Creamy Jalapeno Salsa (Dairy Free)

By Alexandra Caspero on June 4, 2021
Got a bumper crop of jalapenos? Make this! If you love spicy food, then you've gotta try this creamy jalapeno salsa.
Makes 1 1/2 cups

Creamy Jalapeno Sauce! Similar to Salsa Dona from TacoDeli in Austin, Texas this jalapeno salsa is SO good! Spicy jalapeno salsa that tastes great on everything. A must-make if you like the heat!


Wow, this creamy jalapeno salsa. If you’ve talked to me since our trip back to Austin, I’ve likely talked about this jalapeno dip. It was the reason I went to Whole Foods almost daily to see if they had any of this sauce back in stock. It’s the reason I brought 10 mini-containers home with me from TacoDeli to try and recreate at home. I may or may not have drank three of those containers before we actually made it back to St. Louis.

It’s that good.

I’m pretty sure we were home for only a few hours when I headed to the grocery store to load up on what I thought was in it. After some creative investigative journalism when we were in Austin, I figured out that the sauce was mostly a blend of roasted jalapeños and garlic in an oil emulsion.

This creamy jalapeño sauce is so incredibly smooth, you won’t believe it’s not packed with avocados or sour cream. Many readers have said they’ve also tried to figure out what’s in Taco Deli’s salsa doña and are blown away that it doesn’t contain any dairy– yup, not a drop of mayonnaise! 

It also tastes great on everything. I know this because I’ve gone through two batches in less than two weeks. Try it on my tofu migas tacos or sofritas tofu tacos if you’re looking for a new way to enjoy it. For the perfect balance of acid and heat, I usually pair this jalapeno salsa with my canning salsa or salsa roja.

grabbing a tortilla chip with jalapeno sauce

Why we love this recipe

  • As spicy as you want it to be. Depending on the heat of your jalapeno peppers and how many seeds you add, this can be as spicy or as mild as you prefer.
  • Dairy-free. Unlike most creamy jalapeño sauce recipes that rely on mayo, greek yogurt, sour cream or buttermilk as their base, this one is completely dairy-free!
  • Perfect taco topping. As this recipe is a copycat of the salsa doña that I had in Austin, it’s safe to say that it tastes great on any Tex-Mex or taco recipe! Try it on my lentil tacos, crispy bean tacos, cauliflower tacos, and my 10-minute black bean tacos.
roasted jalapenos

Sauce Ingredients

  • Jalapenos
  • Garlic Cloves
  • Cilantro
  • Salt
  • Oil

Substitution Notes

For a milder sauce, you can substitute Anaheim peppers or poblano peppers. You can also substitute some of the jalapenos for a poblano pepper. I don’t recommend using a banana pepper as they don’t have the same depth of flavor as a jalapeno pepper does.

I don’t add any other dried spices, but some readers have added cumin or smoked paprika to their salsa. Additionally, I find that the 1 teaspoon of salt is perfect for this recipe but if you are watching your sodium intake or are sensitive to salt, then I recommend starting with 1/2 teaspoon and adding more from there to taste.

spicy jalapeno salsa in a jar with a spoon

How to Make this Creamy Jalapeño Salsa Recipe

Make sure to scroll down to the recipe card for full ingredient amounts and exact instructions.

  1. Roast Your Jalapeños

    I find the easiest way to do this is tossing fresh jalapenos with a little oil and salt, then placing under the broiler until blackened, turning halfway through. The crisper the skin, the easier it is to remove.

  2. Remove the skin

    Place the jalapeños in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tight-fitting lid. This is essential in order to steam the skin so it’s easier to fall off. From here, you can also decide how spicy you want your jalapeno sauce to be. The more seeds that you remove, the milder the salsa.

  3. Roast the garlic

    Don’t be put off by the 16 cloves garlic called for here. Garlic mellows considerably as it’s cooked and not only does the garlic add flavor to the sauce, blending the garlic cloves adds body to this dairy-free sauce. 

  4. Puree

    Once your peppers and garlic cloves are roasted and slightly cooled, place them in the base of a food processor or blender along with the cilantro. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in the oil until a creamy sauce develops. I use a Kitchen Aid blender, but if you have a lower powered blender, then it may take more time to get the creamy texture.

Hard to believe that this creamy, spicy jalapeño salsa is made from such simple ingredients. Jalapeños, garlic, cilantro, oil and salt!

trio of vegan tacos with jalapeno salsa and potatoes

How Spicy Do You Want Your Creamy Jalapeño Sauce?

