Roasting Your Own Salsa – For Big Savings

It’s been several years since I first posted my roasted salsa recipe, but what’s worth doing once is worth doing again.  Especially when it saves money!

For the next five days I’m going to be completely offline — The Tako family is going camping in the mountains without access to the internet.  I won’t be posting to Mr. Tako Escapes on my regular schedule …

But don’t fret — This should give you plenty of time to roast-up some delicious homemade roasted salsa!

Why salsa?

Roasted salsa is one of those things that’s just better when done at home.  I’ve been making my own salsa for nearly a decade now.  That’s right — almost a decade without buying a single jar of store bought salsa.  There is truly no comparison.  Homemade is just better, especially when all the ingredients are fresh and in season.

With just a little effort you too can produce a delicious roasted salsa at 1/5th the cost of store bought salsa.  On top of tasting fantastic, it might even help you achieve financial independence a little bit sooner!


Why DIY Roasted Salsa?

According to the latest survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American family spends $6,759 per year on food.  That’s a significant amount of money!

After housing, transportation and healthcare, food is one of our biggest expenses. Almost anything we can do to squeeze extra savings from this number is worth it.  Especially if it tastes awesome!!!

Let me be frank — Store bought salsa is crap.  The stuff you find in the U.S. grocery stores tastes like ragù sauce (if it has any flavor at all).  The more expensive brands even have the audacity to charge $5 for a 16oz jar. That’s $5 per pound.  Outrageous!!!

In The Store

What’s the big deal? Why do I think store bought salsa is so damn expensive?

To understand, let’s ponder the main components of salsa:

  • Tomatoes – $0.99/lb
  • Onions – $0.45/lb
  • Jalapeños – $0.99/lb

None of the major components cost more than $1 per pound.  This kind of thing makes me crazy … What could possibly cause the store-bought salsa to cost $5/lb?  The Jar?  Labor?  Fancy labels and marketing?  Profit margins?  It’s not hard to imagine, but probably some combination of them all.

Whatever the reason, if you are willing to put in one hour of work (or less) you can create delicious salsa…far better than anything at the store.  It’s easy to make, and the cost is a mere $1/lb!!!


Tis the Season for Salsa

Right around this time of year all the major components for a salsa go ‘on-sale’.  It’s like mana from heaven.  Fresh tomatoes, spicy chilis and delicious onions fresh from the field.  It’s a bargain of heavenly delights provided by mother nature — So let’s use this seasonal abundance to our advantage!  Pick-up fresh salsa ingredients at your local mega-mart when they’re loss leaders.  (No point in paying more than necessary!)

Here’s what your going to need:

  • Tomatoes: 2-3 lbs.
  • Yellow Onions: 2 (large).  Or sweet onions if you prefer less heat.
  • Jalapeño (or other) Peppers: It varies (how spicy do you want it?).
  • Garlic: Approx 3-5 large cloves.
  • Cilantro: 1 small bundle (optional).
  • Smoked Dried Chilis: 3 (optional). Find in the ‘Mexican section’ of your local mega-mart.
  • Salt: To taste.

The recipe can scale to any size you like.  (It’s good to start with a small batch if it’s your first time.)


Prepping Ingredients

Once you’ve collected all the ingredients, you’ll need to clean and break down the components into smaller chunks for roasting.  (For those that are curious – I use a 10-inch Shun Chef’s knife)

Tomatoes  Onions

Jalapenos  Cilantro


Roasting is where the magic happens, and the flavors change into something…amazing. Some people fire roast, but i just broil the ingredients using the oven in a Pyrex baking dish.  Any large flat-ish pan would work great as well.  Add the Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, and Jalapeños.  Broil at 450F for approximately 30 minutes.  Here’s the before and after:

Before Roasting  After Roasting


Get Blending

At this point, everything is piping hot.  Wait for the roasted components to cool a little.  They should be a reasonable temperature before adding to the blender.

When ready, add the the roasted and fresh ingredients to your blender.  Now is the time to add the salt, any cilantro you might be using, or any dried chilis.

Then blend the mixture!  (Any blender will do…no need for a fancy Ninja or Vitamix blender.)

You can either roughly blend for a very chunky salsa, or blend until it runs smooth like hot sauce.  However you like your salsa!

Will it blend?  I like mine a little chunky!

Make Extra, It’s Worth It!

