Best Quick Tomato Salsa

Red Salsa For Chips, Tacos, Burritos, Eggs & More

Nothing starts a party better than chips and salsa! We love this quick homemade salsa that starts off with a can or two of fire-roasted tomatoes, adds a little garlic, onion, jalapeño or poblano, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime juice – yeah, that's it, so simple, yes?! Give it all a buzz in the food processor and onto the table it goes. Party on!

Best Quick Tomato Salsa ♥, 10 minutes start to chip. Budget Friendly. Low Carb. Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.

Real Food, Fresh & Fast. Budget Friendly. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free. Not just vegan, Vegan Done Real. Great for Meal Prep.

Chips & Salsa.

Some foods just go together. Belong together.

Bacon & Eggs. Bagels & Lox. Bread & Butter. Peanut Butter & Jelly. Mac n Cheese. Red Beans & Rice. Spaghetti & Meatballs. Ribs & Sauerkraut. Wine & Cheese. Cinnamon & Sugar. Strawberries & Cream.

Each can stand on its own. But together? Life is just better.

Most family gatherings, I put out a big bowl of the house guacamole, My Guacamole. But more often than not, someone asks, chip in hand, "Did you make your salsa too?"

That's because Chips & Salsa go together just as much as Chips & Guacamole.

With both? Life's just a tiny bit better.

What's In a Name?

It was a small struggle to name this recipe. Working back to front, here's why I settled on Best Quick Tomato Salsa.

  • Salsa The word "salsa" means "sauce" in Spanish. But in contemporary culinary parlance, salsa has come to mean the spiced mixture we use not so much as a sauce as a dipping or scooping mixture.
  • Tomato Tomato's an important distinction. In fact, some times salsa is called "salsa roja" or "red salsa". That's because that while this salsa is made with tomato, salsa can be made with so many other ingredients! Start with green chiles for salsa verde or "green salsa". But then get creative. Think jicama, cucumbers and tomato, cucumbers and avocado, tomatoes and capers, even blueberries and strawberries! All salsas!
  • Quick We're talking ten minutes, start to chip!
  • Best Now "best" is in the eye of the beholder tastebuds of the eater. But I've been tweaking this recipe by bits and bites for almost two years. It's definitely "best" for our taste but also, I hope, can become your best homemade salsa by tweaking it to your own best taste, not just ours.

What's In This Salsa? Pantry Ingredients!

In all my recipes and most well-written recipes, every ingredient serves a purpose. Each one matters. Each one contributes to the overall dish. It's not that an ingredient can't be substituted by something else but when choosing the substitute, it's important to understand why the original ingredient was present in the first place.

  • Canned Tomatoes Who's seen cans of tomatoes labeled "fire-roasted"? Stock up, they're excellent with a touch of grill flavor that's tantalizing. I recommend fire-roasted tomatoes but other canned tomatoes give excellent results too.
  • A Touch of Heat Fresh onion, garlic and jalapeño give the salsa a good bite, not too much, not too little. Ready for more spice? Bump up the onion and jalapeño. Want something a little milder? Use a bit less or no jalapeño at all.
  • Brightness Fresh cilantro, fresh lime juice and kosher salt make all the difference.

You Might Wonder Be Wondering ...

Can You Use Fresh Tomatoes? Yes. But for year-round consistent results, I prefer canned tomatoes for this salsa. I haven't tested this recipe with fresh tomatoes but would recommend perfectly ripe tomatoes, chopped very fine and drained well. Or keep it chunky, more pico de gallo than salsa.

Do You Have to Use a Food Processor? Nope! I always think about this, with the dream of some time being stranded in a mountain-top cabin or seaside rental house without a food processor present. But let's hope the cabin and beach house have sharp knives because you do want to spend time chop-chop-chopping everything until it's very fine.

How Long Does This Salsa Keep? Can It Be Made Ahead of Time? It's best the first day but definitely keeps for a week, if it lasts that long, if you know what I mean.

Can You Freeze This Salsa? Yes! Just transfer it to a freezer container. Press a piece of waxed paper across the top surface, this helps prevent freezer burn, the formation of ice crystals that degrades frozen foods.

Can You "Can" This Salsa? No. Canning foods for safe long-term storage without refrigeration takes a special balance of acidic and non-acidic ingredients. My recipe is for eating fresh, straight after it's made! If you'd like to can a tomato salsa, let me recommend this safe recipe from my friend Elise at Simply Recipes, see Canned Tomato Salsa.

Is This Salsa Spicy? Not really, at least to our taste this is a mild salsa. But it is full of flavor and brightness. If you taste it and find it not spicy enough, add a little more onion or jalapeño. For a lovely mild salsa, just leave out the jalapeño entirely.

For Consistent Results, For Best Results

Best Quick Tomato Salsa ♥, 10 minutes start to chip. Budget Friendly. Low Carb. Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.

