Home » Recipes » Appetizers » Warm Salsa

Warm Salsa

This Warm Salsa recipe is a variation of chile rojo, a mild red salsa served warm like they do in some areas of Mexico. With charred vegetables and fresh lime, it’s earthy and smoky, with a lovely touch of bright contrast. Enjoy simply with tortilla chips for dipping, or with any of your favorite Mexican dishes!

A white bowl of warm salsa topped with tortilla chips.

Easy Warm Salsa Recipe

This Warm Salsa recipe is a delicious reminder of our first trip to Mexico. I had never eaten salsa served at a warm temperature before, and that authentic Mexican salsa recipe was a wonderfully tasty, unexpected experience. My easy recipe replicates that dippable goodness with lots of fresh tomato flavor + a hint of smokiness from charring the veggies. There’s also the loveliest touch of fresh lime brightness. Everything just plays so well together with a bowl of crisp, salty tortilla chips!

Why We Love This Mexican Salsa

Red salsa recipes are on rotation around here – and this warm variation is a fun one to have in the mix, along with my restaurant style salsa and pico de gallo. Here’s why we love it:

  • Not your typical salsa. We are accustomed to eating chilled or room-temperature salsa. So dipping into a warm bowl of salsa is a very different experience – not only for our senses, but also in the way it brings out the flavors.
  • Earthy & smoky, yet bright. This recipe starts out with roasting the vegetables until they’re softened and charred, which gives a deeper flavor to this authentic salsa recipe. And you know how much I love fresh lime. Its contrast is especially noteworthy in this salsa.
  • Easy. You only need a few basic pantry ingredients plus fresh salsa staples like tomatoes, garlic, onion, and peppers.
  • Better than store-bought. You know I’d never encourage you to make something homemade if it wasn’t worth the time and effort, right?!

A Little More About This Recipe…

This warm salsa recipe is a variation of chile rojo, a mild red chili peppers salsa served warm like they do on the Jalisco, Navarit, and Sierra Madres beaches of Mexico. If you live in the Twin Cities area, you can find this authentic salsa recipe on the menu at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Nico’s Tacos (we go to the St. Paul location) – just look for “Chile Rojo” on the menu, on their homemade salsa list.

Warm salsa ingredients are labelled and portioned out: cumin, salt and pepper, olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, onion, garlic, tomatoes, peppers.

Recipe Ingredients

Here’s an overview of what you’ll need to make this Mexican salsa. Scroll down to the printable recipe card at the end of this post for the exact ingredient amounts.

  • Tomatoes – I recommend using Roma tomatoes, because they’re a meatier variety. But if you have some sweet garden beauties, by all means, use those. The main goal here is to use a ripe, flavorful tomato.
  • Poblano pepper – This pepper is very mild, yet flavorful, with a bit of a smokiness. It will not make the salsa spicy-hot.
  • Jalapeno pepper – The goal with this recipe is to have just the lightest touch of spicy heat. Just know that individual jalapenos can vary a great deal in their spiciness. So I always taste-test to determine how much I add to recipes.
  • Onion – I like a yellow onion in this recipe, but a red or white onion works fine, too.
  • Garlic – This adds irresistible flavor – I especially like that it gets softened and charred in this recipe.
  • Lime – Only freshly squeezed lime juice, please!
  • Olive oil – Just a little bit adds a nice texture to the salsa with its charred vegetables.
  • Salt & pepper
  • Cumin – For added flavor and smokiness.
  • Cilantro This is a common herb in Mexican cooking, adding a hint of fresh, grassy flavor.
A white handled bowl holds warm salsa with a bowl of tortilla chips next to it along with limes.

How To Make Warm Salsa

Here’s how to make this wonderful dish. One important tip is that you should let the salsa rest a bit before serving it for the best flavor. Find the detailed instructions in the recipe card lower down.

