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Salsa Roja - Perfect Cooked Salsa Recipe

My personal favorite recipe for Salsa Roja - Cooked Mexican Salsa featuring tomatoes, chilies and a whole lot of spice.
Course Condiment
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Author Johan Johansen


  • 2 cans diced tomatoes about 800 grams total
  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Agave Syrup or sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 Ancho chili dried
  • 1 Guajillo chili dried
  • 1 Chile de Arbol dried
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • ½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Remove stems from dried chilies and shake out seeds
  2. Carefully toast dried chilies in a dry skillet until warm and fragrant
  3. Roughly chop onion, garlic and the toasted chilies then place in a small sauce pan along with about 200 ml of water.
  4. Bring chili and vegetable mixture to a boil, lower heat and simmer gently until chilies have softened – about 20-30 minutes.
  5. While chilies are simmering, place tomatoes in a colander to drain off excess moisture.
  6. Using a stick blender, process chilies, onion and garlic to a thick sauce.
  7. In a mixing bowl stir together chili sauce and tomatoes, then add olive oil, Mexican oregano, chipotle powder, agave syrup and the freshly squeezed juice of one lime.
  8. Roughly chop leafy parts of the cilantro and add to the salsa as well.
  9. Stir everything together, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  10. Before serving, season the chilled salsa with salt and pepper to taste. Add a little extra lime juice and/or agava syrup, too, if things seem a little bland.

Recipe Notes

Mexican oregano is a dried herb used in Mexican cuisine. It’s similar in appearance to regular, Mediterranean oregano but is, despite its name, a cousin of lemon verbena rather than a member of the origanum family to which oregano belongs. It shares some of oregano’s unique and pungent earthy flavors and aromas but more subtly so with an added grassy kick of citrus and licorice. Mexican oregano is readily and cheaply available online and adds a unique element to Mexican dishes. If you can’t get Mexican oregano, you can substitute a pinch of marjoram or even regular oregano, just use a little less than the recipe dictates.