Every time you dip a warm, salty tortilla chip in a bowl of savory salsa, thank the Ancient Incas and Mayans. Tomatoes originated in the mountains of the Andes, where these early civilizations learned to cultivate them for food. These people were the first to crush tomatoes, garlic, peppers, and other flavorful herbs into a mixture we know as salsa. The invading Spaniards were so impressed with the spicy sauce, they incorporated it into their cuisine, and spread it throughout Europe. The rest is spicy culinary history.

Originally, salsa was made by crushing and blending all the ingredients with a mortar and pestle. While most modern cooks make their salsa with knives or a food processor, some prefer the traditional method. Salsas are usually divided into two categories. Salsa roja (red) is typically tomato-based, while salsa verde (green) has a base of green peppers or tomatillos. Salsa enthusiasts can find an almost infinite variety of recipes and flavor profiles for their favorite dip. Grocery shelves and gourmet boutiques offer nearly any type of salsa imaginable—including fruit-infused varieties.

Go to any Mexican-style restaurant, and you will find salsas used as a chip dip and a condiment for their savory dishes. While some still make their salsa from scratch, many settle for the runny, bland concoctions sold by the jar. A proper salsa should have enough body and flavor nuances to make your taste buds take notice.

Instead of serving the same boring salsa from a jar, consider chopping up a homemade batch to celebrate National Salsa Month. Once you find how inexpensive, quick, and simple it is to create homemade salsa, you will never get it from the grocery store again. The beauty of homemade salsa recipes is that they can have as few or as many ingredients as you want. Feel free to experiment with recipes and find what works for your family.

Your salsa’s heat index is a personal preference. Add less hot peppers to create a milder version or load them on for a sizzle-your-tongue flavor. If you are hosting a Mexican-themed dinner, consider making two or three salsa varieties to appeal to your guests’ preferences. Homemade salsa will last 5-7 days in the fridge.

Salsa is not just for Mexican dishes. Pair the piquant flavor of your homemade salsas with any savory international menu, such as Indian or Middle Eastern. Some people adore a spicy salsa kick with scrambled eggs or hearty omelets. Remember the sweet fruit varieties that would go well with pork or other flavorful dishes. Use salsa as an ingredient for an elevated meatloaf, or to kick up your spaghetti sauce. Your options for enjoying a delightful salsa are almost endless! Consider these unique salsas for your next fiesta.

California Corn & Avocado Salsa

If you want a hearty salsa with some heft, then try this California-style recipe. It features fresh cubes of avocado, sweet corn, flavorful spices, and a hot kick of jalapeno. Adjust the heat by adding more less pepper or seasoning. This salsa is superb as a chip dip or a topping to your favorite taco recipe. 

Sweet & Savory Grape Salsa

Fruit-infused salsas take spicy foods up another notch. For this unique recipe, three varieties of grapes give the salsa incredible taste and visual appeal. The vinegar, onions, and aromatic spices provide the pleasant savory notes, while the hot pepper seasoning adds just enough heat. Let it marinate in the fridge for optimal flavor.

Classic Cosina Salsa

Bring the taste of your favorite Mexican restaurant salsa home with this simple recipe. All you need is canned tomatoes with green chillis, a can of tomato juice, lime juice, and some fresh spices from your pantry. Turn up the temperature with a little diced jalapeno, and you are ready to fiesta!

Flaming Hot Ghost Pepper Salsa

This intensely-flavored salsa recipe is not for the faint of heart! It has a savory base of fresh tomatoes, garlic, onion, and cilantro. The flaming star of the dish is dried ghost pepper, which you may adjust to your preference. Although the salsa is hot, it still has a fantastic flavor profile that you will enjoy.

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