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Red Chili Tomato Salsa

Red Chili Tomato Salsa is a burst of tangy flavors to level up all your tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, and more! This delicious homemade tomato salsa recipe can be customized to your desired heat level and comes together quickly.

Red chili tomato salsa in a jar, ready to eat.

Make way for the easiest homemade salsa recipe!

In addition to my Easy Salsa Verde which is made with tomatillos, I also love making fresh homemade salsas using regular tomatoes.

Red chili salsas pair incredibly well with any type of beef, from Carne Asada to ground beef, or  grilled steak, and also grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken.

Because it can be hit or miss when it comes to store-bought salsa, I love making red salsas at home using fresh ingredients.

I’ve found using a combination of fresh chilies and dried chiles yields an amazing flavor in the sense that you get a mild natural smokiness in addition to a fresh burst of chili flavor. 

If you’ve made my Instant Pot Chile Colorado recipe or my Crock Pot Birria Tacos, you are already an expert on cooking with dried chilies.

I have included instructions in this post for mild tomato salsa as well as medium and hot salsas. While making homemade salsa is not an exact science when it comes to the scoville scale, you have some level of control over the spice level. 

If you have a garden, you can double, triple, or quadruple the batch to use up some of your garden goodies, which can be preserved for long periods of time!

Salsa recipes like this are perfect for canning or for whipping up whenever you’re having company over for Mexican food. 

Serve it up with your favorite tortilla chips and guacamole as an appetizer, or use it on top of your favorite Mexican dishes. 

Red salsa in a jar with fresh cilantro in the background.

Let’s discuss the fresh ingredients for homemade salsa.

Ingredients for Red Chili Tomato Salsa:

Fresh Tomatoes: Adding sweet tang and natural juices, fresh tomatoes account for much of the liquid in this fresh tomato salsa recipe. The tomato juice is all we need, unless you prefer a waterier consistency in which case you can add water to your personal taste.

Dried Guajillo Chiles: Dried red chilies get reconstituted in boiling water, then added to this fresh salsa recipe. They provide a mild sweet and smoky flavor that adds depth and nuance to the salsa. 

You can use any type of dried chili here, which can be found at any grocery store in the Mexican food aisle, or a Mexican market.

If you don’t have experience cooking with dried chilis and aren’t about to start, you can omit them from the salsa and it will still taste great.

Fresh Jalapeno Peppers: One of the main ingredients in a delicious restaurant-style salsa! I like to roast them in the oven to bring out their flavor. These peppers vary in their spice level but the great news is, the seeds can be omitted for mild salsa.

White Onion & Garlic: Fresh onion and fresh garlic cloves bring that bite of flavor everyone loves so much in a fresh salsa recipe.

Vinegar & Lime Juice: Bringing an acidic punch, a little white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar) and fresh lime juice adds tang to the salsa, adding to that classic punch of flavor. 

Pure Maple Syrup or Sugar: A little sugar cuts the acidity of the tomatoes and chilies. There is only a small amount of pure maple syrup or sugar added, so the salsa doesn’t taste sweet.

You can add more sweetener for a sweeter salsa if you prefer.

Omit the sweetener altogether if you don’t do sugar.

Fresh Cilantro: A little burst of herbs brings more freshness to the salsa. You can adjust the amount up or down depending on how much you enjoy cilantro. Omit it if it tastes like soap.

Sea Salt: Add sea salt to your personal taste. I use one teaspoon of sea salt. If you use iodized salt (also known as table salt), start with ¼ teaspoon and adjust up as needed. 

Best Tomatoes for Fresh Tomato Salsa:

What are the best types of tomatoes for tomato salsa? 

Roma tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes are my personal favorites for the the best salsa. They both add richness and a subtle sweetness that you don’t always find in every type of tomato.

At a minimum, ripe tomatoes result in the best salsa. Vine-ripened tomatoes are great, so long as they are ripe. 

Mason jar of homemade salsa on a wooden plate with fresh cilantro to the side.

Optional Additions:

  • Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of avocado oil or olive oil to this recipe for a richer salsa to be used as a decadent condiment. 
  • If you have the time to roast garlic ahead of time, feel free to use roasted garlic instead of fresh garlic.
  • Turn this into a pineapple salsa or a mango salsa by adding 1 cup of fresh chopped pineapple or mango.
  • If you prefer red onion or yellow onion over white onion, feel free to make the switch. Green onion works too if you prefer a milder onion flavor.
  • Having trouble finding good fresh tomatoes? Use canned tomatoes instead!
  • Swap lemon juice for the lime juice if it’s what you have on hand.
  • If you’re into black pepper, add 1/2 teaspoon or to your personal taste.
  • For very spicy salsa, consider adding a serrano pepper or two, or habanero peppers in addition to the jalapeno peppers.
  • If you love herby salsas, feel free to add in more fresh herbs like oregano or parsley if you enjoy the flavor.

Now that we’re familiar with the simple ingredients list, let’s make this easy homemade salsa recipe!

How to Make Red Chili Tomato Salsa:

Place your oven on the high broil setting and transfer the fresh jalapenos to a baking sheet. Broil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the jalapenos have softened slightly and the skin darkens. Set aside to cool.

