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Fresh Restaurant Style Salsa

May 17, 2024

We’ve been on the hunt for the best restaurant-style salsa recipe for years and we have finally found it!


a bowl of homemade salsa surrounded by tortilla chips
Photography by Gayle McLeod

Put Those Ripe Summer Tomatoes to Good Use.

Are your tomato plants dripping with big juicy tomatoes? Here in the NW we’ve got a few more weeks until ours turn from green to ruby red. Ripen they will, though, and once they do, we’ll be left with at least 50 pounds of tomatoes that need to be used ASAP. Yep, it’s a great problem to have. We wish you nothing but problems like this. But, we digress! This year, the bulk of our tomato harvest will be going to making this perfect(ed) restaurant-style salsa. Even if you don’t have a bumper crop in your own backyard, though, this fresh salsa recipe is worth a visit to your local farmers market to load up.

Fresh Restaurant Style Salsa 1

Just The Best Homemade Salsa Recipe Ever, That’s All.

We’ve tried a lot of homemade salsa recipes in our time and we really, truly, honestly believe this one to be the very best salsa recipe we’ve ever made. Our version stands out for a few reasons:

  • We give the salsa a hint of smoke by getting a good char on the tomatoes, jalapeños and onions before blending.
  • This salsa features both cooked and raw onions
  • And the key ingredient: avocado. Served along with our Perfect Guacamole, avocado lovers are in for a treat!

And how exactly did we create this incredible, best-ever salsa recipe? Here’s a little backstory. Few years back, Natalie spent some time in Mexico. One particularly fantastic evening, she and some friends splurged and had a private chef prepare them an authentic Mexican dinner. Said dinner featured a fresh salsa that she could not get out of her mind in the days and weeks to come.

Fast forward, four years later and we’ve finally (finally) successfully recreated the smokey, sweet, and spicy cravable flavor of the salsa she tasted in Tulum. The years-long length of our struggle is largely due to the fact that produce often tastes different in different places! Different climates, different soil, different produce. But finally, after many tweaks and adjustments, we landed on this (to us) perfect salsa recipe.

tomatoes, jalapeños, white onion and garlic being charred in a skillet
tomatoes, jalapeños, white onion and garlic being charred in a skillet

What Are The Best Tomatoes for Salsa?

The best tomatoes for salsa, in our opinion, are roma tomatoes. They’re the key to good texture as they offer more meat in the flesh and less water in their gut than other varieties. If you aren’t growing roma tomatoes in your garden, or if you’re making this in the off-season, look for overripe roma tomatoes at your local grocery store. Grab the ones with the wrinkled skins that are just about to go bad. If you’re making it outside of fresh tomato season, try adding a cup of crushed tomatoes from a can to add richness to this salsa recipe, because tomatoes are typically canned at the peak of flavor.

charred vegetables, crushed tomatoes, cilantro, salt and white onion being blended in a food processor
avocado being added to a food processor with charred vegetables, crushed tomatoes, cilantro, salt and white onion

How To Make Homemade Salsa

Every homemade salsa recipe we’ve seen out there is a “dump and blend” recipe. Our salsa recipe is a bit more work than that, but the payoff is vast (promise). You’ll start by charring the tomatoes, jalapenos and onions to add extra flavor. No need to cut, peel, prep or trim. Just toss everything in a pot of piping hot oil and let it cook until the skins are black—that bit of char will add sooo much smokey flavor. Lower the heat, cover and let simmer to soften the vegetables. Then, let’s make some salsa! It’s as easy as:

  1. Pop those cooled, smoky veggies in a blender along with extra crushed tomatoes, fresh onions, cilantro and a heavy hand of salt.
  2. Blend away! No vinegar or lime necessary.
  3. Once the salsa is blended, add the avocado, then blend just a bit more.
homemade salsa in a food processor made with charred vegetables, crushed tomatoes, cilantro, salt, onion and avocado
a bowl of homemade salsa surrounded by tortilla chips

Tools You’ll Need.

Homemade Salsa on Everything!

We literally put this salsa on everything, obviously beginning with homemade tortilla chips. We also love it on:

a bowl of homemade salsa surrounded by tortilla chips

How Long Does Homemade Salsa Last?

