Salsa is a versatile condiment that can be used for much more than just dipping tortilla chips. While it is commonly associated with Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines, salsa can actually enhance the flavor of many different dishes. With its tangy, spicy taste, salsa is a quick and easy way to add big flavor to meats, sandwiches, eggs, pizza, and more.
One great way to use salsa is to marinate meats before cooking. The acidity from tomatoes and spices in the salsa help to tenderize meats, adding moisture and infusing them with lots of extra flavor. Salsa marinades pair especially well with chicken, beef, pork and fish.
To marinate meat with salsa, place the meat in a shallow container or zip-top bag. Cover the meat with salsa, making sure all sides are coated. Seal and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or up to overnight for more intense flavor. The longer you marinate, the more the flavors will develop.
After marinating, cook meats as desired, either grilling, broiling, baking or pan-frying. The salsa marinade will leave a nice caramelized crust on the outside. Serve any extra marinade on the side as a flavorful sauce.
Salsa Marinade Ideas
- Chicken – Use a chipotle or habanero salsa to give chicken a smoky, spicy flavor.
- Steak – A garlic or cilantro salsa pairs perfectly with beef.
- Pork chops – Tomatillo salsa gives pork a bright, tangy flavor.
- Salmon – Citrus-based fruit salsas complement the flavor of fish nicely.
Making Sandwiches and Wraps
In addition to chips and dip, salsa makes a tasty sandwich topping or condiment. A spoonful of salsa can add moisture, spice and fresh flavor to both hot and cold sandwiches. Try spreading it on meats, cheese, eggs or veggies before closing up a sandwich or wrap. Salsa goes well with roast beef, turkey, ham, grilled chicken, bacon, sausage and more.
For breakfast sandwiches, use salsa to top eggs, breakfast meats and cheese. On a veggie sandwich or wrap, replace traditional condiments with salsa to add a kick. You can also dice or puree extra vegetables like onions, tomatoes or peppers into the salsa for more texture and nutrition in your sandwich toppings.
Sandwich and Wrap Ideas with Salsa
- Turkey club with bacon, avocado and salsa
- Grilled chicken wrap with salsa, cheese and lettuce
- Veggie sandwich with hummus, salsa and cucumber
- Breakfast burrito with eggs, salsa and hash browns
In addition to sandwiches, salsa makes a great topping for all kinds of egg dishes. Try spooning it over easy eggs, scrambled eggs or egg bakes. The heat from the salsa pairs nicely with the creaminess of the eggs. Some ways to incorporate salsa into egg recipes:
- Stir salsa into scrambled eggs as you cook them
- Top poached or over easy eggs with salsa before serving
- Add a layer of salsa to an egg casserole or stratta before baking
- Mix salsa into an egg salad for a flavor boost
- Make huevos rancheros – eggs fried on top of tortillas with salsa
For an easy breakfast, scramble eggs with salsa, cheese and spinach, then wrap in a warm tortilla. The options are endless when pairing salsa with eggs!
In place of traditional pizza sauce or as an extra flavor boost, salsa makes a tasty topping for homemade or frozen pizza. Spoon or spread salsa over the pizza crust before adding cheese and toppings. The flavors of the salsa will bake right into the pizza.
Try using these types of salsa on pizza:
- Diced tomato salsa – fresh tomato flavor
- Mango salsa – fruity, sweet yet tangy
- Habanero salsa – for spicy pizza lovers
- Black bean and corn salsa – savory southwestern flavor
- Pineapple salsa – sweet and tangy
You can also mix different salsas together. For a Mexican-style pizza, use a blended tomatillo and chili salsa topped with ingredients like chorizo, black olives, onions and cilantro.
In place of vinaigrettes or creamy dressings, try using salsa as the dressing for a salad. Simply drizzle salsa over your salad to add a tangy, spicy flavor. The vegetables and seasoning in salsa complement greens nicely. This works particularly well with southwest-style salads.
To make salsa even creamier and richer for dressings, blend it with ingredients like avocado, Greek yogurt or silken tofu. Puree until smooth for a uniform texture. You can also add lime juice, olive oil or spices to the salsa dressing for more flavor.
Some salad combinations that pair well with salsa dressing:
- Romaine lettuce, black beans, corn, tortilla strips and avocado
- Baby spinach, oranges, jicama and toasted pepitas
- Kale, broccoli slaw, red onions and cheddar cheese
- Arugula, cherry tomatoes, carrots and cucumber
For easy cheesy quesadillas with a kick, spread salsa inside before adding shredded cheese and cooking until melted. Try various types of salsa like mango, pineapple or cilantro for different flavor combos. Just place a tortilla in a skillet, spread salsa and cheese over half, fold and cook until golden on both sides.
In addition to cheese, you can fill quesadillas with delicious mix-ins like black beans, corn, shredded chicken, sauteed peppers and onions. The salsa infuses everything with extra flavor as it cooks inside the quesadilla.
For the easiest nachos ever, top tortilla chips with shredded cheese and salsa, then bake until melted. Add any toppings you like after baking, such as diced tomatoes, jalapenos, black olives, guacamole or sour cream. The salsa bakes right into the cheese to infuse it with spicy flavor.