When making roasted salsa, it doesn’t make sense to make a small batch.  Make a big batch instead!

Once you get some confidence in your kick-ass-salsa-making ability, you can start making really big batches.  It doesn’t keep forever, so you’ll need to store your delicious salsa.

Rather than canning salsa and killing the magnificent flavor, I freeze mine in air-tight locking glass containers.  They won’t leak or break in the freezer, and no strange freezer tastes either.

If you make several different “heat” levels like I do, be sure to label it well.

Storing  Snapshot - 14



To assist everyone, I’ve put together a video of the whole process.  Enjoy!  I certainly had fun making it!


The Superior Results Speak For Themselves

The results really do speak for themselves. If you’ve done everything right, it tastes far better than anything you’ll find in a jar.

For less than the cost of a single $5 jar I can produce around 70 oz. of salsa (roughly 4.5 jars worth).  Think of this as paying yourself $20/hr for better tasting food.  What a bargain!

That’s a tradeoff I’ll make any day.

Mmm…Yum!  Time to cook up some tacos!

Is there anything you DIY in the kitchen that saves TONs of money?  Let me know about it in the comments….

25 thoughts on “Roasting Your Own Salsa – For Big Savings

  • February 9, 2016 at 10:04 AM

    Me just got very hungery! Nice recipe, should try that out one of these days.
    Oh, another big advantage, no added crap (e.g. preservatives, sugar, salt, etc.)!

    • February 9, 2016 at 3:08 PM

      I got very hungry writing this post too! Good point about preservatives!

  • February 9, 2016 at 10:35 AM

    I love this! We eat salsa regularly and cook a lot but have never attempted a homemade version. I had no idea it was this straightforward. I also LOVE the roasted salsas the most so I can’t wait to try it. Thanks for such a great idea!

    • February 9, 2016 at 3:07 PM

      Glad you enjoyed it! I make a fresh batch like this about once every couple of weeks!

  • March 5, 2016 at 12:05 PM

    Delicious! And cheap! Totally going to try this recipe later in the summer once the tomato plants are poppin’ in the garden.

  • August 12, 2016 at 7:56 PM

    I have to make this..I never thought about the cost of salsa because I tend to buy it at Costco..but this looks so much better, I *must* try it.

  • February 20, 2017 at 4:14 PM

    Thanks for the recipe, Mr. Tako! Made it this afternoon and it turned out great! The wife loves pineapples so added some, which was a nice sweet addition.

  • July 1, 2017 at 7:28 PM

    Delicious. Love the smoky chilie addition. First time i’ve made salsa. I used 3 jalapeños with seeds. Would add another 1-2 for my palate. I am surprised how much salt salsa takes to balance the flavors (IMO). But the chips balanced out what I didn’t add. Darn it. I forgot to add the cilantro. I knew there was something… ha! Let me go add!

    Thanks for the straight up recipe!
    The One In debt recently posted…June 2017 Expense Report [Month 6]

  • October 1, 2017 at 5:23 PM

    This was amazing. What type of tomatoes do you normally use? Also as an estimate how much salt?

    • October 1, 2017 at 8:16 PM

      I usually use whatever tomatoes are fresh in our garden OR whatever is on-sale at the grocery store. Typically this is a roma tomato.

      Salt is really difficult to estimate because it depends so much on your batch size and how much water gets cooked off during the roasting. I just add salt to taste every time.

  • July 28, 2018 at 10:47 AM

    Might have to give homemade salsa another shot. We’ve made many different kinds and I’ve never been able to replicate the best of store bought salsas. Though I’m not talking the $5/jar fancy kind. I try all the different store brand salsas and have found some gold mines out there for $1-2 per 16 oz portion. They’re never watery as my homemade salsa is sometimes. Winners I’ve found: salsa verde “cantina style” from walmart at $1.53 for a 24 oz jar (best salsa verde I’ve found on the shelf); “Three pepper salsa” from walmart – discontinued sadly 🙁 $2/jar; Salsa hatch chile from walmart also $2/jar. There are some other winners but only at local stores.

    Any tips on preventing the salsa from being runny or watery? We’ve used pretty much the same recipe as you and just never hit it out of the park on flavor or thickness.

