jars. I can buy new at the local hardware store for less than that. It drives me nuts.
Many Americans and Europeans seem to think that when it comes to salsa making, the only chili for the job is the darling Jalapeño, a practice many Mexican cooks have but overbearing smiles in stock for as they reach instead for their trusted Serrano peppers – a strangely similar but much hotter kind of beast. Others swear by Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce as a Salsa Roja stable, while tough guys reach for top shelf stuff like the entirely too hot Habanero or even Ghost Peppers.
You can’t really appreciate this salsa until about a month after canning. I’ve tasted many versions of homemade canned salsa and this is the best! Has a very nice consistency. Here’s what I found: I tasted it during the canning process and was somewhat disappointed at the vinegar taste but that pretty much disappeared after it cured for a month. I had added almost all of the sugar to counter the vinegar flavor and was sorry I did because it was a little sweet after curing. (I used Big Boy and Early Girl tomatoes.) The ground pepper was also very strong during the canning process but mellowed after a month. I like a medium hot salsa and was a little shy on the jalapenos…used only 3. I would definitely increase that to 5 or 6. In the meantime, I’m stirring some red pepper flakes into each jar as I open them. I also couldn’t taste the cilantro after curing so I would increase that as well. Thanks for sharing this recipe! 

Small, very hot chiles provide a distinct taste to salsas. Jalapeño is the most popular hot chile. Other varieties include Serrano, Cayenne, Habanero, Chile Piquin, and Tabasco. Use rubber gloves when you cut or dice these chiles because they cause extreme irritation to the skin. Do not touch your face, particularly the area around your eyes, when you are working with hot chiles.
It’s a keeper for sure.  Not too spicey for me as I am not a fan of hot  Spicey.  At first I thought it might be a tad too sweet but after canning process its perfect.  I used Romas  there is a hybrid I like to grow that produces much larger tomatoes also I used the paste as I like a thicker salsa.  Thank you so much for this recipe.  Will be making another batch for sure.  
Lemon is more acidic than vinegar. If you replace the vinegar with lemon, it should be fine. If the pH is too high and you’re breeding botulism spores, there would be no obvious signs of the problem. If the pH is low enough to prevent botulism (4.6 or lower), spoilage would be likely be indicated by mold growth, bulging lids or other obvious signs of spoilage. If reprocessing is needed, it should be done within 24 hours.
Hi, Sommer, I was pointed to your blog by Cory Kowalski. I immediately saved your detox soup recipe AND the salsa one. I love salsa and love making it, but I can’t eat as much as I’d like to because I have kidney disease (and tomatoes aren’t good for me). I am going to try making a salsa with an extra dose of tomatilos, substituting them for some of the tomatoes. I’ll let you know how it comes out. BTW, I can’t find a ‘follow’ button on your site — except pointing to Pinterest, which I know nothing about.

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.
I made this and cut the recipe in half, I have a question about safety because I accidently added 2 tsp sugar instead of 1.5 tsp ( half of 1 Tbls) I also added a bit more white vinegar and then 1/4 tsp cumin and 1/8 cup fresh lime juice. I didn’t peel the tomaties or get rid of the seeds and now I’m concerned I will die of botulism ….. I’m new to this so should I toss them or will it be ok? 

