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
4.34 from 6 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
    Chris Scheuer
    May 4, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    Yum! I would eat this like soup! It looks amazing and so… pretty too with all the vibrant colors!

    • Reply
      May 4, 2018 at 5:46 pm

      You’re so right, I didn’t think of it, but it’s basically gazpacho 🙂

  • Reply
    Traci | Vanilla And Bean
    May 4, 2018 at 2:47 pm

    A vat (I mean jar) of homemade salsa is the BEST! Love those fire roasted tomatoes – just my style! Delicious Sue!

  • Reply
    [email protected]'s Recipes
    May 4, 2018 at 11:03 am

    Your salsa looks fantastic. I need to look for some fire roasted tomatoes. Have a great weekend, sue!

  • Reply
    Susan Zacharias
    May 4, 2018 at 10:20 am

    Nice recipe, Sue. My cookery teacher from El Salvador, says if you cook fresh salsa for just 1 minute then refrigerate, it will keep much longer.

    • Reply
      May 4, 2018 at 10:42 am

      That’s interesting, Susan, I’ve never heard that, I’ll try it.

  • Reply
    May 4, 2018 at 8:32 am

    You are hilarious! I really enjoy these recipes and have made a few already as I love to cook and this has been fun! I love the Strawberry buttermilk cake and the Tuscan Chicken Thighs! We’ve enjoyed the banana poppy seed cake and many others. Sending you many blessings!

  • Reply
    May 4, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Sue, do you have any idea about the nutritional content of your salsa. It looks so healthy but wondering about calories, carbs, and sodium for people on strict diets. Thanks!!

    • Reply
      May 4, 2018 at 9:51 am

      I added a label for you Carolyn, hope that helps!

  • Reply
    Jennifer @ Seasons and Suppers
    May 4, 2018 at 8:14 am

    I love a great salsa and this looks perfect! Will whip up a batch for the weekend 🙂

  • Reply
    May 4, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Gosh this looks almost like gazpacho! Super duper yummy Sue. Thanks for sharing all your great recipes and ideas!

  • Reply
    May 4, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Your observations about the term “restaurant salsa” are spot-on — you must be right that they use a blender or food processor to get that thickness. Your ingredient list also sounds just right, especially cilantro.

    best… mae

  • Reply
    Tricia @ Saving Room for Dessert
    May 4, 2018 at 3:18 am

    I’m not going to be able to rest until I make a big batch of this beautiful salsa. It looks absolutely perfect in every way. Pass the chips!!!

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