    • July 28, 2018 at 11:37 AM

      Wait wait… your telling me Walmart makes a good salsa? *giggle*

      I think you can do better making it yourself. Most of the excess liquid should either bake off or pool up at the bottom of the dish. Try straining off even more of that liquid before you blend it if you want *really* thick. (or baking longer)

      As far as flavor goes, that’s entirely dependent on the kind of chili’s you use and salt. Smoked dried chili’s work great. Experiment with the different kinds to find what you like.

      I add A LOT of chilis and quite a bit of salt. Probably more than you think.

      • July 28, 2018 at 3:50 PM

        Well, we all know Walmart doesn’t actually *make* their store brand salsa. It’s made at the exact same places as the fancy $5/jar kinds (that are $3.99 at walmart 😉 ) and then packaged with the Walmart store brand label and sold for a buck or two per pound. I would assume the pro salsa makers know a thing or two about making salsa that tastes pretty good and manages to sell pretty well. This isn’t Pace “picante” salsa knock offs either. Much bolder richer flavors.

        After having eaten salsas extensively in the US and Mexico (for many months in the latter!) I think I’ve managed to establish some salsa street cred 🙂 Though I guess it comes down to preference.

  • July 28, 2018 at 4:05 PM

    I just made my own batch of salsa two days ago and I agree, nothing beats home made for taste and price!

    One little extra thing I add to mine that give it a little extra tangy-ness is a squeeze of lime juice! mmm!

  • July 29, 2018 at 11:29 AM

    I just made this and it is so good that there is nothing left over to put in the freezer. Definitely better than any of the store bought salsa that I have tried! Thank you from longtime reader.

  • July 29, 2018 at 11:47 AM

    I’ve been a avid homemade salsa maker for years, but have really only attempted making 2 types, one using red tomatoes and one using tomatillos. Never even thought about making a roasted salsa. Thanks for the inspiration to branch out and try something else. I’ll definitely be picking up these ingredients the next time I hit the market. Also, I totally dig the video. Perhaps you need your own cooking channel “Cooking with Mr. Tako”- Lots of flavor for little cost!

  • August 4, 2018 at 10:16 AM

    Looks simple and delicious! Looking at the avg amount that American families spend on food, i’m definitely spending more than avg but I still think it’s worth it because I spend so little on housing. Priorities right? 🙂

  • August 6, 2018 at 8:11 AM

    OMG yes! This is on a long list of super easy kitchen time savers you can make from scratch in bulk for cheap (salsa, tomato sauce, stock for soups, bread, beans…). I love love love fresh homemade salsa. I love that I can customize it to whatever level of heat or other flavors we want (no cilantro, extra spicy, super tomato heavy…) and I’m blessed enough to have a steady supply of Carolina Reapers, which the boy is hooked on. “Think of this as paying yourself $20/hr for better tasting food. What a bargain!” Too true, Mr. Tako.

  • August 8, 2018 at 12:09 PM

    Your salsa recipe is amazing! I made an initial big (or so I thought) batch only to have it all disappear in two days! Currently roasting vegetables for the second/much larger batch as I type this. Thanks for yet another delicious (and money saving) recipe!

    • August 9, 2018 at 1:05 PM

      Thanks Jeremy! Glad to know it worked out for you! I just made a big batch myself (tomatoes are cheap right now)

  • August 30, 2019 at 3:01 PM

    Store-bought salsa has just never done it for me. They’re always super sour/vinegary and without that substance of chunky realness. Do you think small mexican restaurants do batches of it themselves? I always thought they tasted better than anything I could get from Safeway or online. Maybe I should start making my own!

    • August 30, 2019 at 8:30 PM

      My theory is that most of the cheaper Tex-Mex style restaurants do make their own, but they use canned tomatoes/tomato sauce.

      Better quality taquerias (and more authentic Mexican restaurants) definitely make their own from fresh ingredients.

  • September 13, 2019 at 7:11 AM

    I’m making this! One question though, in my oven I can’t “Broil” at 450 degrees. It’s either broil, or bake at 450. Do you roast, or broil?

    Thanks for the clarification. Just discovered your site, and love that you post recipes; eating out is our biggest challenge for saving disposable income.

    My candy-ass DOES have a slow cooker and will try the chicken taco recipe this week! 🙂

    • September 13, 2019 at 9:49 AM

      Hmm… I would set it to broil and then watch the salsa close. If it starts to blacken too much, then move to a lower rack and switch to bake at 450.

      FYI on the chicken taco recipe — I’ve dialed back on the amount of salsa I use now. A quarter cup or half a cup is sufficient.


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