And of course, it also pairs beautifully with Mexican-style and Tex-Mex dishes, as well as grilled meat, fish, and other types of seafood.
To inspire you to serve up the perfect fresh salsa for any occasion in a variety of flavor combinations, we’ve gathered the best recipes from some of our favorite bloggers, as well as a few of our own. Get out the food processor – it’s salsa time!
When you think of salsa, chances are that a classic, red, tomato-based sauce it what you imagine. If this is your jam, you’ll love the following recipes.
1. Pico de Gallo
This one is a tomato-based dip that’s super simple to make, and it can be thrown together in just a few minutes. With fresh onion, jalapeno, and cilantro, it’s big on flavor, too.
Nikki’s recipe for pico de gallo can be made with fresh tomatoes. As an alternative, you could use tomato concassée, made with quickly blanched, seeded, and peeled tomatoes. Freezing prepped tomatoes using this method is a great way to extend the tomato season.
No, we’re not talking about a restaurant copycat recipe – we mean the spicy, smoky pepper!
Chipotles in adobo are actually often jalapenos, but they’re smoked and dried. This gives them a dark color, and smoky flavor. In fact, chipotle is derived from the Nahuatl word “chilpoctli,” or “smoked chili.”
California resident Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking says she’s a self-proclaimed salsa snob, and that growing up in Tucson, Arizona made her that way. This recipe is a testament to that, and we are super grateful.
You will be too, when you try this one out.
Earthy, spicy, juicy, fresh – this salsa’s got it all. It’s made with a combination of fresh cherry and canned fire roasted tomatoes, fresh jalapeno, and canned chipotle peppers in adobo for a combination of spicy, savory, and umami notes.
If you accidentally make this recipe too spicy, check out tips on how to turn down the heat here.
3. Tomato Avocado
Sure, you could opt to put out a dish of guacamole alongside your tomato salsa. But Heidi Larsen’s recipe takes the best of both dips and combines them to make something super tasty.
It’s great for topping a mild fish like halibut, and it takes more of an Italian direction than other Mexican-leaning salsas, with a touch of golden balsamic (instead of the traditional lemon or lime juice) for acid, olive oil, and basil in place of cilantro.
We’re thinking it’s time to make some Italian-style nachos, topped with mozzarella instead of cheddar…
4. Radish Tomato
This one’s got a bit of crunch, a bit of heat, and lots of fresh veggies. Finely sliced radishes are a classic garnish at many Mexican restaurants, and the flavor and texture pairs well with fresh tomatoes in this dip.
Karen Lee at The Tasty Bite offers this bonus tip: drain off the extra liquid before serving, to avoid sogginess and unwanted drips. Get the recipe here.
Eat Your Vegetables
Of course, in the salsa world, tomatoes don’t always have to be the stars of the show. Why don’t you give one (or two, or three…) of these alternative veggie options a try?
5. Salsa Verde
This classic green sauce is a favorite on tortilla chips. Try pouring it over scrambled eggs or oven-baked enchiladas for a delicious brunch or dinner dish.
What makes it green? This salsa incorporates cilantro and jalapeno, plus roasted tangy tomatillos.
Here’s a bonus tip: Make a batch of Kendall’s tomatillo-jitos (mojito cocktails made with a tomatillo juice base) and combine the extra pulp and seeds with this delicious and refreshing salsa – that’s way, there’s no waste to worry about.
6. Apple Celery
Another example of categorical overlap, this is the Waldorf Salad of salsas. A combination of vegetables and fruit (with more of these to come, later in the list), celery is the star ingredient. Crunchy, tangy granny smith apples are a close second.
This is a fall favorite, perfect for putting out on the table to snack throughout a long Sunday afternoon of football watching. Or, pack it up and bring it with you to the tailgate party.
Grilled asparagus is delicious on its own, alongside a grilled steak, or atop a salad. But have you ever tried using it as an ingredient in another dish?
Here’s your chance: It’s the base of this fresh dip, combined with hot chilies, juicy tomatoes, green onion, lime juice, cilantro, and garlic. Super simple – all of your classic salsa ingredients, plus asaparagus. Yum!
Jerrelle Guy’s elote salsa pairs oh-so-well with her delicious vegetarian beet burgers. But we love this one for chip dipping as well (or eating straight out of the bowl).
Elote, or Mexican-style corn on the cob, is usually slathered with mayonnaise and then sprinkled with spicy red pepper, lime, and crumbly cheese.