Salsa Dona is fairly spicy, which is why I like to make it with enough heat. Jalapeños can vary in their spice level and you can always add in more of the peppers, but you can’t take them away once they are added.

The very first batch I made, I kept in all of the seeds and oh my, I’m pretty sure I’m still breathing fire. For medium heat, I like a mix of 1/2 and 1/2; half of the peppers completely de-seeded, half left in.

If you’re not sure on your preferred spice level, start with 1/4 of the jalapeños and their seeds and the rest with seeds removed. Set some seeds aside, then make the sauce. If you still need a kick of heat, add in more seeds and blend again.

I think this salsa is perfect as is, but if you want more tang then some readers like to add a little squeeze of fresh lime juice to the finished creamy jalapeno sauce. This will also help cut through some of the spice if it’s too much.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long will this salsa keep? 

This jalapeño sauce will keep in the fridge for about a week. It’s easy to down the entire batch in a week if you’ve got a family that loves hot sauce like mine. Whenever I make a fresh batch, I find myself making excuses to make lentil tacos, burritos, enchiladas and the like– any reason to smother food in this sauce! 

If you don’t think you can enjoy this jalapeno salsa in a week, then I recommend halving the recipe. 
You can also freeze it for longer keeping. For smaller batches to freeze, I recommend portioning the creamy salsa into a ice cube tray (a silicone one is best for easy removal.) Freeze, then pop out a cube or two to thaw and enjoy.

Can I halve (or double) this recipe


Yes, this recipe can be halved or doubled. Depending on the size of your blender, you may have more success getting sauce creamy and smooth using a smaller blender or mini food processor on a half batch.

Can you safely can this creamy jalapeno sauce?


As written, this sauce does not have enough acid for safe canning. However, you can make jars of this sauce and then freeze it. If you do freeze it, make sure to leave enough head space to allow the salsa to expand.

What vegetable oil is best for this salsa?


I’ve made this creamy jalapeno sauce with olive oil, avocado oil and a more neutral oil like sunflower or canola oil. I personally don’t think it matters that much and prefer either avocado or olive oil. However, some readers have commented that using olive oil masks the flavors of the jalapeños, so I’ve changed the original recipe to include canola oil for a more neutral flavor.

spicy jalapeno salsa

You’ve been warned! Once you try this creamy jalapeno sauce, you’ll want to put it on everything.

It’s also fantastic on it’s own as a dipping sauce with quesadillas or with tortilla chips! My husband and I have been known to make a meal out of this creamy jalapeño salsa and a basket of tortilla chips some nights for dinner. If you love taco salads or burrito bowls, it’s also great mixed with a little ranch dressing and used as a salad dressing! Trust me on that one!

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and tag your Instagram photos with #delishknowledge . I absolutely love seeing your creations. Happy cooking! 

Print
creamy jalapeno sauce

Creamy Jalapeno Sauce

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: ~ 1 1/2 cups
  • Category: sauce
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican, TexMex, American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Creamy Jalapeno Sauce! Similar to Salsa Dona from TacoDeli in Austin, Texas this jalapeno salsa is SO good! Spicy jalapeno sauce that tastes great on everything. A must-make if you like the heat!


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: ~ 1 1/2 cups
  • Category: sauce
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican, TexMex, American
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: ~ 1 1/2 cups
  • Category: sauce
  • Method: oven
  • Cuisine: Mexican, TexMex, American
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound jalapeno peppers
  • 16 peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup canola oil, plus more for drizzling on peppers and garlic
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 12 teaspoons salt, depending on preference

Instructions

  1. Turn on the broiler. Toss the jalapeño peppers in a little oil, then place in a single layer on a baking sheet. Broil until mostly blackened and soft, about 10-12 minutes, flipping the peppers halfway through cooking time to get all sides cooked.
  2. Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to steam. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toss the garlic cloves with a little oil and place on the baking sheet you just used. Put back in the oven and broil for 4-5 minutes until browned (not burned! Burned garlic will ruin the entire dish)
  4. When the jalapeños have cooled down, remove the skins (they should just peel off) and the seeds. See the commentary above or notes below for how many seeds to keep; I like 1/2 seeded and 1/2 kept for a spicy sauce. For a milder version, remove all of the seeds.
  5. Place the peeled jalapeños and seeds (as using) along with the garlic, cilantro and 1 teaspoon salt in the base of a high-powered blender. Puree until mostly combined, then slowly drizzle in the oil to form a smooth and creamy sauce. Season to taste, adding more salt as needed. If you want a thinner sauce, add in a few tablespoons of water.
  6. Enjoy on everything. Literally everything. 

