How to Make Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa)

updated Aug 14, 2023
How to Make Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa)

The key to making fresh salsa in no time is to use your food processor.


Makesabout 2 cups

Prep10 minutes

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Salsa in a bowl with chips
Credit: Kelli Foster

Whenever I want a snack that’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, I turn to salsa and chips — it delivers every time. And, when I really want to turn heads, I skip the jarred stuff and pull out my food processor to make a quick batch of salsa fresca. This is a type of salsa that uses all fresh, uncooked ingredients (though you can substitute fresh tomatoes with drained, canned tomatoes).

If you’ve never made fresh salsa before, the most important thing I want you to know is that it’s faster and easier than you might suspect. All you need is a handful of ingredients from the produce section and no more than 10 minutes on the clock. 

Once you make salsa fresca in your food processor, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it all along! It’s the ideal snack and app to take you through spring and summer, plus it’s perfect for any occasion.

Quick Overview

How to Make Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa)

To make fresh salsa, mix together fresh, chopped tomatoes, onions, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and seasonings in a food processor until you have a slightly chunky salsa.

Advantages of Making Salsa Fresca in the Food Processor

While you can certainly grind together fresh salsa by hand using a molcajete, the food processor or blender really speeds up the job. You will still need a chef’s knife for some light chopping, but there’s no fine dicing or precision required and the prep work is minimal. From start to finish, the salsa will be ready in just 10 minutes.

Do You Need to Chop Tomatoes Before Putting Them Through the Food Processor?

Before adding the tomatoes to the food processor, you’ll core and coarsely chop a pound of Roma tomatoes into one-inch cubes. It’s an extra step that’s extremely helpful. Roughly chopping the ingredients to about the same size reduces the risk of overworking them in the food processor. The best salsa has a slightly chunky, rather than perfectly puréed, texture.

Credit: Kelli Foster

Ingredients You Need to Make Salsa

This salsa recipe relies primarily on fresh ingredients, plus a couple of items from the pantry. Here’s everything you’ll need to make salsa in the food processor.

  • Ripe Roma tomatoes
  • Red onion
  • Garlic
  • Jalapeño pepper
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Lime
  • Ground cumin
  • Granulated sugar: A tiny bit helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Kosher salt 
Credit: Kelli Foster

If You’re Making Salsa in the Food Processor, a Few Tips

  • Ripe tomatoes are key. The riper the tomatoes, the more flavorful your salsa will be.
  • Don’t overprocess the ingredients. You want a final texture that’s slightly chunky, not perfectly puréed. The most important reason for this is that over-processing the onions can contribute to a bitter-tasting salsa.
  • Let the salsa sit for at least 30 minutes before eating. This will give the flavors time to meld.

How to Make Salsa Fresca (Fresh Salsa)

The key to making fresh salsa in no time is to use your food processor.

Prep time 10 minutes

Makes about 2 cups

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1 pound

    ripe Roma tomatoes (about 4 medium)

  • 1/2

    small red onion

  • 1 clove


  • 1

    small jalapeño pepper

  • 1 medium bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 1

    medium lime

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt

  • Tortilla chips, for serving (optional)


  1. Prepare the following, adding each to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment as it is completed: Core and coarsely chop 1 pound Roma tomatoes (about 3 cups). Coarsely chop 1/2 small red onion (about 1/3 cup). Finely chop 1 garlic clove. Trim the stem and seeds from 1 small jalapeño pepper and coarsely chop. Pick the leaves from 1 medium bunch fresh cilantro until you have 1/2 cup. Juice 1 medium lime until you have 2 tablespoons.

  2. Add 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until finely chopped but still chunky, about 5 (2-second) pulses (do not process into a purée). Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to let the flavors meld.

  3. Let the salsa sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving with tortilla chips if desired.

Recipe Notes

Without a food processor: To make fresh salsa without a food processor, very finely chop the tomato, onion, garlic, jalapeño pepper, and cilantro leaves and add to a large bowl. Add the lime juice, ground cumin, sugar, and salt, and stir to combine.

Storage: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.