How to make homemade Salsa thicker


I have been playing with homemade salsa for a few weeks now and I can't seem to figure out how to get that thicker tomato texture that a lot of southern Mexican restaurants have.

Right now I play with these ingredients:

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Onion
  3. Jalapeño
  4. Cilantro
  5. Lime Juice
  6. Garlic Salt/Cumin

This seems pretty basic stuff for salsa, but it has a pretty watered down feel no matter how I swing it. How do I get the tomato base that some of the classic salsas have in order for everything to hold on the chip a little better?


I really wanted to accept two answers because I like both depending on what I am doing. For a fresh salsa (pico de gallo) straining the juice from the tomatoes seems to work really well. But for the thickness I was going for the key was experimenting with Tomato Paste/Cooking the salsa. I am able to get a much thicker salsa that I enjoy much more. I did learn how to create killer pico de gallo from this though.

Best Answer

There's a few types of salsa -- salsa fresca (aka pico de gallo, aka salsa cruda), which is "fresh salsa" and uncooked, and if made fresh, it shouldn't be too watery (unless you add to much liquid, eg, lime juice), but letting the vegetables sit after salting will start to draw out extra liquid and could become watery.

For truly thick salsa, you have to treat it like a jam, and cook it to release the pectin in the tomato. (or I guess you could use some other thickeners ... I've never tried. tomato paste, maybe?) You don't necessarily have to cook the other ingredients, too, but I personally like roasting the peppers and onions to sweeten then up and remove some of the extra liquid. (halve the peppers and seed them, lay them on a tray cut side up with the onion cut into wedges, roast 'til they're softened, then dump into a food processor and either pulse or liquify it, depending on how chunky you like it. And the skin falls off the peppers, so I leave 'em out).

You can do the same roasting with the tomatoes, and it'll be thicker from the food processor, but you won't get the same cling without letting them cook slowly in liquid to develop the pectin. If you roast the tomatoes, I like to use plum tomatoes, as they have more "meat" to the gel around the seeds, and take out the gel and seeds.