We’d love to say that this salsa lasts a LONG time. However thanks to the (awesome) addition of avocado, it will only last you a few days in the fridge. But we are never concerned with how long homemade salsa is good for, because it’s always gone way before we want it to be! If you make it and devour it, we want to see it! Be sure to snap a photo and share it with us on instagram using @themodernproper or #themodernproper.

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Fresh Restaurant Style Salsa

  • Serves: 8
  • Prep Time:  15 min
  • Cook Time:  30 min
  • Calories: 119


  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 8-10 almost over ripe roma tomatoes
  • 2-3 jalapeños
  • 1 white onion, cut in half
  • 6 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2-3 tsp sea salt
  • 1 ripe avocado


  1. In a large pot heat oil over high heat. Crowd tomatoes, jalapeños, half of the white onion and garlic in a single layer in pan. Allow to cook on high without turning until vegetables are charred. Turn over and repeat on other side.

    Fresh Restaurant Style Salsa 1
  2. Once completely charred, about 3-5 minutes on each side, reduce heat to low and cover pot with a lid. Allow to simmer with lid on for 15 minutes. Once cooked remove from heat and allow to cool completely.

    tomatoes, jalapeños, white onion and garlic being charred in a skillet
  3. In a food processor add charred vegetables starting with only 1 jalapeño at a time along with crushed tomatoes. Add in cilantro, salt and other half of the white onion. Blend on low until desired texture is achieved. If not spicy enough, add more jalapeño one at a time.

    avocado being added to a food processor with charred vegetables, crushed tomatoes, cilantro, salt and white onion
  4. Add in avocado and pulse until avocado is mixed in. Adjust salt as needed. Store for up to 1 week refrigerated in an airtight container.

    a bowl of homemade salsa surrounded by tortilla chips

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories119
  • Protein3 g
  • Carbohydrates10 g
  • Total Fat8 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium894 mg
  • Total Sugars4 g

Fresh Restaurant Style Salsa

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Andy

    It's hard to get them to char because the juices are just turning the pot into a stew. Is there something I should change, or do I just keep going until it boils off?

    If you turn up your heat and don't put them in until the pan is hot, then put them in and don't touch them for a while they should char.

  • Gretchen

    Can this salsa be frozen? I have so many tomatoes and this looks amazing.

    You can freeze salsa safely, but sadly the textures and flavors don't hold up very well so we don't recommend it. It'll keep in the fridge for a week, though!

  • Sharon

    Can this salsa be frozen or canned? What’s your recipe that can be frozen?

    Hi Sharon, I've never tried either way. I did a little research and it seams like you could freeze it, but I would do that without the avocado. you could maybe pulse in the ado after thawing it out each time. I am not sure about canning it. Again, I would can it without the avocado in it.

  • Heather

    Me & hubby have a couple we get together with occasionally for dinner & socializing. Well, the hostess is a highly skilled cook & the meals are always extravagant & delicious. Now, that we get together every couple months I wanted to contribute to the meals too & maybe show-off or test out my new kitchen skills. Within the last decade or so have tried to become better cook & I would call myself an adventurous eater; love trying new & different ethnic foods. Which I have to thank you ladies for!!! Absolutely love your recipes & have your cookbook too which was preordered btw LOL! I apologize for not leaving a normal review but had to give back story because This Salsa they both said was the best dish of the whole extravagant meal!!! And for her to say that blew me away because she has never liked salsa!! So can’t thank you enough for giving me the winning dish & truly enhancing my life by helping me become a skilled cook too!!

    Heather this was absolutely so wonderful to read. We are so happy we could help build your skill and confidence in the kitchen and love to hear that you blew everyone away with this salsa!

  • KayS

    So delicious! One jalapeño was enough, it was pretty spicy

    Thanks Kay, we are so happy you loved it!

  • Mikaela

    good salsa! but skip the canola oil and use extra virgin olive oil as canola oil is extremely processed and causes inflammation - thanks again for the recipe!

    Thanks Mikaela, glad you enjoyed it! Happy to hear it was good with olive oil as well.

  • Elise


    Thanks Elise!

  • Trish

    Holy guacamole this really is the best salsa ever. I can’t believe how good it is!! My first recipe from you gals and I can’t wait to discover more 😋

    So glad you liked it!