Salsa Roja is a cooked restaurant-style salsa made in the Instant Pot. It's healthy, delicious, and easy. Salsa Roja made at home beats the jarred salsa any day! An easy salsa recipe for parties, appetizers, or to use in other recipes.
The Instant Pot can do wonderous things.
Making salsa roja with garden fresh tomatoes, cilantro, peppers, and onions is one of them.
Instant Pot salsa is one of my favorite things to make in it. Salsa is a staple in my fridge. Instead of buying it every week, I can whip up a giant batch in less than 30 minutes.
Easy clean up.
Instant Pot salsa roja is one of my favorite dips for these reasons, and it may become yours too!
But salsa roja is more than just a dip.
While you'll be served restaurant style salsa as soon as you sit down at any Mexican restaurant, it is great to use in a variety of other recipes, too.
More Recipes You Can Use Salsa Roja In
Salsa can also be mixed into eggs for breakfast and ground beef when making meatloaf and stuffed peppers.
Throw it into the slow cooker with chicken breasts to make a delicious, simple salsa chicken.
Salsa has so many uses that it benefits to know how to make the perfect one from scratch.
Salsa roja is made with fresh tomatoes, green or red bell peppers, white onions, fresh cilantro, green onions, garlic, and jalapeños or chilis. Lime juice, lemon juice, and salt add a sweet and tangy kick to these fresh ingredients.
For a mild salsa, leave out the jalapenos or chilis. And for a spicier salsa, add extra jalapeños and their seeds.
You can see in the image above that I used grape tomatoes. I do not often use grape tomatoes to make salsa, but I had a plentiful amount of these that were at their peak ripeness.
Typically, my preferred tomatoes for homemade salsa and bruschetta are roma (plum) tomatoes. The grape tomatoes taste just as delicious with one caveat.
The skins are slightly thicker and do not degrade as those on roma tomatoes. To achieve the perfect restaurant-style texture, I blended my salsa at the very end.
Roma tomatoes are ideal for making salsa because they have few seeds, thin skins, and a sweet flavor. Amish Paste, Big Mamma, Little Mama and Viva Italia are also perfect salsa making tomatoes. While roma tomatoes are readily available in most grocery stores, the other varieties are likely only found at local farms or in your own backyard garden.
If you don't have these tomatoes available, a hearty tomato like a beefsteak tomato, is a great choice for cooked salsa roja. While they do have more seeds than roma tomatoes, they are juicy and robust in flavor.
You can also use grape or cherry tomatoes. However, the skin on these tends to peel up instead of breaking down, leaving strings of skin throughout the salsa. It will be completely edible and not too noticeable. A quick run through a food processor should chop the skins small enough so they blend in with the salsa entirely.
Avoid using canned tomatoes, as they can taste like metal. They will also not have as much flavor as fresh tomatoes.
That said, the best tomatoes for salsa are the ones that you have on hand. If that means using plump, seedy tomatoes then use those. If it means using grape tomatoes with a thicker skin, then use those.
In 4 steps and 20 minutes, Instant Pot salsa roja is done. You'll want to add a little time to this to chill the salsa before it's ready to serve.
This gives the ingredients time to "marry" even more, elevating the flavor.
To make it:
- Set the Instant Pot to saute for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and jalapeños or chilis and saute. Use a potato or meat masher and press on the tomatoes to break them down when finished.
- Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and green onions. Pour in ½ cup of water and deglaze* (see notes below). Close the lid and seal. Set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
- Allow to naturally release pressure for 5 minutes, then quickly release the remaining pressure. Drain ½ to 1 cup of water using a cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer.
- Stir in lime juice, lemon juice, salt, and cilantro. Use a masher to blend the salsa into the texture that you'd like. Or, put in a food processor/use immersion blender and blend in 5 second increments to achieve a smooth, restaurant style texture. Taste and add more salt, cilantro or lime if needed.
- Transfer to mason jars and chill for at least 2 hours before serving.
*To deglaze, add water and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to release any stuck pieces of food. This ensures you won't get the burn notice.
💡Much of the water added and that released from the tomatoes will absorb once the salsa is chilled but you should drain some immediately after pressure cooking. Some tomatoes are more watery than others so how much excess liquid you have depends on the tomatoes you use.
Salsa Roja in the Instant Pot
- 7 cups tomatoes plum, cherry, grape, garden or beefsteak
- ¼ - ½ cup jalapenos or chilis fresh or jarred
- 1 large sweet onion diced
- 2 bell peppers green or red
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 4 green onions chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- ⅓ cup lime juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 cup cilantro torn
- Set the Instant Pot to saute on normal (or high) for 3 minutes. Roughly chop the tomatoes and dice the jalapeños. Add to the pot and cook. When finished, press down on the tomatoes with a masher until they pop.
- Pour in ½ cup of water and deglaze. Add onions, bell peppers, garlic and green onions. Do not mix. Close the lid and seal. Set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
- Let pressure naturally release for 5 minutes, then quickly release remaining pressure. Open the lid and stir, further crushing the tomatoes with a masher. Drain ½ - 1 cup of liquid, as much necessary for your desired thickness. The salsa will appear watery now but will thicken a bit when chilled.
- Stir in the lime juice, lemon juice, salt, and cilantro. Mash the salsa to the texture that you'd like. Or, put in a food processor/use immersion blender and blend in 5 second increments to achieve a smooth, restaurant style texture. Taste and add more salt, lime juice or cilantro as desired.
- Transfer the salsa to covered jars or bowls and chill for at least 2 hours until ready to serve.
How To Make It Kid-Friendly
To make salsa roja kid-friendly, keep it mild by not adding jalapenos until after it cooks. You can buy canned and diced jalapenos and add them to a finished jar of salsa, but not the entire recipe.
This recipe makes a little over 2 pints of salsa, so a good option is too keep 1 mild without the jalapenos for the kids. Add jalapenos to the salsa in the 2nd mason jar before storing to have a hot salsa roja.
How to Store
Store salsa in mason jars for easy keeping and reusing.
Refrigerator: Salsa can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If you're worried about it going bad quickly, add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the finished salsa. This will help preserve it for longer shelf life.
Freezer: It can be frozen for up to 6 months before the flavors begin to break down.
Defrosting: Defrost salsa overnight in the fridge. Place the bag in a bowl to prevent leaking.
I hope you enjoy making salsa roja in your Instant Pot! I'd love to hear what you thought in the comments below.
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