And this salsa version of that popular street food is downright delicious, made with the usual lime juice, crumbled cotija cheese, and chili powder, plus red onion, roasted red peppers, jalapenos, and garlic powder.
Summer Stone Fruit, Melon & Berries
These fruity blends offer up the essence of summer, combining sweet and savory in the best way.
These pair perfectly with the delicate flavors of fish entrees, but they make a delicious topping for tacos too. Or, you can always serve these on their own with a big bowl of chips.
9. Peach & Corn
Paired with a dollop of cooling sour cream or Greek yogurt, this salsa is the perfect accompaniment to spicy pork tacos.
Made with fresh peaches or nectarines and sweet corn, it’s sweet and savory, showcasing summertime stone fruit and other types of produce.
10. Blueberry & Watermelon
Bordering on fruit salad, this one is super flavorful, and packed with nutrients. Made with hydrating seasonal watermelon, fresh mint, and antioxidant-rich blueberries, and a dash of local honey, you’ll love this tangy, juicy, and colorful option.
The fruit and herbs are combined with traditional salsa ingredients like onion and jalapeno for a sweet, savory, refreshing, and slightly spicy flavor combination that’s awesome on grilled protein, like red snapper fillets.
Fruit for Other Seasons
Homemade salsa isn’t just for the summer.
These fruit-based versions feature the products of other seasons – and they’ve got us planning ahead. We’re already thinking about our appetizer spreads for Thanksgiving, and snacks for New Year’s Eve!
11. Apple & Pomegranate
This unique combination features the flavors of fall. Chopped fresh apple (keep the skins on to boost the flavor and nutrient content) plus pomegranate seeds are combined with fresh lemon juice, onion, and jalapeno for a dip or topping that’s crunchy, fresh, and flavorful.
A fresh citrus salsa is wonderful at any time of year, but it can be particularly delicious during the winter months when fresh citrus is in season in warmer climes, like Florida and California.
The acid of the fruit partnered with creamy, ripe avocado complements the flavor of buttery fish nicely. It also pairs wonderfully with ginger marinated tofu like Anya Kassoff features here, on her blog Golubka’s Kitchen.
Sweet, tropical flavors create such a nice contrast with spice and salt. Though they may not be considered “traditional,” tropical salsas have become hugely popular.
Here are a few that we think offer something a little different.
Another tropical option, this one is featured alongside caramelized pork tacos. But again, like all of the rockin’ recipes here, it’s super versatile and could holds its own in a variety of dishes.
Of course, pineapple and pork is a classic combination, probably best known in tacos al pastor. The acid of the pineapple cuts through the unctuous fattiness of the pork, and the sweetness of the juice both brings out the pork’s sweetness while contrasting deliciously with those savory notes… this is good stuff!
You’ll find Lindsay Ostrum’s recipe here, on Pinch of Yum.
Esther Choy’s recipe for jackfruit salsa is tangy and tropical flavored. For the uninitiated, jackfruit is a relative of the breadfruit, full of seeds and a crisp pulp similar in flavor to mango or pineapple.
It softens as it ripens, and is even available in canned form. In fact, some adherents to a vegetarian or vegan diet like to use the canned pulp to make vegan barbecue pulled pork, since the cooked fruit pulls apart in strings similar to the meat.
Haley Nelson at Cheap Recipe Blog is offering up something that, at least to me, is truly unique.
Of course, in internet land, we all know that “100% original” recipes are extremely difficult to come by – everything has already been tried, tested, tasted, made in a million different variations, endlessly photographed, blogged about, discussed on the Food Network, served up and down the price scale from fine dining to food trucks, and so on.
But, at least personally, banana salsa is something that I’ve never tasted, come across a recipe for prior to this one, or seen in a restaurant or grocery store.
What’s more surprising is that this recipe post was actually posted a few years ago – so plenty of time has passed for the banana salsa trend to take off!
Somehow, this recipe has remained largely secret. But I’m happy to share it!
Rather than ripe bananas, the ones used here should still be slightly green.
Of course, in any list of tropical fruits, we wouldn’t want to forget the king…
Make Mine Mango
Mango salsa is one of my favorites, and I don’t think I’m the only one. It’s sweet and savory, juicy and crunchy, different and familiar.
Maybe we’ve hit peak mango already, but I’m not quite ready to let it go. If you’re still a fan too, here are three different recipes for you to try.
16. Spicy Mango
A fruit salsa favorite, juicy, fresh mango pairs so well with a touch of fresh onion and jalapeno. Try serving this one atop grilled fish or chicken.