We have adapted our salsa method from Well Preserved. What is special about their method is the straining of the tomatoes before packing them. This straining and sweating of the tomatoes is the same concept for pulling the moisture out of zucchini before cooking. By pulling the moisture out of the tomatoes, you allow the fruit to keep a more crisp texture when canned.
I would like to say thank you for posting this salsa recipe. This is the first time I have every comment on a recipe I have come across on the internet. I made a double batch of this salsa yesterday. Followed recipe exact. I tasted the salsa before canning. It yielded 17 pints. Probably could have made 18 if I wouldn’t have eaten any. It was delicious. All the fresh flavors blended together perfectly. My family was overly complimentary of the taste as well. My daughter said it was the best she has every tasted in her life. That is saying a lot since she is a big fan of Mexican food, starting with chips and salsa. My husband couldn’t stop praising me, which I loved! This morning for breakfast, he had to have an omelet with salsa. At this rate I will have to make another batch before the season is over. Again, thank you, it is truly the “Best Homemade Salsa”. I would also like to add one more thing…the tip about putting tomatoes in the oven instead of boiling and ice bath was great. It was fast and easy. I have never heard this method before but I will be peeling my tomatoes that way from now on.
I have been inundated with massive amounts of tomatoes this year! At one time I had 90 pounds of them on my porch… staring at me. I made your salsa yesterday. A bigger batch and a little more spices added, but it is great! I put up 10 pints and 6 half-pints. It at least made a dent in the buckets. Thank you for a great recipe. (Today there were 2 contractors that came by to give bids for some work we need done, they walked away with tomatoes!) I’m almost a neighbor- in Damascus, just southeast of Portland.
I never respond to blogs, but feel this is one that needs a response. Made this salsa and have to admit this IS the best salsa ever. It was so good fresh and canned. I can’t get enough of it. Am going to make it again. I have shared this recipe already. My husband loves everything so hot, but I left out many of the seeds, so I could enjoy it. Told him he could add habenero’s, ghost peppers, carolina reapers or whatever to his. I am just going to enjoy and savor the flavor of this salsa. Thank you so much. No more store bought. (oh, I added yellow goathorn peppers in lieu of the green peppers and added 3 extra garlic cloves)… it was just great
Step 11: Some of you may not like spicy salsa.  I get that.   Add a small amount of jalapeno, about a tbsp. anyway.  The tiny amount will not add much spiciness, but it will add a nice depth of flavor.  If you like your salsa really spicy, add as much as you like, or even try a spicier pepper.  I just want an obvious kick, but nothing too hot.  About 2 tbsp. was enough for me.  Remember that the salsa will get spicier as it cooks and processes.
I just made my 4th batch of this salsa tonight. We have a huge vegetable garden and have been making it when enough tomatoes ripen. Absolutely love this recipe. I followed it exactly and have made 36 pint size jars. Have given away about half so I will make another 2 batches when the rest of the tomatoes are ready. Everyone loves it. Thank you so much for sharing this and the perfect instructions you gave!

Alright, enough talk. Let’s cook! Well, okay, one last thing before we get down to business. Please note that this salsa roja recipe uses whole, dried chilies which is my absolute preferred and highly recommended way of doing things. If, for whatever reason, you would like to use dried, ground chilies instead, you should add them near the end at step #7 in the recipe below.
It’s a keeper for sure.  Not too spicey for me as I am not a fan of hot  Spicey.  At first I thought it might be a tad too sweet but after canning process its perfect.  I used Romas  there is a hybrid I like to grow that produces much larger tomatoes also I used the paste as I like a thicker salsa.  Thank you so much for this recipe.  Will be making another batch for sure.  

I have been inundated with massive amounts of tomatoes this year! At one time I had 90 pounds of them on my porch… staring at me. I made your salsa yesterday. A bigger batch and a little more spices added, but it is great! I put up 10 pints and 6 half-pints. It at least made a dent in the buckets. Thank you for a great recipe. (Today there were 2 contractors that came by to give bids for some work we need done, they walked away with tomatoes!) I’m almost a neighbor- in Damascus, just southeast of Portland.
Made a half batch last weekend and loved it.  My Roma’s finally started ripening this week so we just made a full batch.  Instead of putting the tomatoes in the oven to peel the skins, I fired up or grill (Big Green Egg) with some extra hickory chunks and smoked/roasted all of the veggies first.  Peeling was still a breeze and now our salsa has a delicious smoky kick to it.  Otherwise followed the recipe exactly.  Delicious!

Essentially, this makes Salsa Roja the Mexican equivalent of BBQ sauce: An all-purpose condiment with a secret recipe. Every Mexican grandmother has her own recipe and hence every family their own, “authentic” Salsa Roja recipe. In other words: as with so many other Mexican dishes and sides, there is no authentic, codified Salsa Roja recipe! To each their own! And thank God for that. This is exactly the beauty of this condiment. Every chef can (and should) tweak it to their own liking – as I have done with mine!


Assuming that the pH is 4.6 or lower, water bath canning is still the best option for long term storage. I know people have been screwing the lids on hot jars for years. My mom used to do it, and we all lived to tell about it. The thing is, as the years have gone on, the “bad bugs” are getting really bad. How many pathogens do we have out there now that didn’t exist before? The low pH should provide protection – should – BUT water bath processing provides another layer of protection. I figure I already put the time into growing, harvesting and processing – ten extra minutes is not a big deal to help protect my family.
This was too spicy for me (not mild!) and very vinegar-y! I know the acidity is important, but tomatoes seem pretty acidic on their own, right? I’ll stick to my old recipe (which is time tested from my mother in law, but I’m not sure if it’s officially approved by a lab) but I do like your skin slip method. Took longer than 3 min for mine. And the less ripe store-bought Romas didn’t really slip off. Garden ones did, but they weren’t Romas.

