Better than Chipotle's Fire-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, fire roasted salsa

Fire Roasted Red Salsa

One of my favorite things to make for a game or a party (or when I feel like it!) is this simple “Fire-Roasted Red Salsa.” Easy, quick and delicious! While I love serving it with tortilla chips & Mexican or Southwestern food, when I’m feeling particularly virtuous, a little dab is really good on a cucumber slice.

Better than Chipotle's Fire-Roasted Tomatillo Salsa, fire roasted salsa

A trio of salsas. Fire Roasted in front, Classic tomatilla & Better than Chipotle’s Tomatilla

So what does it mean, fire roasted? This salsa is partially cooked – the tomatoes, onion and/or pepper (and garlic, if desired) are thrown on a tray and broiled or roasted until the skins of the peppers are charred and blistered. So, no fire actually involved. Alternatively, roast in a hot skillet (cast iron is great), on a grill or over the flame of a gas burner (messy). I like broiling, using the tray (line it with foil) as it catches the juices.

Some people call this Salsa Roja (Red Salsa) and others call it Salsa de Molcajete (named for the Molcajete, a mortar and pestle used in Mexico – frankly, there are tons of salsas that could be called this) the name Fire Roasted seems to be a moniker put on this Salsa by the commercial industry. Cool and trendy, it’s caught on with the American public.

There are no Molcajete involved in this Fire Roasted Red Salsa – a blender or food processor (my preferred method) pulses this to any desired chunkiness or smoothness. My rule of thumb is to use a medium sized jalapeno per tomato – lately all the jalapenos I’ve seen at the store are pretty large and all the tomatoes are medium-sized, so I’ve cut back to 1 jalapeno per two medium tomatoes. I keep the seeds and veins of the jalapeno in, and would call it a medium hot salsa. A bit of a bite and a good tingle on the tip of the tongue.

This is all so subjective, though, and so much depends on the heat/size of the jalapeno, the size and flavor of the tomatoes and the eater’s taste! If you prefer hotter, increase the jalapenos or use the slighter hotter Serrano. If you prefer milder salsa, use less jalapeno and remove the seeds and veins. Not sure? Roast extra jalapeno – add to taste and then freeze the rest. If you taste your jalapeno, over time you’ll get an idea if you’re using hot or mild ones and can judge accordingly.

Roasted Jalapenos

Roasted Jalapenos – I like to roast extra and freeze in small portions

Fire Roasted Red Salsa

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 5 medium tomatoes, whole
  • 3 jalapenos, whole
  • 1/2 large onion or whole medium onion cut in half, skin on
  • 2 tablespoons white or cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, skins on, optional

Place tomatoes, jalapenos, garlic (if using) and onion on a lipped tray lined with aluminum foil. Arrange with the larger items on the edges and the smaller items lined down the center. Onion should be cut side down.

Place under broiler on high, five inches or so below, generally the second shelf down. Broil 10 to 15 minutes until vegetables are slightly charred, turn and broil on second side. Check these often. Cool until easy to handle.

Remove, and over a strainer with a bowl under it, remove seeds and stem from tomato. (See note.) If the tomatoes have few seeds, this step may be omitted. Reserve juice and tomatoes. Remove stems from peppers and seeds if desired. Remove skin and stem from onion and paper from garlic, if using.

Add all vegetables to food processor, reserving any juices. (See note.) Process to desired chunkiness, then add vinegar, salt and sugar. Taste and adjust as desired. Depending on how juicy the vegetables are and how much juice was given off in the broiling & deseeding process, add juices to salsa back to the salsa until desired consistency is reached.


  • Of course, you can just add all the juices, but I’ve noticed that some people are a little freaky deaky about how thick or thin their salsa is – this gives you total control!
  • If you broil extra jalapenos, you can taste for the level of heat – just add more if you wish more and freeze the rest for later.
  • This is not a recipe that has been checked for the proper acidity to safely can in a boiling water bath.

from the kitchen of

Let’s talk about how to save money/time on this recipe:

  • Read {Strategies Applied} for additional tips as well as throughout the recipe, for saving money/time, buying at the best prices and managing this recipe.
  • Follow my 12 Strategies – You’ll see them on the upper drop down menu of every page and how I apply them, below.
  • Don’t get discouraged if your prices don’t match mine! Keep shopping at the best prices and your fridge/freezer and pantry will be stocked with sales priced ingredients.
  • Use a coupon matching site! One of my favorites in my area is Pocket Your Dollars, but every store has a group of enthusiastic Coupon Matchers. Do not discount the savings! I check their site every week, even if I don’t “need” to go to the store and often find bargains I can’t pass up.

Kitchen & Cooking Hack:

A spoon conforms perfectly to the shape and cleans the seeds and ribs in a second.

A spoon conforms perfectly to the shape and cleans the seeds and ribs in a second.

12 thoughts on “Fire Roasted Red Salsa

  1. The salsa looks absolutely mouthwatering. I am a bit leery of using the broiler, as I have a history of unintentional arson. I’ll just have to drink some courage and give your recipe a try (and keep a fire extinguisher handy). Thank you for terrific template.

    • Ah, you give new meaning to the term “Fire-Roasted!” A gill, perhaps, a good 10 feet from your house and away from flammable vegetation, or better near a stream, lake, pool or fire hydrant might be your safest bet!

    • Thanks, CCU! Those Jalapenos have such a thick, shiny skin that they are traditionally roasted, and to me that flavor makes the best salsa! In the Southwest part of the US street vendors roast them up and you can buy them that way.

  2. I always *think^ I’m going to get ambitious and can a bunch of salsa – then I always find reasons not to! Good for you to put up so much! So I’m curious, do you pressure can yours or use a water bath? I should really test the ph level of this Salsa sometime as I suspect it’s acidic enough for a waterbath…

    I did make some lovely hot pepper jelly this year but I seem to keep giving it away!

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