Instant Pot Salsa is a cooked restaurant-style salsa roja that's healthy, delicious, and easy. Salsa made at home beats the jarred salsa any day! This easy salsa recipe is perfect 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 during the summer when fresh tomatoes are at their best. 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.
This recipe is more mild than my other homemade salsa, like mango habañero, chile de arbol salsa, and salsa verde. But it can be made as spicy as you want by adding as much jalapeños as you can handle.
Why You'll Love Instant Pot Salsa
- It's healthy- only fresh and wholesome ingredients are used to make salsa so enjoy it guilt free!
- Homemade salsa is low in calories and high in nutrients.
- It can easily be made mild, spicy, or extra hot- whatever your preference is!
- There's just one pot to clean up!
Instant Pot salsa roja is one of my favorite dips for these reasons, and it may become yours too!
How To Use Salsa Roja
Instant Pot salsa roja is more than just a dip. It's used to elevate the flavors in traditional Mexican recipes, like tacos, fajitas, taquitos and quesadillas. No taco is complete without at least a dollop of fresh, homemade salsa. Instead of jarred salsa, use your instant pot salsa in taco pasta and breakfast burritos!
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.
Instant Pot salsa is made with:
- Tomatoes: fresh is always preferred! See below for tomato suggestions.
- Bell peppers: green or red.
- Onions: white, yellow or sweet onions all work here.
- Jalapeños (or chilis): I use both fresh and jarred jalapeños, depending on what I have at the time. It tastes great with both.
- Lemon and lime juice: freshly squeezed or bottled can be used. They add a sweet and tangy kick.
- Cilantro: fresh is preferred but if using dried, reduce the amount by two-thirds.
- Green onions
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.
In 4 steps and 20 minutes, Instant Pot salsa roja is done. You'll want to add a little time to chill the salsa before it's ready to serve. This gives the ingredients time to "marry" , elevating the flavor even more.
STEP 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute for 3 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and diced jalapeños or chilis and saute. Use a potato or meat masher and press on the tomatoes to break them down when finished. Scrap the bottom of the inner pot with a wooden spoon to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom.
STEP 2: Add the chopped onions, diced bell peppers, minced garlic, and diced green onions. Close the lid and seal. Set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
STEP 3: Allow to naturally release pressure for 5 minutes, then quickly release the remaining pressure.
STEP 4: Stir in lime juice, lemon juice, salt, and cilantro. Use a masher or immersion blender to blend the salsa into the texture that you'd like. Or, put in a food processor and pulse in 5 second increments to achieve a smooth, restaurant style texture. Taste and add more salt, cilantro or lime juice if needed.
Transfer to mason jars or covered containers and chill for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!
How To Store Homemade Salsa
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.
Salsa roja is naturally vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free so it's suitable for a variety of diets. In addition to it being a diet-friendly salsa, here are some ways to make it suit your taste preferences.
Spicier: Add more jalapeños and include the seeds. Habañeros and chilis are also good additions to increase the heat factor.
Milder: Decrease the amount of jalapeños or leave them out entirely. Don't include the seeds, as the seeds are what really makes it spicy!
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.
Leave It Chunky: Don't puree or mash the ingredients at the end to make a thick and chunky salsa.
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.
You can use canned tomatoes, but they generally won't 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. And if you have canned tomatoes, those are perfectly acceptable.
You can use your pressure cooker to can salsa. I have not yet done this, so make sure to find a recipe and instructions from a trusted canner.
No, do not add water to the pressure cooker. The tomatoes will release a good amount of water while they are sauteing and this is enough liquid for the pot to come to pressure as it should.
If your salsa seems too watery, let it sit overnight in the fridge. It should thicken slightly. If it's still too thin for your liking, use a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to drain a little liquid.
Instant Pot Salsa
- Set the Instant Pot to saute mode on normal/high and the timer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and jalapeños to the heated inner pot and cook, stirring frequently. When the 3 minutes is up, press down on the tomatoes with a masher to break them down slightly. Scrape the bottom of the inner pot with a wooden spoon to ensure nothing is stuck to the bottom.
- Add onion, bell peppers, garlic and green onions. Close the lid and seal. Set to pressure cook on high for 5 minutes.
- Let pressure naturally release for 5 minutes, then quickly release the remaining pressure. Open the lid and stir, further crushing the tomatoes with a masher.
- Stir in the lime juice, lemon juice, salt, and cilantro. Blend the salsa to the texture that you'd like using an immersion blender or potato masher. For a smoother texture, run the salsa through a food processor or blender. 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.