Can you use any tomato for salsa?

Salsa is a popular condiment that can be used to add flavor to many dishes. The key ingredient in most salsas is tomatoes. With so many varieties of tomatoes available, from beefsteak to cherry tomatoes, you may wonder if you can use any type of tomato to make fresh salsa.

Tomato Varieties for Salsa

While you can technically use any tomato variety to make salsa, some types are better suited for salsa making than others. The best tomatoes to use are those that have a good balance of flavor, meatiness, juice, and texture when raw.

Some of the top tomato varieties for salsa include:

  • Roma – Roma tomatoes are a popular choice with their meaty texture and few seeds. They have a bold, rich flavor that makes great salsa.
  • Campari – These small, sweet tomatoes hold their shape well when diced. Campari tomatoes add sweetness and complexity to salsa.
  • Heirloom – Many heirloom tomatoes like Cherokee Purple and Black Krim have excellent rich, complex flavors for salsa.
  • Grape – Grape tomatoes add juicy pops of flavor and sweetness to salsa with their high juice content.
  • Cherry – Small cherry tomatoes like Sungold have concentrated tomatoey flavor that makes them work well diced up in salsa.

While those are some top choices, you can experiment with other varieties too. The key things to look for are tomatoes with rich flavor, decent fleshiness, and a good juice content. Avoid extremely meaty types like beefsteak that have a lower moisture content.

How Other Tomato Varieties Work in Salsa

While the tomato varieties listed above make the best traditional salsa, you may be wondering how other common types of tomatoes work if you want to experiment. Here is a look at how some other tomato varieties fare for homemade salsa:

Beefsteak Tomatoes

Beefsteak tomatoes can be used for salsa if desired. They have a low juice content, so the salsa texture will be thicker. Be sure to seed and drain them to reduce liquid. Their milder flavor works best blended with spicier ingredients.

Oxheart Tomatoes

Like beefsteak tomatoes, oxheart tomatoes have a very meaty, thick texture. Drain them well and mix with extra juice from lime, citrus, or other tomato varieties for the best salsa results.

Green Tomatoes

Unripe green tomatoes add a tangy, tart flavor to salsa. Dice them small and mix with sweeter red tomato varieties. They work best in cooked salsa recipes.

Yellow Tomatoes

Yellow tomatoes like yellow cherry or yellow pear tomatoes make a fun, colorful salsa. They are generally sweeter and less acidic than red varieties. Mix in some red tomatoes for more balanced flavor.

Orange Tomatoes

Orange heirloom tomatoes add a sweet, tropical twist to salsa. Their softer flesh means the salsa texture may be more liquidy. Drain excess liquid if needed for a thicker result.

Purple Tomatoes

Purple tomatoes make a unique, vividly colored salsa. They have a balanced, rich flavor. Mix with red tomatoes for ideal texture.

How to Pick the Best Tomatoes for Fresh Salsa

When selecting tomatoes for fresh salsa, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose ripe tomatoes for peak flavor – tomatoes ripen from the vine, not after picking
  • Look for juicy, firm tomatoes without bruises or soft spots
  • Smaller tomatoes like cherry and grape have concentrated flavor for salsa
  • Try a mix of colors and varieties for extra complexity
  • Heirloom tomatoes offer great unique flavor
  • Pick tomatoes within 2-3 days of making salsa for best freshness

Ingredients to Complement Different Tomato Varieties in Salsa

Certain extra ingredients can enhance and complement the flavors of various tomato types when making fresh salsa:

Tomato Variety Complementary Salsa Ingredients
Roma Cilantro, onion, garlic, jalapeño, lime
Campari Bell pepper, red onion, cumin, garlic, oregano
Cherry Jalapeño, shallot, lime zest, cilantro
Green Cumin, cayenne pepper, cilantro, can add corn
Yellow Peach, mango, red bell pepper
Heirloom Fresh mild chiles, cilantro, black beans, corn

Choosing Tomatoes for Jarred Salsa

When making a larger batch of salsa for canning and jarred storage, you may want to select tomato varieties that hold up well to processing. Some guidelines:

  • Roma tomatoes are a very common choice with their firm, meaty flesh
  • Cherry or grape tomatoes work well because they retain their shape when cooked
  • avoid heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes, which become overcooked and mushy
  • add firming agents like calcium chloride or lemon juice to help tomatoes stay crunchy
  • process using a boiling water bath method to preserve texture
  • refrigerate for storage up to 2 weeks once opened

Key Tips for the Best Homemade Salsa

Here are some top tips for making fresh, flavorful salsa at home with any tomato variety:

  • Dice tomatoes and chop ingredients uniformly for consistent texture.
  • Drain excess tomato liquid to desired salsa thickness.
  • Lightly salt tomatoes 10 minutes before use to enhance flavors.
  • Add spices like cumin, chili powder, cayenne to taste.
  • Let salsa sit at least 30 minutes for flavors to meld before serving.
  • Add fresh lime or lemon juice to brighten up the flavors.
  • Keep salsa refrigerated and use within 3-5 days for best freshness.

Sample Salsa Recipes with Different Tomato Types

To highlight how various tomato varieties work in salsa, here are some example recipes:

Roma Tomato Salsa

  • 2 lbs Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, ribs and seeds removed, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Let sit 30 minutes before serving for enhanced flavors. Garnish with extra cilantro.

Rainbow Cherry Tomato Salsa

  • 1 pint red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pint yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 pint orange cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Small bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Gently mix all ingredients. Top with avocado and queso fresco.

Green Tomato Salsa Verde

  • 2 lbs green tomatoes, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients and simmer 10 minutes until tomatoes are tender. Garnish with pumpkin seeds.

Storing Fresh Homemade Salsa

Salsa is best when fresh, but you can store leftover homemade salsa in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. Here are some storage tips:

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Push plastic wrap directly onto the salsa surface to prevent air exposure.
  • Squeeze a bit of lime juice over the salsa before storing to help preservation.
  • If liquid separates, drain and stir before serving.
  • Avoid storing salsa at room temperature more than 2 hours.
  • You can also freeze salsa in bags or containers up to 3 months.


While Roma, cherry, and grape tomatoes may be the most traditional choices, you can experiment with all kinds of tomato varieties when making fresh salsa. The key is to use ripe, flavorful tomatoes and balance their texture and taste with complementary ingredients. With so many diverse tomatoes available, there are endless options for creating signature salsa recipes using different tomato types.

With some guidelines on picking the right tomatoes, mixing and matching varieties, and proper storage, you can craft fresh, delicious homemade salsa using whatever tomatoes you have on hand. Be creative with different types of tomatoes for unique spins on a classic condiment.

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