  • Drain the Tomatoes! To prevent watery salsa, draining is very important. It's not enough to just drain the tomatoes in a strainer. Instead, press the tomatoes through the strainer with the back of a spoon. Believe it or not, about half the can's weight is in tomato liquid! Save the liquid, use it to cook rice, throw into a soup, etc. It's easy to use up!
  • Measure in Grams! My ingredient list is very specific, offering not just measurements in volume (quarter cups, etc) but more importantly, in grams. If you use a kitchen scale (affiliate link) to measure the garlic, onion and jalapeño, and especially the cilantro, you'll get virtually the same results, batch after batch.
  • Gauge Your Food Processor A mini food processor (affiliate link) works for a single batch that yields about a cup. A large food processor is fine for a double batch and, hmmm, up to four batches at a time.
  • Taste and Adjust Make this Tomato Salsa yours, tasting and adjusting, making it "best" according to your taste, not ours. Measure in grams, take notes. Do you like a little more cilantro? Jalapeño? Go for it!
  • Pick Your Own Name Now that it's best according to your own taste, give it your own name. Salsa Roja? Red Salsa? Tomato Salsa? Here it's become the "house salsa" or this morning, when my husband was looking for some in the refrigerator, "Where's that good tomato stuff you made?"

Cooking with Salsa

Party over? Still have some salsa left over? It's super easy to use up. Here are a few recipes that call for salsa as an "ingredient".

What Makes This Recipe Special

  • Fast & easy to throw together a fresh batch even at the last minute
  • An easy complement / choice compared to higher-calorie guacamole
  • Calls for common pantry ingredients, nothing fancy or hard to find
  • Bright, fresh salsa flavors, each one distinctive and discernible but yet melded into something more than the sum of its parts
  • Ready to get started? Here's your recipe!
Best Quick Tomato Salsa ♥, 10 minutes start to chip. Budget Friendly. Low Carb. Vegan. Great for Meal Prep.


Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time-to-table: 10 minutes
Makes 1 cup

A single batch fits a mini food processor just fine but for a larger food processor, be sure to double (or triple or quadruple) the recipe.
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 1 medium clove (6g) fresh garlic
  • 1/2 medium (10g) jalapeño (may be omitted)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup (25g) roughly chopped onion (white, red or yellow)
  • Drained Tomato
  • 1/2 cup (15g) roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • Additional salt & lime juice to taste

Place the tomato in a strainer. With the back of a spoon, really press the tomatoes through the strainer, pressing out as much juice as possible. Reserve the juice for another purpose.

FOR A SINGLE BATCH IN A MINI FOOD PROCESSOR Process the garlic, jalapeño and salt together until very fine; if needed, scrape the sides once or twice and process again. Add the onion and process until very fine, scraping the sides and re-processing again if needed. Add the Drained Tomato, cilantro and lime juice and process to the desired consistency, we like it a little bit chunky but definitely scoopable.

FOR A DOUBLE BATCH (OR MORE) IN A LARGE FOOD PROCESSOR. Add all the ingredients and process until the desired consistency is reached.

Serve immediately or transfer to a glass or ceramic container (to avoid staining) and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Best the first day but keeps for up to a week.

VARIATIONS For a little smoky heat, include a little chipotle in adobo sauce, I'd start with a half teaspoon, then add more to taste. For a little earthy depth, include a little ground cumin, I'd start with a half teaspoon, then add more to taste. For extra heartiness, stir in a can of rinsed and drained black beans, even cooked quinoa. It wouldn't really be salsa anymore, per se, but it would taste great!

ALANNA's TIPS Be sure to drain the tomatoes really well, otherwise the salsa can be watery. No fire-roasted canned tomatoes? Just use regular canned tomatoes. No regular canned tomatoes? I've had great luck with a can of Rotel that has both tomato and chiles. Do leave out the onion and ñ, however. Not into jalapeño? Just leave them out for a lovely mild salsa. No fresh jalapeños? Quick Jalapeño Pickles work great, I use just a couple of rings for a single batch. Poblano works really well too.
NUTRITION INFORMATION Per Quarter Cup: 7 Calories; 0g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 2mg Sodium; 2g Carb; 0g Fiber; 0g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS Old Points 0 & PointsPlus 0 & SmartPoints 0 & Freestyle 0 & myWW green 0 & blue 0 & purple 0

Let's Make It a Fiesta!

~ more Mexican & Taco Tuesday recipes ~
My Guacamole, the restaurant-style house recipe ♥ Very Weight Watchers Friendly. Unusually Low Cal. Low Carb. Vegan. Gluten Free. Weeknight Easy, Weekend Special.
Lime Crema ♥, a simple way to upgrade tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas and more.
Quick Jalapeño Pickles ♥, easy homemade refrigerator pickles, no canning required. Great for Mexican Meal Prep.
Spiced Pickled Red Onions ♥, a game changer for tacos, salads, eggs and more.
Easy Margarita Pie ♥, tastes just like a good margarita.

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Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Quick Suppers are Kitchen Parade favorites and feature recipes easy on the budget, the clock, the waistline and the dishwasher. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. If you make this recipe, I'd love to know your results! Just leave a comment below.

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Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.