The acid ingredients used in salsa help preserve it and prevent botulism poisoning. You must add acid to canned salsas because the ingredients’ natural acidity may not be high enough. Commonly used acids in home canning are vinegar and lemon juice. Lemon juice is more acidic than vinegar, but has less effect on flavor. Use only vinegar that is at least 5% acid and use only bottled lemon juice.
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.

Tear all the chiles into large pieces and toast them in a large dry skillet over medium heat until they change color a bit, about 2 minutes. Add the spices and continue to toast for 2 to 3 minutes until everything is fragrant. Remove from heat and carefully add about 1 cup of hot water to just cover the chiles. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Why this meticulous approach to chili picking? Well, for the simple reason that it adds a stunning complexity to the salsa and provides the best possible product: a salsa roja that is at one time bright, fresh, fruity and acidic and at the same time rich, deep and complex in flavor with a noticeable, warming but not overpowering heat profile. This, in my own humble words, make it the PERFECT all-round salsa for every application including dipping, slathering, spreading, cooking or mixing.


Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between the jars. Pour in more boiling water if necessary until the water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot, and cook for 30 more minutes.

I like using apple cider vinegar in canning because I like the flavor, and it comes from apples. Most white vinegar comes from a variety of sources, including wood pulp. I use it white vinegar for cleaning, but it can be substituted in canning recipes if you like. The pH is the same. Lemon or lime juice can also be substituted for the vinegar in this recipe – but they give a more pronounced flavor.
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.
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.
Oh my goodness! I made one batch of this and it was very good. But I “chopped” the tomatoes in my Vitamix so it wasn’t very chunky. Just made a double batch and hand chopped the tomatoes. I let them drain as I was chopping them. I’m always concerned about the measurements for tomatoes since that is the iffy, low-acid ingredient. (When I read about cooks reducing the salsa or draining the salsa with a slotted spoon as they jar it, I wonder how you know if your final product is safe?) At any rate, I added 3t of bitter-sweet Spanish paprika and 2T of sugar. I literally had to swat my husband away from the pot while I was working after I gave him a taste. Phenomenal! (And I’m assuming that those minor amounts of extra spices won’t alter the acidity unfavorably.) Thanks for a great recipe!

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.
I have a beloved salsa recipe I have used for years. I canned a ton of it last year and thought I would try your recipe for some this year. I have a daughter who does not love cumin. Is the cumin flavor really strong in this salsa? I think the rest of my family would love it! Also do you have a good spaghetti sauce recipe for canning? Thanks for all you do! I have followed your blog almost from the beginning, my family always jokes when I give them a new recipe to try and say “is it from Mels?”
I tried this tonight. I made your recipe as written and then added several cups of peaches to the mix. My jalapenos were super spicy so I decided to add a bit of sugar (probably half a cup) to bring out a bit more of the sweetness of the peaches. It was very tasty! My understanding is that all these additions are safe since peaches are adding extra acid and the sugar is just for flavor since there is already plenty of vinegar.

Hi this is my first year really doing some serious canning. I canned diced tomatoes years ago using water bath but after reading that it wasn’t safe I through everything out. 😩. Now after researching many sites I realize we would have been fine. Your salsa recipe was the first that I tried this year and it is delicious. I canned 4 1/2 pints. I ate the 1/2 obviously. I am having doubts again that the water bath is going to be safe with all the extra ingredients. I refuse to throw it all out, do you know how I could test to make sure the ph is ok when I open the jar? We are over run with tomatoes this year so I would love to make another batch after I get my sauce canned.
The only salsa recepie you’ll ever need, so stop looking, this is it!!   It has the perfect blend of everything, I have an abundance of tomatoes this year and I am on my 4th batch, I have followed the recepie exact, except for the last batch I made and that was because I wanted a bit more heat.  Easy to follow recepie, thanks, I hope to see more of your posts,
One can indeed use a pressure canner for canning salsa . I always use Roma tomatoes and never use the tomatoe paste (optional) in the recipe . It never turns out to liquidity or mushy ,not ever . Very certain the reason for that is the Roma’s are a meaty tomato. I have tried the water bath method as well with this recipe , both have the same consistency. I pressure can at 10 lbs. of pressure for 15 min. Adjust lbs. of pressure for your elevation .

I am doing to try this for my first first canning/home salsa attempt ever. After reading your reviews in the comment section I think it should be a hint if I do it right on my end. That being said I have two questions. 1.) If I wanted a little more heat (LOVE all things spicy) do you have a recommendation? 2.) What is the ideal storage and what the self life? I don’t expect them to last that long, but still!!…. Thanks!!! Chuck in SC
I am on my second batch and I bought 20 lbs. of tomatoes at the Farmers Market to offset my own tomatoes which I did not have enough of…..I left them out on patio for about 4 days……I have been working on this salsa all day…..I actually ended up with 17 cups of tomatoes in the end…….I adjusted the measurements of everything else accordingly and it is turning out great…..my husband loves it…..so do I……I had given away too much though and have to make more…..this time I am making it a little bit hotter……maybe I won’t get asked for more if I make it hotter…..lol Anyway, just wanted to let you know that this is my only salsa recipe that I will make now……excellent!!!!!
Thank you for a great salsa recipe!  I’ve made it twice now.  The first time I did vinegar as stated and it was great but the vinegar taste was a little strong….it will still be gobbled up!  The second time around I researched the USDA guide for tomatoes and found it said you can add 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice to each jar as you fill it!  Now to test them and see which we like better! 
Looks gorgeous girl!! This looks like the perfect food group to me! I think I could live off salsa and chips! I love that you added roasted garlic, yum! I have never had a salsa in my life that didn’t have a kick of heat to it….everything down here is spicy and the one I love from Trader Joes I buy sometimes is also spicy, so I’m intrigued at how this tastes with no heat added! Now, I’m craving salsa.
UPDATE 09/06/17: Lots of you have asked for a weight measure on the tomatoes. I’ve been canning this salsa the last few days and experimented weighing and measuring tomatoes. The result? Tomatoes are unpredictable! Meaning, the exact weight  (that will yield the 10 cups drained needed in the recipe) is EXTREMELY variable depending on the type of tomato used.
Before I was gifted so many tomatoes, I used to head to the farmer’s market this time of year and stock up on the uglies. The uglies are what most tomato farmers sell for dirt cheap- they are ugly, misshapen tomatoes that are perfect for salsa making. You’re going to need a lot of tomatoes, so skip the $3.99/lb heirlooms for this salsa. Grab a bucket of uglies and make salsa!

