Fire Roasted Salsa Negra (black salsa)

A bowl of Salsa Negra with cilantro.

Fire Roasted Salsa Negra is an intense Mexican black salsa is made with roasted tomatoes and peppers for a deep dark color and a gutsy flavor. Caution, this recipe involves playing with fire, and a whole lot of smoky spice  ~ it’s not for the timid!

Fire Roasted Salsa Negra ~ this intense salsa is made with roasted tomatoes and peppers for a deep dark color and a gutsy flavor. Caution, this salsa involves playing with fire, and a whole lot of smoky spice ~ it's not for the timid!

fire roasted salsa negra is smokey, bold, and delicious!

My inspiration comes from Baja Fresh, one of my favorite Tex-Mex fast food chains…they have a similar dark salsa on their salsa bar, and I’ve been meaning to recreate it for years!

Fire Roasted Salsa Negra ~ this intense salsa is made with roasted tomatoes and peppers for a deep dark color and a gutsy flavor. Caution, this salsa involves playing with fire, and a whole lot of smoky spice ~ it's not for the timid!

most of the salsas I make are light, colorful, and fruity

You might have tried my Strawberry Jalapeño Salsa or this summer’s Peach Jalapeño Salsa. One of my personal favorites is my mixed Spicy Fruit Salsa, it’s bursting with color. Did you know I’ve made salsa with everything from cantaloupe and mushrooms to papaya and  pomegranate? This one is a real departure from all that, for sure! The deep ‘black’ color comes from charring the tomatoes and peppers before they’re pureed. The blackened skin not only adds color, it adds tons of smoky flavor.

Tomatoes for making Fire Roasted Salsa Negra

how to fire roast tomatoes and peppers 3 ways

  • You can roast your peppers on an outdoor grill, just lay them directly on the grates and wait until they blacken.
  • Under the broiler ~ you can arrange your veggies in a single layer on a baking sheet and place on the highest slot, closest to your broiler flame. Check on them frequently and turn to blacken on all sides.
  • You can do this right on your stove top if you have gas burners. Hold the peppers with a long pair of tongs to hold them safely and securely while you blacken them. Note: this is not a job for kids.
  • Use caution when blackening peppers over an open flame, they can briefly catch fire.
  • Tomatoes are best done under the broiler because of their juiciness.

do you remove the skins after roasting?

No, leave the blackened parts alone, they will blend up and give this salsa its distinctive flavor and color.

Roasted tomatoes for Fire Roasted Salsa Negra

To roast dried peppers

  • Soak them first in hot water to soften their skins.
  • Then you can roast them as above.
Dried chile pods for Fire Roasted Salsa Negra
Roasted chiles for Fire Roasted Salsa Negra, Mexican black salsa

which peppers to use for salsa negra

I used both dried Hatch chiles, (above) and fresh green pasillo chiles, as well as a couple of jalapenos. Dried chile pods can be found in most large supermarkets, but you might have to ask, they tend to be in odd spots. Once you’ve soaked your dried chilies in boiling water until soft, you can blacken them the same way you do with the fresh vegetables. I just held mine with tongs over the gas flame on my stove top, they blacken instantly.

Making Fire Roasted Salsa Negra, Mexican Black Salsa

The world of chiles and peppers is a complex one, and my advice is, don’t get too hung up on which exact one you use ~ go with what you can get your hands on. Be adventurous, the results will be great.

Hatch Chile Peppers

Hatch chiles are the famous New Mexican variety with a cult following.

I’ve used them before in my Slow Cooked hatch Pepper Chili and my Cheesy Hatch Green Chile Dip. Fresh hatch chile season runs from August through the end of September, but even if you miss that you can buy them in cans, or better yet, frozen for use all year long.

Fire Roasted Salsa Negra ~ this intense salsa is made with roasted tomatoes and peppers for a deep dark color and a gutsy flavor. Caution, this salsa involves playing with fire, and a whole lot of smoky spice ~ it's not for the timid!

