Homemade salsa is seriously simple

After reading this, you may never buy a bottle of salsa again. That’s my hope, anyway.

Here’s the deal: Salsa is ridiculously easy to make. It’s also a lot cheaper to make yourself, and best of all tastes way better than that bottled stuff, even the ones not made in New York City.

By making your own salsa, you’ll also be able to tailor it exactly to your taste. Prefer it mild? It’s easy to tame. Rather have fire coming out of your ears? No problemo.

There are, of course, myriad varieties of salsas based on different peppers, but most of us know it as the tomato-based derivative that regularly battles ketchup as America’s most loved condiment, and that’s the type I’m going to show you how to make.

To make salsa in its most basic form, you’ll only need four main ingredients and a blender. Si, I’m serious.

Tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers and a squeeze of lime juice are the foundation, and once you start making your own salsa, you’ll have a taste-bud blast varying the quantities to your liking and then even adding a few extra herbs and spices. For now, let’s start with the basics.

Here’s how to make it happen.


(Yield: about 18 ounces)


  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
  • Half of one medium-size red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (use only a quarter or half if you like your salsa mild – you can always add more)
  • Juice from one large lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (that just means add enough so it tastes good to you)

    Getting the ingredients and doing some cutting was the hardest part.Put it all in a blender or food processor, tomatoes first so it blends easier. Pulse until it has the consistency that you like.

    That’s it: You just made salsa.

    With this foundation, you can play with the ingredients so the salsa is exactly to your liking, and you can easily make bigger batches by doubling the portions.

    Your salsa will be good for up to a week in the fridge, but if you’re armed with a bag of chips, I doubt it will last even a day. Just don’t forget to wash out the blender before making the accompanying margaritas.

    Did you try this recipe? Share your tips, ask questions or offer advice in the comments area below.

    Follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/iwanttocook


  1. Eric Harper said,

    March 3, 2010 @ 2:02 pm

    Texan approved. Nice work here.

  2. Kathy Bynum said,

    March 3, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

    That looks delicious. I need someone to make me some.

  3. Janice said,

    March 3, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

    Great dieter’s treat when substituting celery for chips! Also makes a terrific alternative salad dressing. Yum–Yum!

  4. Irma Huizing said,

    March 3, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    Will try it this week-end!! thanx for something that is quick and easy to make – but will be delicious and become a staple!!

  5. Carlos said,

    March 4, 2010 @ 6:21 pm

    Don’t forget a small clump of freshly chopped cilantro as a garnish.

    Try mixing it in the finished product just prior to serving.. A lignt sprinkle of cumin also helps highten the flavor.

    Add some of this mixture to your next batch of Guacamole .

  6. Matt Degen said,

    March 4, 2010 @ 7:14 pm

    Great tips, Carlos. Cilantro adds a lively color and burst of flavor. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    OK, so informal poll, cuz I know not everyone is for this herb: Do you like cilantro in your salsa? Please weigh in!

  7. Dave Peters said,

    March 4, 2010 @ 8:56 pm

    Matt….Should the liquid in the tomatoes be strained out or included. Also, I have neither a blender or food-processor; can’t the ingredients be chopped by hand ?

  8. Larry Hamlin said,

    March 4, 2010 @ 9:01 pm

    It will never taste like real salsa without cilantro!!!! Without cilantro is like trying to make a Margarita without Tequila!
    And for variation, add 4 oz baby shrimp to the Salsa! Great for parties.


  9. Matt Degen said,

    March 4, 2010 @ 9:11 pm

    Dave — I like to leave the juice in, but if you prefer a chunkier salsa, by all means strain.

    You CAN make it without a blender or processor, it just won’t be as, well, blended.

    Here’s how: Chop the onions and peppers a little finer (and remember, wash your hands after cutting the peppers and don’t touch your eyes!), put everything in a bowl, and mix.

    You’ll have something similar to pico de gallo, which is chunkier and usually made with fresh tomatoes. Your result should be equally delicious.

    Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

  10. Fredda Schlacter said,

    March 6, 2010 @ 5:52 pm

    Please have the Orange County Register print your column and recipe in such a fashion that it is easy to cut it out without having portions printed on the back. With the help of my copier I finally did a cut and paste job, but wished it could have been easier.

  11. Matt Degen said,

    March 7, 2010 @ 2:19 am

    Great idea, Fredda. I will suggest that!

    Thanks for reading,


  12. Fredda Schlacter said,

    March 15, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

    I made your salsa yesterday and it was everything you said it would be – just great! I will be making it again in a day or two and I plan to toss in a clove of garlic.

  13. I Want To Cook » How to make an omelet, not a mess said,

    April 28, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

    [...] Step 5: Here it is, time for the flip. Take a deep breath, tilt the pan so omelet slides over part of the edge, and, using a spatula to catch it, flip the egg over on itself. Don’t worry if it doesn’t fold directly in half; you can always fold the other side the same way, creating a trifold, which looks pretty anyway. Place the cheese on top (this will be easier for now until you feel confident enough to stuff in the middle), cook the egg for a few more seconds, and then serve, garnished with the dried oregano on top or some salsa for a kick. [...]

  14. I Want To Cook » Spice up your life with these tacos said,

    May 6, 2010 @ 5:07 am

    [...] All that’s left is to scoop it into awaiting tortillas or shells, garnish with cheese, salsa (try this homemade version!) and your favorite fixings, and [...]

  15. Linda said,

    August 9, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

    Our salsa is always to thin, we tried blending less, using only roma tomatoes, taste is good, everyone says to thin. Can anyone help us?

  16. Matt Degen said,

    August 10, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

    Linda, I’d try squeezing out the juice from the tomatoes before blending, adding additional onions and peppers, or adding some tomato paste to thicken your salsa. Extra cilantro could help bolster the texture, too.

  17. dv said,

    January 25, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    I love salsa, I make my own but I’ve found one I like better and cant get enough of. My recipes and others I’ve tried are just missing something that this one has. You gotta try this Border Town Salsa I found! Its in a jar, but tastes fresh. They say restaurant quality salsa and thats right. They have Mild, Medium and Hot (I like Hot).

    You can find it here http://bordertownfoods.com

    It makes it worth ordering salsa, plus its about as much as any other acceptable salsa costs at the store.

  18. I Want To Cook » Easy recipe: You can rock these Ranchero Beans said,

    November 7, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

    [...] made Rockin’ Ranchero Beans. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro, cheese, sour cream, and/or homemade salsa, and serve with chips and tortillas. Promptly refrigerate leftovers. When ready to reheat, do so in [...]

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