No-Recipe Roasted Tomato Salsa

If I had to pick my favorite snack food, it would be hard for me not to go with chips and salsa. I know exactly why I love it so much – the salt and the heat combine my all-time two favorite food characteristics. I could munch on salty tortilla chips all day long just as they are, but add some spicy salsa on the side, and I may never move.

I make a lot of homemade sauces and dips, but there might not be any quite as versatile as this Roasted Tomato Salsa. You can have it mild (thanks, jalapeños), medium (hola, Serranos!) or HOT – which is how I like it – if you’re daring enough to use a habanero pepper AND leave the seeds in (which I almost always do).

You can also easily control which kind of vibe you’re going for: if you LOVE garlic, throw more on the baking sheet; if you like your salsa a little sweet, add some sugar or agave (honey works, too); if you’re feelin’ tropical, a few chunks of pineapple wouldn’t be out of place here, and if you’re not a fan of traditional cilantro, see what happens when you add some fresh parsley or mint to the mix. The recipe is really adaptable, but my favorite riff on it has to be my salsa verde which subs tomatillos for romas and tastes great on just about anything.

If you wanna make the classic version, here’s how to do it:

No-Recipe Roasted Tomato Salsa

Course afternoon snack, Appetizer, brunch, dinner, lunch, Snack
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword chips and salsa
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • 5-6 roma tomatoes quartered
  • 5-6 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 chilies of your choice (serrano and jalapeno work well for mild or medium salsa, and habanero is good for HOT salsa) halved *I leave the seeds in for heat
  • 1 tsp salt
  • olive oil
  • cumin seeds
  • crushed chili flakes to taste/optional for added heat
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • lime juice
  • fresh cilantro


  1. Preheat your oven to broil. Pop your tomatoes, garlic and chilies on a baking tray and coat them in olive oil, the salt, a healthy sprinkle of cumin seeds and crushed chili flakes, if you're using them. I've attached a picture here of how well I coat the veggies in the cumin and chili flakes, for reference, since I never measure it exactly.

  2. Broil the veggies for about 10 minutes, or until you see some dark char on the peppers and garlic, and the tomatoes are soft.

  3. Using a food processor or blender, puree the roasted veggies with the ground cumin and chili powder. When you have the consistency you like, add a splash of lime juice and the cilantro (I use about a cup of cilantro leaves, but you can add more or less as you like) and pulse to combine everything completely. Taste to see if it needs more salt, and add a pinch if necessary. Serve immediately or cool and serve chilled.

  4. *If you like roasted onion in your salsa, just peel and quarter a small brown or yellow onion and pop it on the tray with the rest of your veggies. Nothing else with the recipe changes! I normally add onion when I make fresh salsa, but wasn't able to find any decent ones at the store during my last trip.

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