April 28, 2022

Salsa Roja (Made in the Blender!)

A creamy salsa that's fantastic on tacos, burritos and more!
Makes 1 1/2 cups

Smoky, creamy salsa roja! Made in the blender in less than 10 minutes. Roja salsa with simple, pantry ingredients: dried chili peppers, canned fire roasted tomatoes and onions. 

It’s no secret that we love salsa in my house. My canning salsa recipe has hundreds of 5-star reviews, and we make at least a few dozen jars every summer to enjoy throughout the year. 

Mango salsa makes an appearance whenever I see honey mangoes on sale and no taco night would be complete with a batch of my creamy jalapeño salsa

With chips and salsa being my husbands favorite snack and lentil tacos being my weeknight dinner of choice, it’s safe to say that we go through a lot of salsa. 

This salsa roja is one of my favorite quick sauces to make– and ready in just 10 minutes with mostly pantry ingredients! Creamy and smoky it’s perfect for enchiladas, quesadillas, crispy tacos, nachos and more. 

Ingredients for Roja Salsa in a Skillet

My creamy jalapeño sauce is one of my absolute favorite recipes, inspired by the Salsa Doña recipe from Taco Deli in Austin, Texas. I love that it’s a creamy salsa recipe without any cream, relying on the blended roasted jalapeño peppers and garlic to create a silky infusion. 

When I tried a similar creamy roja sauce at our local taqueria a few years ago, I knew I wanted to try and recreate something similar. As with most of my inspired recipes, I can’t claim authenticity, but I can promise that if you love salsa then you will love this salsa roja. 

Roja Sauce with Chips

Ingredients you’ll need for this Roja Sauce: 

  • 1-2 dried chili peppers. I use New Mexico Chili Peppers, but most will work depending on flavor and spice level. Chipotle peppers are also a great choice for a smokier sauce. Arbol chilies, ancho chilies, anahheim chilies or guajillo peppers will all work in this recipe. 
  • 1 (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes. The fire roasted makes the salsa have more heat and flavor and I don’t recommend regular diced tomatoes unless you don’t like any spice and prefer a very mild salsa.  
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, or other neutral oil for sautéing the onion
  • 5 large garlic cloves + 1/2 cup chopped onion 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin + salt 
  • Squeeze fresh lime juice. The hint of acid is nice at the end; if you don’t have fresh lime juice, you can use lemon juice or even a small splash of vinegar. 

Close up of salsa roja with a chip

Instructions for making Salsa Roja Recipe: 

To make this homemade salsa recipe, start by softening the dried pepper. This will make it easier to handle and easier to remove the stem and seeds. If you want a very spicy salsa, then you can leave in the seeds but I prefer to remove them before cooking in the tomato sauce. 

To soften the pepper, place the dried chiles in a dry skillet over medium high heat for 1-2 minutes per side, turning frequently to toast and soften. This step also deepens the flavor of the chili pepper. Remove the pepper from the skillet and use a sharp knife to slice off the stem. You should then be able to turn the pepper over and allow the seeds to fall out. 

From there, sauté the onion and garlic in olive oil until very softened. Add in the diced tomatoes with their juice, the dried chili peppers, cumin and salt. Let cook for 10 minutes, then let cool slightly before transferring to a blender or food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Add in a splash of lime juice, taste and adjust for salt as needed. 

Roja Salsa with Chips

If you are new to working with dried peppers, you can usually find them in the produce aisle at most grocery stores or at speciality stores, like Penzey’s Spices. 

I love cooking with dried peppers as they impart so much flavor, much like dried mushrooms and spices to with other dishes. They are also very versatile and can be used in so many dishes like chili and homemade enchilada sauce. 

Roja Sauce in a jar

I can’t wait for you to try this creamy salsa roja. It’s obviously great on it’s own with tortilla chips, but is the perfect red sauce to add flavor and spice to so many inspired Mexican dishes. Try it with: 

Ingredients for Roja Salsa in a Skillet

Hope you love this salsa as much as we do! It’s so yummy, and love that it’s made in the blender and ready in just 10 minutes.

More salsa recipes and sauces: 

Salsa RojaIf you make this salsa roja recipe, come back and leave a comment and a rating! Your feedback helps other readers and seeing you make my recipes makes my day. 

Print
Close up shot of salsa roja

Salsa Roja (Made in the Blender!)

  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: ~1 1/2 cups
  • Category: sauce, salsa, healthy
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Mexican Inspired, Tex Mex
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

Smoky, creamy salsa roja! Made in the blender in less than 10 minutes. Roja salsa with simple, pantry ingredients: dried chili peppers, canned fire roasted tomatoes and onions. 


  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: ~1 1/2 cups
  • Category: sauce, salsa, healthy
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Mexican Inspired, Tex Mex
  • Diet: Vegan
  • Author: Alex Caspero
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: ~1 1/2 cups
  • Category: sauce, salsa, healthy
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Mexican Inspired, Tex Mex
  • Diet: Vegan
Scale

Ingredients

  • 2 dried chili peppers (I use New Mexico Chili Peppers see note below)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped white or yellow onion
  • 5 large garlic cloves, minced
  • (15 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

Instructions

  1. Place the chili pepper in a dry skillet over medium high heat and cook, 1-2 minutes per side, until softened and lightly toasted. Use a knife to remove the stem, shake the seeds out then roughly chop.
  2. Heat the olive oil in the same skillet and add the onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until softened, then add in the garlic, tomatoes with their juice, cumin and salt. Add in the chopped dried peppers and cook for 5 minutes, until mixture is heated through and onion is very soft.
  3. Let cool slightly, then transfer to a blender or food processor and puree until creamy and smooth. Add in the splash of lime juice, then season to taste for salt as desired.

Notes

*Chipotle peppers are also a great choice for a smokier sauce. Arbol chilies, ancho chilies, anahheim chilies or guajillo peppers will all work in this recipe.

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Chef and Yoga Instructor. 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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