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Is your favorite part about going to a Mexican restaurant the chips and dip you gobble down before your entrée even arrives? If so, you’re not alone. And you’re probably the type of person who should always have salsa in your pantry or fridge. Whether you’re making a quick lunch quesadilla, a rice bowl for dinner, or simply snacking on some chips during a football game, having a quality salsa on hand can elevate many a snack or meal, adding that classic, fresh, acidic component we know and love.
Here are the best salsas for taco night and more.
Best Overall: Tostitos Restaurant Style Medium Salsa
Tostitos is known for its chips and salsa, and for good reason. This is a smoother salsa, making it super versatile for any culinary use you have in mind, whether it be topping a burrito bowl, slow cooking some chicken breasts, or simply dipping in chips during a party. This is a great basic salsa for purists especially—the simple ingredient list contains tomatoes, onions, jalapeños, and seasonings, so there are no extra ingredients to distract from the classic tomato flavor and medium heat.
Best Spicy: Naked Infusions Extra Hot Organic Gourmet Salsa
Naked Infusions, a California small-batch salsa company, is here to test your spice tolerance. Its smooth, restaurant-style salsa is organic and contains just a handful of ingredients—tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and seasonings. It’s also vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, and onion- and garlic-free (for those who have onion/garlic sensitivities). In addition to this extra-hot variety, the brand also offers a mild option, medium option, fire-roasted garlic flavor, and a variety pack if you want to go all out.
Best Salsa Verde: Trader Joe's Salsa Verde
Unlike typical red tomato-based salsas, salsa verde is a green salsa usually made with tomatillos. This salsa verde from Trader Joe’s is made with tomatillos, green chili peppers, jalapeños, garlic, and seasonings. It’s in the medium range when it comes to spice level. In addition to dipping, you can use it in enchiladas, burritos, salads, and more—so it’s a super versatile condiment that’s great to have in your pantry. Each 2 tablespoons serving contains only 10 calories, so it adds a ton of flavor without adding many calories.
Best Tropical: Trader Joe's Island Salsa
If your go-to salsa is on the sweeter side and you’re not all about the spice, you’ll love this Trader Joe’s variety. This chunky salsa contains mango, pineapple, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, and jalapeño, giving it a mango-chutney-like quality that is not only great for dipping chips but works well with grilled fish or chicken. Each 2 tablespoons serving contains 20 calories. This is not a particularly spicy salsa, so it’s a great option for those who prefer mild blends and/or have a sweet tooth.
Best Variety Pack: Double Take Salsa Co. Gourmet Variety 3-Pack
If you’re hosting a party, chances are you’ll want to offer your guests more than one dip, and this is where the variety pack comes in handy. Everybody has different preferences when it comes to salsas, so why not put out three flavors? This small-batch company out of Minnesota offers flavors like Aces & Eights Sweet Corn, Machismo Medium Chipotle, and Verde Good Green Chile Salsa, which you can eat independently, or combine if you’re feeling adventurous.
Two of the three flavors are gluten-free and vegan, and each clearly ranks its spice level on the label (they range from 2-3 out of 5, so none are on the super-hot side) so there won’t be any surprises. Each 2 tablespoons serving contains 10-15 calories depending on the flavor.
Best for Sensitive Stomachs: Fody Vegan Mild Salsa
For those who follow a low FODMAP diet, finding a safe salsa that doesn’t trigger any stomach issues can be tough, considering many salsas contain onions and garlic as primary ingredients. But Fody has created a mild salsa specifically catered to those with these gut sensitivities. In addition to containing no garlic or onion, this salsa is gluten-free, keto-friendly, non-GMO, vegan, and low-FODMAP certified, making it a great choice for those with specific dietary needs. If you prefer a spicier version, Fody also offers a medium-spiced salsa and a salsa verde.
Best Bean: Newman's Own Black Bean and Corn Salsa, Medium Chunky
Yes, smooth tomato salsa is a classic crowd-pleaser, but sometimes you may be in the mood for something heartier, and that’s where bean and corn salsas come into play. We love Newman’s Own’s version of this spin-off, which contains tomatoes, black beans, corn, yellow/red/green bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, and plenty of classic salsa seasonings. The extra beans and corn provide a chunkier consistency that provides more substance to whatever your salsa vehicle may be. This salsa is a medium-spice level, and 2 tablespoons contain 25 calories (plus some fiber thanks to the beans and corn).
