This homemade fire-roasted salsa manages to be sweet, smoky, and spicy all at once thanks to blackening the tomatoes and onions either on the stovetop or the grill and a dose of chipotle in adobo. It’s basically the quintessential salsa for dunking, dipping, and dabbling everything from pork tacos to tortilla chips.

Fire Roasted Salsa FAQs

What are the best types of tomatoes to use for making salsa?

Any ripe, fresh tomato will work here, but the best choices are meaty varieties with lower water content, such as Roma or beefsteak tomatoes.

What should I serve this salsa with?

This salsa is perfect for spooning over tacos, Chilean meat empanadas, or nachos, or can be served alongside a big bowl of tortilla chips for dipping and dunking, along with queso, or guacamole, if desired.

A red bowl filled with fire-roasted salsa in the middle of a Mexican feast.

Homemade Fire Roasted Salsa

5 / 2 votes
This fire roasted salsa is made with charred tomatoes and onions and, just for complexity and to ensure the salsa is sufficiently smoky, a smidgen of chipotle in adobo. Great for dunking, dipping, and dabbling.
David Leite
Servings16 servings | 2 cups
Calories12 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time30 minutes


  • Mild olive oil, for the pan or grill
  • About 21 ounces ripe red tomatoes (about 5 tomatoes)
  • 1 red onion, halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 canned chipotles in adobo plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce, (if you need gluten-free, look for the brand La Costeña)
  • 1 large handful cilantro, roughly chopped (about 20 sprigs)
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • If you have an electric stovetop, heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Lightly slick the pan with oil. Grill the tomatoes and onion, using tongs to turn them frequently, until lightly blackened all over, about 20 minutes.
    If you have a grill, heat it over medium-high heat. Lightly slick the grill rack with oil. Grill the tomatoes and onion, using tongs to turn them frequently, until lightly blackened all over, about 20 minutes.
    If you have a gas stovetop, crank a burner on medium-high heat. Use tongs to hold the tomatoes and onion just above the flame, turning them frequently, until lightly blackened all over.
  • Transfer the tomatoes and onion to a food processor along with the garlic, chipotles and adobo sauce, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Pulse until you have a slightly chunky salsa of your desired consistency.
  • Devour immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to a couple days. The flavors will meld a little if refrigerated. Serve liberally atop your favorite Mexican fare.
Smith & Daughters Cookbook

Adapted From

Smith & Daughters

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Serving: 2 tablespoonsCalories: 12 kcalCarbohydrates: 3 gProtein: 1 gFat: 1 gSaturated Fat: 1 gMonounsaturated Fat: 1 gSodium: 27 mgFiber: 1 gSugar: 1 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2017 Shannon Martinez | Mo Wyse. Photo © 2017 Bonnie Savage. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This fire roasted salsa is SO good. A few fresh ingredients and my beloved chipotle chiles combine to make this salsa easy and delicious.

The longest part of preparation is roasting the onion and tomatoes, which takes about 20 minutes with a cast-iron grill on the stovetop. I used a small amount of olive oil on the grill because all I could find were very ripe on-the-vine tomatoes and didn’t want the skins to stick.

I also put the garlic, chipotle, cilantro, and onion through the processor first, then added the tomatoes, to get a better texture. Again, this was because of the wetness of the tomatoes which is about all you can get in February in Northern Ontario.

I made this last night and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator and the flavors are even better today. Sweet and smoky and fresh tasting, it is really delicious. I ended up with just over 2 cups which makes about 6 servings in our house.

This homemade fire roasted salsa has a great, deep, smoky flavor but is very hot! Great on tacos or as a thick dipping salsa for chips.

The charred red onions were very good in this. I used a gas grill and it took 15 minutes. Next time, I would like to try a grill pan to see if I can get more char. Next time, I’ll use more onion and less chipotle.

It’s very hot so it will go a long way. As a dip with chips, it will serve about 8 people.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Wow, this ticks all the boxes: fast, easy, delicious and healthy! I started with one chipotle and one tbsp of the adobo and ended up adding the amount called for in the recipe. It’s a good level of heat for my family’s palate, and it’s doing a great job of clearing out my stuffed sinuses.

    1. Hah! Wonderful to hear, aebell! Many thanks for taking the time to let us know. Looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…