Simple Salsa Recipes

Updated on August 8, 2017
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Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Salsa [sahl-suh]


  1. a lively, vigorous type of contemporary Latin American popular music, blending predominantly Cuban rhythms with elements of jazz, rock, and soul music.
  2. In Mexican cookery a sauce, especially a hot sauce containing chilies.

First Things First

Don't get your hopes up—I will not be writing today (or any other day for that matter) about dance. I love to watch others do it, but alas I was born with two left feet. End of story.

Our focus today is on the second meaning of the word "salsa". (And, as the Carb Diva, you knew I'd be talking about food, didn't you?)

What's in a Name?

Salsa. Pico de Gallo. Some people use the two names interchangeably.

Sometimes you should, and sometimes you shouldn't. Every pico de gallo is a salsa, but not every salsa is a pico de gallo.


Here's a table that might help a little:

Pico de Gallo vs. Salsa

Pico de Gallo
always made from the same simple ingredients--tomato, onion, jalepeno, cilantro
might certainly contain those ingredients, but varies from region to region
chunky, like a salad
tends to be "soupier"
always fresh
often fresh, but may be cooked or canned
can be used a filling in tacos or fajitas
commonly used as a dip

So Where Did This All Begin?

Let's begin in the beginning. Historians believe that as early as 700 A.D., the Aztecs were cultivating the tomato plant. We know that they already had chilies and spices—could the invention of salsa been far behind?

The explorer Hernando Cortéz arrived on the scene in 1519; he conquered the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan (now named Mexico City) in 1521. Eight years later Bernardino de Sahagún, a Franciscan priest and missionary travelled to this area, New Spain, and devoted the next 50 years of his life learning the language and recording the history, culture, and beliefs of the Aztec people. One of his works, “Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España” (General History of the Things of New Spain) contains this excerpt about food vendors in Aztec markets:

"He sells foods, sauces, hot sauces, fried [food], olla-cooked, juices, sauces of juices, shredded [food] with chile, with squash seeds, with tomatoes, with smoke chile, with hot chile, with yellow chile, with mild red chile sauce, yellow chile sauce, sauce of smoked chile, heated sauce, he sells toasted beans, cooked beans, mushroom sauce, sauce of small squash, sauce of large tomatoes, sauce of ordinary tomatoes, sauce of various kinds of sour herbs, avocado sauce.”

Well, I don't know about you, but I'm inspired. Here are some of my favorite salsa (and pico de gallo) recipes.

The Recipes

Basic Fresh Tomato Salsa (Salsa Cruda, aka pico de gallo)

(makes about 2 1/2 cups)


  • 2 pounds vine-ripened tomatoes (about 5 medium)
  • 2 fresh jalapeño chiles
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs (tops only), chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Slice tomatoes in half horizontally. Remove seeds with a small spoon and discard. (This is easy with large roma tomatoes that have just 4 seed-filled sections. Other tomatoes often have many little seed hiding places. For those I hold the tomato half over the sink and use my fingers to push out the seeds).
  2. Cut tomato into small (1/4-inch) dice and place in medium-sized mixing bowl.
  3. Wearing rubber gloves, cut chilies in half, remove seeds and finely mince. Add to tomatoes in bowl. (Please be careful when handling fresh chilies. Don’t rub your eyes, or mouth). When you have finished preparing the chilies, remove and discard the rubber gloves.
  4. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and stir; add salt and pepper to taste. Can be made one hour ahead and kept at room temperature. Cover and refrigerate leftovers, but plan to use within 24 hours.

Easy (Canned) Tomato Salsa

(makes 3 cups)


  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, drained
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • ½ cup white onion
  • 2 jalapeno chilies, stems removed (see note below)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs (ok to include some stems)


Combine all ingredients in blender in order listed. Pulse until salsa reaches desired consistency.