Best for Guac Enthusiasts: Tostitos Avocado Salsa
This hybrid guac-salsa combo is the perfect solution when you want both salsa and guacamole—why choose one when you can have both? It’s made with real avocados and has the appearance of a salsa verde—just creamier. In addition to avocados, this salsa from Tostitos contains green tomatoes, jalapeño, onions, red bell peppers, and jalapeño pepper puree, so it has a kick of heat. A 2 tablespoon serving contains 45 calories (more calories than the other salsas on this list, thanks to the avocados).
Best Splurge: Stonewall Kitchen Fire Roasted Salsa
Stonewall Kitchen excels in all things jarred, so it’s no surprise that it offers several stellar, craveable salsas such as this one. This fire-roasted salsa has a unique smoky element to it, thanks to a plethora of fire-roasted vegetables (the salsa contains red bell pepper, tomatoes, apples, yellow onions, garlic, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and lots of tasty salsa seasonings). It’s great for dipping on its own, but you can also use it to cook chicken or fish. It’s about a medium when it comes to spice level. This salsa is also gluten-free. If you like this product, check out Stonewall Kitchen’s other varieties, such as Mango Lime Salsa, Mild Tomato Salsa, and Spicy Tomato Salsa.
If you’re looking for a classic restaurant-style salsa, you can’t go wrong with Tostitos Restaurant Style Medium Salsa (view at Amazon). It’s smooth (for those who prefer a not-too-chunky texture), has minimal ingredients, and is super versatile. If you’re looking for something on the sweeter and chunkier side, we love Trader Joe’s Island Salsa (view at Amazon), which will transport you to a Caribbean beach thanks to tasty chunks of mangoes and pineapple.
What to Look for in Salsa
If you manage to finish your whole jar of salsa at one time (no judgment here), this is not relevant to you, but if you open a new jar of salsa and don’t finish it all, you’ll want to make sure you secure the lid back on properly and follow the label instructions for storage. This will likely involve keeping the jar in the fridge. It’s always a good idea to mark when you opened an item with a sharpie somewhere on the jar/label, so if you discover it in the back of your fridge weeks (or months…) later, you can easily check to see how long it’s been open.
Everyone has different preferences and tolerances when it comes to spiciness. Whether you’re a mild, medium, or spicy salsa consumer, there are plenty of options for you. Just check those labels before you buy, and if you’re hosting a gathering, it’s always a good idea to have more than one option so there’s something for everyone. If you’re using salsa as an ingredient when cooking, you’ll especially want to make sure to buy the appropriate heat level, depending on your culinary uses.
Smooth or chunky? Both are good options, and both work well as dips or condiments. This is entirely up to you and your salsa preferences, as well as any culinary usage. Check the label to determine if there’s any consistency indicated.
What can you use salsa for?
Dipping chips into salsa is a favorite way to use this condiment. But this versatile sauce can be used to enhance so many other items from tacos and burritos to a topping for foods such as eggs, omelets, chicken, and fish, to mixing into a meatloaf, for example.
Should salsa be stored in the refrigerator after opening?
Once opened, salsa should be stored in the fridge. If the salsa you purchased was already kept cold in the store, it will last for five to seven days after opening. Store-bought shelf-kept salsa will keep for up to one month in the refrigerator.
What is the difference between salsa and pico de gallo?
Salsa has more liquid and less texture than pico de gallo does. The main base for both is tomatoes but, salsas can vary from chunky to pureed, while pico is chunky. Most salsas are also blended or cooked, while pico uses fresh uncooked ingredients.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The Spruce Eats writer Alyssa Langer is a registered dietitian and foodie, always curious about the next food or ingredient craze and hungry to learn and try more. Having worked in cookbook publishing, CPG label data, nutrition writing, and meal kits, her diverse background and varied interests provide a unique perspective that fosters clear, well-researched, and trustworthy reviews.