Appetizer Recipes

Home Cook's Guide to DIY Salsas

Homemade Salsa 3 Ways

Home Cook's Guide to DIY Salsas

Most people would agree that one of the best parts of going to a Mexican restaurant is the unlimited amount of chips and salsa. Keep it coming, we say, as we inevitably fill up before the waiter arrives to take our enchilada order. We cannot resist those salsa-rific temptations!

Salsa is, of course, the Spanish word for “sauce” — a translation that leaves a lot of room for interpretation when it comes to ingredients and preparation methods. But when we say salsa, we’re talking about Mexican table sauces. Hollandaise? Definitely not salsa.

Nevertheless, there’s plenty of room for variety and experimentation in the wonderful world of salsa. There’s salsa roja, salsa verde, and salsa de mole; there’s cooked salsa or raw salsa (a.k.a. salsa cruda). Salsa can be deeply savory, even smoky, or bright and sweet, thanks to chunks of juicy fruit, like mango or peach. The uses for salsa are equally infinite: you can use it as a dip for your favorite tortilla chips (check out our tortilla chip taste test if you need help finding a fave) or spoon it onto everything from tacos and tlayudas to scrambled eggs and rice bowls.

We like these three iterations because they exemplify the versatility of salsa and offer a nice range of flavors and textures. And luckily for those of us who believe that the only way to eat chips and salsa is to shove profuse amounts of each into your face — they’re all ridiculously easy to make.

Pico de Gallo

This is your classic pico de gallo, made from fresh tomato, raw onion, grassy jalapeño, herby cilantro, punchy garlic, and zesty lime juice. It’s bright and refreshing, with a hint of heat — and we love its chunky, chopped texture on everything from tostadas to totopos. Also good: stuffing it inside a steak burrito.


4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced medium

1 small white onion, diced small

1 jalapeño pepper, diced small

½ bunch Gelson’s organic fresh cilantro leaves, minced

1 garlic clove, grated

Juice of 1 ½ limes

2 tsp avocado oil

Kosher salt, to taste

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, toss together the Roma tomatoes, white onions, jalapeño peppers, and cilantro.

  2. Stir in the garlic, lime juice, and avocado oil. Season with kosher salt.

  3. Cover and rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour to let the flavors meld. Serve cold or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Tomatillo Avocado Salsa

On the other end of the texture spectrum, we have this lusciously creamy tomatillo avocado salsa. It comes together with the whirl of a blender and brings a subtly sweet, zingy heat to the table. Our tip: this one’s a great drizzler; we’d Jackson Pollock it on fish tacos, grilled shrimp, or pan-seared halibut if we were you.


4 medium tomatillos, roughly chopped

1 ½ avocados, pitted and roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves, smashed

1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped

½ serrano pepper, roughly chopped

¾ cup packed Gelson’s organic fresh cilantro leaves

¾ cup water

1 tsp kosher salt

  1. In a high-speed blender, combine the tomatillos, avocados, garlic, jalapeño peppers, serrano peppers, cilantro, water, and kosher salt. Blend until smooth, 20 to 30 seconds.

  2. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Classic Tomato Salsa

If you’re looking for a homemade analogue to the restaurant-style salsa that reliably disappears in minutes — this is it. It’s full of tomato flavor, with a grassy heat from the jalapeño, some punch from the garlic, and an earthy, subtly smoky depth from the cumin. The texture? Not smooth, but not pico-de-gallo chunky either, thanks to the trusty food processor.

This salsa would be great on pretty much anything — eggs, quesadillas, fajitas, you name it. (But if we’re being honest, we’re probably just gonna dip our chips in it.)


1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes and their juice

1 medium yellow onion, diced medium

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeño pepper, diced small

1 cup lightly packed Gelson’s organic fresh cilantro leaves, with some stems

2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tsp Gelson’s ground cumin

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground Gelson’s black pepper, to taste

  1. In a food processor, add the whole peeled tomatoes and their juice, yellow onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime juice, cumin, kosher salt, and black pepper. Pulse to combine 10 to 12 times, or until the salsa is chunky but not puréed.

  2. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.