Better than going out to eat, this restaurant-style Fire Roasted Salsa is easily made in the blender and perfect for all your favorite Mexican recipes. This salsa recipe also freezes well, so you can make it ahead of time to have it on hand at a moment’s notice. You can serve this salsa with the classic chips, or you can use it in any recipe that calls for salsa. It’s naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and a great healthy snack.
Our favorite Mexican restaurant here locally has the best restaurant-style salsa recipe I’ve ever had. I’ve always wondered what makes it so rich in flavor, but I’d never really tried to figure it out before.
I made a few attempts to find out the secret to their incredible flavor. But I always felt like my version was lacking something.
After much taste testing, I was pretty sure what my salsa was missing was a roasted element. Even though the tomatoes were roasted, something was just off about it. So I decided to also roast the onions, garlic, and jalapeno.
And I’ll tell you what, that made all the difference – I finally have a year-round salsa that’s easy to make, and that I’m actually proud of! As an added bonus, this salsa freezes really well, so you can make big batches to freeze for a later date.
Ingredients & Substitutions
- Fire-roasted tomatoes – rather than regular canned tomatoes make a way better salsa! Try using the best quality tomatoes you can find for the best flavor. I use Muir Glen organic fire-roasted diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes which both work well. They have a nice natural sweetness, whereas cheaper brands are often on the sour side and just don’t taste as good.
- Onion – either white, yellow, or sweet onions all work well here.
- Garlic – whole fresh cloves, peeled and cut in half only if they’re super large.
- Jalapeno – adds a touch of spice for mild to medium salsa, so feel free to increase the quantity if desired for a spicy salsa.
- Cilantro – as fresh as possible for the best flavor. Whenever it’s available, try getting your cilantro from a local farm, you’ll be amazed at the difference in flavor. Store-bought works well here too!
- Lime – fresh lime juice, never from the bottle will give you the best result.
- Cumin – just a touch adds the right amount of flavor to make this salsa just like what I’ve had in Mexican restaurants.
How to make this Restaurant Style Salsa recipe step by step
Step 1: Start by preheating the oven, then dice the onions, and halve the jalapeno removing the seeds.
Step 2: Place the diced onion, garlic cloves, and jalapeno halves onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Place the sheet pan in the oven to roast.
Step 3: While the onion is roasting, finely chop the cilantro, and juice the lime.
Step 4: Remove the sheet pan with the onions when they’re beginning to brown and have softened.
Step 6: Finally add the fire-roasted tomatoes to the blender and blend just to combine to your desired consistency, making sure to keep the salsa a bit chunky.
Ways to serve this
- Serve this salsa the classic way with corn tortilla chips or the grain-free chips from Siete, add a batch of my Best Guacamole, and even some dairy-free Instant Pot Queso for the ultimate snacking.
- With any of your favorite Mexican recipes or with nachos. We love this salsa with any of my burrito bowls like this Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowls, Carnitas Burrito Bowls, or my Barbacoa Burrito Bowls.
- For a paleo option, serve this salsa with my Taco Sweet Potato Noodles.
- Or try it with my Slow Cooker Salsa Beef recipe or Instant Pot Salsa Chicken Sweet Potatoes.
Restaurant-style salsa is smoother in texture with small chunks, whereas chunky salsa is usually thicker in texture with larger chunks.
It usually refers to the kind of salsa served with chips at a Mexican restaurant. It varies between more or less fresh ingredients. Some versions have fresh onions, garlic, etc. and others roast the onions like this recipe.
First, it’s much easier to use fire-roasted canned tomatoes, but you can roast fresh tomatoes to make salsa as well. Or you can try my recipe for Pico de Gallo which is perfect for fresh tomatoes.
- To store – place any leftover salsa into an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- Freeze – place the leftovers into an airtight sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using. If you freeze the salsa in a Ziplock, place the frozen plastic bag into a container in case it leaks as it defrosts.
Tips & Tricks
- Buy the best quality canned tomatoes you can find because they make a huge difference in the flavor. I like to use the Muir Glen fire-roasted tomatoes for their smooth sweet flavor. Cheaper canned tomatoes are often on the sour side.
- Don’t skip roasting the onions, garlic, and jalapeno! You can blend the tomatoes with raw onions etc. like some recipes do, but when you roast them it brings in the best restaurant flavor you’ve ever had.
- Meal prep this salsa by making 2 batches and freeze it in portions you’ll use, (I usually freeze 1-2 cup portions). That way you always have delicious homemade salsa on hand.
I really hope you enjoy this Fire Roasted Salsa! If you do get a chance to make this recipe, please leave a rating below, I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Fire Roasted Salsa
- 1 jalapeno - halved and deseeded
- 6 cloves garlic - peeled
- 1 medium white or yellow onion - diced into 1″ pieces
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Sprinkle of sea salt
- 28 oz can fire roasted whole tomatoes - diced
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice - more or less to taste
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
- 1/2 tsp sea salt - or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450ºF and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Evenly spread the jalapeno halves, garlic cloves, and diced onion onto the baking sheet. Cut the garlic cloves in half if they’re over 1″ across.
- Drizzle with the olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast the mixture until the veggies begin to soften and brown, about 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and let cool for 15 minutes or so until it’s cool enough to handle. Then add the roasted veggies to a blender along with the liquid from the tomatoes (reserving the diced tomatoes until the 2nd blending), cumin, lime juice, and cilantro.
- Blend until the mixture is the consistency you desire. We like a slightly chunky salsa, so I always leave good sized pieces in the first blending.
- Once you have the consistency you like, add the reserved diced tomatoes, and blend again until your desired texture is reached.
- Season to taste with sea salt and serve.
This recipe was originally published in 2017 but has been updated in 2022 with new photos, more tips, and information along with nutrition facts.