  • Prep the vegetables. Stem, seed, and slice the peppers. Cut the onion into wedges.
  • Char the vegetables. Heat a large, dry cast-iron skillet and cook the tomatoes, peppers, onion, and garlic until softened, charred, and blistered.
  • Pulse to lightly blend. Add charred peppers, onion, and garlic to a blender carafe, followed by the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. Pulse two times, only to lightly blend.
  • Blend with tomatoes. Add the charred tomatoes and cilantro. Then pulse – with short, quick pulses – until you reach your desired texture. I like to retain a bit of chunky quality.
  • Season. Add salt & pepper, then give a little stir to combine.
A white handled bowl holds warm salsa with a bowl of tortilla chips next to it along with limes.
  • Serve. Then serve the salsa warm, with tortilla chips for dipping.
Steam rises from a bowl of warm salsa.

Tips & Variations

This is a simple salsa recipe that offers a little something different in the way of flavors and presentation. Here are some of my best tips, plus some variations:

  • Adjust the TEMPERATURE heat. While this recipe is intended to be served at a warm temperature, it’s also yummy served cold or at room temperature.
  • Adjust the SPICY heat. If you prefer a spicier salsa, increase the amount of jalapeno – or use a hotter pepper, such as habanero. You could also sprinkle in some cayenne pepper, dried red pepper flakes, or extra ground black pepper. Or go the opposite direction, with a milder salsa – omit the jalapeno altogether.
  • Use summertime tomatoes. Use sweet summertime tomatoes from your garden or farmers market whenever you get the chance! This will give the salsa even better flavor.
  • Can’t find good tomatoes? If you simply can’t find good tomatoes, opt for a can of fire-roasted tomatoes in place of the Romas.
  • Pulse! When combining the ingredients in the blender, use the pulse button in short, quick pulses. The veggies will be warmed and softened, and will break down very easily. Short pulses will let you control the texture of the salsa better. I like my salsa with a bit of chunkiness!
  • Keep it warm. To keep the salsa warm for a longer time, I recommend using a clay or pottery bowl that is food safe and heating it in the oven until it’s thoroughly warmed – then transfer the warm salsa to the warmed bowl right before serving. You can also use a small appetizer crockpot.
A hand dips a tortilla chip into a bowl of warm salsa.

Ways To Use Warm Salsa

Enjoy this warm salsa the classic way, as a chips & dip appetizer, or here are a few more suggestions:

Proper Storage

Store this Mexican salsa in an airtight container, such as a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid, in the fridge for up to 5 days. To serve, place the salsa in a bowl and gently reheat it in the microwave according to the recipe directions, or reheat in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

More Salsa & Dip Recipes To Try

A hand dips a tortilla chip into a bowl of warm salsa.

Warm Salsa

Yield: 6
prep time: 10 minutes
cook time: 15 minutes
total time: 25 minutes
This Warm Salsa recipe is a variation of chile rojo, a mild red salsa served warm like they do in some areas of Mexico. With charred vegetables and a squeeze of fresh lime, it's earthy and smoky, with a lovely touch of bright contrast. Enjoy this salsa simply with tortilla chips for dipping, or with any of your favorite Mexican dishes!
No reviews yet


  • pounds Roma tomatoes (about 6 large Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 medium jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut in half lengthwise (if the pepper is especially hot, I use just half the pepper)
  • ¼ medium yellow onion, cut into 2 wedges
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Morton kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ cup cilantro leaves


  • Heat a large, dry cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the whole tomatoes, poblano and jalapeno halves, onion wedges, and garlic cloves. Cook until each ingredient is charred and blistered, rotating and flipping as needed to get charred on all sides. Some ingredients will finish before others, just remove each one from the skillet to a plate as they finish charring/blistering. The entire charring process should take about 15 minutes or so.
  • Next place the charred peppers, onion, and garlic in a blender carafe. Then add the lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and cumin. Cover the blender carafe tightly and give the mixture 2 quick pulses. Now add the charred tomatoes and cilantro leaves, cover tightly, and give 1 quick pulse. Examine the texture. If desired, continue to pulse, 1 pulse at a time, until you reach your desired consistency. I use a high-power Vitamix blender and like to have a bit of chunky texture to my salsa, so it only takes me 1-2 pulses after the tomatoes and cilantro are added. Note that the tomatoes will be very soft after roasting for 15 minutes, so it does not take very much to blend them. Also, if your blender is not as powerful, you may need to pulse more.
  • Season to taste. Enjoy the salsa warm, with tortilla chips for dipping. To keep the salsa warm, you can place it in a warmed serving bowl or small crockpot. We also add the salsa to a small pan and set it over low heat on the stovetop, super casual.