Update: Because I was paranoid about the peppers, I actually could have upped them a smidge. OTOH, right now it has a gentle heat which won't burn you out after a couple bites. I did lie though. I omitted the celantro because I am one of those whose tastebuds interpret it as soap. Something tastes like it needs a little more of something, but possibly I mis-measured because the taste is wonderful..I might not whirl the tomatoes quite as much next time though. Boy, this a long comment to basically say Brava.


Thank you so much for sharing such a GOOD recipe! I just made it today and it is yummy! I did, however, swap out the jalapenos for Serrano peppers because that is all I had in my garden. I also swapped out cayenne peppers for ancho chile pepper. I do have a question. I noticed some air pockets and wondered if you ever had an issue with that. I wondered if I somehow made it too thick. I used roma tomatoes. Thank you, again!
As with all canning recipes, this recipe has been developed and tested specifically to make sure the pH level is safe for canning. Don't alter the amount of acidity (vinegar). You CAN substitute some of the vinegar for bottled lemon juice if you want to play around with flavor. Dried spices won't affect pH, so you can also experiment with those, but the amount of vegetables and tomatoes and acidity need to stay the same. I have not canned this recipe in a pressure canner, but I have given details in the post above about steam canners vs. water bath canners. Please do your own research to decide what method is best for you.
Not many paragraphs into the introduction, the working title warped into something more along the lines of “Mexican Food: A Love Affair!”. When, a few more paragraphs into the original article, I realized that one post was simply not enough to detail my admiration for Mexican food culture: I threw the question up on my Instagram: “Should I do an entire beginner’s guide to Mexican Food?”
Prep all of your ingredients ahead of time. This makes it much easier in the long-run. The only difficult thing is removing the skins from the tomatoes ahead of time. 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.)
Hi Mary Ann 🙂 We love cilantro, so I’ve never made this salsa without it. Most salsas actually have some cilantro in it, but if you hate the taste, you could substitute a bit of fresh parsley, or eliminate the cilantro altogether. I can’t guarantee the taste though, since my recipe uses cilantro as a big ingredient. The scoops method you mentioned sounds yummy!
Thinking of making this but I’m from Texas and I like my salsa spicy.  I don’t like salsa that tastes like bland tomatoes or like a can of Rotel.  I like it spicy but not lips on fire hot. If I left the seeds and membranes in the jalapeños would it be too hot?  I’m also not sure about sugar or green peppers in the salsa.  I definitely don’t want sweet salsa.  What recommendations can you give me to make the salsa with some kick to it?
Hi Hannah. We have used cherry tomatoes in the past. (Same ‘problem’ with an over-abundant garden harvest. 🙂 ) We just diced the cherry tomatoes like we would have the regular tomatoes. They do give more skin than a larger tomato, but we didn’t notice that that negatively impacted the texture of the salsa. Also, the cherry tomatoes have less juice to strain out, so you might find that you want to add a little extra tomato juice (try to find some without added salt or seasonings). But, it will all depend on how juicy the tomatoes are and how much liquid you like in your salsa. (We like ours thick, so it wasn’t an issue for us at all.) Enjoy!
I am on my second batch and I bought 20 lbs. of tomatoes at the Farmers Market to offset my own tomatoes which I did not have enough of…..I left them out on patio for about 4 days……I have been working on this salsa all day…..I actually ended up with 17 cups of tomatoes in the end…….I adjusted the measurements of everything else accordingly and it is turning out great…..my husband loves it…..so do I……I had given away too much though and have to make more…..this time I am making it a little bit hotter……maybe I won’t get asked for more if I make it hotter…..lol Anyway, just wanted to let you know that this is my only salsa recipe that I will make now……excellent!!!!!
This is truly delicious. I don’t have an abundance of tomatoes this year but what I have are going into this salsa, pizza sauce and roasted tomato soup. All to enjoy this winter. Another plus for this salsa is it is so nice and thick it stays on your chip. Not sliding off before you can get it to your mouth! I made the recipe as written, using a variety of tomatoes. My jalapenos are a little small and I would like just a wee bit more heat in a few jars, but that is the only adjustment I will make.
Made my second batch today.  First batch was a just over a week ago and yielded 8 jars.  It was quickly apparent this was not enough!! lol   Family is raving about this recipe.  I didn’t add the sugar either time, don’t miss it.    I used the jalepenos with all the seeds and membranes the first time.  Quite spicy but not unbearable.  This time around, I used the seeds and membranes from 3 of 5 of the jalepenos (per batch; I doubled the recipe this time, hoping to keep some in the house for more than a couple of weeks.)  It’s perfect to my taste.. probably a medium to hot level compared to store bought.     My family doesn’t like chunky salsa so I threw the tomatoes in the food processor for a couple of pulses, and used the food processor for the peppers, and onions.  SUCH a great tasting recipe.  All I hear are complaints that we keep running out of nacho chips 😉   Thanks for sharing!! 
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