Restaurant-Style Tomato Salsa

restaurant-salsaEvery year it seems, I try out a new canned salsa recipe: one glance at the tomato page will tell you that plenty of them have made it to this space. Some, like salsa verde and grilled corn salsa, earn “instant classic” status and are a must-make on the yearly canning agenda. Others, like basic red salsa and roasted tomato & chipotle salsa, get tweaked slightly every year, depending on availability of ingredients, my schedule and mood. But despite having so many good salsa options in my arsenal, I always like to try out new recipes, because if I’ve discovered one thing in my six years of canning, it’s this: you can never have too much salsa.

Seriously, everyone loves the stuff. And while everyone seems to be avoiding sugar these days (making jams & chutneys off the list for potential gift-giving), salsa consists of vegetables and a bit of vinegar: naturally gluten-free, grain-free, sugar-free, cholesterol-free, egg-free, fat-free, low-calorie, vegan, vegetarian and paleo. (Did I miss anything?) Outside of a tomato allergy, salsa is a pretty safe bet for gifting, and homemade salsa & tortilla chips is always a welcome addition to the party table. Every year I make more salsa: every year I have to hide away the last couple of jars so I don’t run out before tomato season starts again.

So, I keep adding new salsa recipes to the list. This one, adapted from Elise at Simply Recipes, is similar to my basic red salsa, but blended to a smoother, restaurant-style consistency. It’s quite good, although I’m sure it will change as it mellows on the shelf, and next year I might make it a bit spicier. But, it was the perfect excuse for “winner, winner, salsa dinner” out on the back deck. Bright blue skies, crisp Fall air, pumpkin ale and homemade salsa: not bad. Not bad at all.

Adapted from Canned Tomato Salsa by Elise at Simply Recipes

restaurant-salsaRestaurant-Style Tomato Salsa


  • 5 ½ lbs tomatoes, divided
  • 1 lb mixed chile peppers, halved, seeded, cores and ribs removed (reserve seeds), arranged cut-side down on a baking sheet (1 ¾ cups cooked & chopped)
  • 1 ¼ cups chopped onion (¼-inch dice)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro, loosely packed
  • 2 tbsp lime juice, fresh or bottled


  1. Preheat oven broiler. Stem and core tomatoes, trimming off any black spots. Reserve ½ lb of the tomatoes; with the remaining 5 lbs, halve and place cut-side down on a rimmed baking sheet. Place under the broiler and broil until skins are well-blackened, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven, carefully drain off excess tomato water, then cover lightly with a clean kitchen towel and allow to rest until cool enough to handle, about 10 – 15 minutes.
  2. Place baking sheet of halved peppers under the broiler. Broil until peppers are slightly softened and skins starting to blacken, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
  3. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  4. Pluck blackened skins off of tomatoes and discard. Transfer tomatoes and juice to a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot or preserving pot. Coarsely chop roasted peppers and add to the pot (measure peppers to ensure that you do not have more than 1 ¾ cups). Add onion, garlic, vinegar, oregano, salt, and cumin. Stir to mix and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Simmer, uncovered, until vegetables are softened and liquid has reduced a bit, about 20 minutes.
  5. Dice reserved ½ lb of tomatoes. Add cilantro and lime juice, blend lightly with an immersion blender, then add diced tomatoes. Simmer another 5 minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, remembering that heat from the chiles will mellow on the shelf. Add reserved seeds from chile peppers to bump up the heat.
  6. Fill hot jars with hot salsa to ½-inch headspace. Bubble jars, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Yields about 10 cups.


  1. Elise used Anaheim & jalapeño chiles in her salsa: I used a mix of jalapeño, mildy spicy yellow & red peppers and a single red habañero. Choose peppers, mild or hot, according to your taste. She also charred her peppers and removed the skins; since we know I am really bad at that, I chose to lightly broil the peppers for flavor, then to chop and add with the skins on.
  2. In order to maintain safe acidity for canning, ensure that the total amount of chopped peppers + chopped onion does not exceed 3 cups and do not decrease the amount of vinegar.


Canned, stored in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.


Summer into early Fall.



  1. Dale in Denver

    Thank you for all the salsa options. I feel like a hoarder the way I keep on putting up the salsas. But I agree, better to have too much. I made a double batch of the grilled corn salsa yesterday. Yowza! I love it! Today i have about 5 lbs of tomatillos (my 3rd harvest of this suze From only 3 plants) to salsafy. Can’t wait to do this one next weekend when I have another good harvest of tomatoes, sweet peppers and jalapeños ripe out back.

  2. Dan

    MC’s comment above sparked a thought. Why is it called “Restaurant Salsa”, what makes it restaurant-like? And since it probably IS better than anything you’d get a restaurant wouldn’t you want to use a different moniker? And finally isn’t it ironic that when restaurants want to sell something they label it “home-style” 🙂

    • I know: I couldn’t really think of a better name, other than “partially blended salsa” which doesn’t sound so appealing, no? And somehow this consistency of salsa is typically known as “cooked” salsa or “restaurant style.” This is the problem with having way too many salsa recipes on one site!

  3. I will definitely be making a batch of this salsa this weekend. Our first tomato season ended in July and I only canned 6 pints of salsa. Half is already gone! We are entering our fall tomato season right now but it’s very short, so I’d better get canning!

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  5. Sherri

    This looks like just the salsa recipe I’ve been looking for, love that consistency. Is your recipe based on paste tomatoes or salad tomatoes? I have a hoard of Striped German and Aunt Ruby’s heirlooms to use…

  6. Jen

    I have two little guys and need to prepare the recipe during naps/ bedtime. Can I prepare the salsa one day and then can it the next? How would I do that?

    • Sure: I break up recipes into short steps all the time. Here, you can:

      1. Chop onions & garlic. Roast & chop peppers. Stick in fridge overnight (or continue).
      2. Core & broil tomatoes; lift off peels. Add to large pot with remaining ingredients; cook, then add lime & cilantro and blend as above. Refrigerate (for up to 1 week, but ideally a day or two), reserving last 1/2 lb tomatoes.
      3. Dice last 1/2 lb tomatoes; return salsa to pot and bring back to a boil. Add tomatoes, simmer for 2 – 3 minutes, then can in hot water bath.

  7. Made this recipe with the last of the slowly ripening sauce tomatoes from our garden. Instead of jalapenos or anything of the sort, I used roasted green chile, since I live in the land where Chile is King. My onion came from the same research farm, two fields over from where Big Jim was developed. And I must say….this salsa is GLORIOUS!

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