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This salsa fresca is the perfect recipe for ripe, juicy tomatoes: pair them with cilantro, lime and jalapeños for the BEST homemade salsa you’ll have.

Salsa fresca ingredients
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Ready for what we might contend is our best salsa recipe? Meet this salsa fresca, a “fresh salsa” made with ripe, juicy tomatoes. Alex and I are growing tomatoes in our garden this year, and this is the absolute best way to use them. (Except for Caprese salad, right?) If you have access to some legit good tomatoes, we recommend you consider making up a batch stat. It’s super tangy from the lime, a little sweet from the tomato, and has a back-end heat from the jalapeño. Yes, it’s everything you’d want in a fresh salsa recipe! Hold onto your hats, and let’s take this salsa for a ride.

Salsa Recipe

Salsa fresca ingredients

To make salsa fresca, you need a handful of ingredients that you could possibly recite from memory, if you’re a salsa lover like we are. While many recipes use canned tomatoes, salsa fresca uses ripe raw tomatoes to get that perfectly fresh flavor. Here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Ripe tomatoes
  • White onion
  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeño peppers
  • Cumin
  • Lime
  • Kosher salt

Salsa fresca vs pico de gallo

As you read the ingredients list above, you might wonder: Doesn’t that sound just like pico de gallo? Salsa fresca vs pico de gallo: same or different? The salsa fresca definition is a sauce made with raw tomato, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, and lime. And the definition for pico de gallo is…pretty much the same thing.

Many sources contend that salsa fresca and pico de gallo are two words for the same thing. Others argue that salsa fresca has a pureed texture, whereas pico de gallo is hand-chopped where you can distinguish the pieces of vegetables. Here at A Couple Cooks, we tend to go with the second definition. However, there is some gray area: feel free to weigh in below in the comments!

Salsa fresca

How to make salsa fresca

This salsa is all about fresh, ripe tomatoes: so make sure to make it when you have access to the best juicy tomatoes you can find! The flavor is 100% dependent on good tomatoes, so if you have some hesitation, you could try a canned salsa version instead. Try our Roasted Tomato Salsa as a starting point!

Here’s how to make salsa fresca:

  1. Chop and remove the core from the ripe tomatoes.
  2. In a food processor, blend tomatoes, white onion, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeño peppers (with the seeds removed for a mild salsa).
  3. Add the tomatoes, cumin, lime, and salt, and process until a uniform texture forms.
  4. Strain to remove extra liquid, then discard.
  5. Add the remaining lime juice and salt and stir to combine.

Salsa fresca calories

How many calories are in this salsa? Salsa fresca has 22 calories per ¼ cup serving. That’s basically a health food, as far as we’re concerned! Of course, you’ve got to figure in what you’re serving it with…keep reading!

Salsa fresca ingredients

How to eat it (besides on chips)

There are so many ways to eat salsa fresca outside of chips! Though if you choose chips, make sure to try our Homemade Tortilla Chips: they’re easy to make and baked so they have a healthy spin. Here are some of our favorite ways to eat salsa fresca:

Looking for more Mexican style recipes?

Outside of this salsa fresca recipe, here are a few more of our favorite Mexican-inspired recipes:

This recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Best homemade salsa recipe

Salsa Fresca

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  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 2 ½ cups 1x
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This salsa fresca is the perfect recipe for ripe, juicy tomatoes: pair them with cilantro, lime, and jalapeños for the BEST homemade salsa you’ll have.


  • 2 pounds fresh tomatoes (6 medium)
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1 medium garlic clove
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed (depending on your spice tolerance)
  • 1 large handful cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided


  1. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and remove the white part of the core; then cut the wedges in half. Cut the onion into chunks. Peel the garlic. Remove the seeds from the jalapeño peppers.
  2. Place the onion, garlic, jalapeño peppers and cilantro in the bowl of the food processor. Add the tomatoes, cumin, 2 tablespoons lime juice and ¾ teaspoon kosher salt. Pulse until a chunky texture forms. Taste, and if you’d like extra heat, add seeds from the jalapeños.
  3. Strain the mixture to remove excess liquid (the volume will decrease by almost half). Place the salsa in a serving dish and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon lime juice and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
  • Category: Dip
  • Method: Blended
  • Cuisine: Mexican

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Brendy lange says:

    Hi, I tried this and the color turned out brown. The tomatoes were fresh. Do you think I added too much cumin?

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Hmm we’ve never had that happen! The cumin amount is not enough that it would color it brown. What kind of tomatoes were you using?