Roasted jalapenos on a baking sheet.

Once cool enough to handle, chop the stems off of the jalapenos and discard them.

For mild salsa, remove all the seeds and innards of the jalapenos. For spicy salsa, leave all or some of the seeds (depending on your heat preference).

For medium salsa, leave in most of the seeds of one jalapeno but remove all of the seeds from two of the jalapenos.

Bring a small saucepan full of water to a full boil and add the dried guajillo chilies. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the chilies to sit in the hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they have become very soft.

Note: this step can be performed while the jalapenos are in the oven.

Dried red chilies in boiling water to become reconstituted.

Remove the chilies from the hot water, discard the stems, and squeeze out any water that may have pooled inside the chilies.

For mild salsa, discard the seeds, and for spicy salsa, leave the seeds in.

Transfer all of the ingredients, including the roasted jalapenos and reconstituted chilies to a blender or a food processor.

Ingredients for homemade salsa in a food processor.

Blend until the salsa reaches your desired consistency. Pulse only a couple of times for chunky salsa or just chop all the ingredients by hand.

Blend at a high speed for over a minute for a smoother texture.

Taste the salsa for flavor and add more lime juice, salt, or garlic to taste.

Fresh homemade salsa recipe in a food processor, ready to serve.

Use the salsa immediately, or transfer it to an airtight jar. Keep the salsa in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

If you’re canning the salsa using the proper canning process, the salsa will last much longer. Mason jars are perfect for storing fresh homemade salsa like this.

Use this delicious tomato salsa on any of your favorite tacos, burritos, burrito bowls, quesadillas, and more. You can also use it in one of my Mexican-inspired casserole recipes.

How to Make Mild Salsa:

If you love salsa but prefer it mild, I’ve got you! The first step is to use 1 to 2 jalapenos instead of 3.

In addition, you can skip the roasting process and remove the seeds and insides.

Roasting the jalapeño peppers brings out the spiciness, so for a mild salsa, leave the jalapenos raw. Still worried about the spice level? Omit the jalapenos and use one green bell pepper.

In addition to removing the jalapeno seeds, also remove the guajillo chili seeds after the chilies have finished rehydrating.

While these seeds aren’t nearly as spicy as jalapeno seeds, it’s best to remove them just in case.

It is important to note, that jalapeño peppers vary widely in their spice level. Some can be very mild while others can be very spicy.

For this reason, it is difficult to control the heat level of a freshly made salsa. Just keep this in mind when using ingredients like jalapenos.

Fresh Tomato Salsa in a food processor.

And that’s it!

The best homemade salsa recipe that can be customized to fit your preferences. This restaurant-style salsa is perfect for serving guests as an appetizer or using on any Mexican main dish.

Any time you have an abundance of fresh produce from the farmers market, CSA box, or garden, salsa is a great go-to.

Serving Suggestions:

The following recipes are great options for placement for this salsa.

Where will you put this tasty salsa?

Red salsa in a jar with fresh cilantro in the background.
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5 from 1 vote

Red Chili Tomato Salsa

Dreamy restaurant-style salsa for serving as an appetizer with chips or for dousing tacos, burritos, burrito bowls and more. This easy salsa recipe is loaded with fresh vegetables for the best salsa.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time8 minutes
Total Time23 minutes
Course: Salsas, Sauces, Spreads, Dips, & Dressings
Cuisine: Mexican
Servings: 1 .5 cups
Calories: 17kcal
Author: Julia

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe tomatoes about 12 to 14 ounces
  • ½ white onion chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 3 dried guajillo chilies
  • 3 jalapenos*
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar**
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp sea salt to taste

Instructions

  • Place your oven on the high broil setting and transfer the fresh jalapenos to a baking sheet. Broil for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the jalapenos have softened slightly and the skin darkens. Set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop the stems off of the jalapenos and discard them. For mild salsa, remove all the seeds and innards of the jalapenos. For spicy salsa, leave all or some of the seeds (depending on your heat preference). For medium salsa, leave in most of the seeds of one jalapeno but remove all of the seeds from two of the jalapenos.
  • Bring a small saucepan full of water to a full boil and add the dried guajillo chilies. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the chilies to sit in the hot water for 5 to 10 minutes, or until they have become very soft. Remove the chilies from the hot water, discard the stems, and squeeze out any water that may have pooled inside the chilies. For mild salsa, discard the seeds, and for spicy salsa, leave the seeds in.
  • Transfer all of the ingredients, including the roasted jalapenos and reconstituted chilies to a blender or a food processor.
  • Blend until the salsa reaches your desired consistency. Pulse only a couple of times for chunky salsa or just chop all the ingredients by hand. Blend at a high speed for over a minute for a smoother texture. Taste the salsa for flavor and add more lime juice, salt, or garlic to taste.

Notes

*For spicy salsa, leave in the jalapeno seeds. For mild salsa, remove all the seeds and innards. The seeds of the guajillo chilies are mild, so there’s no need to remove them unless you want to.
**You can also use apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar

Nutrition

Serving: 2Tablespoons | Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Sodium: 197mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

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