Notes

I find that 1 teaspoon of salt is perfect BUT if you are sensitive to salt, then I recommend starting with less and adding to taste. Just like with the heat, you can always add but can’t take away!

did you make this?

Tag @delishknowledge on Instagram and hashtag it #delishknowledge

This recipe was first posted in 2018 and updated in 2023. 

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Plant-Based Chef and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Christopher
      December 3, 2022 AT 3:41 pm

      It’s tasty. Good recipe! I used peanut oil because that’s what I like. I’d definitely recommend keeping all the seeds. Weak salsa is not hot also I love the color. I use the same emulsification type strategy with my chile de árbol salsa. It comes out a beautiful orange pastel color. I think they’ll look cute together, probably time to make some heuvos divorciados

    2. Kristen
      August 7, 2022 AT 8:52 pm

      Ever since I visited TacoDeli in Austin I fell IN LOVE with this sauce. I have used this recipe exclusively! I make my version of TacoDeli’s “Cowboy” taco at least once a month and THIS is Recipe for Daña sauce is IT!!!

    3. Sharon H
      July 26, 2022 AT 7:54 pm

      You say there isn’t enough acid in the recipe to can it, but that’s water bath canning. What about pressure canning?

      1. Alex
        July 27, 2022 AT 9:31 am

        Hi Sharon– I’d assume pressure canning would be safe for this recipe but since I haven’t tested it to know how long and at what pressure, I can’t recommend it.

        1. Lenton
          September 13, 2022 AT 4:42 pm

          I recently completed the recipe and I pressure canned it the same way you would pressure can plain jal’s. So far so good. The sauces have been shelf stable for approx a month now, and all the ones that have been opened have tasted/smelled/felt fine. No issues so far.

          1. Alex
            September 13, 2022 AT 6:25 pm

            Thanks, Lenton. Curious what you pressure canned it for (what pressure/time). I’d like to test this too with some pH strips.

    4. Ray
      July 3, 2022 AT 2:08 pm

      I made it exactly like the directions stated. It’s great but I also added some salt because it was a little bland. Roasting the peppers brought out the flavor big time. Should have seeded a few more peppers. LOL It has some kick in it.

    5. Esther Lopez
      June 20, 2022 AT 4:57 pm

      OMG!
      I have been looking for something like this for a LONG time!
      Who knew this was so easy!!!
      I used it almost full force (only took out about 1/4 of the jalapeno seeds) and it is really popping!
      As my mother would say, “parece que lo hicieron con coraje” Wow, that is good!!

      1. Alex
        June 21, 2022 AT 8:38 am

        so glad to hear!

    6. RA
      April 3, 2022 AT 10:55 am

      Fantastic! We love this recipe.

    7. Chloe
      February 22, 2022 AT 11:40 am

      Hi there! Is there any oil I could replace for the canola?

      1. Linda
        September 23, 2022 AT 8:24 pm

        Try avocado oil. Much better for you also.

      2. Kristen
        August 7, 2022 AT 8:57 pm

        I’ve used vegetable oil in a pinch. It’s still light enough not to bog down the sauce. I mix it with water also. It’s fabulous

      3. Alex
        February 24, 2022 AT 9:45 am

        Hi Chloe– yes, a light olive oil will work. I’d just avoid anything too fruity as it may overpower the jalapeno taste.

    8. woodys mom
      February 1, 2022 AT 8:50 pm

      If you live in the Chicago area, Cermak Foods makes this. It’s great.

    9. Dani
      December 29, 2021 AT 11:25 am

      I have been looking for a jalapeño sauce that closely mirrors one from a local Mexican restaurant. This is it! Absolutely delicious and I’m so happy I found this site. I made the recipe exactly as written. Just a few comments/tips: (1) Based on the ingredients, I thought this was going to make a huge batch. However, as stated in the recipe write-up, this yields about 1 1/2 cups. Next time I will double the recipe because it’s just that good! (2) I used a foood processor to blend everything together and the sauce was pretty lumpy. I then transferred to a nutri-bullet which did a much better job. The sauce came out creamy and smooth. (3) I love spicy but my stomach does not. Next time, I will do a better job at removing more seeds. (4) I ate this sauce with tortilla chips (pretty much as my meal). But I can see how it would be good on so many things. Thanks for the recipe – one of my new favorites!

    10. Samantha
      September 28, 2021 AT 1:54 pm

      I added chicken bouillon and salt for flavour. So good also added vegetable oil didn’t have the other one