Authentic Mexican Salsa Roja

Authentic Mexican Salsa Roja is really a difficult claim. There are simply thousands of Salsa Roja recipes. Every Mexican restaurant seemingly has their own version. Not to mention the store shelves that are filled with jarred versions. We feel the authenticity comes from “roasting” the required ingredients (tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic), and committing to freshness. Plus, a lot of fresh cilantro. Joanie does use some techniques to enhance the flavor. But, the key is roasting and freshness.

Salsa Roja is tomato based and often referred to as “table salsa” in Mexico. Here in the Southwest, we have so many delicious Mexican restaurants that serve table salsa with free tortilla chips (corn or flour) for all guests. It is a nice touch. It certainly encourages that second Margarita. Some restaurants also offer a Salsa Verde with a tomatillo base. Delicious! We have previously posted Joanie’s version of her Chipotle Salsa. It has a nice smoky chipotle taste. Our favorite local Mexican restaurant has their own versions of all three on the table.


This Salsa is Roja – that means tomatoes! Joanie uses Roma tomatoes, fresh and ripe. The redder the color, the better. We have used canned tomatoes (San Marzano) in the winter when fresh ripened tomatoes are less abundant. But, these days markets are full of fresh Roma Tomatoes. Some recipes call for boiling the tomatoes until mushy. Not good. Some call for broiling in the oven – great idea. Joanie likes to char her fresh tomatoes on a cast iron skillet (Comal). She does the same with the white onion, garlic, and a fresh jalapeño pepper. Roasting is the secret to a good salsa!

You can use a number of different peppers for the Salsa. It depends upon your heat tolerance. Traditional Salsa will have a Serrano pepper. They are a bit hotter than a Jalapeño. Yet, a Serrano has less heat than an Arbol. For this recipe, Joanie stuck with the Jalapeño. But, she also likes the intense taste of reconstituted dried peppers. Joanie uses Guajillos. They will give your chunky salsa a brownish color, as will the roasting. They will need to be reconstituted in water before blending. Blending a few dried peppers in your Salsa really brings out unique flavors.

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Preparation Tips

Aside from using a Comal to char the tomatoes, pepper, onions, and garlic, our initial tip would be to roughly quarter your tomatoes and onions. They will pulse easier in your Food Processor, after charring. You want your processor to churn easier with smaller chunks of vegetables. Use the pulse button on your processor, to obtain a chunkier consistency. If you like a smoother salsa, simply pulse a little longer.

Stick with a white onion. You do not want an over-powering yellow or Spanish onion. In fact, many Salsa recipes eliminate the onion. We like it in this recipe, as well as a bit of dried cumin. That is more of a Southwestern addition than Mexican. However, it does add flavor. Finally, if you are adventurous and want to invest in a Molcajete, or Mexican mortar and pestle, mash your salsa by hand. As the Molcajete ages you will really have built-in flavor. They are also great for making fresh Guacamole. We love restaurants that will put on a show, using a Molcajete for table-side preparation.

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Authentic Mexican Salsa Roja – The Perfect Condiment – Delicious and Only 1.4g of Carbs!

Whether you serve our Authentic Mexican Salsa Roja as a topping for Quesadillas, on Carne Asado, inside Tacos, or layered inside Huevos Rancheros, this recipe is a keeper! There is nothing like fresh homemade Salsa! Keep it handy as a dip for your Low-carb Tortilla Chips or Carnitas Nachos, it is a Tasty Low Carb Essential!

Authentic Mexican Salsa Roja

Recipe by Joanie and Chris
5.0 from 8 votes
Course: Sauces and DipsCuisine: MexicanDifficulty: Easy


Prep time


Cooking time




Net Carbs


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Serve our Authentic Mexican Salsa Roja as a topping for Quesadillas, on Carne Asado, inside Tacos, or layered inside Huevos Rancheros – yum! A perfect dip with Low-Carb Tortilla Chips!

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  • 2 2 Guajillo peppers (dried)

  • 1 tbsp 15 ml Olive oil (extra virgin)

  • 6 6 Roma tomatoes (quartered)

  • 1 1 White onion ( quartered)

  • 4 cloves 4 cloves Garlic

  • 1 1 Jalapeño pepper

  • 1 tsp 1 tsp Cumin

  • 1 tbsp 15 ml Lime juice (fresh)

  • 10 sprigs 10 sprigs Cilantro (include stems)

  • 2 tsp 2 tsp Sea salt


  • Bring a medium sauce pan filled with 2 cups of water to a boil. Take off the heat and reconstitute, by soaking the Guajillo peppers in the hot water for 20 minutes. Cut off the tops and de-seed the reconstituted peppers.
  • While the peppers are soaking, place the prepared tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeño pepper in a very lightly oiled comal or cast iron skillet. If you prefer you can rub the vegetables with olive oil instead of the pan. Set the temperature to medium-high.
  • Turn the vegetables often and cook for approximately 10 minutes until charred and tomatoes are softened. The garlic will char quickly and can be removed after a couple of minutes, before it burns.
  • Remove the jalapeño, cut off the stem, and leave the seeds in the pepper.
  • Add the roasted vegetables, reconstituted peppers, cumin, lime juice, cilantro and sea salt to a Food Processor. Use the pulse button and pulse to the desired consistency. Taste and season with more salt, if needed.
  • Pour the salsa into a serving container, garnish with some chopped cilantro and enjoy.


Chef’s Notes

  • You can also use a Serrano chili as a substitute for the jalapeño, for more heat. Dried Ancho or even smoked Morita peppers can also substitute for the dried Guajillo peppers.
  • If you prefer, you can place the vegetables in a foil lined baking pan and roast under an oven broiler for 10 minutes, instead of charring on a Comal. Just remember to remove the garlic after 2-3 minutes before it burns.

Nutrition Facts

  • Calories: 14.0kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 1.9g
  • Protein: 0.4g
  • Fat: 0.7g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0mg
  • Sodium: 24.0mg
  • Potassium: 89.0mg
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Sugar: 0.5g
RICO RICO – Dried Guajillo Chiles Peppers 8 oz – Natural and Premium. Great For Mexican Recipes Like Mole, Tamales, Salsa. Resealable Kraft Bag by RICO RICO
  • AUTHENTIC DRIED GUAJILLO CHILES – Guajillo chiles have a sweet, fruity, tangy, smoky flavor profile with notes of berries and tea. The Guajillo Chile is the dried form of Mirasol Chile.
  • ADD MILD HEAT TO YOUR DISHES – Guajillo chiles have a mild heat, registering 2,500 to 5,000 on the Scoville scale. The Guajillo chile is one of the most used chile peppers in Mexican gastronomy to give color and flavor to sauces, moles, marinades, and a lot of other stews.

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