This easy homemade salsa recipe packs a flavorful punch, but is mild enough to please a crowd. Serve it with chips and fresh guacamole, atop a pile of nachos or with flautas.
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Easy Crowd Pleasing Salsa
Salsa is an umbrella term that literally translates as “sauce” from Spanish. Salsa comes in many varieties of spice, flavorings and color – from habanero, to mango and everywhere in between.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I live in California, and my access to salsas is seemingly endless. There’s a wonderful vendor at my local farmers market that serves up 15 different kinds of salsa on any given Saturday, ranging from mild to clear your sinuses spicy. This salsa wavers on the mild side, without sacrificing flavor.
I brought this recipe as a test taster over to my parents house for a small get together. It was such a hit that it was requested I double the recipe and bring it to an even bigger birthday party. At that party, it was so well-loved that people told me I should bottle and sell it.
While I won’t be selling this salsa anytime soon, I am happy to share this recipe with you so you can make it for your own crowd!
The Best Tomatoes for Salsa
As with most salsa recipes, the base for this one is good tomatoes. Find the freshest, ripest tomatoes you can find. Often these pack the most flavorful punch and lend themselves well to a fabulous salsa.
Typically, the easiest way to find high quality tomatoes is to pay a visit to your local farmer’s market. I prefer to get my produce from local farm stands. One day while recipe testing this salsa, I visited my local farm stand and saw they had no tomatoes out on the tables. I asked one of the employees and he told me they were “too ripe” to sell and showed me a small cluster of soft-to-the-touch, big as your hand heirloom tomatoes. He told me if I wanted them, he’d sell them to me half off. I smiled, said, “I’ll take them!” without a second thought.
All that to say, if you are at a farmer’s market or other farm stand, be sure to ask for what you need. You never know what they may have or if you’ll get a discount!
If the only tomatoes available to you are the tough, light colored ones that don’t taste any more tomatoey than an ice cube — never fear! A hack is here.
Slice those tomatoes in half and place them on a baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for 10-15 minutes in a 425 degree oven. Roasting the tomatoes brings another layer of flavor, caramelizing the sugars and browning the skin. It’s an easy (budget friendly) way to make the most of some less than favorable tomatoes and ensure you get the best salsa possible!
How to Make the Best Homemade Salsa
This salsa uses a secret weapon of an ingredient — canned jalapenos. Specifically, the kind that comes in the can with carrots, those are the best. They are submerged in a pickling type of brine which both infuses extra flavor and works to dull out the overwhelming spice.
In this homemade salsa recipe, we use a little bit of the jalapenos themselves, and a bit of the liquid they come in. It acts as an acidity and a flavor enhancer in the salsa.
Though it may seem like a lot, the cup of cilantro is non-negotiable. There’s just something about the fresh bite of the cilantro, combined with the deep sweet notes of the tomato and the sharpness of the onion that play off each other so well.
If you are one of those individuals to whom cilantro tastes like soap — first, I am sorry. Second, I beg you to try this recipe as written, with the full cup of cilantro. Wait — before you leave, hear me out! My husband is like you, he absolutely hates cilantro. But in salsa, and in particular, this salsa, he doesn’t mind it and admits when I omit it, he misses it. (Ironically enough, he also hates tomatoes, so the fact that he can’t get enough of this salsa is a miracle. Or perhaps more accurately, a testament to its deliciousness!)
There is one more secret to this salsa: Let. It. Sit. Yep, that’s it! Blend all the ingredients together, then pop it in the fridge and don’t touch it for at least 4 hours, even better overnight. Trust me, the flavor changes completely once you give the ingredients time to meld together, the spices a chance to absorb into the juicy tomato and the onion a chance to mellow out, cut by the acidity of the jalapeno, lime and apple cider vinegar.
Apple cider vinegar – in salsa? Yes you read that right. While developing this recipe, I noticed it needed more acidity, and since I had already used the zest and juice of the lime I had, I reached for the next best thing: my cabinet of vinegars! I chose apple cider vinegar because it’s lighter than some other vinegars, but still maintains a full richness of flavor. It was the perfect compliment to the other flavors of the salsa, and so it stayed in the recipe.
How long is homemade salsa good for?
If stored properly in the refrigerator, this salsa will stay fresh for 10-14 days. The vinegar and lime act as natural preservatives for the fresh ingredients. Though I’d be surprised if this salsa stays in your fridge for even that long! Typically, it’s gobbled up within a few days at my house, enjoyed with our favorite (locally made!) Taco Works chips.
Can you freeze homemade salsa?
Short answer – yes! Salsa will keep in the freezer for up to four months. This is a great way to preserve it if you don’t plan on sharing it with a crowd and won’t eat it all before it starts to turn a little bubbly. Simply pop in your fridge to defrost and enjoy!
- Add onion and garlic to food processor. Pulse a few times.
- Add the tomatoes and pulse until thre is room for the remaining ingredients.
- Add remaining ingredients and pulse until achieve desired consistency.
- Rest salsa in fridge for at least 4 hours and up to overnight. This helps all the flavors meld together and makes for a better salsa.
- Set your oven to 375° F.
- Slice tomatoes in half, coat with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Arrange tomatoes cut side down on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet
- Roast for 15-20 minutes until tomatoes soften and begin to release their juices.
- Store tomatoes and juices in airtight container until ready to make salsa