I made several batches of this salsa last year. The very best salsa. Everyone loves this salsa. Planting a lot more tomatoes this year. Plan on making & canning a room full of this salsa. I can’t wait for canning time. The very best salsa ever. Gave so much to friends & family & everyone wants more. I even decorated my jars & gave some for gifts. Love it
My husband has been canning pickles and salsa the last couple years. He uses half water and half apple cider vinegar plus spices to make pickles, put in green bell peppers, onions, table spoon salt. he heat the brine to boiling and puts it in washed heated jars, puts on the lids and rings and they seal. He puts them away in the cupboard after the jars cool. Is this safe to eat without water bath canning or pressure canning? He makes his salsa the same way. he heats it to boiling puts in washed heated jars, puts lids and rings on and if seals considers it okay, stores it in a cupboard. What are your thoughts? He doesn’t listen to me.
Hi Holly – I’m honestly not sure in regards to food safety. From what I understand, the ingredients that can be altered without affecting food safety are: leaving out the tomato paste (not sure about the tomato sauce), altering the spices like cumin and salt and cilantro, etc., and modifying the amount of jalapenos. I don’t know the pH of radishes and how the would sub in for green peppers – and of course the amount of tomatoes and vinegar (for the main acidity) need to stay the same.

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I read some comments below and came back for a quick reply.. I noticed someone questioning the sugar in the recipe. Please dont omit it. You cant taste the sweetness at all. It is necessary for the salsa to retain its color in the jars for a longer period of time. My late Mother was a GREAT home-,maker and I will never be quite as good a ‘canner’ as she was, but she swore that if you leave out the sugar, that the salsa will darken quicker.
LOL! I know, no spice here. And you must think I’ve lost it because you know how much I love spice. BUT, I was trying to make this a very family/kid friendly salsa because my whole family loves chips and salsa so much but I’m the only spice fiend. The 4 year old likes some spice, but the others are all spice wussies! It still has loads of flavor, especially with the roasted garlic in there. I love it, although truth be told I often dump my favorite hot sauce over the top. HAHAHA!
A note on chili varieties: Mexican cuisine uses a wide variety of chilies with different names and characteristics – most of them essential to the final result of the dish they are used in. You should be able to rather easily acquire the chilies described in this (and future) post cheaply online. If you’re having trouble finding these chilies, I suggest you stick to a mix of Ancho (a mild, fruity variety) and Chipotle (a hotter, smoked variety). Both are readily available and this blend will still lend you quite a bit of the complexity.
Made a batch of this last weekend with 12 pounds Roma tomatoes. After peeling/draining didn’t yield quite 10 cups but after all other ingredients we got almost 9 pints of salsa. Since 2 pints have already been eaten with the 3rd open in the fridge I knew we needed more. Picked up another 6 pounds Roma tomatoes and had 11 pounds better boys that I expected to break down more than the roma after draining. Ummmmm they didn’t I ended up with 18 cups chopped/drained tomatoes so am making a double batch right now. Looks like we’ll end up with another 4 quarts bloody mary mix from the juices as well. I’m in tomato heaven right now lol
I’m Amy, foodie, nutritionist, recipe developer, wife, and busy mom of 2. I am on a mission to create everyday nutritious recipes that taste absolutely DELICIOUS!!! I love comfort food with a healthy twist. Follow me as I share the simple meals I make for my family. I’ll make meal planning easy by telling you exactly what we eat every week! Read More
I’m so glad you found this useful in using up your bounty (plus, lucky contractors!). I’m the opposite this year – the tomatoes didn’t like being eaten by the deer and then didn’t like being covered the whole season to protect them. 🙂 I keep looking at my few pounds of paste tomatoes and can’t decide what I want to make with them – this salsa, Addictive Chutney, or the freezer marinara it’s so nice to have on hand. Choices, choices. 😉
The exact weight of tomatoes will depend on the variety you use. I like to use roma (paste tomatoes) if I have them because the water content is less but any kind of tomato will work. The key is to peel the tomatoes and let them drain. See the step-by-step tutorial below the recipe for a visual. I like to pull out and discard the thicker white core of the tomatoes.
Hi Lisa, yes, all the sources I’ve read say that bottled lime juice can be substituted for vinegar. Bottled is the key, not freshly squeezed. And adding some roasted green pepper should be perfectly fine as well. But if you have any doubt you can always buy some pH test strips (you can find them online, like on Amazon) to make sure the acidity level is correct.
Thank you for such a well thought out recipe! I am a beginner and will be attempting your recipe today. I have some overripe tomatoes and just ripe tomatoes that would be perfect for canning. I am thinking of just doing two batches – one that I will refrigerate or eat right away and the other batch will be for canning. I have enough tomatoes to do both and I am devoted to getting them canned and store asap! Anyway – I will let you know how it turns out. You have made me hopeful that I can do it 🙂
When my friends at Nuts.com asked me to create a recipe with their stemless chiles de arbol, I knew right away that I had to share the authentic salsa roja recipe. Sold in one pound bags, Nuts.com makes it easy to order any chile you wish from the comfort of your own home. Since I don’t always have time to get the the Mexican grocery store, this was music to my ears.
Many people, not only in America but certainly across the globe have a warped perception of Mexican food. They either draw a likeness between Mexican food and Tex-Mex or they overly simplify things. Firstly, Tex Mex is not Mexican Food! Tex Mex is American food, made in America by either Latin American or American chefs drawing influences from a combination of American, Mexican and Latin American dishes. Now calm down, children, I’m not saying that proper Tex Mex is inferior to real Mexican food, I’m saying it’s a totally different animal altogether.

