The 6 Best Salsas You Can Buy at the Grocery Store
There's a reason salsa is a popular condiment. Not only can it be used as a topping for tacos or paired with tortilla chips as a dip, it's also endlessly customizable. Whether you prefer it spicy or mild, chunky or smooth, salsa is a definite crowd-pleaser. And while homemade salsa is delicious, it's not always convenient to make, which is where store-bought salsas come in handy.
"Choosing salsa as a condiment is a great way to up your vegetable intake. If you're short on time, there are several pre-made salsas that can be a convenient and healthy addition to your plate," explains Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, associate nutrition editor at EatingWell. "When you're buying pre-made salsas, one thing to keep in mind is the milligrams of sodium on the label. Choosing a salsa that is lower in sodium can help you keep your intake in check, which is important for heart health and maintaining a healthy blood pressure."
To narrow the field, we blind-taste-tested 26 products that met our nutrition parameters. We tried each salsa paired with a tortilla chip, and made notes about the taste, texture and flavor. We found that Green Mountain Gringo was the best option overall. Read on for our full list of the best jarred salsas that are a must-buy on your next trip to the grocery store.
Our Product Recommendations
The type of store-bought salsa you choose depends on your tastes. Green Mountain Gringo is sure to be a winner at any spice level. If you're looking for a budget-friendly option, Nature's Promise Organic Mild Salsa is tasty and affordable.
To narrow the field, we researched and read the labels of over 40 products, and selected the ones that fit the following nutrition requirements: ≤100 calories and ≤140mg sodium per serving (read more below about the nutrition parameters). To source products, we visited five grocery stores (Hannaford, Shaw's, Price Chopper's Market 32, Trader Joe's and the grocery section of Target) to find any available products that met the requirements. For the taste test, a blind tasting was set up. Each tester tried the product with a tortilla chip, as that is a common and popular way to enjoy salsa. We took notes commenting on the taste, consistency and heat level.
When buying store-bought salsa, an important nutrition parameter to consider is sodium, which is often high in shelf-stable, processed foods. While the recommended daily sodium intake for adults is 2,300 milligrams or less, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the Food and Drug Administration notes that Americans eat an average of 3,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Eating too much salt can have a negative effect on your body, including making you feel puffy or bloated, prone to headaches or eczema and more. Limiting sodium is also important if you're trying to follow a heart-healthy diet. A high intake of sodium over time can lead to high blood pressure, or hypertension, which, if left untreated, could lead to a heart attack or stroke.
That's why we chose products that fit EatingWell's nutrition parameters for the category of dips/salsas: ≤100 calories and ≤140mg sodium per serving. This criteria aligns with the American Heart Association's Heart-Check program, a program that helps consumers identify products that are heart-healthy. (The calories aren't an issue with salsa, which is mainly made with veggies, like they might be with a creamy dip.)
Alex Loh is the assistant digital editor at EatingWell. She is passionate about food and cooking, and has over two years of experience with the brand. She has written over 15 product guides and has tested hundreds of products, including chef's knives, saucepans and salad spinners. For this piece, she consulted a registered dietitian and associate nutrition editor at EatingWell, Jessica Ball, M.S., RD, for her insights about nutrition. The testers included registered dietitians and food editors.