My Dad’s Blender Salsa Is the Easiest Salsa You’ll Ever Make

published Aug 6, 2022
Kitchn Love Letters
Dad’s Blender Salsa Fresca Recipe

This 4-ingredient salsa comes together in 15 minutes from start to finish and will keep in the fridge for two weeks.

Serves12 to 16

Makesabout 4 cups

Prep15 minutes

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Blender salsa in serving bowl surrounded by tortillas.
Credit: Photo: Chris Testani; Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

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My dad made two things when I was growing up: Saturday morning pancakes and salsa. Both were foods of adaptation. He is a Tapatio, a native of Guadalajara, Jalisco, who immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 21. He taught himself how to make the classic American breakfast for his American-born children. We covered our from-scratch pancakes with syrup and downed them like they were our birthright.

As for the salsa, Dad’s has no specific reference to Guadalajara. It’s simply the kind of salsa he could make using the ingredients available in the suburban grocery stores of Denver, Colorado, where we lived. As a kid I didn’t even know there was a name for it: salsa fresca, or fresh salsa, made with fresh ingredients rather than from dried chiles, which are used for most salsas.

I knew it only as “Dad’s salsa.” And just as he taught me how to ride a bicycle and hit a baseball (well, sort of), he taught me how to make it. It’s simply chopped onion, diced jalapeños, a handful of cilantro, and a can of whole tomatoes. (No garlic. Never garlic. I don’t know why.) Throw it all into the blender and pulse until it’s well-mixed, but still a little chunky.

Credit: Adriana Velez

These days I’ll seed and devein the jalapeños for a milder heat. My dad always liked his spicy enough to bring tears to your eyes, which is another reason why we called it Dad’s salsa: It was often too hot for the rest of us.

But this version is a salsa for all of us. It’s incredibly easy to make in a way I maybe take for granted. In fact, I once traded a jar for a framed photo of a chicken. (It’s a long story.) Wash your hands assiduously after handling the chiles — or use gloves — and be careful not to over-blend. The salsa is good over eggs, in tacos, or, best of all, with a bag full of tortilla chips, while you try to help your kid hit a baseball.

Dad’s Blender Salsa Fresca Recipe

This 4-ingredient salsa comes together in 15 minutes from start to finish and will keep in the fridge for two weeks.

Prep time 15 minutes

Makes about 4 cups

Serves 12 to 16

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1/2

    large white onion

  • 1/2 medium bunch

    fresh cilantro

  • 2

    medium jalapeño peppers

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    whole peeled tomatoes

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • Tortilla chips, for serving

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, adding each to a blender as you complete it: Dice 1/2 large white onion until you have 1 cup. Coarsely chop the leaves and tenders stems from 1/2 medium bunch fresh cilantro until you have 1 cup. Trim the stems and seeds from 2 medium jalapeño peppers, then dice.

  2. Pour off 1/3 cup of the juices from 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes. Pour the tomatoes and remaining juices into the blender. Add 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until the salsa is well blended but still a little chunky, about 6 (1-second) pulses. Do not overblend into a purée.

  3. Taste the salsa with a tortilla chip and stir in more kosher salt if needed. If not eating immediately, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Recipe Notes

Substitutions: 1 serrano pepper can be substituted for the jalapeños. If you like your salsa extra spicy, keep the seeds and membrane in, and/or use more peppers.

Tomatoes: Any kind of canned, whole tomatoes, including San Marzano and plum, can be used here.

Make ahead: The salsa can be made up to 1 day in advance and refrigerated in an airtight container.