Appetizer Condiments Tex-Mex

Uncle Richard’s salsa

Uncle Rchard's salsa | Homesick Texan

A few years ago, salsa became the number-one selling condiment in the U.S., knocking out ketchup. And for good reason: salsa is spicy, light and fun whereas ketchup is plodding and heavy. Growing up, I could never understand people who doused ketchup over everything.

But, to be fair, they probably thought it was weird that I dumped hot sauce over everything. I’ve mentioned before that while I love Tex-Mex, I’m all Tex with (alas) no Mex.

But in Texas, it doesn’t matter what your roots are, every family has at least one homemade salsa recipe and here’s my family’s. It’s fresh, fast and easy, and if you like the flavors of lime, tomato and cilantro, you might like it, too.

You can use either canned or fresh tomatoes, depending on the season, but using fresh garlic, lemon juice and cilantro will help it taste bright and lively. And the recipe also calls for chile powder.

If you don’t make your own chili powder (recommended, but not necessary) be sure and choose the darkest chile powder you can find. Whole Foods’ chili powder has a pretty complex flavor and it has no funky fillers.

Now for a full disclosure: I don’t use measurements. Only when I bake do I follow a recipe exactly (because baking is chemistry and you just can’t mess with that). But when doing savory stuff I usually make it up as I go along and this recipe is no different; I watched my uncle make it one day and that’s how I learned.

But, I just made a batch and wrote down what I did, so this is what follows. Also, feel free to adjust the peppers and garlic to your spice preference—-I like things hot and garlicy, but not everyone is inclined that way.

Uncle Richard's salsa | Homesick Texan
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Uncle Richard’s salsa

Servings 4 cups
Author Lisa Fain


  • 1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small yellow onion, quartered
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup pickled jalapeños slices
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt to taste


  1. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, cilantro, chili powder, cumin, jalapeños, lemon juice into a blender and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and add salt to taste. Will keep in the fridge for one week.
  1. Sounds delicious! I have never used chile powder in my salsa recipies, so I’ll have to give this a try.

  2. That’s what makes it so tasty, the chile powder

  3. I usually go for chunky salsa when I make it at home, but would blending intensify the heat of the serranos? I find that my salsas are never as hot as what I love to eat in restaurants.

  4. That sounds HOT!

    And really good.

  5. wow lisa, that sounds GREAT! i love a good homemade salsa, and you’re right about every texan family having their own salsa recipe! i don’t think i know a single texan who doesn’t have a recipe! i’ve heard of adding chile powder to salsa, but i’ve never tried it myself with homemade salsa- i’m gonna have to try your recipe!

  6. Anonymous

    I’m not food involved but in all my memories of anything happening in Mama’s kitchen, seems like there was always a bowl of salsa of some sort… and my older brother was always eating it straight with a spoon or fork (depending upon the salsa of course – is Pico de gallo salsa?)

  7. (I have to figure out this login thing)


  8. i made salsa using your recipe last night! it’s DELISH and i’ll send you a picture later! (looks suspiciously like yours!)

  9. Ungourmetgal: blending defintely intensifies the heat.

    Elise: it is hot but I toned it down for the blog–I make it with 4 serranos!

    Lake County: Pico de gallo is salsa.

    Melissa: I’m so glad you liked it! Can’t wait to see the photo.

  10. Chile powder. I love it, great idea. I’m making it today!

  11. Chile powder. Hmm, I like that idea. I’m going to try that next time I make a batch of salsa. My recipe isn’t too disimilar to yours. I’ve only just discovered your blog. I’m bookmarking this baby! I love Tex-Mex, am all Tex and no Mex as well and like you I live a long, long way from Texas…Australia to be exact. If you think Tex-Mex is hard to find in NYC, don’t even bother coming to Australia. It’s non-existent here. Your recipes are inspiring me to whip up some of my own though. Thanks.

  12. This is probably the third or fourth time I have made a salsa based on this recipe. Every time it gets hotter. This time was with 14.5oz tomatoes, 3 serranos with seeds, and chile powder made from several small thai red chiles, one ancho, and freshly toasted cumin seed.

    It is such a solid base to build from. Just wanted to say thank you for sharing.

  13. Candice Campbell

    Add a bit of cumin, too! Gives it a slight smokey Mexican flavor. This is similar to our family recipe which is award winning 🙂

  14. I must be one of the few Texans with no family recipe, and now that I am living in Argentina for the long haul I am kissing your feet thanking you for all these recipes!!

  15. Chris in LA

    Love your blog. Love. Love. Love. I am a Texan transplant to Los Angeles and cannot find good tex mex so I have to cook everything myself– which is a blessing and a curse.

    Anyway, what type of onions do you normally use for this? Growing up my mom used red onions (stayed with you for days) but I was curious what you use.



  16. For this, I use white or yellow.

  17. Thanks for sharing this recipe! I'm going to try it this weekend. I've made fresh salsa in the past but have never found a recipe that wowed me. Maybe this one will be it!

  18. Miss Mae I

    my garden in Dallas is bustin at the seams with various toms and various peppers, I am anxious for the sun to come up so I can pick and make this salsa, thanks Lisa, you rock

  19. thank you so much for your recipe. I am actually living in San Antonio and have a recipe that was given to me by my sister, but over the years we have added to or changed it so I know how to make it in my head and with a family of 6 to cook for, I never measure anymore, but I always get asked for my recipe and I have to stop and go back and find that original that I base mine off of and it happened today and I can't find it, so you were the first person I thought of that would have one like mine. Sure enough. I love your blog and have been following it for quite some time as you have really great recipes. I found you when looking for a granola recipe and we just love your Uncle Austin's! Thanks so much. For my salsa, I use 1015 or white onions or whatever I have sometimes, but my original called for green onions with the tops for added color. Also we love habaneros so we make it with those sometimes too :0 Anyway I will be sharing your salsa recipe with my friend since I can't find mine. Thanks again!

  20. I absolutely LOVE your blog! We are 100% Texan transplanted to AZ about 7 months ago and missing home cookin! Thank you for sharing your family memories and recipes that remind me SO much of being in the kitchen with my grand mother and great grandmother. God bless you!

  21. If you already have a traditional family recipe, keep it! Family recipes are special as they carry memories along with them. If you don't yet have one established this recipe would be a good start!

  22. Anonymous

    I have made many, many salsas, but this is one of my favorites and my go to salsa. Living in the DC area, tomatoes are not the best in February, but roasting them on the grill gave them greater flavor.

  23. Anonymous

    2 serranos are not hot. I use Bhut jolokia's. But I think carribean reds and cayenne are much better tasting…also keep in the serranos. Also throw in some yellow and red scotch bonnets. Peppers are great.

  24. Anonymous

    Can I use New Mexico Chili Powder.

    Many Thanks. Nice Cookbook!

  25. Anon–Yes, you can use New Mexico chili powder.

  26. Hi, Lisa!

    In the recipe’s description, you say to “make sure everything else is fresh—especially the garlic, peppers, lime juice and cilantro–or it won’t taste bright and lively.” However, the ingredients call for pickled jalapeño slices and lemon juice. Should the recipe here be the same one found on Serious Eats (

    Thank you! I can’t wait to try it.

    • Lisa Fain

      Esther–I should hire you as an editor! In any case, you can’t go wrong with either recipe. though the one on this blog (which inspired the SE one), is more traditional Tex-Mex with the pickled jalapeños and lemon juice.

  27. Lisa Guajardo

    Hi! Can I use store bought jarred jalapeños? Thanks!

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