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.
The Instant Pot makes it simple to make a complete meal in little time, with little dishes, gadgets, or clean up.
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, using just 1 pot— no blender required!
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
- Spinach Egg Breakfast Burrito
- Easy Chicken Taquitos
- Kids Quesadilla with Cheese and Tomato
- Loaded Sheet Pan Nachos
- Zucchini Taco Boats
- Oven Baked Fajitas
- Mini Stuffed Taco Peppers with Lime Crema
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 salsa from scratch.
Salsa roja is made with fresh tomatoes, green or red bell peppers, white onions, fresh cilantro, green onions, garlic, and jalapenos or chilis.
For a mild salsa, leave out the jalapenos or chilis.
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.
🔪 Step-By-Step Directions
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.
Not only because no one wants to eat hot salsa, but also because 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 cook until time stops. Use a potato or meat masher and press on the tomatoes to break them down.
- Add the onions, bell pepper, garlic, green onions, and jalapenos or chilis (if using). Pour in 1 ½ cups of water and mix* (see notes below). Set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes and close the lid to seal. Turn off the "keep warm" setting to start the pressure cooker.
- Let the salsa release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release. Stir in lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Use a masher to blend the salsa into the texture that you'd like. Or, put in a food processor and blend in 30 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 1 hour before serving.
*You must add at least 1 cup of water to a 6qt Instant Pot and 1 ½ cups to an 8qt for it to come to pressure correctly and not to burn the food. However, as each brand and model varies slightly, check your manual for the correct amount of liquid needed and use that amount. Much of the water will absorb once the salsa is cooked. You can drain a little water from your finished product if you'd like. I did not need to do this even though I used a little more water than necessary for my 6 quart pot.
Salsa Roja in the Instant Pot
- pressure cooker
- 10 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped (or 5 cups of tomatoes)
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper (green or red)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green onions, chopped
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 1 cup cilantro, torn
- 1-2 tsp salt
- ¼-1/2 cup jalapenos or chilis
- Set the Instant Pot to saute for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until time stops. Turn saute off. Press down on tomatoes with a masher until they pop.
- Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, green onions, and jalapenos or chilis (if using). Pour in 1 ½ cups of water and mix. Set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes. Close the lid to seal. *See notes on water amount for your size pressure cooker.
- Let release naturally for 10 minutes, then do a quick release. Stir in lime juice, salt, and cilantro. Use a masher to mash the salsa to the texture that you'd like. Or, put in a food processor/use immersion blender and blend in 30 second increments to achieve a smooth, restaurant style texture.
- Transfer the salsa to covered jars or bowls and chill until ready to use.
🧒🏼 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 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 3 weeks.
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.