Salsa is a quintessential accompaniment to Mexican cuisine and a flavorful way to elevate the taste of all kinds of dishes. It's great as a dip for tortilla chips, a topper for meats, or as a condiment for tacos and enchiladas. However, there are many kinds of salsa, including red salsa, green salsa, and fruit salsa. So how do you know which one suits your taste buds the most?
We've researched many salsa brands in varying types, colors, heat levels, and ingredients, and have compiled a list of the 10 best store-bought salsas you can buy online. Pace's Picante Sauce was one of our favorites as this smooth sauce has a flavorful taste with a nice little kick. There's also a buying guide at the end reviewed by a chef to help you choose among the different salsas available in the market.
Jim Quast (JQ) is a lifelong professional restaurant and corporate R&D chef that loves everything food-related and the tools both big and small to make those great food memories. He's a super huge BBQ, grill, and kitchen gadget fanatic. JQ has spent the last 30+ years trying to figure out what works to make your kitchen life easier and fun. If you can use it to slice it, dice it, cook it, smoke it or store it, he's been there checking it out. Food = Life! https://www.linkedin.com/in/jim-quast-59769011/
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Table of Contents
The guide below will help you in the decision-making process by using a systematic approach and breaking down the salsa into its main components.
Perhaps the most important salsa decision to consider is its heat level. You wouldn't want something that's too hot to enjoy or something that tastes too bland. Salsas are typically broken down into three categories: mild, medium, and hot.
Mild salsas are for those with low spice tolerance. The amount of chilies and peppers in mild salsa is less than the hot and medium versions. Moreover, the type of ingredients used are naturally sweeter and less spicy. For example, many mild salsas contain sugar or green bell peppers to cut the heat.
Consider medium heat level salsa as the best of both worlds, the fail-safe of salsas. It's not too mild and not too hot and is often made with a combination of chilies, peppers, vinegar, and sugar. Therefore, it has a balanced flavor between hot, sweet, and tangy. Medium salsa pairs well with many types of food, from tortillas to pasta.
If you love spicy foods, hot salsas might be a great choice for you. They are usually made with naturally spicy peppers like chilis, jalapeños, habaneros, and more.
Hot salsas often have chilies as the first few ingredients as well. This means that the chilies are the main components of the salsas. A lot of hot salsas are also free from sugar and other types of sweeteners, as they can neutralize spiciness.
Salsas are commonly separated into two categories based on texture or consistency: smooth or chunky. With smooth salsa, you will taste everything in one bite. It's great as a sauce for pasta or any dish add-on to compliment the taste.
Chunky salsa is usually packed with chunks of diced tomatoes and offers a nice contrast in texture. You'll be able to taste more of the tomatoes. Chunky salsa is great as a dip for chips, or a relish to go on dishes like tacos or scrambled eggs.
There are many different styles of salsa, and each of them has its own unique taste. Read on to know some of the most common types of salsa!
Salsa roja or red salsa is the more popular version that everyone is familar with. It's made with ripe red tomatoes, hence the bright red color. Other common ingredients in red salsa include chiles, garlic, onion, salt, and pepper.
It's versatile and is typically used as a condiment or topper for burritos, quesadillas, tacos, and meat. You can also use red salsa to add punch to your salads or soups!
Fruit salsa is a good choice if you're craving something refreshing. The taste is usually sweet and tangy, which complements the richness of fatty meats or seafoods. Some common fruits used to make fruit salsa include mango, kiwi, peach, strawberry, and watermelon.
Salsa verde, or green salsa, is often made with tomatillos in lieu of tomatoes, thus the green color. Chimichurri, a green sauce from Argentina that uses cilantro and parsley, is another recipe that many consider to be a type of salsa verde. Salsa verde usually has a zestier and more refreshing taste compared to red salsa.
For those who like roasted food, salsa ranchera is the salsa for you. It's the typical tomato-based salsa but with a smoky aftertaste because of the charred tomatoes.
