I’m Kristina - freelance graphic designer, backyard farmer, cookbook reader, project starter, and new mom to a gorgeous little boy.

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September 1, 2011

How to make authentic salsa

Finally! The salsa recipe emerges. You guys this salsa is legit. Authentic I guess would be the correct word. Our nanny Lucy is a superb cook (her mother owned a restaurant in Oaxaca and she cooked there as a young thing), so we are double double lucky because she not only adores Dashiell, and he her, but she also makes us treats from time to time while he is napping. It’s a very very good arrangement.

Her salsa in particular pretty much blew my mind. I requested a cooking lesson, and then had the genius idea to share it with the entire internet. Because doesn’t everyone want to know how to make the best salsa in the universe with only three ingredients? Yes they do.

I’m starting with salsa roja, because that’s the one I have more detailed pictures of, which I took as Lucy was making it. But I also have a killer salsa verde in iPhoto too and I will definitely post that one next week. I *might* even like the green version better.

Authentic salsa roja

4 tomatoes (vine ripe sauce tomatoes are perfect)
2 cloves garlic
2 red (ripe) jalapeños*

Special equipment: a molcajete. It’s kind of a big purchase, size and weight wise. But I truly think it’s worth it to be able to make salsa like this. AND you can use it for loads of other things too. I’ve heard. Lucy did make this with a cup and bowl the first time she made it at our house, but I can’t imagine how.

To start, bring the tomatoes and jalapeños to a boil in a pot of water. Cook until all are soft, and you can easily pierce both the tomato and chile with a fork. Remove from heat.

In the molcajete, crush the raw garlic cloves to a rough paste. Add the jalapeños (stems removed), and grind them up until both the garlic and chiles are bien molido.

Next add the tomatoes, one by one.

Remove the skin from each, then add one to the chile and garlic paste and mash it until it’s almost pureed.

Repeat with the remaining tomatoes.

Add a pinch or two of sea salt and taste. Depending on how salty you like things, you might need to add a bit more salt. Don’t skimp though, the salt really brings the flavors of the salsa together.

See? Easy breezy. It literally takes 10 minutes from start to finish. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat pico de gallo again. And, um, hello Christmas presents!

*(Note on jalapeños – they all actually turn red once they’ve been on the plant long enough. If you don’t have them growing out back, I think you can probably find red ones at the farmer’s market. Or you could substitute a different red chile. I fear that if you used green, the color of the salsa would be severely compromised.)


  1. jamie said on September 1, 2011

    want. salsa. now.

  2. Danielle said on September 1, 2011

    Oh yum, that looks delicious. Thanks for the tutorial. I’m going to be making this for our next taco night.

  3. blake said on September 1, 2011

    Dude. I love this and thank you! Legit salsa instrux must be shared with the entire mundo. Please post salsa verde!

  4. jora said on September 1, 2011

    OK, making this right now. But I have to try her bowl-n-cup method as I don’t (yet) have one of those molcajetes. YET.

  5. Maria @ Orchard Bloom said on September 1, 2011

    woah! looks DELISH. I’m going to give this a try asap!

  6. lovelove said on September 1, 2011

    Can’t wait until it’s tomato season here again! This looks amazing, thanks for sharing.

  7. Greta said on September 1, 2011

    Thank you thank you thank you! Can’t wait to see the salsa verde!

  8. mind of mr said on September 1, 2011

    that looks so goood!!

  9. nicole b. said on September 2, 2011

    So pretty & it looks delicious, thanks for sharing. xo.

  10. Kim said on September 3, 2011

    I am so grateful for this post! thank you. thank you. thank you.

  11. Dorit said on September 3, 2011

    That looks so easy that even I could manage it. Thank you!

  12. Abby - Bright Yellow World said on September 3, 2011

    I just made this from your recipe! It is fantastic!!! Thank you so much for sharing, and happy weekend.

  13. janice said on September 3, 2011

    I will try this for sure.

  14. jora said on September 5, 2011

    I just wanted to let people know that I found out my local Mexican market (where I buy tortillas, chips, etc.) sells authentic molcajetes (and tortilla presses!) for much cheaper than SLT. Just an FYI!

  15. Kristina said on September 6, 2011

    @Abby – I’m so happy you liked it!!!

    @Jora – Yes! Good tip. I knew I was paying as much as I possibly could for mine. But I was being lazy and needed it that second. So did you make??

    All – Salsa verde comin’ this week.

  16. Heather said on September 14, 2011

    Yummy! I’ve been looking for a simple salsa recipe like this. I have a molcajete so I’ll definitely try it!!

  17. S said on September 20, 2011

    O YUM. No molcajete, so used ye olde cuisinart and it was still delicious.

  18. Ridgely's Radar said on September 20, 2011

    Great! Will have to try it out!

  19. Janna said on January 23, 2012

    AWESOME!!! This was sooo easy and tastes so good. My kids liked the fact that we could reduce the heat with less pepper.

  20. Kari said on September 5, 2012

    I made this last night and took it to a potluck, not only was it gone by the end of the night, my husband told me that I could never buy salsa from the store ever again! So yummy! Thank you.

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