Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa

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Over the last 10 months that I’ve lived in Boston, I’ve found there are a few things I’ve come to really miss about living in Phoenix.

Swimming Pools. The closest thing I’ve seen that even approaches in some way resembling a swimming pool here is a bottle of Clorox Clean-up. I want to lie out in the sun by a pool! Or better yet, be in a pool! But alas, it’s April and still 45 degrees here.

Driving a car. Reliable public transportation can sometimes be overrated. You know, I work less than 3 miles away from where I work and I have an 80-90 minute commute there and back?

Great Mexican Food. Boston has a fantastic restaurant scene–I’ve eaten some of the best food of my life here!–but I’ve yet to find a good, authentic Mexican place (although in Boston’s defense, I haven’t had a lot of time to look). Which is why today I give you:

how to make restaurant-style salsa

A few years ago, while two of my aunt’s were living overseas, they owned and managed a Mexican food restaurant named after my maternal great-grandfather, a decorated WWII war veteran whose family originally hailed from Mexico.

Now, this isn’t exactly the secret family recipe that they served there (I don’t dare publish it!), but it’s pretty darn close! I originally found this recipe at Brown Eyed Baker, who adapted it from The Pioneer Woman. Since finding it, however, I have put my own spin on things to make it just a little more like the recipe I grew up with.

Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa | Mom Makes Joy | This easy restaurant-style salsa is delicious and can be made in minutes!

Why should you give this recipe a shot?

  • It’s delicious. I don’t know what it is about salsa out of a jar, but it has a distinct out-of-a-jar, not-homemade taste (which is precisely why my mom basically refuses to eat jar-salsa). This salsa is nothing but fresh fresh fresh!
  • It’s smooth, not chunky. Now there is definitely a place for chunky in the salsa world, don’t get me wrong! But most times I prefer not getting a massive shot of a hunk of onion when I’m enjoying my salsa. Jar salsa tends to have chunkyness.
  • Cilantro. Enough said. Helps with the “fresh” part, I think. Do you know of any jar-salsas with fresh cilantro?

Let’s make it, shall we?



  • 1 and a half 14.5-oz. cans diced tomatoes (juice and everything)
  • 1 Serrano pepper, sliced (test for heat–use less or seed the pepper to reduce heat)
  • Half of an onion (use your judgement here as onions vary in pungency)
  • Half of a red, yellow, or orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon juice from a fresh lime (in a pinch, lemon juice works as a substitute)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (or to taste)
  • Cilantro to taste (I usually take a bunch of cilantro, grab it by the leafy end and rip off about a handful)


  • In a food processor, toss everything in and pulse to your desired consistency. I like making this pretty smooth, so I don’t do much chopping of my ingredients–I let the food processor do the all the work (I hate chopping!). For a chunkier salsa, use a can of whole tomatoes rather than diced, don’t chop up your peppers and onion too much, and don’t pulse your food processor as long. Test your salsa after pulse–sometimes onions, garlic, and peppers are more or less pungent, so make adjustments as necessary. Enjoy!

Homemade Restaurant-Style Salsa | Mom Makes Joy | This easy restaurant-style salsa is delicious and can be made in minutes!

I hope you enjoy this restaurant-style salsa! Any secret family recipes you’d like to share?