Best Salsa Recipe Ever? Absolutely!!!

Mara and I love good salsa….I mean REALLY LOVE good salsa!!!  And being the food snob that I am, I’m really picky about what I consider good.  Years ago, my family stumbled onto the Arriba! brand salsa and it has long been my favorite store bought version, but there aren’t too many stores out east that seem to carry it.  So I was always on the hunt for good salsa, and I’d try a new brand or two every month, and I was almost always majorly disappointed.  Either the flavor was good but I had to blend it a little to get the right texture, or the texture was great but it had that super processed Pace Picante flavor…every bite you could just taste the chemical preservatives….seriously yuck!

It was especially difficult because I found I loved fire roasted salsas the best, especially when a little smokiness is added with chipotle peppers, and that doesn’t often seem to be an option.   I can’t tell you how often I’ve tried to make special requests at the grocery store I frequented whenever I moved.  I kept buying inferior salsa, just hoping I’d stumble onto something truly good.  I never thought about making it myself. 

Well, let’s just say my life changed for the better a little over a year ago when I discovered the chef at my favorite Mexican restaurant down the street actually had a cookbook.  We’re talking gourmet, super authentic, unbelievably flavorful stuff.   His dishes and salsa often have that smokey chipotle flavor I crave.  I was so excited that I might actually be able to recreate some of those flavors in my own home.

I’ve now spent the last year plus making just about every kind of salsa in his book and loving it.  There is some seriously good stuff in there.  My favorite part about the book is he tries to teach you how to experiment, which has led to a number of salsa creations of my own.  Today I want to share with you my favorite creation so far, honestly it’s the best salsa I’ve ever had!  Mara and I make it at least once a week, sometimes twice.  Needless to say, we go through a lot of chips.

Roasted Tomato Garlic Chipotle Salsa
1 lb Campari Tomatoes  (You can also use tomatillos) 
6-9 Garlic cloves – peeled and quartered (how many you use depends on the size)
1/3 cup White Onion – chopped
3-6 Dried Chipotle Peppers (these are easy to find in NYC, but I can’t ever find them in UT when I visit family.  If you can’t find them in your store, buy them here)
1/2 lime – juiced
1 tsp Kosher Salt (1/2 tsp if you use table salt)
3/4 cup water

1.  Set the oven to broil.
2.  Line a baking sheet with tinfoil, with the edges of the tinfoil turned up.  Place the tomatoes on the sheet and cut one-inch slits at the top of each tomato (keeps it from exploding).  Place tomatoes in the oven and roast for about 10-15 minutes, or until the skin is blackened.  Using tongs, rotate them to blacken the skin on the other side, usually about another 5 mins.

3.  While the tomatoes are roasting, using a cast iron skillet or other non-stick pan, place the garlic and onion in the pan and roast on medium for about 5-10 min.  Stir often – you want the garlic to get evenly browned, not blackened.  The onions should get translucent and a little browned as well.  Transfer the roasted garlic and onions to the blender.

4.  In the same skillet, add the dried chipotle peppers and roast over medium heat.  The peppers only need 1-2 minutes on each side, occasionally pressing the pepper into the pan to ensure good contact.  The you should see some minor blistering of the peppers, they should deepen in color and soften up.  You’re aiming for blistered and slightly blackened.  Place the roasted peppers on a cutting board.  Use 5-6 peppers for a medium salsa, and 3-4 for a milder salsa. 

5.  About this time the tomatoes are ready to be turned over with tongs so the other side can can be blackened.  You may want to pour in 1/4 cup of the water here to loosen any tomato juice that has leaked out and is sticking to the tinfoil.  Roast for another 5 minutes.

6.  Chop the roasted chipotle peppers into little bits…blenders can often have a hard time breaking them down without also pureeing the salsa too much, so I like to do a little of the work for it.  Add to the blender with salt, lime juice, and remaining 1/2 cup of water.

7.  Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.  Using the tongs, move a few of them around to loosen up any blackened/caramelized bits that got stuck to the foil.  When they’ve cooled a little bit, I usually use tongs to transfer the tomatoes to the blender, then I carefully pick up the foil and pour the liquid in.

8.  Blend to desired consistency.  I try not to blend for too long or at too high of a speed, I don’t want it to turn into a puree.  Be careful when blending hot ingredients.  Use a towel to cover the lid and hold firmly.

Enjoy!   If you’re a true salsa fan, pin this recipe and you’ll be doing a huge favor to all of your salsa loving friends.

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  1. Caitlin M. July 10, 2013 at 2:58 pm - Reply

    Looks so good! Great to see you both this weekend 🙂

  2. Utah Girl Am I July 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    Recipe pinned! And if you REALLY want to get fancy/authentic with your salsa, might I suggest using a "molcajete" instead of a blender? 🙂 Warning, though… It takes a lot of armpower, but it's worth it!

