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Simple Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

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This Charred Tomato Salsa, made with a few fresh ingredients, is a simple, restaurant-quality sauce perfect alongside chips, tacos or your favorite margarita! 

bowl of charred tomato salsa with chips, fresh tomato and cilantro

Simple Salsa Recipe with Charred Tomatoes

There is nothing worse than opening a jar of store-bought salsa to find it has none of the qualities you love about the salsa from your favorite restaurant. How many times has that happened to you? For me — too many to count.

After some experimentation to create my pinnacle of salsa, I’ve discovered that simple is best. Start with fresh ingredients, keep the list short and don’t fuss with it…too much.

bowl of fire roasted salsa

Simple Ingredients for a Spectacular Salsa

Salsa is always in season. Thankfully, its ingredients can be found year round!

Roma Tomato — Select ripe tomatoes for maximum sweetness, flavor and color. You’re not limited to the Roma variety, but they tend to be meatier and have lots of flavor. Beefsteak or vine-ripened are great alternatives.

Onion — Many salsa recipes call for white onion. Use what you like. I chose to use Vidalia because I like my salsa on the sweet side to balance the spice and don’t want to to introduce extra ingredients (like sugar). 

chips and fresh salsa

Jalapeño — This chili pepper can add little to mild heat to your salsa. Use none, some or all of the seeds to scale up the heat. I used a combo of one green and one red. The red variety, which has ripened on the vine longer, tends to be a bit a spicier. Try this with Serrano if you want a bigger kick.

Garlic — Because everything is better with garlic. But seriously, the garlic is going to be charred along with the other veggies to soften their pungency and concentrate their flavor.

Cilantro — You can skip this polarizing herb, but I use just a bit to add a little brightness and color. 

Kosher Salt — Just a little is added to enhance all the flavors.

That’s it! With the exception of maybe a little oil or cooking spray to prevent sticking, this simple list of ingredients lets the vegetables sing!

It’s Easy to Make Charred Tomato Salsa

This salsa begins by cooking the tomatoes, onion, chilis and garlic under a broiler, on a grill pan or on an outdoor grill. This step brings a little smokiness and concentrates the flavors — think caramelized onions!

onions, tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic on a sheet pan
roasted onions, tomatoes, chili peppers and garlic on a sheet pan

The next step is to remove the stems and any seeds, if desired, from the chilis. Also remove the papery skin from the garlic. Toss the chilis, garlic and onion into the bowl of a food processor, or blender, along with some kosher salt. Give it a whir to puree.

peppers, garlic and onions in a food processor
pureed vegetables in a food processor

Give the tomatoes a fine chop before adding them to the food processor along with the cilantro. I prefer my salsa on the thinner side — if you do too, also add any accumulated juices.

You’re probably wondering why you need to do this if they’re going into the processor. Here’s the deal — blending will add air to the salsa. Air may turn your salsa pink. We’re mitigating that by hand chopping the tomatoes so all they need is a couple of pulses to bring it all together. 

In fact, if you want to work out some aggression on those tomatoes with your knife skills, and then mix it all together by hand, go for it!

chopped tomatoes in a food processor

I Like My Salsa More Complicated

The beautiful thing about a simple recipe like this is the ability to really make it your own. 

Can I add other herbs and spices?

Sure. If you want, add cumin, dried chili powder or some Mexican oregano.

Can I mix up the vegetables?

Try swapping out one or two of the tomatoes for a red bell pepper. Or, you could use chipotle peppers in adobo instead of fresh chilis.

Isn’t there usually lime juice in salsa?

Many recipes call for lime juice, or another acid like vinegar. If you love a little hint of lime, by all means, add it.

Why isn’t my salsa red-red?

For starters, we charred the vegetables. We’re also using fresh, not canned, tomatoes. With that said, you could swap out your fresh tomatoes for a 28-oz can of stewed tomatoes. 

This salsa tastes so fresh and has just the right amount of heat. I can’t wait to dunk into it with some crispy tortilla chips…with a margarita on the side!

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dipping a chip into charred tomato salsa

Simple Charred Tomato Salsa Recipe

Sip + Sanity | Linda Feller
This Charred Tomato Salsa, made with a few fresh ingredients, is a simple, restaurant-quality sauce perfect alongside chips, tacos or your favorite margarita!
Prep time.10 minutes
Cook time.10 minutes
Custom time.30 minutes
Total time.50 minutes
Course.Appetizer, Sauce
Number of servings.12 (1/4 cup servings)
Calories per serving.17 kcal


  • food processor or blender
  • Chef's knife


  • 6 Roma tomatoes, halved + cored
  • ½ sweet onion, cut into slices
  • 2 jalapeños, green, red or your favorite chilis
  • 2 cloves garlic, skin on
  • ¼ cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • vegetable oil or cooking spray


  • Add a little oil or cooking spray to the vegetables to prevent sticking.
  • Outdoor grilling instructions:
    – Clean & preheat your outdoor grill
    – Place the garlic cloves on a square of foil so they don't fall through the grates
    – Oil the grates then grill the vegetables over high heat until they are charred on both sides, about 10 minutes total
  • Grill pan instructions:
    – Preheat your grill pan over high heat
    – Spray with some cooking spray, then grill the vegetables until they are charred on both sides, about 10 minutes total
  • Broiler instructions:
    – Preheat your broiler
    – Place vegetables on a sheet pan sprayed with cooking spray and broil about 6 inches under the broiler for 5 min
    – Remove the pan from the oven, flip the vegetables and broil the other side for 5 more minutes
  • Remove the stem end from the jalapeños. Remove some or all of the seeds if you prefer less spicy salsa. Remove the papery exterior from the garlic and dispose.
  • Add jalapeños, garlic, onions and salt to the bowl of a food processor (or blender) and pulse several times to create a puree.
  • Finely chop the tomatoes. Add the tomatoes and cilantro to the food processor and pulse 2 or 3 times to incorporate. Don't mix too much or you'll incorporate a lot of air.
  • Let the salsa rest for at least 30 minutes then enjoy!


Calories: 17kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 101mg | Potassium: 166mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 541IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 1mg
Keywords.grill, vegetarian
Did You Make This Recipe?Be sure to share a comment below!

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    1. Thank you Abhi! I keep mine in a tightly lidded container in the fridge for about a week. If I make a big batch, I’ll transfer to mason jar(s) and freeze for up to 3 months. Thanks for your question!

  1. We love salsa in our house and I’m ashamed to say I haven’t made it from scratch in years! This is so easy and I’ve been thinking about what to plant in my garden this year, so I’m going to do jalapeños alongside my tomato. Yum!