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I Tried 15 Jarred Grocery Store Salsas — These Are the Best Ones

The spicy, the chunky, the surprisingly fruity.

7/11/2023
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As I raise my salt-cured fingertips to my lips, all I can ask myself is: Was it worth it? After three short days and 15 jars once filled with salsa, all I could think was: Yes. A thousand times, yes. 

With my little black notebook, an emotional-support water bottle, and an arsenal of chips, I powered through 15 jars of grocery store salsa to get both myself and my readers outside our comfort zones with some less frequently chosen flavors and brands to discover the salsas that spoke to me. 

My criteria? Same as Elvis in Vegas — if it looks good, eat it. 

Here’s how it went. 

The Recommended Salsas:

  • Somos Pasilla Pepper Salsa Ranchera

  • Newman’s Own Black Bean & Corn Salsa

  • Jardines Texasalsa, Medium

  • Pemberton’s Spicy Mango Salsa

  • Cholula Salsa Verde Mild 

  • Tostitos Medium Chunky Salsa

  • Casa Sanchez Foods Hot Salsa Roja

  • Ortega Thick and Chunky Medium Salsa

Special Thanks to These Chips: 

  • Mi Nina Pico de Gallo Tortilla Chips

  • Late July Sea Salt Chips

  • Xochitl Blue Corn Chips

  • Tostitos Scoops! Tortilla Chips

  • On the Border Cafe Style Tortilla Chips

  • Tostitos Hint of Lime Tortilla Chips

THE METHODOLOGY

Dip chips in salsa, eat, take notes, repeat. 

THE RESULTS

GROCERY STORE CLASSICS

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Ortega Thick and Chunky Medium Salsa

This taco-lovers salsa doesn’t disappoint or surprise. 

Color: An angry shade of maroon to balance a lovely flavor. 

Consistency: Gotta hand it to Ortega for nailing down the consistency of salsa consistently. This is a salsa you can set your watch to. 

Heat: 4 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

You know what you’re getting into when you get into a jar of Ortega. A grocery store standard, Ortega’s no-frills taste works wonders on tacos, burritos, or really any combination of tortilla, beef, and cheese. 

Jardines Texasalsa, Medium

This bold “Texasalsa” banger packs a big smoky taste in a Texas-sized jar that doesn’t disappoint its home state. I guess what they say about Texas is true: Everything’s bigger.

Color: An alluring shade of deep red that screams, “Put me in your mouth, y’all!”

Consistency: You’ll get some big bites of chunky roasted tomatoes, so break out the heftier corn chips. 

Heat: 6 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

Rich and balanced without too much or too little heat, Texasala is the designated party salsa to share with the salsa-inclined… so break out your big bowls! 

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Tostitos Medium Chunky Salsa

The salsa every human salsa eater has in their refrigerator. Often seen lurking around the snacks aisle with its counterpart bag of chips, Tostitos medium chunky is your grocery store darling. 

Color: Webster’s Dictionary defines “salsa” as Tostitos. Well, it should! Tostitos keeps it real with a mild light red color accented by its classic green pepper chunks. 

Consistency: Thick and hearty like a salsa should be! 

Heat: 2 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

For a grocery store brand, Tostitos sets the gold standard for salsa. 

FOR THIN CHIP LOVERS

Casa Sanchez Foods Hot Salsa Roja

A hot, hot, hot, fresh-tasting salsa that’s made for the thin-chip crowd. 

Color: A fiery-hot red to match its fiery-hot soul. 

Consistency: Thin and light, reminiscent of a thicker hot sauce. 

Heat: 9 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

Unlike some heavier bean-based salsas, this refreshing (and refreshingly spicy) blend concentrates on flavor without bogging down eaters with tomato chunks. 

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Cholula Salsa Verde Mild 

For the lovers of their must-own hot sauce, Cholula’s take on salsa sticks close to the original formula.

Color: A classic salsa-verde-green that matches its hot sauce counterpart with the same stunning hue for personality and — most importantly — brand distinction. 

Consistency: Like rowing a boat through a swimming pool, baby!

Heat: 8 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

Yeah, it’s a hot sauce, and, yes, it’s salsa, but once your black bean burrito hits this thick and tangy fresh tomatillo taste, you’ll remember why your brand loyalty exists. 

BANGERS

Somos Pasilla Pepper Salsa Ranchera

Made from earthy pasilla and roasted tomatillo, this jammy salsa takes your senses for a spin with heat that means business. 

Color: A downright gorgeous shade of reddish-black — don’t stare at it for too long or you’ll fall in love. 

Consistency: Thick and gooey like peach preserves. 

Heat: 10 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

Bright, hot, and tangy, this is the kind of salsa you can drench your huevos rancheros in for a king-sized breakfast that burns so good.    

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Newman’s Own Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Gosh, that Paul Newman guy knew how to put together a sauce. 

Color: Beautifully brown, with the help of beans. 

Consistency: Nice and hearty, like chili!

Heat: 7 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

Take all your favorite tastes from south of the border and mix them up into a rich and chunky bean-based dip: That’s Newman’s salsa in a nutshell. 

A killer combo of beans, corn, and diced tomatoes, this rich and spicy meal-in-a-jar belongs in the center of a burrito. You may want to stock up on Tums. 

Pemberton’s Spicy Mango Salsa

An outlier among the rest, this fruit-filled version is a refreshingly different take on the tabletop condiment that will absolutely baffle the boomers. 

Color: Bear with me here, but Pemberton’s is the color of chicken soup. 

Consistency: Thick and saucy, like walking through a bog in tennis shoes.  

Heat: 10 out of 10 Indeterminate Spicy Pepper Boys

HOW WAS IT? 

First, you’re hit with the succulent sweetness of the blended mango and pineapple; then, mean old Mr. Spice (a.k.a. chopped up jalapeño peppers) kicks down the door and makes himself at home in your mouth. He’s here for the long haul. Ladies and gents, we’ve got a favorite. 

Want more? Check out the best guacamole, hummus, and dips!

PHOTO CREDIT:

  • Photographer: Paul Quitoriano

  • Art Direction: Sarah Ceniceros Gomez