Salsa Mexicana

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Homemade salsa Mexicana brings together bright and zesty Mexican flavors in a smooth, scoopable, delicious homemade dip. With authentic ingredients like Mexican oregano and chile de árbol, it tastes like it was just brought to your table at a Mexican restaurant!

closeup: a hand dipping a tortilla chip in salsa mexicana


My salsa Mexicana recipe is smooth, spicy, and delicately seasoned to nurture the natural tangy, herbal, and citrusy flavors in its authentic Mexican ingredients. It’s also so simple to make in just 15 minutes. Cook, blend, simmer, and you’re done. All that’s left to do is eat all 12 servings of this zesty, tangy treat!

A quick tip for a full-bodied salsa Mexicana — let it sit for 15 or 30 minutes before serving. This gives all the flavors some time to get to know each other and make a really bold, rich-tasting salsa.

overhead: ingredients needed for my salsa mexicana recipe

There’s so much you can do with salsas. They’re great with chips, of course, and for adding moisture to tacos, chimichangas, and empanadas, but have you ever tried them with fries or mozzarella sticks? If not, you’re missing out! 

Try some other salsas too: salsas verde, macha, and even fruity peach and strawberry versions.

overhead: ingredients for salsa mexicana in a blender

Tip From Kevin

Fresh is best

This recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, chiles like jalapeños and Serranos, onion and garlic. The ingredients get boiled for three minutes then get blended with the remaining ingredients. A super easy, authentic flavored Mexican sauce.

overhead: ingredients for my salsa mexicana recipe in a blender after blending

Ingredient Notes and Substitutions

  • Roma Tomatoes – Use a tomato with more flesh than water and seeds. Roma are my preference, but plum and beefsteak tomatoes are great, too. 
  • Jalapeños & Chiles de Árbol – You can play around with peppers to get the level of heat you like. Common jalapeños are a good mild choice, while serranos are a little spicier. Check out my chili pepper guide to get your salsa Mexicana right where you want it! 
  • White Onion – This is the most popular onion for salsas, but red and yellow onions are both fine choices.  
  • Mexican Oregano A tell-tale difference between bland, jarred salsa and an authentic salsa Mexicana recipe is the use of Mexican oregano. It has a light, lemony flavor compared to Mediterranean oregano.
  • Cilantro – An optional, additional herb to add freshness while serving. 
  • Garlic – Two cloves of garlic can be replaced with two teaspoons of minced, jarred garlic for convenience.
  • Olive Oil – This sauce is emulsified with oil. Some prefer to use avocado oil or even corn oil, but I love the flavor of extra virgin olive oil in my homemade salsas!
overhead: a spoonful of salsa mexicana over a small saucepan with more

How to Make Salsa Mexicana

  1. Cook the Vegetables. Remove and discard the Roma tomato cores. Add the cored tomatoes to a saucepan with the jalapeños, chiles de árbol, onion, and garlic. Pour in enough water to cover the vegetables and bring everything to a boil. Once it comes to a rolling boil, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Blend. Scoop the cooked vegetables into a blender along with ¼ cup of the water from the pan. Add the seasonings and oregano to the blender and very carefully blend until smooth. Leave one corner of the lid unsealed for steam to escape.
  3. Simmer the Salsa. Wipe the saucepan clean and dry. Add more olive oil to the pan and warm over medium-high heat. Add the puree to the pan and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Serve. Add more salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle the freshly chopped cilantro on top, and serve.
  • Blender – Use a blender or food processor for an extremely smooth salsa Mexicana.
  • Saucepan An important step in this recipe is cooking down the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and chiles. Make sure you use a good saucepan! 

Storing and Serving

This salsa Mexicana recipe can be served warm, right out of the pan, or chilled. It will take one or two hours to fully chill in the refrigerator, so plan ahead if you prefer your salsa cold! 

Stored well in an airtight container, this recipe can be refrigerated for up to a week.

closeup: a hand dipping a torilla chip in my salsa mexicana recipe

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This salsa Mexicana is wonderful spooned over my Chili Rellenos Casserole, too!

side view: salsa mexicana over my chili rellenos casserole

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you make salsa Mexicana with canned tomatoes?


Yes — and many prefer to do so for convenience or when tomatoes are not in season. 

And it’s actually a great opportunity! Use the canned liquid instead, or along with, the water when cooking down the vegetables to incorporate even more flavor in the recipe.

Why does Mexican restaurant salsa taste better?


It’s all about the preparation and the ingredients! And this recipe delivers restaurant quality right at home in minutes.

The kind you’ll receive tableside at a Mexican restaurant is fresh, not jarred. Without preservatives and other additives that take away from the freshness of the vegetables and seasonings, you can immediately taste the difference.

As for the ingredients themselves, they’re specific to Mexican cuisine. Mexican oregano vs. Mediterranean oregano, just the right amount of oil, and an appropriate amount of resting time build a bold flavor that you simply can’t achieve otherwise.

Are salsa Mexicana and salsa roja the same thing?


The term salsa Mexicana merely refers to a cooked salsa. This could be a salsa roja, salsa verde, or any other kind. Any of these salsas can also be prepared “raw,” “fresca,” or “cruda” — that is, uncooked.

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Salsa Mexicana

Authentic salsa Mexicana is a blend of cooked chile de arbol, jalapenos, tomatoes, garlic, and Mexican oregano — and easy to make at home!
Servings: 12
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 10 minutes
Total: 15 minutes

Ingredients 

Instructions 

  • Cut core from each tomato. Place tomatoes, jalapeños, chile de árbol, onion and garlic in saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, cook 3 minutes on medium heat.
  • Transfer cooked vegetables and chiles to a blender and add the salt, pepper, oregano and 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Puree until smooth.
  • Next add oil to dry saucepan, and over medium-high heat, cook the pureed salsa for 5 minutes.
  • Season with salt to taste and serve with optional chopped cilantro on top or stirred through.

Nutrition

Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 0.2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 389mg | Potassium: 65mg | Fiber: 0.5g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 234IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.1mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

Course: Appetizers, Salsa, Sauces
Cuisine: Mexican
Have You Made This Recipe? Let Me Know on InstagramTag @keviniscooking or tag me #keviniscooking!
titled image (and shown): easy salsa mexicana

Kevin

Whether in the kitchen or on the grill, you’ll find me cooking American favorites with a love for BBQ, Mexican and Tex Mex. I’m passionate about making tasty food because life’s too short to be bland!

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3 Comments

  1. I like the charred bits when you grill or broil the vegetables before blending. Should I then boil them as in your recipe, or do they cook enough on the grill? Love all your recipes!