Restaurant-Style Tomato-Jalapeño Blender Salsa

This easy tomato-jalapeño blender salsa uses canned tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and garlic to make a restaurant-style salsa that’s so much more than the sum of its parts.

In this article you’ll learn more about why I recommend using canned tomatoes, and tips on getting your salsa just as spicy as you like it!

Restaurant-style blender salsa in a white bowl with a tortilla chip being dipped.

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I’ve done it. I’ve perfected it.

A simple, addictive salsa just like what they give me at my favorite Mexican restaurant. The kind you scarf down like it’s a race to the bottom of the bowl, with bottomless hot crispy tortilla chips. And then…. they bring you another helping.

When I ask for a to-go box and a container for the rest of the salsa at my go-to Mexican place (Los Reyes in Charleston, SC, by the way), sometimes they give me extra salsa in a BIG CUP to take home. It’s like winning the freaking lottery.

But now? I can have it… whenever. I. want.

Yeah, queso’s good too, but having a signature homemade salsa is essential. Do yourself a favor and try this one out!!

Tomato jalapeño blender salsa in a white bowl surrounded by tortilla chips.

What you’ll love about this recipe


  • Extensively tested — I tested this recipe after every grocery trip for months to get it just right (I can’t say I’m mad about it either). I tried fresh tomatoes or canned, a whole onion or half, raw onions or roasted, roasted onions with raw tomatoes, adding lime juice or cumin, you name it. I can say with confidence THIS is the best combo and method for making the best restaurant-style salsa.
  • Absolutely delicious — The last time I went out for Mexican food, I realized… my salsa is now even better than the one at my favorite place. I didn’t think that was possible.
  • Simple ingredients — Besides olive oil and salt, there are only four ingredients to this salsa, and they all have a very long shelf life. You can have your ingredients on hand to make salsa at a moment’s notice.
  • Year-round quality — This recipe uses canned tomatoes, so you never have to worry about whether tomatoes are in season or flavorful enough.
  • Easy to prep — I can prep the onion, garlic, and jalapeño when I get home from the grocery store and throw them in the toaster oven to roast. By the time I’m done unloading the groceries, my salsa is almost ready to throw in the blender. Bam! Salsa for the week (or a couple days, if I’m in a salsa mood).
Labeled ingredients for making restaurant-style tomato jalapeño blender salsa.

Ingredients

  • Canned whole tomatoes — read below for why!
  • White or yellow onion
  • Fresh jalapeños
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil — for roasting the veggies
  • Kosher salt

Why canned tomatoes?

I tested this recipe both with fresh Roma tomatoes and canned whole tomatoes. Both were delicious but I didn’t feel like I really nailed the recipe until I switched to canned.

Here’s why I recommend using canned tomatoes to make this blender salsa:

  • Canned tomatoes are always in season. That means your salsa is consistent year-round.
  • Tomatoes are canned at the peak of freshness and have added salt that enhances their tomatoey flavor.
  • Canned tomatoes are bright red, making the salsa bright red. My salsa always ended up pink when I was using fresh. (That may be different if you use fresh tomatoes that are absolutely at peak season, like in July or August.)
  • They’re peeled. You won’t have to peel your tomatoes or end up with weird bits of tomato skin in your salsa.
  • You can keep a couple cans in your pantry for salsa emergencies.
  • Even Bon Appetit agrees that canned tomatoes are preferable to fresh in most uses.
Overhead view of restaurant-style blender salsa in a white bowl surrounded by tortilla chips.

How to make restaurant-style salsa

You’ll find a lot of recipes out there that take 5-10 minutes total, but after repeated testing I’m confident that spending the extra time to roast your veggies is 100% worth it.

My un-roasted salsas had too much of a fresh pico de gallo flavor, which isn’t what I wanted or what I get at my favorite restaurant. Roasting the veggies mellows them, giving a more unified, less sharp flavor to your salsa.

This recipe takes about 30 minutes total with only 10 minutes of hands on time.

For details and full instructions, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

Step 1. Cut the veggies.
Julienne your onion, halve the jalapeños, and cut the tips off the garlic cloves. This only takes a minute.

Step 2. Roast the veggies.
Drizzle with olive oil and roast for 20 minutes.

TIP: I love using my toaster oven to roast my salsa veggies because I don’t have to preheat it for nearly as long as my regular oven!

