restaurant style salsa in a bowl with chips

I’m about to share with you one of the greatest restaurant hacks of all time: making homemade, restaurant-style salsa is not only easy, but inexpensive, and is best – BEST! – made with canned tomatoes. While fresh tomatoes make great pico de gallo, you gotta go with canned tomatoes if you want that true restaurant salsa flavor.

You heard it here first, folks!

Watch How to Make It!

I’ve been making this homemade salsa recipe since college, which is when I found out that canned tomatoes are the secret to the addictive-deliciousness of restaurant style salsa (ie, I begged the waiter at Carlos O’Kelly’s to tell me how they make their salsa. SO GOOD!) Of course I occasionally slack and buy salsa at the store, but this recipe gives you the restaurant experience at home, and takes just a few minutes to make.tortilla chip dipping into a bowl of homemade salsa

Recipe Details

  1. My recipe for Restaurant Style Salsa makes 4 cups of salsa for under $5. That said, its very economical and great for serving at parties and get togethers.
  2. Homemade salsa will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge. While I don’t have experience canning, I know enough to confidently say this recipe would can well.
  3. I use my 14 cup food processor to whip this salsa up in just a few minutes, though a blender would most likely work well too.
  4. As written, my recipe is mild on the spice scale, but feel free to leave the seeds in the jalapeno to increase the spice level, and/or experiment with adding different kinds of chili peppers.

homemade restaurant salsa in a mason jar

How to Make Restaurant Style Salsa

There’s just one step involved in this recipe – throw a bunch of ingredients into the bowl of a food processor then pulse – woo!

We’ve got caned whole peeled tomatoes, red onion (white onion works great too), fresh cilantro, fresh garlic, jalapeno, salt, sugar, and fresh lime juice.

NOTE: if your canned tomatoes contain sugar in the ingredient list then omit the sugar in the recipe.

restaurant style salsa ingredients in a food processor

Pulse the ingredients until you reach your desired consistency then taste and add more salt and/or lime juice if necessary. That said, this salsa is best eaten 24 hours or more after making, so the flavors have time to meld, and so I like to adjust the seasonings just before serving the day after making.

homemade restaurant salsa in a food processor

Scoop the salsa into a 4 cup mason jar or bowl with a tight fitting lid then refrigerate for 24 hours to let the flavors really meld before digging in. The salsa will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks, though mine never ever sticks around that long. I hope you love this EASY restaurant style salsa at home! Enjoy!

restaurant style salsa in a bowl with chips

More Easy Dip Recipes

Restaurant Style Salsa


Restaurant Style Salsa is a CINCH to make at home, plus it's much cheaper then buying salsa from the store. Learn the ingredient I use to make it taste just like a restaurant's.


makes 4 cups

  • 28oz can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 red or white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped (leave in seeds for a spicier salsa)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1/2 - 1 whole lime
  • 1 teaspoon sugar*


  1. Add ingredients — whole tomatoes through salt — to a food processor. Add the juice of half a lime, plus the sugar if your canned tomatoes do not contain sugar (if sugar is listed as an ingredient on your canned tomatoes, omit the sugar.)
  2. Pulse ingredients until desired consistency is reached then taste and add more lime juice and/or salt if necessary. Refrigerate overnight for best results then serve.


This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats,


Photo collage of restaurant style salsa recipe