Salsa con queso is another famous kind. It's basically salsa with cheese. This sauce has a creamy texture and cheesy taste. As the cheese already neutralizes some of the heat, salsa con queso isn't too spicy. It's suggested to warm up the salsa con queso in the microwave a little for the best flavor and texture.
Another salsa without tomatoes, corn salsa is a refreshing summer appetizer made with sweet corn, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime and some chili powder. It's a bit sweet, spicy, and tangy. Serve it with some tacos and cotija cheese.
There's also bean salsa, which is a combination of ingredients such as black beans, tomato, corn, and onion. Bean salsa has a fresh taste and is quite filling as well. It works well as a dip, appetizer, or taco bar side dish.
We want our salsa to last, and nobody likes throwing away food. Given the fresh ingredients used in salsa, we need to consider their shelf-life. Start by checking the expiration date on the jar.
The rule of thumb is that an unopened salsa jar lasts for one to two months in the pantry. Once opened, a store-bought salsa jar would be good in the fridge for about a couple of weeks, while a homemade one would last between five to seven days.
With salsa, there are natural preservatives being used such as lime juice, vinegar, lemon, orange, and other acidic ingredients. Not only do these add that extra zing to salsa; they also extend its shelf life so you can further enjoy the Mexican staple.
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Restaurant Style Salsa
Best Flavorful Salsa With Few Chunks
Good & Gather
Best Salsa With Mangoes and Peaches for a Sweet, Refreshing Taste
Best Versatile, Chunky Salsa
Best Creamy Tomatillo Salsa With Avocado
Best for the Sweet, Mildly Spicy Flavor and Thick Texture
Best for the Addition of Pineapples for a Sweet and Fruity Twist
Mexican Grill & Cantina Salsa
Best Black Bean and Corn Salsa With a Hearty, Refreshing Taste
Cantina Style Salsa Verde
Best for the Mild, Refreshing Flavor That Pairs Well With Different Recipes
Best for Spicy Salsa Lovers
On The Border
Salsa Con Queso
Best for the Creamy and Cheesy Flavor With a Little Kick
This restaurant-style salsa is made with simple ingredients such as diced tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers, and spices. It's free from artificial ingredients and tastes delicious with tortilla chips. The medium heat level makes it great for liberal use. Try it as a marinade for your meat and vegetables or as a salad dressing!
One drawback of this salsa for some buyers is the watery consistency. Nonetheless, the majority find this sauce flavorful and tangy with a nice kick to it. They further mention that it goes very well with dishes like chips, tacos, and enchiladas.
This salsa is made with a blend of tomatoes, mangoes, peaches, jalapeño peppers, and garlic, and its mildly sweet, mildly spicy flavor goes well with many recipes. Use this sauce as a topping for tacos or eggs, in ground beef, or in tortilla soup. It also would pair well with fish or chicken.
Some buyers find that the jar is difficult to open. Yet, the review section is overwhelmingly positive, with a lot of buyers complimenting the delicious, fruity flavor and chunky consistency of this salsa. Many also say that the spice level is just right to give you some kick without being too overwhelming.
If you like your salsa chunky, you might want to consider this option from Pace. This salsa is made with chunks of tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, onions, and other spices. It's great for dipping or adding to your nachos, quesadillas, eggs, and enchiladas.
A few buyers complain that the medium salsa isn't spicy at all. On the other hand, most reviewers love that it has the right consistency. They also find this salsa fresh-tasting! A lot of buyers enjoy this sauce with dishes like scrambled eggs, nachos, and rice.
Instead of tomatoes, this salsa from Herdez is made with tomatillos for a zesty taste. The addition of avocado further gives the sauce a creamy and rich body. It isn't suitable for cooking but works great as a dipping sauce for a variety of dishes, including French fries, fish sticks, chicken tenders, sushi, and anything that suits your fancy.
The major complaint some buyers had about this salsa was its thin consistency. Still, most compliment its creamy, spicy, and tart flavor and further mention that it's great for dipping tortilla chips, taquitos, vegetables, pizza, and other dishes.
