Secret Ingredient Restaurant-Style Salsa

Secret Ingredient Restaurant-Style Salsa

Restaurant-Style Salsa is a CINCH to make at home, plus it’s much cheaper then buying. Learn the ingredient I use to make it taste just like a restaurant’s.

Never has a statement quite spoken to my soul like this tweet about chips and salsa. It’s a question I’ve wondered for nearly my entire existence: HOW IN THE WORLD DO YOU STOP EATING CHIPS AND SALSA?!

Ahem, sorry.

Clearly I’m not alone in asking this mega important life question, and clearly the answer is: you don’t. At least not when making salsa at home is so easy that you’ll be doing it every week, all year round. Which leads me to tell you what the secret ingredient in my restaurant-style salsa is – CANNED TOMATOES!

I know, I know – we’re smack dab in the center of tomato season, but while fresh tomatoes make great pico de gallo, you gotta go with canned tomatoes if you want that true restaurant flavor. Which is good news if you’re reading this in the season that shall not be named, when tomatoes at the grocery store taste like the literal absence of flavor.

Anyway, I’ve been making this recipe since college, which is when I found out canned tomatoes are the secret to the addictive-deliciousness of restaurant-style salsa (aka I begged the waiter at Carlos O’Kelly’s, my home away from home, to tell me – yikes!) Of course I occasionally slack and buy salsa at the store, but this recipe is soooo much better.

First of all, it makes 4 cups of salsa for under $5. Yes, FOUR CUPS! I’ll go ahead and put that in my $6, 16oz jar of gluten-free store-bought salsa pipe and smoke it. Second of all, you can control the amount of salt, as store-bought salsas are usually packed with it. Not that the tortilla chips you’ll be dunking into this salsa by the dozen are low in sodium, but every little bit helps, I think.

Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa is best devoured by way of the aforementioned tortilla chips, but I also use it in:

Tortilla-Crusted Taco Chicken

Homemade Crunchy Taco Hamburger Helper

Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves

Frozen Breakfast Burritos

Plus poured over every nacho platter and quesadilla, of course!

Psst! Before we get the to the recipe I want to tell you that this Wednesday, July 26 I’ll be taking over the UnityPointHealth Instagram account for the day! Follow then check back all day Wednesday for peeks into the boys’ and my day…which will undoubtedly include this salsa as an afternoon snack!

Alrighty, there’s just one step involved in this recipe – throw a bunch of ingredients into the bowl of a food processor then pulse – woot! I’ve had my Cuisinart 14 Cup Food Processor for years and it might be my MVA (most valuable appliance.)

To the bowl add a 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes undrained, 1/2 red onion that’s been roughly chopped, 1 handful cilantro leaves, 2 cloves garlic, 1 jalapeno that’s been seeded and roughly chopped (leave the seeds in if you like spicy salsa,) 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon sugar, and the juice of 1/2 lime.

NOTE: if your canned tomatoes contain sugar in the ingredient list then omit the sugar in the recipe.

Pulse the ingredients until you reach your desired consistency then taste and add more lime juice if you like. I usually use an entire lime, but I also prefer my salsa to be on the puckery side.

Scoop the salsa into a 4 cup mason jar or bowl with a tight fitting lid then refrigerate for 24 hours to let the flavors really meld before digging in (hahaha yeah right!) The salsa will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, though mine never ever sticks around that long. I hope you love this EASY restaurant-style salsa at home! Enjoy!

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Print Recipe

Restaurant-Style Salsadairy freegluten freelow fatveganvegetarian5 minute meal


  • 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped (leave in seeds for a spicier salsa)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
Read the whole recipe on Iowa Girl Eats