This salsa negra got rave reviews from friends and family, but more importantly, I love it, and it’s going into my personal recipe hall of fame, and I’ll be making it over and over again.

tips for making fire roasted salsa

  • One interesting thing about making this salsa negra is that because you’re going to be roasting them, you want to start with relatively hard tomatoes, you can save the ripe ones for your salads.
  • Don’t be shy about blackening your veggies, that’s where all the flavor comes from.
  • If you want a milder fire roasted effect, you can peel the vegetables after blackening. Just cover them with plastic and let them sit until cool enough to handle. The skins can be removed easily.

“I have made at least two dozen different recipes for roasted salsa, I’ve talked to waiters and chefs trying to get it right… and this is the closest I’ve come to restaurant quality roasted salsa! Thank you so much!”

~ Malia
A bowl of Salsa Negra with cilantro
3.62 from 257 votes

Fire Roasted Salsa Negra (black salsa)

Fire Roasted Salsa Negra ~ this intense Mexican black salsa is made with roasted tomatoes and peppers for a deep dark color and a gutsy flavor.
Course Appetizer, Sauce
Cuisine Mexican
Total Time 30 minutes
Yield 15 servings
Author Sue Moran


  • 4-5 dried red Hatch or other large red chile peppers
  • 2 pounds firm red tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 fresh pasilla chile peppers about 10 ounces (substitute poblano if you can’t find them)
  • 1 medium red onion peeled and rough chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic smashed and peeled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


  • fresh cilantro leaves


  • Cover the dried chiles with boiling water and let soak for 30 minutes. Make sure they are covered by the water.
  • While the chiles soak, turn your broiler on high, and set the rack at the highest setting. Line a baking sheet with foil and arrange the tomatoes on it. Broil for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until the tomatoes are blackened all over. Set aside.
  • Do the same with the pasilla and jalapeno peppers, leave them whole, don’t chop. When they are blackened all over, remove and set aside.
  • Repeat the procedure with the soaked peppers.
  • Put the onion and the garlic in the food processor and pulse until finely minced. Turn into a large bowl. Add the salt, pepper, spices, lime juice and Worcestershire sauce.
  • Chop the blackened tomatoes in quarters, and puree, in the food processor, working in batches if necessary. Add the puree to the bowl with the onions and spices.
  • Remove and discard the stems from all the peppers and chop them in half. Puree them in the processor, and then add to the bowl. Note: I did not remove the seeds from the peppers.
  • Add the olive oil to the bowl and blend everything together. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, or until ready to serve. Be sure to taste the salsa prior to serving to adjust any of the seasonings. Note, this is a relatively thick salsa.

Cook’s notes

  • I garnished with cilantro, but didn’t put any in the salsa, feel free to puree a handful in if you like.
  • This Salsa Negra would make a great sauce for grilled chicken, or on tacos.
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.
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  • Reply
    November 13, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Question – when I tried to do this my kitchen ended up smelling awful because of the burn! isn’t there another way to do this? Did I broil them to slowly maybe? Have you ever tried it on the grill?

    • Reply
      November 14, 2018 at 5:24 am

      You can blacken the veggies any way you want, the grill works great. I get them right close to the flame so it blackens pretty quickly.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2018 at 10:37 am

    5 stars
    This is great. Try serving it very warm instead of chilled. Opens up all the flavor profiles!

    • Reply
      November 7, 2018 at 10:52 am

      Wow, never thought of that, and it really sounds intriguing. You just made me think that it would make a great enchilada sauce, too.

  • Reply
    October 4, 2018 at 9:17 pm

    5 stars
    This salsa is amazing. Very close to Baja Fresh’s. I could drink this. Maybe not my first batch. Due to a miscommunication I put in a bunch of ghost peppers, thinking they were some weak red pepper. So tasty.

    • Reply
      October 4, 2018 at 9:31 pm

      Oh my gosh, I bet your first batch was powerful!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Have you ever canned this recipe? Wondering if water bath canning would be okay, or if it would need pressure canning.

    • Reply
      July 22, 2018 at 8:25 am

      I haven’t tested this recipe for water bath canning, Michelle, and since it doesn’t have a lot of acidic vinegar or citrus in it, I wouldn’t recommend it. The ph has to be 4.5 or lower for safe water bath canning. You can freeze it, though.

  • Reply
    November 7, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    5 stars
    I fell in love with black salsa earlier this year and now to have your recipe is the bomb!! You mentioned ushmana in one of the comments – what is that?

