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.
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 just made this wonderful salsa a couple of days ago with roma tomatoes. I 4X the recipe and ended up with 32 pints of salsa. We liked it so very much I am thinking of doing more with the 1 1/2 bushels of regular tomatoes that I have. Do you think that the regular tomatoes would have too much liquid in them or would the draining take care of that problem? I didn’t add the paste last time so I would probably add it for sure to make it thicker.
Cilantro gives that fresh and almost citrus-like taste into your finished salsa. You might confuse this with coriander because both refer to the same herb, but their terms may vary in different countries. If the recipe originates in the United States, cilantro refers to the leaves and stalks while coriander refers to the seeds. If the recipe is made in the United Kingdom, the term cilantro doesn’t exist because they use coriander to refer to the herb.
This salsa is amazing! I made it last year but didn’t leave a comment, probably because I was too busy eating all the salsa. Just finished a batch today and thought I would add my two cents that I used about 18 pounds of roma tomatoes to get the 10 cups for this recipe. Perfect salsa every single time! I used 5 jalapenos and it has just a hint of heat, which is perfect for me, a self-proclaimed spice wimp. Thanks for another fool-proof recipe, Mel!
If you live in a town with a noticeable Mexican or Latin American community, chances are you’ll be able to find a specialty store carrying these goods, if not there’s always the good, old, world wide web. Many websites carry and even specialize in Mexican and Latin American ingredients. If you live in Denmark like me, try out chilihouse.dk for example, they’re a great one stop resource and they’re not even paying me to say that!
This salsa traditionally has Chiles de Arbol, tomatoes, garlic, salt and water, but some cooks like to add tomatillos (the medium size tomatoes with a husk), like I do in this recipe. This is a very spicy salsa, but you can adjust the spiciness to fit your own taste by reducing the amount of Arbol peppers. This salsa goes well with “Tacos al Pastor”, too. Most Taquerias in Mexico City that sell Tacos al Pastor offer this salsa to top your tacos with. Some people know this salsa as Salsa de Chile de Arbol and others as Salsa Taquera.
Adela’s recipe is so simple that it’s perfect for those who are intimated about using dried chiles. It also perfect for all the dried chile lovers out there! She would always use chile de arbol, which is a tiny chile that really packs a spicy punch. Unlike other dried chiles, you don’t have to remove any of the seeds. Making this salsa recipe even easier! I recommend starting with 10-15 chiles and adding even more if you like things super spicy.
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!
Have sterilized pint jars and lids and screw caps ready (they should all be washed in very hot water). Use a canning funnel and ladle hot salsa into jars, leaving a ½-inch head space. Wipe rims clean with a damp cloth and carefully place lid on and screw cap in place.  Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes, then place upright on counter for 24 hours (see recipe notes for link to USDA Canning Guidelines). You will hear popping sounds as the jars seal. If after 24 hours, any haven't sealed, put in refrigerator to use now.
This actually is the exact recipe I received from the friend. I wouldn’t change processing times without mentioning it. The other recipe I used processed for 30 minutes. ??? The salsa was great last year, not overcooked at all! Strange. I’ll have to look up some other recipes to decide if I want to shorten the time. I’m all nervous about some aspects of canning now! Thanks for the note, and the resources. 🙂 Katie
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.

If the recipe didn’t require a water or steam path (or pressure canner) then it needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer because it will spoil if left at room temperature. Recipes that call for a water or steam bath mean the salsa (once canned in jars and processed according to the recipe in a water or steam bath) can be stored on pantry shelves. This recipe will definitely work without the water or steam processing but it will need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Hope that helps!


The best way to peel tomatoes is to get a large pot of water boiling and then place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 seconds.  (Some suggest placing them in ice water next, but that isn’t necessary for this recipe)  When you remove the tomatoes from the boiling water their skins will start to split (you may need to assist them by piercing them with the tip of a knife) and they can then be easily peeled.