“Warm” salsa inspired by meals at El Patio, at Dreams Puerto Aventuras in Mexico.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 11 Calories: 41kcal Carbohydrates: 7g Protein: 1g Fat: 1g Saturated Fat: 0.2g Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g Monounsaturated Fat: 1g Sodium: 395mg Potassium: 338mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 4g Vitamin A: 1139IU Vitamin C: 37mg Calcium: 21mg Iron: 1mg
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!

This post was originally published in 2014, then updated in 2024.

get new posts via email:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating:

30 comments on “Warm Salsa”

  1. Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa

    We are delighted to hear that you enjoyed your stay here with us and we hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you all back here with us in the near future!

  2. Despite growing up in Texas, I didn’t experience warm salsa until I ate in Houston restaurants. It’s a “thing” there. Can’t wait to try this version!

  3. Kira - HealthAble Old Soul

    Just the word ‘warming’ stopped me! Too many cold days and something to spice it up would make these gray gloomy days different!

  4. Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon

    Chips and salsa are one of my favorites-but warm salsa? Need to give that a try-quite certain it will be love at first sight! Pinned!

  5. I am dreaming of Mexico right now. Sounds so nice, but a bowl of this salsa and chips will totally do! Looks incredible and I love that it is warm!

  6. My mom has made a similar salsa using canned Hunt’s tomatoes for as long as I can remember. Something about Hunt’s tomatoes (my grandma only used Hunt’s as well!) makes the salsa just a little sweeter. My mom puts her salsa ingredients into the blender along with at least 1 serrano chile or a couple of yellow chiles. I will try it warmed next time I make it!

  7. You’re killing me here with all the Mexico sunshine pics. You have looked outside recently, right? Now I need a bowl of salsa so I can live in denial.

  8. Dreams Puerto Aventuras Resort & Spa

    We’re delighted to hear that you enjoyed your vacation and our head chef will be particularly pleased to know that you appreciated the culinary options available within our El Patio and that they inspired to recreate some of dishes at home!

    We hope to have the honor of welcoming you back once again in the near future!

    1. So fun to hear from you! My entire family – 15 of us – had such an amazing time with all of you. We were so impressed with absolutely everything, and your staff is awesome – so helpful and always smiling. Yes, please pass along kudos to your chef. And if Chef is up for sharing that mole recipe…wow, I’d love to have it. It was SO GOOD! I know I can speak for my entire family that we’d all jump at the chance to stay with you again. Thank you for an awesome vacation and wonderful memories!

  9. Yummy! Ironically, this is where we stayed just last month! I loved El Patio! Had the best grouper in that very spot. This is where I saw the tiki hut with swings I wish for my darling to recreate in our backyard. (sadly, without the ocean breeze and breaking waves just a few feet away).

    1. That grouper was AWESOME, yes! So fun to hear you’ve been there. The BARracuda was such a neat spot on the shore. I dream of swinging there again some day…

    1. We’re having a heat wave today – in the 30’s!! I hear you’ve had it pretty chilly as well. Such an odd week we’ve had. Thanks, Katie!

  10. Stephanie @ Girl Versus Dough

    Oh, those pictures… I want to go to there. But I’d happily “settle” for dunking a bowlful of chips in this yummy salsa. :)

  11. those dishes are beautiful and I feel I cant make this without having those bowls to put it in..:o)….where did you get them?…