    • Reply
      November 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      I was answering the commenter by name, her name was Ushmana 🙂 I hope you enjoy this!

  • Reply
    Lydia D
    September 14, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    5 stars
    Like 100 years ago, I used to be a clerk at a porn shop. I know, I know, not my proudest moment. My mother was ready to make a flying leap into the grave when she heard. Gee, Ma, it’s not like I’m IN the porn, I’m just making change, they were the only callback out of many applications I filled out. Anyhoo, one of the only things I miss about that job was a nearby taco shack: Casita Taco. That’s where I first learned of salsa negra. Holy hell, it was a rite of passage in my life! The rest of their food was good, but their salsa negra and chips alone was worth a thousand mile journey…ON FOOT! I could make a meal out of their salsa negra & chips, at times, I did. Unfortunately, the only thing I’ve found harder than finding salsa negra is salsa negra DONE RIGHT! Just because it’s got black speckles in it doesn’t make it salsa negra. It’s gotta look ugly to be good. Casita’s looked downright nasty, like engine sludge! My favorite local salsa brand, Homeboy, made a good one that got me by for a while, but it just can’t be found these days. It’s been a few years, so it’s safe to assume at this point it’s been discontinued (maybe people found the appearance off putting, the ignorant fools!)… so I set out to make my own. I can tell just by looking at your recipe that it is a close match to the flavor profile of Casita’s salsa negra. I can’t wait to try it when I come home! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe!

    • Reply
      September 15, 2017 at 5:07 am

      Thanks for the laugh, and I hope this salsa lives up to your memories, Lydia, let me know!

    • Reply
      November 3, 2018 at 7:50 am

      If in Los ANgeles, try the Salsa Negra at Pachanga’s—located in Rosecrans Ave in Manhattan Beach.

  • Reply
    August 19, 2017 at 4:20 pm

    5 stars
    I always reach for this salsa in a restaurant. Now, thanks to this recipe, I don’t have to reach so far. GREG

    • Reply
      January 7, 2018 at 8:29 am

      I always ask for seconds and thirds!

  • Reply
    August 17, 2017 at 5:05 pm

    Sue, this looks wonderful! This is my favorite kind of salsa – will have to find a place to char the peppers:) Thank you ~Bijouxs

    • Reply
      Leonard Sullivan
      January 6, 2018 at 4:11 pm

      Easy, there are many many ways to char a pepper. Easiest being (for fresh peppers) put em on a tray and broil them in your oven. To toast dried peppers, the all-time standard way it to dry toast them in a pan with nothing in it at all. Heat a bare pan to medium/medium-high cut open the pepper do you can lay it flat. Then press it inside side down onto the bare pan and push down on it with a spatula. Now, You only do this for maybe 5-15 seconds, depending on the pepper, or you WILL burn it.
      Then you take it and transfer it to a bowl of hot tap water to soak and rehydrate. This is what every Mexican…ever…does with their dried chilis lol. For some reason sh3 does this backwards but trust me, this is the method!

      P.S., if you don’t have an 9ven to broil fresh peppers, you can char them in a bare pan lined with tin foil! Many Mexicans do this too. Just line a bare pan with a little foil on the bottom heat to medium high and rattle your peppers every five minutes until charred all around!


      • Reply
        January 7, 2018 at 8:31 am

        Thanks Leonard, great tips!

  • Reply
    Danielle @ Follow My Gut
    August 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    That salsa sounds so good and it looks so deep and powerful. Love the way you made it because it sounds amazing!!


  • Reply
    Ushmana Palmo Rai
    August 17, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Greetings from Nepal,Sue!
    Coming from a land of spices , anything with a little bit of spice is right up my alley! I wish I could just smell the smoky flavor from here. I am definitely trying this on my own this weekend!
    But I got to ask, Are there any substitutes for the Worcestershire sauce? Markets around here don’t sell those 🙁

    • Reply
      August 17, 2017 at 8:27 am

      You can use balsamic vinegar, Ushmana, and really, you can leave it out, it was just a last minute thought on my part to add it. Good luck, and let us know how yours turns out ~ I love that we’re cooking together from across the globe :))

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