We Tried 10 Brands to Find the Best Store-Bought Salsa
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Our Test Kitchen conducted a blind taste test to find the best store-bought salsa. Find out which you should bring home for snacking, cooking and more.
Whether you’re topping your tacos or munching on tortilla chips, salsa provides the perfect blast of flavor to many dishes and snacks. Even if you make a mean homemade salsa, it’s nice to have a solid store-bought salsa on hand for those times when you just want to crack open a jar and dig in.
To find the best jarred salsa among the numerous options on grocery store shelves, our Test Kitchen blindly tasted salsas from 10 different brands—here were their top three favorites.
What Makes the Best Salsa
To keep a level playing field, our Test Kitchen tried the medium-spice variety of each salsa brand. They kept these criteria in mind as they tasted:
- Flavor: Our Test Kitchen was looking for freshness, spice and a little bit of heat!
- Consistency: The best salsa shouldn’t be too watery or thick—somewhere in the middle is ideal.
- Appearance: Since salsa can add a pop of color to dishes and snack trays, we looked for salsas that looked bright and full of real ingredients.
Want to learn more about how our Test Kitchen chooses their favorite products? Check out our product testing methods.
Our Test Kitchen’s Preferred Store-Bought Salsa
After dipping countless tortilla chips into 10 different salsas, our Test Kitchen agreed that these three salsas stood out among the rest.
Freshest Salsa: Newman’s Own
The best salsa is a homemade salsa (learn how to make restaurant-style salsa at home!), so it stands to reason that the best jarred salsa should taste as close to homemade as possible. That’s where Newman’s Own Medium Salsa comes in. Our testing panel immediately noticed that this salsa has an incredibly fresh flavor with a touch of heat at the finish—it doesn’t taste like it’s from a jar at all! Combine that with its perfectly dippable consistency and excellent appearance—a vivid red with chunks of jalapeño, onion and tomato apparent throughout—and it’s obvious why Newman’s Own was a winner.
Best Texture and Consistency: Que Vida!
Another top contender in this test was Que Vida! This salsa has a lot going for it, including the perfect consistency: loose enough for easy dipping and dunking, but thick enough that you never have to worry about waterlogging your tortillas. This salsa also got big points for flavor. Many of the ingredients are roasted, which gives this salsa a bit of a smoky flavor that pairs well with the stellar tomato taste.
Best Flavor: Pace
For a medium salsa with just a bit more heat, Pace is a great option. This salsa has a nice, subtle spice that the panel could taste from the very first dip. Appearance-wise, this salsa also received high marks for its authentic look; this one is chock-full of onion, pepper and tomato chunks for added flavor.
What to Make with a Jar of Salsa
We fully support popping open a jar of salsa, dumping it into a bowl and serving it with tortilla chips. But there are so many other interesting ways to use salsa in the kitchen. Spoon some over your breakfast burrito, stir it into your a favorite Tex-Mex casserole or enjoy it with cornbread.
One of our favorite salsa-forward recipes is this five-star fajita-style shrimp and grits. The right salsa gives this traditional southern dish just a bit of spice and a whole lot of personality!
Teddy Nykiel, Taste of Home Associate Digital Editor, contributed to this article.
Note: This blind taste test was performed by our staffers and was not part of a sponsorship. All opinions shared are our own, and have not been influenced by advertisers.