    • danny July 10, 2013 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      Oh trust me, I've definitely thought of getting one. But there are only so many gadgets that small NYC kitchens without pantries can hold…so I suppose it will have to wait.

    • Utah Girl Am I July 11, 2013 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      True, true. Gotta love city living! Regardless, your recipe sounds tasty. Thanks for sharing! And hey! Great to have a "Danny" post, too! 🙂

  3. Rose July 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    I'm so making this. I'm a salsa nut, thanks!!

  4. clay crew July 10, 2013 at 6:13 pm - Reply

    This looks good!

  5. Anonymous July 10, 2013 at 6:45 pm - Reply

    Just a question- how much do y'all eat organic to prevent any GMO's? Can you ever find organic chipotle peppers?

    • danny July 10, 2013 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      We definitely try to eat organic, but I'll admit I haven't seen too many options for organic chipotles.

  6. Amy July 10, 2013 at 11:14 pm - Reply

    Cant wait to try this! Do you have a favorite brand of chip or do you make your own?

    • danny July 11, 2013 at 3:11 am - Reply

      I guess I'm still not at the point where I'm willing to make my own….seems like too much of a hassle. We really love the Xochitl chips…though they can be expensive. We found a little shop close by that sells them about $2 cheaper than everywhere else, so we don't mind. But sometimes they go for $6 a bag…not worth it.

  7. Anonymous July 11, 2013 at 3:22 am - Reply

    Next time you are in Utah check out Rancho Markets. They always have Chipotle. Smokey salsa is some of my favorite so I will definitely give this recipe a try.

  8. Alec July 12, 2013 at 1:57 am - Reply

    Wow, this look like the perfect meal to try with my wife on Friday. Great idea, thanks for posting this!

  9. Anonymous July 16, 2013 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this recipe and the Xochitl recommendation. I made the recipe TWICE this weekend, and we ate it all weekend – had puffy faces on Monday from all the salt, but it was worth it!

    Our Whole Foods didn't have chipotle peppers, so I used a bunch of red chiles de arbol and followed your instructions. Just rehydrated the chiles (soaking them in hot water for 30 minutes) while I did the rest (saw that tip elsewhere). Your instructions and the pictures were great, and the Xochitl chips were perfect. I may never go back to fresh salsa without roasted tomatoes! Thank you both – and for the chocolate tart recipe, which I also love.

  10. thebitesizecook July 17, 2013 at 6:14 pm - Reply

    Hey Danny- how much does this salsa serve? How much does it make? We are excited to make this for some friends coming over! Thanks so much!

    • danny July 17, 2013 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      Since it's a pound of tomatoes, and a decent amount of water and onion and garlic, I always feel like it makes about the amount you'd normally get in 2 to 3 jars of your average salsa.

      But because it's so good….it doesn't last as long as 2 to 3 jars would 🙂

  11. Utah Girl Am I July 18, 2013 at 4:02 am - Reply

    Also… I talked with LeAnna today, and she and Sarah raved about this salsa from your get-together on Saturday! Just thought I'd share the tasty feedback. 🙂

  12. Miggy July 18, 2013 at 8:35 pm - Reply

    Just made this for the second time this week. SO GOOD. We only used 3 chipotle's and was surprised at how spicy it still was. My husband is very anti-spice. But he ate it anyway, which tells you how good it is. I made it again today and took the seeds out of the peppers–still pretty spicy but still so good. I think this is one of the few things I've seen him willingly eat with spice. Bravo Danny.

    • danny July 19, 2013 at 3:38 pm - Reply


      I will only post recipes that I am truly passionate about. Glad you enjoyed it and your hubby too!

  13. Marny De Jesus August 12, 2013 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    I found this blog by searching google for a good salsa. As i read i found that you and i have the exact taste in salsa…consistency and flavor alike. I move a lot and it seems like every time i move, i HAVE to find a good salsa. I've recently moved to the seattle area, but haven't found anything yet. I always feel like its a never ending search. So glad i stumbled on this recipe…i'm def gonna give it a try! it looks amazing and could be the answer to all my salsa needs so i no longer have to waste so much time and money on all these inferior salsas out there. Thanks again!!

    • danny August 12, 2013 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      It sounds like we are long lost salsa siblings! When you make it let me know how it turns out, I'd love to hear.

      Also, I can't recommend the book I linked to highly enough. There are tons of varieties of salsas in there, each very different and able to fit all kinds of preferences. I'm sure you'll find something that you love!

  14. Robin April 9, 2014 at 1:09 pm - Reply

    Great! Blog seems to be very interesting and informative for chef. These are nothing for only chefs. These are also for everyone who use the kitchen or cook food.

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