Step 3. Blend it.
Blend the roasted onion and garlic with the tomatoes and salt. Add and blend jalapeño to taste, 1/2 a pepper at a time. See my tips and tricks for details! Enjoy!

Tips & Tricks for The Best Blender Salsa

How many jalapeños do I need?

Jalapeño peppers can vary tremendously in their heat level, anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 Scoville heat units depending on the specific pepper. Most of the heat is in the seeds and pith, so remove them if you like a mild salsa.

My top tip? Roast more jalapeños than you think you need.

For mild salsa:

Roast 2 jalapeños.
Use 1/2 to 1-1/2 peppers, seeds and pith removed.
Start with 1/2 pepper, and add 1/2 at a time as needed. Add seeds and pith back as necessary for additional heat.

For medium to hot salsa:

Roast 3 jalapeños.
Use 1-3 peppers, with seeds and pith.
Start with 1/2 pepper, and add 1/2 at a time as needed.

Got extra roasted jalapeños? Freeze them for your next batch!

Using fresh tomatoes?

  • When to use fresh tomatoes: Only use fresh tomatoes (Roma or plum tomatoes) for this recipe if they’re at peak season (July/August) or if you have an abundance you need to use up.
  • Roast them along with the other veggies. The skin will peel off easily after they cool, or you can throw them in the blender skin and all.
  • Salsa is pink? That’s common if you’re using fresh tomatoes. It won’t look as bright red as using canned tomatoes but your salsa will still be deeelicious!

More tips

  • Don’t skimp on the salt. I added more salt than I anticipated to this salsa, comparing back and forth between the salsa I took home from the restaurant. Although canned tomatoes are already salted, I added an additional 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt to make the perfect salsa. It made a huge difference when I hit the right amount.
  • Refrigerating is worth it. Look, I won’t judge if you can’t keep your chips out of the salsa till tomorrow. But a night in the fridge really helps unify the flavors.
  • My favorite chips to have with this salsa are the Cantina Style Tostitos! I thought I was over Tostitos until I discovered these! They’re light, crisp, and airy, and are just perfect with this salsa.

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Restaurant-style blender salsa in a white bowl with a tortilla chip being dipped.
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Restaurant-style Tomato-Jalapeño Blender Salsa Recipe

This easy tomato-jalapeño blender salsa uses canned tomatoes with roasted onion, jalapeño, and garlic to make a restaurant-style salsa that’s so much more than the sum of its parts!
Print Recipe Save Recipe
Course: Appetizer, Sauce
Cuisine: Mexican
Calories: 307kcal
Prep Time:10 minutes
Total Time:10 minutes

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1/2 medium onion white or yellow
  • 4 cloves garlic unpeeled, tops sliced off
  • 2-3 jalapeño peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 28 oz canned whole tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Instructions

Prepare and roast veggies

  • Preheat oven or toaster oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Cut onion in half, peel, and remove core. Julienne or cut into 4-8 wedges.
  • Slice the tops off unpeeled garlic cloves. Leave them together in a clump if you can.
  • Cut the stem off the jalapeño peppers and slice in half lengthwise.
  • Arrange veggies on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, making sure some gets on the cut ends of the garlic. Toss slightly to coat. Roast for 20 minutes and remove to cool.

Blend the salsa.

  • Drain the tomatoes, reserving the liquid.
  • Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of their peels. Add garlic, onion, tomatoes, and salt to a blender.
  • Start by adding 1/2 a jalapeño pepper to the blender, removing the seeds and pith if you like a more mild salsa. Blend until it reaches your desired consistency, scraping down the sides as necessary. If it has a hard time blending you can add a tablespoon of the reserved tomato liquid, but be sparing or your salsa will be watery.
  • Taste the salsa and add more jalapeño or salt if desired. I usually add 1-2 jalapeños for a medium to hot salsa, depending on how hot my specific peppers are. Sometimes they're super mild though and I could add up to 3.
  • Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips or on a taco!

Notes

Jalapeños can vary tremendously in heat, so roast one or two extras so you can make your salsa just as spicy as you like it.
If you like your salsa chunkier but need to add more jalapeño after the initial blending, remove half the salsa from the blender while you add more jalapeño and blend it. Recombine with the chunkier portion and taste again.
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Nutrition

Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 10g | Sodium: 3466mg | Potassium: 1691mg | Fiber: 10g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 1233IU | Vitamin C: 115mg | Calcium: 285mg | Iron: 8mg

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