Salsa Rojo

September/October 2008

Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (35 votes)

Here's a homemade version of the tomato salsa served at taco stands and burrito joints everywhere. Try it with all your favorite Mexican foods—it even works as enchilada sauce.

"I think it would be better to not add the garlic until the onions are cooked to soft stage. The garlic can become bitter if cooked too long. "
Salsa Rojo

Makes: About 3 cups

Active Time:

Total Time:


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 medium chile peppers, such as poblano, New Mexico or Anaheim, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, diced (about 4 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder, or chili powder (see Shopping Tip)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, chile peppers and garlic and cook, stirring, until the onion is soft and beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and thickened slightly, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Carefully transfer the tomato mixture to a food processor or blender. Pulse to make a chunky sauce, or until desired consistency. (Use caution when pureeing hot ingredients.)
  4. Let cool to room temperature, about 11/2 hours. Stir in cilantro and lime juice just before serving.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3. Cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. Stir in cilantro and lime juice just before serving.
  • Shopping tip: Ancho chile, a dried poblano pepper, is one of the most popular dried chiles used in Mexico. It has a mild, sweet, spicy flavor. Find ground ancho chili powder in the specialty spice section of large supermarkets.


Per 1/2-cup serving: 67 calories; 3 g fat (0 g sat, 2 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 10 g carbohydrates; 2 g protein; 3 g fiber; 409 mg sodium; 393 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin C (80% daily value), Vitamin A (30% dv).

Carbohydrate Servings: 1/2

Exchanges: 1 1/2 vegetable, 1/2 fat

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