The Art of Making Salsa

Salsa 101 – For many, salsa is more than a dip for tortilla chips, it is the finishing touch that can make or break a meal. If you are a master at making “Una Buena Salsa” then you are in! It will be the reason everyone shows up when you are cooking, you will be a legend.

The basics are simple. First pick your base, will it be tomatoes, tomatillos or neither?  Second select your chiles and the amount of heat you want.  Third choose a cooking method roasted, boiled, fried or even raw.  The combinations are endless.  These are a few of the salsas that I make for my family, they range in heat from mild to super spicy. I hope you try making 1 or 2 or all of them and end up with a buffet of salsas, like me.


Roasted Tomatillo, Tomato and Serrano Salsa

From mild to spicy this smoky salsa is full of flavor.


  • 1 ripe roma tomato
  • 1 cup tomatillos
  • 1 piece of onion
  • 3 garlic cloves with skins on
  • 2 – 7 serrano peppers
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 lime

Roast all of the ingredients on a comal until soft and charred; peel the garlic, transfer all the veggies to a blender, add the water, lime juice, salt and pulse to combine; to control the spice level start with 1 or 2 chiles, process then taste, add more chiles if desired until you are satisfied with the heat level; adjust salt if needed.


Boiled Tomatillo, Serrano and Arbol Salsa

Spicy and tangy from the tomatillos.


  • 1 cup of tomatillo milpero ( small tomatillos sold in bags) or 5 regular tomatillos
  • 3 serrano chiles
  • 1/3 of a small onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 12 dried arbol chiles
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water

Place tomatillos, chiles, onion and garlic in a pan filled with enough water to cover them bring to a simmer and cook until everything is soft ( about 10 min ) you might have to remove the tomatillos first to keep them from falling apart; add the serrano chiles, garlic, onion and tomatillos to a blender with 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth, next add the chiles de arbol to the blender and pulse to break them up, they should not be completely blended into the salsa; add the salt and pulse a few more times to mix.


Roasted Tomato and Toasted Cascabel Chile Salsa

Mild smoky robust and flavorful

  • 2 ripe roma tomatoes
  • 9 dried cascabel chiles
  • 3 garlic cloves with skins on
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup water

Roast the tomatoes and the garlic until soft and charred in some spots; toast the cascabel chiles until pliable, let them cool and remove the seeds but save 1 tbsp of these seeds; add the reserved seeds to the hot comal and toast them until golden brown, transfer them to a blender along with the tomatoes, garlic, chiles, salt and 1/3 cup of water; blend until well combined and smooth.

Raw Tomatillo and Serrano Salsa

 Spicy and fresh with a bright citrus flavor

  • 1 cup tomatillo milpero
  • 2 regular tomatillos
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 3 serrano chiles
  • 2-3 limes
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 slice of onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp salt

wash all of the ingredients well, chop them and add them to a blender with the water, salt and juice from 2 or 3 limes; blend until well combined, add more lemon juice or salt if desired.


Roasted Tomatillo, Jalapeno and Serrano Salsa

Spicy and smoky with a lot of texture

  • 6 tomatillos
  • 3 serrano chiles
  • 6 jalapenos
  • 2 garlic cloves with skins on
  • 2 slices of onion
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1/2 cup water

Roast the veggies on a comal until soft and charred in some spots; peel the garlic and transfer to a blender with the tomatillos and serranos, add the water, salt, lime juice and blend until smooth; next chop the onion and the jalapenos, add them to the blender and pulse to break them up, do not blend completely this salsa has a chunky texture; adjust salt if needed.




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