How to Make Salsa

  • 01 of 08

    Prepare the Jalapeños or Serrano (Chiles)

    Chopped jalapeño
    Leah Maroney / The Spruce

    Rinse the chile under cold water to clean it and then pat it dry. Seed and dice the chile and add it to the bowl. You can also roast the chiles for a smokier flavor. Use one jalapeño for mild salsa or 2 to 3 jalapeños for a spicier salsa. You can also use one serrano chile for every 3 jalapenos. For hot salsa, use 5 jalapenos or 2 to 3 serrano chiles. For extra hot salsa, use one habanero. For mild chile, use an Anaheim chile or a Poblano. They are large chiles, so you may only need half. Here is a guide to green chiles if you need help selecting one.

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  • 02 of 08

    Add the Tomatoes

    Chopped tomatoes for salsa
    Leah Maroney / The Spruce

    Seed and dice the tomatoes and add them to the bowl. Use 6 to 7 ​medium-sized tomatoes or 5 large ones. Roma tomatoes are good because they don't have as much liquid in them. Juicy tomatoes can make your salsa a bit watery if you don't get the seeds out.

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  • 03 of 08

    Add the Onion

    Chopped onion for salsa
    Leah Maroney / Getty Images

    Chop up your onion and add it to the bowl. Use one small/medium one or half of a large one. White onions are the standard, but you could use yellow or even purple.

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  • 04 of 08

    Add the Cilantro

    Leah Maroney / The Spruce

    Chop up the cilantro and add it to the bowl. Get the leaves off by inserting your fingers (like a claw) into the bunch and pulling the leaves off as you pull your fingers out. When you have the majority of the leaves off, chop them up and add them in. It's up to you how careful you want to be about making sure the cilantro stems are out. The stems have the same flavor of the leaves, but some people don't like stem pieces on their salsa. We are not too meticulous, so some stems get into our salsa.

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  • 05 of 08

    Add the Lime Juice

    Leah Maroney / The Spruce

    Add about 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice. If you have to, you can cheat and use the bottled lime juice. If you don't have lime juice available at all, you can use 1 1/2 teaspoons of white vinegar or substitute lemon juice.

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  • 06 of 08

    Add the Garlic

    Chopped garlic
    Leah Maroney / The Spruce

    Add in about 2 tablespoons of chopped garlic. That should be approximately 5 to 7 cloves, peeled and finely chopped. In a pinch, you could use garlic powder, but fresh is best.

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  • 07 of 08

    Add the Salt

    Leah Maroney / The Spruce

    We like to start out with one teaspoon first. Then after we mix all the ingredients, we usually add one more. Keep in mind what you're serving it with, tortilla chips will add additional saltiness on their own. If you use any sort of rock salts, such as sea salt or Himalayan salt, make sure to give the salt at least 30 minutes to dissolve before adding more.

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  • 08 of 08

    Mix It Up

    Fresh salsa
    Leah Maroney / The Spruce

    Mix up all the ingredients by folding them together until they are evenly distributed. Depending on the size of the produce used this recipe will yield about 3 to 4 cups of finished salsa. Let it sit for about 30 minutes in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld together. If it gets too watery, just use a strainer to drain some of the liquid off, or use a slotted spoon to serve. Salt naturally pulls liquids out of vegetables, so if you are storing in your fridge for a couple of days, mix it up, and then strain it before serving.