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Salvadoran Salsa Roja (tomato sauce)

This mild Salvadoran salsa roja is super easy to make and delicious served with pupusas, on tacos, with tortilla chips, or anywhere you enjoy salsa!

salvadoran salsa roja in a bowl, garnished with cilantro and served with pupusas on a plate on the side

Salvadoran salsa roja has the consistency of a smooth Italian style tomato sauce, but the flavor you expect from a mild salsa. It’s delicious for scooping up with some corn tortilla chips, but the best way to make it is for enjoying with pupusas (a traditional Salvadoran dish)!

This recipe is simple, so let’s keep this post brief!

The ingredients:

The main ingredient is tomato–with this salsa, using a can of tomatoes is easy and totally ok! If you want to use fresh tomatoes, that’s fine too, you can peel them if you don’t want any bits of peel in your final sauce, but it’s going to be delicious either way.

Next, we have the aromatics: onion, garlic, and chiles. White onion has a sharper flavor as compared to yellow onions and are great in salsa! For the chili pepper you can use a jalapeño or serrano, or even a milder pepper if you’d like!

For the seasoning: dried oregano, salt, and pepper. If you can find it, use Mexican oregano! Otherwise, a mediterranean oregano is fine!

Then, cilantro. The cilantro is optional, if you’re a fan use it, if you aren’t, don’t.

Lastly a bit of extra virgin olive oil enriches the salsa and finishes it off!

The salsa roja blended smooth and shown in a blender from above

The method:

Put all the ingredients into a blender. That’s the olive oil, tomatoes (if canned then include the juices in the can), onion, garlic, chili pepper, oregano, salt, pepper, and cilantro if using.

Blend it up until it’s fairly smooth. Then pour it into a pot, partially cover that pot and bring it to a simmer.

Let it simmer for like 30 minutes to thicken, mellow and blend the flavors.

And that’s it! Now you have a delicious red salsa to enjoy!

Salvadoran salsa roja served over pupusas and along with curtido

Salvadoran salsa roja is traditionally served with pupusas and curtido, which is a delicious fermented cabbage relish. Check the links for those companion recipes!

If you make this Salvadoran salsa roja, leave a comment below and rate the recipe on the recipe card. And please share your photos with me on Instagram, tag @thecuriouschickpea and #thecuriouschickpea. I love seeing your recreations!



salvadoran salsa roja in a bowl, garnished with cilantro and served with pupusas on a plate on the side

Salvadoran Salsa Roja (tomato sauce)

Yield: ~1 1/2 cups
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

Salsa roja is an easy Salvadoran red sauce, perfect for dipping tortilla chips or enjoying with pupusas!


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 15oz can whole tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 jalapeño or serrano
  • 2 tsp dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup cilantro (optional)


  1. Put all ingredients into a blender. Blend until fairly smooth.
  2. Transfer the sauce to a pot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Lower heat and let simmer with the lid ajar for about 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as desired.
  3. Keep in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to use. It keeps for about a week.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 60Total Fat: 5gUnsaturated Fat: 4gSodium: 198mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

If you enjoy making (and eating) salsa, check out this easy roasted tomato salsa!

close up of spicy roasted tomato salsa

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Sunday 14th of February 2021

Do not mess with the sauce by saying cilantro is optional. It's not. Just red. That's the authentic way. NO CILANTRO!!! P.S. I love cilantro and am Salvadorian!😉

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