Cantina-Style Salsa

I have a deep and abiding weakness for chips and salsa. If I’m going to fall off the healthy eating wagon, it’s going to be while I’m firmly grasping a bag of tortilla chips. We don’t have great Mexican food in my particular neck of the Louisiana woods, so I could dream dreams of street tacos and fish tacos and burritos, but when push comes to shove and I finally find myself with some good Mexican food, it all comes down to the chips and salsa.

Well. I’m not really on the chips right now. But the salsa? Yes, please. I still love it–on eggs, omelets, tacos, salads, fajitas, black beans. If I can put salsa on it, you can bet that I’ll be putting this salsa on it.

I started making this salsa when my husband and I were in college, dead broke, when fresh produce was a luxury and Mexican restaurants were a distant dream. You know that fancy salsa in the plastic tubs at the grocery store? This is kind of like that. Only it tastes way better. And it’s significantly cheaper, especially since you probably have most of the ingredients in your cupboards and your fridge.

Cantina-Style Salsa from Our Best Bites

You’re going to need two cans of stewed tomatoes (yes, stewed tomatoes–they’re not just for your grandma anymore), half a red onion, a couple cloves of garlic, some kosher salt, a handful of cilantro, and a big, juicy lime. My lime was feeling shy and didn’t make it into the picture, but it definitely made it into my salsa because lime juice. You’re also going to need Chipotle Tabasco Sauce (I know, I had Tabasco in my last recipe, too. Apparently when I’m eating healthy, I need a wide variety of spicy condiments in my life.) More about the Tabasco in a minute.

Cantina-Style Salsa

Place the tomatoes, juice and everything, in the jar of a blender. Add a teaspoon of kosher salt.

Cantina-Style Salsa-2

Add the onion and garlic (you don’t even need to chop ’em first)…

Cantina-Style Salsa-3

Add a handful of cilantro (about 1/2 cup).

Cantina-Style Salsa-4

Pulse the mixture in the blender until the onion is roughly chopped.

Now…about adding some heat.  I’ve tried all the things to spice up this salsa–fresh peppers (like jalapeños), cayenne pepper, chipotle chili powder–and this is hands-down my favorite.

Cantina-Style Salsa-5

It adds a little heat and a lot of flavor. Jalapeños are fickle–it can be difficult to tell how much heat you’re adding (or not adding) and sometimes they leave a weird aftertaste. Cayenne is dependable heat-wise but doesn’t add much in terms of flavor. But this? It’s smoky. It’s tangy. It’s spicy, but not nearly as spicy as traditional Tabasco sauce. So give it a few good shakes, pulse it again, have a taste, and then add more as needed.

And that’s it. It takes 5 minutes and it’s so delicious and is something you can basically eat in unlimited amounts.

Cantina-Style Salsa from Our Best Bites

Speaking of blenders…we may or may not be giving away a BlendTec blender in our DietBet that’s going on right now! If you’ve been on the fence about joining, the blender is basically telling you that you need to do this!

Cantina-Style Salsa

Make cantina-style salsa at home in just a few minutes with refrigerator and pantry staples!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes


  • 2 14.5- ounce cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 handful cilantro about 1/2 cup
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Chipotle Tabasco Sauce amount varies depending on heat preference


  • Place all ingredients except the Tabasco in a blender. Pulse until the ingredients are chopped but not pureed. Add Tabasco sauce to taste. For best flavor, refrigerate at least 2-3 hours before serving.
Author: Our Best Bites
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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

    1. I’m sure you could use crystallized lime. I have a hard time finding it where I live, so fresh limes are easier for me! 🙂

  1. I can’t eat cilantro, can I just leave that out? Really want to try this and stop buying the jarred stuff if possible.

  2. This is amazing!! My little kids even loved it. You two seriously have never let me down.

  3. I can’t wait to try this. Homemade is always so-o-o much better. And yo are right about the Chipotle Tabasco sauce. We love it!! It goes in & on everything. My hubby even has a bottle of it on his desk at work.

  4. Thanks for posting this recipe!! My hubby and I are obsessed with the Salsa from a local Mexican restaurant in Ogden, UT and go there all the time just to get their Salsa to go. We made this last night and it’s pretty close to the one we love!! This recipe will save us money, time and was super easy to make!! You guys are the BEST!!!!

  5. I have a TON of Roma tomatoes from my garden that I need to use up! You think it would work if I sub them in for the stewed ones?

    1. How would you feel about adding some V8 juice? This has kind of a unique flavor/texture and I think the V8 would help kind of replicate that. Probably 4-8 ounces per pound of pre-seeded tomatoes.

