Salsa Picante


Whether you serve this flavorful topping on tacos or with chips, it will become your new favorite homemade salsa recipe.

Salsa Picante
Photo: Kritsada Panichgul
Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
30 mins
Chill Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
1 hrs 55 mins
2 cups

Top your favorite meat dishes with this salsa picante or serve it as an appetizer with veggies, tortilla chips, or pita bread. You’ll love how the fresh vegetables, chiles, and herbs combine for a remarkably flavorful topping or dip.

Picante means "spicy" in Spanish, and this picante salsa recipe remains true to its name by delivering the heat. Use a couple of jalapeños to add flavorful heat or choose serrano peppers if you like your salsa super hot. All the salsa ingredients are chopped small to make it even easier to scoop up a big bite with your chips.

This salsa picante recipe makes a fresh sauce that will stay fresh for up to one week in the refrigerator, so it does not include canning preservation techniques. If you want to have homemade chip dip all year long, check out this guide to canning homemade salsa.

If you’re looking for more chile-spiced mixtures that add pizzazz to a range of dishes, try out more styles of salsa including pico de gallo, salsa verde, salsa roja, and more.


  • 4 medium tomatoes (about 1-1/4 pounds total), seeded and cut up

  • 1 medium onion, cut up

  • ¼ cup snipped fresh cilantro or parsley

  • 1 - 2 fresh jalapeño or serrano chile peppers, seeded and halved

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • ½ cup finely chopped green sweet pepper (1 small)

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed

  • 1 bay leaf

  • ½ teaspoon sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Place tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Cover and blend or process until coarsely chopped.

    Test Kitchen Tip: To seed the tomatoes, core and halve them first. Hold each half over a bowl and use the tip of a spoon to scoop away the seeds. If fresh tomatoes aren't available, use canned diced tomatoes.

  2. Add onion, cilantro, chile peppers, and garlic. Cover and blend or process until finely chopped.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Always wear plastic or rubber gloves when working with chile peppers. If the cut chiles touch your skin, the oil (depending on the potency of the chile pepper) create a painful tingle that lasts for hours and can't be washed off. If you do accidentally touch the chiles, wash hands well with soapy water; avoid touching your eyes until the tingle subsides.

  3. Transfer tomato mixture to a medium saucepan. Stir in sweet pepper, lemon juice, oregano, bay leaf, sugar, and salt.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Adding a bit of sugar helps balance any harshness from the tomatoes and peppers.

  4. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 30 minutes or until salsa reaches desired consistency.

    Test Kitchen Tip: Cooking the salsa will meld the flavors and temper the heat of the peppers.

  5. Discard bay leaf. Cool salsa slightly. Cover and chill for 1 hour to 1 week before serving.

  6. Serve as a dip for chips, as a barbecue sauce or marinade, or as a condiment for main dishes.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

6 Calories
1g Carbs
Nutrition Facts
Calories 6
% Daily Value *
Sodium 18mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 1g 0%

*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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