You can also layer salsa over nachos with other toppings before baking. Try using salsa in place of refried beans or chili as a nacho topping. Some tasty nacho ideas with salsa:
- Chicken, salsa and cheese nachos
- Steak, salsa, peppers and onion nachos
- Veggie nachos with salsa, beans, corn and guacamole
For a quick and easy baked potato topping, try salsa! Simply bake potatoes until tender all the way through. Cut potatoes open and fluff the insides with a fork. Top with salsa and any additional mix-ins like cheese, bacon bits, green onions or sour cream. The salsa adds moisture and flavor to the potato.
You can also mix the salsa right into mashed potatoes along with butter, milk and seasonings. Mash it all together for salsa flavored mashed potatoes, perfect with any Mexican or Tex-Mex inspired meal.
Mixing salsa into casserole dishes adds a flavor boost. Try stirring it into recipes like enchiladas, lasagna, mac and cheese, stuffed peppers or chilis before baking. Depending on the recipe, use about 1/4 to 1/2 cup salsa per 8-inch baking dish.
You can also spoon salsa over the top of casseroles like a condiment once they are baked. Let everyone add as much as they want to customize the spice level of their dish. Try salsa on top of cheesy bakes, taco casseroles, chicken enchiladas, breakfast strattas or egg bakes.
Add extra flavor to basic chili by stirring in salsa. Tomatoes, onions and chili peppers in the salsa will boost the flavor of the chili. Depending on how spicy you want the chili, use mild, medium or hot salsa. Start with about 1/4 cup per batch of chili and adjust to taste.
For a quick vegetarian chili, you can actually use salsa as the base. Saute onions and garlic. Add salsa, beans, corn and seasonings to a pot. Simmer until warmed through and serve topped with avocado, cheese, cilantro or sour cream.
No taco night is complete without salsa. You can use it as a condiment for serving, or incorporate salsa into the taco fillings themselves:
- Mix salsa into the ground beef or turkey as it browns
- Stir salsa into sauteed veggies for tacos
- Add a spoonful of salsa to refried or black beans
- Use salsa as a marinade or sauce for fish or shrimp tacos
Having a salsa bar with various fresh salsas is a great way to let people customize their tacos. Try roasted tomatillo, pineapple mango, habanero and tomato salsas for a variety.
Salsa Uses By Type
Certain salsa varieties lend themselves to different uses based on ingredients and flavor profiles:
|Salsa Type||Best Uses|
|Tomato salsa||Eggs, sandwiches, marinades, pizza, tacos|
|Fruit salsa||Fish, marinades, salad dressings, pizza|
|Tomatillo salsa||Pork, chicken, steak fajitas, tacos|
|Mango salsa||Fish, shrimp, wraps, quesadillas, tacos|
|Pineapple salsa||Ham, pizza, chili, pork chops|
|Black bean & corn salsa||Quesadillas, taco salad, nachos, tostadas|
|Pico de gallo||Fajitas, tacos, salads, guacamole, eggs|
|Habenero salsa||Eggs, beef, burgers, chili, nachos|
Making fresh salsa at home takes just a few simple ingredients and you can customize the flavor exactly to your taste. Having homemade salsa on hand gives you a quick, healthy condiment to liven up meals all week long.
Refer to this handy table for ratios of ingredients to use when making fresh salsa:
|Salsa Type||Main Ingredients (Mix and Match)||Seasonings|
|Tomato salsa||Diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro||Lime juice, cumin, salt|
|Fruit salsa||Pineapple, mango, peach, strawberries, red onion, cilantro||Lime juice, honey, salt, chili powder|
|Tomatillo salsa||Tomatillos, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cilantro||Lime juice, cumin, salt|
|Corn & black bean salsa||Corn, black beans, red onion, garlic, cilantro||Lime juice, cumin, salt|
To make any type of salsa:
- Dice, mince or chop the main ingredients to desired consistency.
- Combine everything in a bowl and stir to mix.
- Add lime juice and seasonings to taste.
- Let flavors combine at least 15 minutes before serving.
Adjust the ratios based on your preferences. Add extra jalapeno and cumin for spicier salsa or more fruit for sweeter salsa. Customize each batch with different add-ins like bell peppers, chili peppers, spices and fresh herbs.
Fresh homemade salsa can be kept in the refrigerator 5-7 days. To maximize freshness:
- Store in an airtight container.
- Press plastic wrap onto the surface before sealing to prevent air exposure.
- If separation occurs, stir gently before serving.
For longer term storage, salsa can be frozen up to 3 months. Spoon into freezer bags or containers, removing as much air as possible before sealing. Thaw in the refrigerator before using.
When working with fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onions, garlic and peppers, be sure to follow safe food handling guidelines:
- Wash all produce thoroughly before cutting.
- Use separate cutting boards and utensils for produce and raw meat.
- Refrigerate leftover salsa within 2 hours.
- Discard salsa if mold appears or if it smells or tastes off.
With its fresh, flavorful ingredients, salsa has so many uses beyond a dip for chips. Stir it into eggs, sandwiches, tacos and more for a taste bud boost. Try using different salsa varieties to complement different recipes. With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless for incorporating salsa into meals. Keep a fresh batch on hand for a quick and healthy way to spice up dinner any night of the week.