  6. This salsa has become a staple in our home, along with bread, milk, eggs, and cereal. I’ve tried many salsa recipes, and this one is the easiest and hands-down my family’s favorite. As soon as we run out of this salsa, I have to make a new batch immediately. We are definitely addicted! Thank you!

  7. This salsa is soooooo good!! I added 4 roma tomatoes instead of a second can of stewed tomatoes. Also added a jalapeno and used white instead of red onion. I think it’s my new favorite salsa recipe. Thanks!

  8. Just made this but added a whole jalapeno (minus the stem) in the blender and the chipotle hot sauce because the spicier the better and oh man is it good! Now I just have to be patient and let it sit for a couple hours in the fridge. Thanks for the recipe!

  9. Great recipe! I made this tonight. I had Cholula chipotle hot sauce on hand, not the Tobasco brand, so that’s what I used. It was so delicious! It definitely makes a difference to have it sit in the fridge before serving, as you suggested. It really improves the flavor.

  10. This salsa is ridiculously easy and absolutely delicious. I just made it for the second time in a week. New go-to salsa recipe.

  11. Made it today and it’s so delicious! I have to agree that the Chipotle Tabasco is what really makes this amazing. I may need to keep a constant supply of stewed tomatoes on hand! Yum!

  12. Looks great. I am addicted to that Chipotle Tabasco. I bought if for a recipe of your a few years ago and now it’s a pantry staple.

  13. K. Eating this right now. With a spoon. Cuz with my new healthy lifestyle I’m “choosing not to have” chips. The first sentence of this post fits me TO.A.TEE! UGH. Thanks for a yummy recipe 🙂

  14. Love this! Totally reminds me of a Mexican restaurant. Love the texture as I am not a fan of super chunky sauces. Just for educational purposes, why stewed tomatoes? I only had crushed so I diced the garlic and onion so I didn’t have to blend much. It worked but it would have been easy to turn it all into puree. I assume the stewed tomatoes just blend better or provide better texture?

    1. Stewed tomatoes just have a lot of flavor, more than other canned tomatoes. 🙂

  15. I just made this and it is fabulous! How long do you think this would keep in the fridge?

    1. I would probably say 7-10 days. On one hand, there’s a lot of salt. On the other, there’s no coming back from bad cilantro, haha!

  16. Love simple homemade salsa. I love to make a similar recipe, but its even easier with the garlic, spice etc already in the Almers Spicy Red Pepper canned tomatoes we can get up in Canada!
    So good on everything!

  17. I just wanna heap this on top of the fried egg avocado toast. That I’ve had 3-4 times since you posted it.

  18. Don’t tell me that had Chipotle Tabasco when you were a poor college student! Did you use regular Tabasco then?

    1. It might be missing–we crashed on Saturday and we’re trying to figure out what caused the problem. When you right click (or the Mac equivalent if you have a Mac), is there a pin it option?

  19. I just bought all the ingredients at the store (I am intrigued by that chipotle Tabasco!) and I can’t wait to make it and have some on my eggs tomorrow morning!

  20. I’m like you–I am obsessed with chips and salsa. This salsa looks so yummy and easy to make. And I’ve been looking for a classic cantina-style salsa to make at home. Pinning to try ASAP. Thanks for the recipe!

  21. Ah! That’s one type of tomatoes I don’t hoard in my pantry, but maybe now I need to! This salsa looks divine and it will definitely be making an appearance at a party I’m throwing soon!

  22. I recently started making a salsa VERY similar to this, but I add a can of Rotel for the heat. I could drink it with a straw. I don’t think I’ll be buying bottled salsa any time soon.

  23. This salsa sounds so yummy – and I’m fascinated by those cylindrical crisps you’ve served it with haha (I bet they’re really common wherever you’re from!)

    1. Ha!! They’re not super typical–they’re kind of a novelty item, haha! We bought them for New Year’s Eve, but the truth is that they’re not the most functional. 🙂

      1. I have a feeling those would work better with a cheese sauce (you know, suck it up with a straw… ; )

  24. I am eating my version of this right now! I make it so often during the winter (pick de gallo in the summer when the veggie garden is rolling) that I buy the bulk 6lb cans at the local restaurant supply place. I use the tomatoes as needed and store the rest in Tupperware in he fridge. When my husband was eating it last week he said I should start bottling it for sale. I laughed and suggested I call it Gringo Girl Salsa. Anyways, I love chili de Arbol powder for the heat!