Better Than Restaurant Salsa

A plate of Better than Restaurant Salsa and chips

Restaurant style salsa has that deep rich roasted tomato flavor you love from your favorite cantina, brightened with fresh veggies and cilantro. This is stupid easy, so let’s make it!

A jar of Better Than Restaurant Salsa

salsa is the 6th food group around here

And it’s awe inspiring how many ways there are to change up this mother of all sauces. It’s also one of the easiest foods to make from scratch. But let’s get real, the very best salsa always seems to be the one you get in a restaurant, restaurant salsa has a undeniable cache about it and I’ve set out to recreate that experience in my own kitchen, and even take it one step further.

overhesad photo of restaurant salsa ingredients in a bowl

what do I mean by ‘restaurant salsa’?

When we say restaurant style salsa it’s a catchall phrase for a salsa that is made right in a blender or food processor, and it’s a great way to make a super quick appetizer for a crowd. Today’s recipe is a hybrid restaurant salsa because I only do part of it in the processor. I begin by pulsing fresh garlic, a can of fire roasted tomatoes, and a can of fire roasted peppers. The canned tomatoes and peppers make a thick base that isn’t watery, which I love.

Better than restaurant salsa being blended up in a food processor

what’s the secret to making restaurant salsa even better?

My secret is to add in finely minced fresh peppers (both sweet and hot,) red onion, and fresh cilantro, along with a squeeze of lime, some extra virgin olive oil, and a dash of vinegar for extra acidity. You get this great contrast between the cooked base and the fresh additions, instead of having it all blitzed together into an homogeneous mixture.

A plate of Better than Restaurant Salsa and chips

Isn’t it great not to have to bother a waiter for yet another refill of salsa ~  I just reload from the vat jar in the fridge!

A plate of Better than Restaurant Salsa and chips

tips for making restaurant style salsa

  • Be sure to get fire roasted canned tomatoes and peppers, the flavor is wonderful.
  • To get that fine even mince on my fresh peppers and onions I use my Alligator Vegetable Chopper, it’s literally one of my favorite kitchen tools and it gets tons of use during summer salsa season.
  • Plan to let the salsa rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour before serving so the flavors can develop and mingle.
  • Taste just before serving to adjust any of the elements, you’ll be able to judge it better after it has rested.
colorful hot dogs with salsa

so how are you going to use it?

A plate of Better than Restaurant Salsa and chips
4.50 from 8 votes

Better Than Restaurant Salsa

Restaurant style salsa has that deep rich roasted tomato flavor you love from your favorite cantina, brightened with fresh veggies and cilantro.
Course Appetizer
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Yield 16 servings
Calories 26kcal
Author Sue Moran


  • 2 cloves garlic peeled
  • 14.5 ounce can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 4 ounce can of fire roasted diced green chilies
  • juice of 1 or 2 limes to taste
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar more to taste
  • 1/2 cup minced colorful bell peppers
  • 1 red or green jalapeno minced (seeds and all)
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste


  • With the motor going, drop the two cloves of garlic into the food processor and let go until completely minced. Turn the machine off and add the can of tomatoes and the can of chilies, without draining, to the processor. Pulse until everything is broken down but still has some texture. This is a matter of personal preference, if you like it smoother, pulse a few more times. Remove the salsa to a bowl and stir in the lime juice, olive oil, and vinegar.
  • Stir in the minced peppers, onion, and cilantro and season with salt and pepper to taste. Adjust any of the ingredients to suit yourself. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Cook’s notes

  • For a less spicy salsa remove the seeds and veins from the hot peppers, or leave them out entirely.
  • For a smoother texture, throw everything in the blender or processor and blitz.


Serving: 3Tbsp | Calories: 26kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 41mg | Potassium: 32mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 289IU | Vitamin C: 9mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
The nutritional information for recipes on this site is provided as a courtesy and although tries to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.
e book

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    Leave a Reply

    Please rate this recipe!

  • Reply
    August 11, 2019 at 11:40 am

    Could I use fresh tomatoes in this recipe ?

    • Reply
      August 11, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      You sure can, but I would fire roast them first…just put them on foil on a baking sheet, under the broiler until they blacken, then process them to a chunky texture.

  • Reply
    Stephanie Ann Curry
    December 21, 2018 at 8:59 am


    • Reply
      December 21, 2018 at 9:03 am

      I absolutely ADORE this alligator chopper Stephanie, (the link is an affiliate link)
      It’s steel and works so much better than any of the plastic ones. Plus it doesn’t break, a big plus ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy holidays!

  • Reply
    July 1, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Looks fantastic! I am trying to decide whether to purchase a Vitamix, a food process or the food chopper you mentioned here. Looking for a utility function without needing all three. Your thoughts? I was drawn to the vitamix because of your hummus revelation. Love your recipes!

    • Reply
      July 1, 2018 at 2:40 pm

      I have to say that I love and need all three appliances, but if I could only choose one, it would be the food processor, it’s the most versatile. But the Vitamix….oh my that’s amazing ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Reply
    Laura | Tutti Dolci
    May 10, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Please pass the chips, this salsa looks like the best ever!

  • Reply
    May 5, 2018 at 8:47 am

    My cup of tea ! ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you Sue !

  • Reply
    The Gourmet Goddess
    May 5, 2018 at 8:45 am

    Well, this is stellar…color and flavor! You’ve done it yet again. This is my new go-to salsa recipe. Thank you, Sue.

  • Reply
    Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch)
    May 5, 2018 at 7:54 am

    My restaurant salsa is one of the most popular recipes on my site. Vinegar is a must ingredient, and I love that you used sherry vinegar. I usually use just cider and can’t wait to try the sherry. It’s my favorite anyway, don’t know why I didn’t think of it. Also, like the bell pepper addition.

    • Reply
      May 5, 2018 at 8:00 am

      Sherry vinegar is my favorite too, it’s got the perfect balance. Thanks for stopping by Lea Ann!

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