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Tomatoes are the most important ingredient. The fresher they are the better your salsa will taste. Look for the ripest ones you can find. Getting a good char on the vegetables is another key to developing the flavor. The lime juice brightens and enhances the flavor. The recipe calls for two serrano peppers but only add one if you want to reduce the heat.
The key to this recipe is to char the tomatoes and peppers on the stovetop. I tried to do it in the oven once and roast the tomatoes & peppers, bad move. It will take you about 20 minutes, but sooooooo worth the wait. You’ll need to rotate the veggies from time to time, so all the sides are pretty even. Here is what the vegetables will look like once they are done:
Since many of you have asked about a weight measure for the 10 cups of tomatoes, as I’ve been canning the salsa the last few days, I’ve done a little experimenting/research. Basically, I’ve found it varies GREATLY depending on variety. When I used SIX pounds of Roma + every day garden tomatoes, after taking the skins off, lightly crushing, and draining, the yield of tomatoes to use in this recipe was about 2 1/2 cups. When I used TWO pounds of only Roma/paste tomatoes, after taking the skins off, lightly crushing, and draining, the yield of tomatoes to use was a little over one cup. I tend to err on the side of over draining the tomatoes, if anything, so that makes a difference as well. For me, because I usually use paste tomatoes in this recipe, I would plan on around 18-20 pounds (give or take) of Roma/paste tomatoes to get the 10 cups for this recipe…and even more if using tomatoes with a higher water/lower flesh content.
Well – I have to share with you this recipe was amazing!  I’m a first time vegetable gardener and was a bit intimidated by the whole canning gig. I guess I had always felt growing veggies and canning are like “peas and carrots” as Forest Gump would say. I read a ton of recipes but yours caught my attention because of the step by step process and super great pics. I followed it to the “T”. My entire family was so happy for me but I have to say thank you to the creator as you made my first canning journey a complete success. I look forward to a bright future in the garnering world 🙂
Oh this looks delicious Mel! Your recipe is so, so similar to mine! We go through it like it’s water. I made sure I canned plenty last summer to get us through the winter. I have tomatoes coming out of my ears again this year. Looks like I need to get busy! I kind of cheat though and don’t put mine in a steam bath. I just let my salsa come to a boil and keep my jars in a warm oven and the lids in simmering water. I pour the boiling salsa into the warm bottles, then put the lid on and screw the ring on and tip the bottles upside down and let them sit overnight. The lids seal every time. Don’t call the canning police on me !
My first experience with canning salsa (around 17 years ago, I think), included recipes from the Ball Blue Book (one batch of each) and some “mild” Tam jalapeno peppers. Those “mild” peppers ate through two pairs of rubber gloves and filled the house with fumes so strong that I could hardly breathe and my husband started tearing immediately as he soon as he entered the house when he came from work. The salsa was thin and watery, strong on vinegar, and not too tasty. I gave up on home canned salsa for quite a few years – I couldn’t put myself through that again.
Given this is our first year gardening, in pots no less, our plants have not produced standard sized fruits and I’m concerned, they may not continue producing. We’ve been using the tomatoes as they’ve come in, so we’ve not been bombarded by any crops yet, though I know, it’s still early. Maybe if we move here in the next week or so, I may just put the plants right into the ground and see how they do.
Absolutely love this. You were right. Getting as much water out is so really important step. I drained as best I could with colanders then put in glass bowl. More liquid settled so I used a turkey baster to remove more liquid. Won’t ever make it another way. I have been looking for a salsa that has body and flavor and this is outstanding. I made my own tomato sauce as the tomatoes I got from local farmer were meaty and very flavorful. Thank you for posting this outstanding salsa recipe. 
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