(NOTE: If you prefer a less spicy-hot salsa, remove the seeds from the jalepeno).

tomatillos | Source

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa (Salsa Verde)

(makes 2 1/2 cups)


  • 1 ½ pounds tomatillos, husks removed
  • 1 medium jalapeno, stem removed (optional)
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Rinse tomatillos and place on rimmed baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from heat source for about 5 minutes or until charred in spots. Remove from oven; carefully flip over and return to oven. Broil an additional 5 minutes or until blistered.
  3. Carefully place broiled tomatillos and jalapeno on jar of blender; pulse several times. Scrape down sides of jar; add remaining ingredients. Pulse again until mixture is smooth.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Maria and Josh are the creators and authors of the sweet blog TwoPeaAndTheirPod where you will find easy, fresh-ingredient meal ideas (and lots and LOTS of cookie recipes). They created a black and corn salsa that is healthy, flavorful, and definitely addictive:


My husband's favorite salsa. This is a very versatile recipe--you can omit the cucumber and substitute red bell pepper, tomatoes, peaches, nectarine, or even strawberries.

Mango Salsa


  • 3 ripe mangos
  • 1 cup diced English cucumber
  • ½ cup red onion, minced
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (no stems), chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced (see note below)
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Place all ingredients in large mixing bowl. Stir together gently. Cover and set aside for at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour to allow flavors to blend.

NOTE: You must wear rubber gloves when preparing/handling the raw chili pepper. Cut chilies in half, remove seeds and finely mince. (Don’t rub your eyes, or mouth). When you have finished preparing the chilies, remove and discard the rubber gloves.

Do You Have a Favorite Salsa Recipe?

See results

© 2016 Linda Lum


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    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Everyone seems to really like the mango salsa Bravewarrior. I haven't been brave enough to try introducing other fruits (peaches, nectarines, strawberries) as Mr. Diva is a bit of a purist when it comes to his salsa.

      I'm glad I've inspired you, and I think salsa is something you can enjoy (almost) guilt-free.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 17 months ago from Central Florida

      Mmmmm. Mango salsa. Yummy! Your articles are always so interesting, Diva. I learn something new and get hungry at the same time!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric - I actually thought of you when I wrote this hub, knowing that you would have all of these wonderful produce items close at hand. The mango is my husband's favorite also.

    • profile image

      ericdierker 17 months ago

      I just assumed everybody ate this as a main dish. I like them all. Pico de Gallo perhaps is the favorite. I really checked out that Mango salsa. Oh boy, my wife is going to just love it -- fresh produce tomorrow and fun making it up. Of course down southwest here you can get all these ingredients from roadside stands -- plus most will have some Pico de Gallo already made. In fact I will take my two daughters to Juanita's today for some salsa.


    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish - I'm sorry that the niche sites are still a bit problematic. How great that your dad makes his own salsa. Does he grow his own tomatoes and peppers? Homemade is best! Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate your presence on HP and your continued support and encouragement.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA

      Some of these niche sites make it hard to leave a comment, but I'm reading! Interesting history of salsa. My dad makes his own, having perfected it through constant tweaking.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Rachel - We didn't try tomatoes this year (fighting the deer to keep away from them is just TOO difficult). I'm glad this hub arrived in time for your harvest. Please let me know which salsa recipes you use and if you and your family like them. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Rachel Alba 17 months ago

      Hi Carb Diva, I love salsa, I will be trying your recipes. We are just starting to harvest our tomatoes too. Thanks for sharing.

      Blessings to you.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Audrey - I think I could probably make this every day for Mr. Diva and he'd be a happy guy. (Actually, we're going camping this week, and guess what he's getting for lunch?) Try it with a few fresh strawberries tossed in. Heavenly. Thanks for your kind words and support.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 17 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      Love salsa! My personal favorite is mango salsa. Your recipes make my mouth water. I'll be trying these for sure. Thank you for sharing your delicious recipes. The basic 'fresh tomato salsa' is a winner!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, if you are growing your own tomatoes this year (and ARE you?) I do hope you will try the salsa fresca (pico) recipe. It's really good--and you can control the amount of heat by how the chilies are prepared. Or leave them out if you don't want the heat. To me, the fresh tomato and cilantro are the shining stars. Thanks for stopping by and thanks for your encouragement.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 17 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Bev is the salsa-lover in this family, so I'll pass it along. Still, I loved the history of it, which is just one reason why I always love your articles.

      Have a superb week, Linda.....great job!

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 17 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Well, I'm not saying that he discovered it, but he certainly documented its existence. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. Please let me know if you happen to use any of the recipes. I always love getting feedback.

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 17 months ago from Home Sweet Home

      didm't expect that salsa was found by a priest, thanks for the hub