This chunky salsa contains simple ingredients like tomato purée, diced tomatoes, and onions. The combination of green bell peppers and jalapeño peppers gives it a spicy and slightly sweet taste. Not only is it great as a dip for chips, but it could also be added to baked potatoes, vegetable soup, and any recipe that needs some extra kick.
A couple of customers still find this sauce a bit too hot for their preferences. On the other hand, most reviewers love this salsa for its fresh and well-balanced taste. Another bonus point for many is the thick and chunky consistency that's perfect for dipping.
This recipe is simple, with ingredients like tomato purée, diced tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and onions. It also contains crushed pineapple and a touch of brown sugar for a sweet and delicious twist. What's more, all the profits from this salsa go to charity!
For some buyers, this tastes a bit like ketchup. Even so, most are hooked on its slightly sweet and spicy flavor. They especially like the addition of pineapples, saying it gives the sauce a fresh fruity taste. According to some others, this pineapple salsa is great to use as a dip as well as a base for cooking.
This salsa combines black beans, corn, chipotle peppers, sweet red peppers, jalapeño peppers, tomato paste, and other spices for a spicy, smoky, and tangy flavor. It's hearty and filling with a chunky texture, and is a great topping for salads, meats, vegetables, tacos, nachos, or tortilla chips.
The review section is mostly positive, with the majority of reviewers praising its well-balanced smoky taste and chunky consistency. They further mention that it tastes great on virtually anything, from eggs, rice, soup, and salad, to chips.
Salsa verde is normally made with tomatillos, or the Mexican husk tomato, which doesn't technically belong in the tomato family. And with jalapeño peppers, cilantro, and spices, this tasty salsa can add a delicious zing to many different dishes like steaks, grilled chicken, fish, or vegetables. Or mix it with some cream cheese for a creamy dip.
Some buyers note that this salsa verde gets moldy quickly after opening, so plan to use it up fast. Yet, the majority of reviewers rave about the delicious, spicy taste of this cantina-style salsa verde. Many also praise the texture, mentioning that it strikes a nice balance between chunky and smooth.
This one's for the heat-lovers out there. It's a classic salsa recipe but spiced up with Carolina Reaper peppers, the hottest pepper around. The infusion of green chili peppers, jalapeño peppers, and other spices further enhances the complexity of the flavor as well as the heat level.
A few buyers don't like that this salsa contains added sugar. Still, even some with high tolerance find themselves burning up after eating this salsa, so start out slow with small dips before taking full scoops. They further comment that it's delicious and pairs well with many foods like chips, burritos, refried beans, or omelettes.
This salsa has a creamy and cheesy taste thanks to the addition of Monterey Jack cheese. Made with a combination of green chilies, red bell peppers, and jalapeño peppers, it has a medium heat level. Pair this creamy salsa with tacos, enchiladas, nachos, eggs, quesadillas, and more.
A few reviewers mention that the flavor is quite mild, but others mention that this salsa tastes better when slightly heated up. Many find it cheesy and spicy with a thick and creamy texture. They say it works very well as a dipping sauce for chips and enhances the flavor of dishes like tacos and nachos, too!
Salsa is most often considered as a dip for nachos or tortilla chips; but there is so much more to this savory goodness than meets the eye.
One can indulge in some salsa at any time of the day, including breakfast. Make your scrambled eggs more interesting by topping them off with a spoonful or two of salsa for a Tex-Mex breakfast.
Salsa can also go on top of pizza. No more chopping onions, garlic, or bell peppers because all of that is in the salsa, plus hot sauce!
You can also use salsa to make traditional Mexican dishes such as tamales, enchiladas, and flautas. Mexican soups such as birria, caldo de pollo, and caldo de res can be made with salsa as well.
Looking for a sauce for meats? Try slow cooking chicken, beef or pork with salsa to make tortilla filling. It can even serve as the base for fresh-tasting bloody marys to be served over brunch. Just blend a jar and add vodka.
Whether you prefer Tex-Mex classics or are looking for something authentic, you're sure to find something delicious in the links below!
Still haven't found a good pick? Take a look at Amazon's best-selling salsas!
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