I love tomato season and this year I made salsa.  Fire roasted salsa that I canned.  I used tomatoes and poblano peppers from the farm stand and roasted them on a hot grill until they were charred and blistered all over.  I love the flavor of grilled tomatoes and peppers.  Then you just peel off the skins, chop chop, add a bunch of good stuff to the pot and you’ve got fire roasted salsa.  It’s perfect for canning to enjoy year round.
For canning whole tomatoes, I like those that are firm, but small and round. They hold up better during canning if they are not overripe. Pearly Pink, Stupice, and Glacier are some of my favorites. You can see some examples in the post about pickling cherry tomatoes – https://commonsensehome.com/pickled-cherry-tomatoes/ and there’s also the post “How to Can Tomatoes in a Canner or Large Pot – Easy Instructions“.
Preheat the broiler. Put the quartered tomatoes, sliced onion, and whole garlic cloves onto a roasting tray, spreading out evenly. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cilantro sprigs. Broil until everything is nicely charred, about 10 minutes (you want lots of deep rich color so don't be afraid if some of the edges get pretty black).
For a hot salsa, I use 4 jalapenos with the seeds. For a mild salsa, I seed 1-2 of the jalapenos before chopping. Remember that the heat will lessen as the salsa sits, so I tend to error on being spicy than not. However, you can taste while it’s cooking so if you want more, you can always add more. It’s hard to correct spice level so if you don’t like things spicy, then start with only 1 jalapeno and go from there.
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. 
Tried more than a few salsa recipes out there and tried a couple batches of this one this weekend. Really good balance of heat and acid but added a bit more peppers and onion (used red and white cuz I like lots of goodies in my salsa). Left out the tomato sauce on the second batch and still was great (used the paste for both batches).  Used some perfect field toms (well drained) and will try with roma’s next. This is a GREAT salsa and now my “go to” recipe! thanks!
This is pretty much my exact recipe, only I stopped measuring a long time ago and I’ve never tried using canned tomatoes along with the fresh. Fresh salsa is definitely the way to go. I can’t even eat canned salsa anymore. One thing I do sometimes to add depth is to roast the tomato, garlic, and jalapeno (just throw it all on a baking sheet and let it go for about 20 minutes at 400F, turning once if I’m not feeling too lazy). This in combo with the fresh cilantro and lime juice gets rave reviews. I bet using canned tomatoes would add a similar depth!
IMPORTANT: Follow the directions carefully and exactly for each recipe. Use the amounts of each vegetable listed in the recipe. Add the amount of vinegar or lemon juice listed. You may decrease the amount of spices if desired. Do not can salsas that do not follow these or other research-tested recipes. These salsas may be frozen or stored in the refrigerator. Do not thicken salsas with flour or cornstarch before canning. After you open a jar to use, you may pour off some of the liquid or thicken with cornstarch.
This recipe is great as long as you don’t use all of the cooking water when adding the vegetables to the blender. If you do, you’ll end up with the runny, watery “soup” that commenters above complained about. Spoon the boiled vegetables into the blender, then add the water from the pan *as needed* to liquify the ingredients. You need maybe half the amount of water that you boiled the ingredients with. And if it’s still too watery, simmer it for longer during the final stage until the consistency is right. I think the recipe should be re-worded a little to reflect this issue.
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!

Made this yesterday w/my sister & we served it to our husbands & they thought it was the best ever! We all couldn’ Stop eating it!! Also so easy to make. I added a step. If you like salsa w/o tomato skins, just slice in half & lay face down on sheet pan w/parchment paper. In oven on broil about 5 minutes, the skins wrinkle right up & pull off easily!
In theory, yes – BUT – there’s no way to test the finished product and confirm that it will heat evenly to ensure safe processing. You’re adding chunky,starchy bits that are likely to make the salsa thicker. Thick product slows down heat transfer. This may mean that the processing time needs to be increased to make sure that it heats all the way through, or it could push it to the point where it would not be recommended for home pressure canning, like pumpkin butter. (It’s safe to can pumpkin chunks, but it is not safe to can pumpkin butter.)
Made this recipe today. Picked about two full plastic grocery bags of big boy tomatoes from garden which came out to almost exactly 10 cups (maybe 1/4 cup over) after peeling, crushing and draining. I used the traditional boil and ice bath since I hadn’t wanted to turn on oven since it was such a hot day. I altered the recipe only slightly. I ended up not using cilantro since after 3 days it went bad after picking it up from the grocery store. I did add about 2 or 3 Tbsp parsley flakes since I personally love parsley in almost everything I cook. Instead of garlic cloves I used three tsps chopped jar garlic which I always have on hand. I did add the sugar. I used 1 cup apple cider vinegar and ¼ cup lime juice. I did use the tomato paste as well. I used 5 large jalapenos and took the seeds and membranes out of half each. It gave it about almost MEDIUM HEAT if compared to store brands. Instead I used quart jars and somehow it came out to 7 quarts with about a pint left over I put in fridge to sample. I did the water bath as that is what I have always used. As soon as my father got home from work he took it out to try and my daughter was like mom hasn’t even tried it yet. We all tried it and absolutely loved the taste. Mom don’t eat salsa or spicy so she wasn’t included in the vote. Lol. 3 out of 3 loved it in my house. Bummed I had already promised my brother and my bfs mom a jar. Lol. I already know this salsa wont last through winter. Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe. Saving for future years.
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! 
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. 😉
Use your jar lifter to place the jars into the canner leaving space in between them. Once jars are all in canner, adjust the water level so it is at least one inch above the jar tops. Add more boiling water if needed so the water level is at least one inch above the jar tops. When adding water, use the hot water from the small pot your lids were in. Pour the water around the jars and not directly onto them.
That said, it’s a solid base recipe to add to and tweak as you see fit in regards to ingredients and “feel”. I made this and added a few flourishes: cumin, Spanish smoked paprika (inauthentic, but fabulous), a few dashes of Tajin spice, and once the salsa was blended I added the zest of 1 lime and the juice of half of it. I felt that my tomatoes – out of season and not spectacular – needed some extra zing.

If the recipe didn’t require a water or steam path (or pressure canner) then it needs to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer because it will spoil if left at room temperature. Recipes that call for a water or steam bath mean the salsa (once canned in jars and processed according to the recipe in a water or steam bath) can be stored on pantry shelves. This recipe will definitely work without the water or steam processing but it will need to be stored in the refrigerator or freezer. Hope that helps!
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!

Preheat the broiler. Put the quartered tomatoes, sliced onion, and whole garlic cloves onto a roasting tray, spreading out evenly. Drizzle with plenty of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle with cilantro sprigs. Broil until everything is nicely charred, about 10 minutes (you want lots of deep rich color so don't be afraid if some of the edges get pretty black).

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