17. Mango Bell Pepper
Another mango option, this one’s a bit different from ours. The main difference here is that it’s made with serrano chilies, plus diced red bell pepper is thrown in to the mix for added color and crunch.
Sommer Collier says the best way to serve her salsa is atop Hawaiian-style hotdogs, with homemade pineapple mustard. She shares the recipe on A Spicy Perspective.
18. Cucumber Mango
Chelsea Mazur at The Busy Girl Blog takes her version to the upper echelons of refreshing, combining the juicy sweet fruit with fresh cucumber and mint, plus some of your more classic ingredients like garlic and lime juice.
It’s colorful, flavorful, delicious on a chip, and beautiful atop grilled chicken.
Canned, Fermented & … Leftover?
Though one of the best features of making a fresh salsa is the quickness with which you can pull one together, there are other wonderful options out there that are all about planning. And for good reason – these will help you to preserve your fresh harvest and maximize the nutritional output of your ingredients.
There are also salsas that can help you to use up what’s left in the fridge, a valuable skill that every savvy home cook should have.
No, we’re not talking about zucchini that comes out of a can (which you’d probably be hard pressed to find…) Instead, we’re referring here to home jarred salsa, made with fresh zucchini from the garden.
Zucchini is one of those vegetables that so many gardeners are eager to plant in the spring. And then panic sets in as they continue to haul in their harvest day after day, wondering what exactly they’re going to do with all of the excess when they’re already sick of spiralized zoodles, and up to their ears in zucchini bread.
Here’s a delicious option: Sandy Coughlin’s Sweet Smokey Zucchini Salsa. You can get the recipe here, on Reluctant Entertainer.
This is a canned salsa, so it’s shelf stable. That means you’ll be able to enjoy the tasty goodness of those garden fresh zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions for months to come. And it makes a great gift, too!
For more on seasonal canning using pressure canners and water baths, check out our Canning and Preserving category for top tips and informative how-tos.
This one taps into something that I think is at the core of home cooking – using up leftovers.
While we may often think of leftovers as items that are already cooked, like pasta or mashed potatoes, that forgotten half of a shallot and quickly withering bunch of cilantro at the back of the fridge are leftovers too.
Liz LaBrocca’s post on Literally, Darling makes an important point – that fresh ingredients are easy to forget, and easy to waste. But at the same time, they’re easy to utilize in fresh, delicious dishes like salsa.
Rather than describing a specific recipe, Liz highlights some of the base ingredients and tasty add-ins that you mind find in your own fridge at home, plus seasoning suggestions and a basic technique to prepare your own delicious dips.
21. Spicy Fermented Summer Harvest
This salsa from Linda Ly at Garden Betty is another “everything but the kitchen sink” garden harvest recipe. Lacto-fermented like sauerkraut, this process takes the flavors to the next level, and it’s right in probiotics.
Best of all, it’s simple to make – no whey or starter culture needed.
This recipe does, however, include both oil and garlic – err on the side of caution here, and adhere to proper precautions in terms of temperature controls, proper pickling procedure, and standard canning processes to avoid the risk of botulism.
That about wraps up our round up of top salsa recipes. Time for me to go – the bag of blue and white corn chips in my cabinet is just begging me to get out the immersion blender to make one of these fresh and satisfying dips.
If you would like to know more about utilizing spicy ingredients in your own homemade pickling recipes, get to know the process a little better by listening to the latest episode of the Foodal Podcast: managing editor Allison Sidhu discusses the world of spicy, fermented condiments with Kirsten and Christopher Shockey, fermentation experts and authors of the new cookbook a new cookbook called Fiery Ferments.
What type of salsa will you serve at your next cookout or cocktail party? Let us know in the comments!
Photo Credits: All photography in this article is owned and copyrighted by their respective owners as identified. Used with permission by Ask the Experts, LLC. All rights reserved by all parties. Additional link contributions by Nan Schiller.
About Allison Sidhu
Allison M. Sidhu is a foodie from Philly who is based in Los Angeles, where she loves exploring the local restaurant scene with her husband. She holds a master's degree in gastronomy from Boston University. When she’s not in the kitchen whipping up something tasty (or listening to the latest food podcasts while she does the dishes!) you’ll probably find Allison tapping away at her keyboard, curled up with a good book (or ready to dominate with controller in hand in front of the latest video game) on the couch, or devouring a food-filled magazine at the beach.