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Uncle Richard’s salsa

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.

5 from 5 votes

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


  • 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.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 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!

  2. Anonymous says:

    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.

  3. Anonymous says:

    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.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Can I use New Mexico Chili Powder.

    Many Thanks. Nice Cookbook!

  5. Lisa Fain says:

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