Salsa Ranchera — Mexican tomato and chile sauce, country style

A Classic Mexican Recipe

Mexican Salsa Ranchera Recipe and Photos

No matter whether it is breakfast, the large mid-day meal, or cena (dinner), no table in Mexico is complete without a bowl of salsa. It may be red or green, raw or cooked, mild or off the heat scale, but it will be served with every Mexican meal. Salsa Ranchera is cooked, with a tomato base, and fired with serrano chiles. It is one of the most commonly served salsas in Mexico, and the salsa that accompanies Huevos Rancheros. This is also  great salsa for dipping tortilla chips.

The tomatoes, garlic, onion and chiles in Salsa Ranchera are broiled or roasted until starting to turn brown and soft. Black spots are OK. Tomato skin stuck to the foil is OK. Just scrape everything into the food processor, along with any juice.

There are a number of methods for cooking the vegetables. They can be broiled, cooked on a comal over a fire, roasted in an oven, grilled, or dry-cooked on top of the stove in a heavy skillet lined with foil. I use the outside gas grill to keep the kitchen cool. South of the Tropic of Cancer, temperatures are high enough already.

Salsa Ranchera
makes 1 1/2 cups (about 3/8 liter)
  • 4 large Roma tomatoes (about 1 lb./1/2 kilo)
  • 3 serrano chiles
  • 1/4 to 1/12 medium onion, cut in wedges
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Read the recipe through completely and assemble ingredients.

Roast tomatoes, onion, garlic and chiles, using the method of your choice (see above), turning with tongs to darken all sides.


Cut out stem ends of cooked tomatoes and cut into quarters. Remove stems and seeds from chiles; cut into quarters. To remove seeds, spear the chile with a fork, cut in half, and then use the tip of the knive to scrape out the seeds. Discard garlic skin.

Blend chiles (one at a time, tasting with each addition, to control heat level), tomatoes, onion and garlic in a food processor or blender until roughly pureed, but not completely smooth. Texture is good.

The salsa will be thick, not watery.

Salt to taste and enjoy with tostada chips, spooned over eggs and meats, or with almost anything served on a plate or in a tortilla. Salsa is the ketchup of Mexico, but much more tasty, varied and appealing.

A tostada chip heading for my mouth. Ole!


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15 thoughts on “Salsa Ranchera — Mexican tomato and chile sauce, country style

  1. I changed the cooking method, and edited the recipe to reflect the change. I no longer sauté onion and garlic separately. Now all the vegetables are grilled, roasted, pan–cooked or whatever your choice. It’s now an easier method with a tastier result.

  2. Love this recipe!! I have been researching different types of salsa and this is one of my favorite easy to make salsa ranchera recipes. So thank you! Even though you posted it some time ago, it is still rippling delicious and positive effects :-)

  3. Anonymous

    I just made this salsa using your recipe and it is AMAZING. The cooking techniques and having freshly picked vine-ripened tomatoes from my garden made it perfect. I am glad I found your blog and I’ll be back for more recipes. Thank you for sharing!

    1. You are welcome. This is a great, all-purpose salsa which can be used for so many things, including as a dip for tortilla chips, spooning over taco filling, as a zippy addition to a bowl of soup. You are so fortunate to have home-grown tomatoes. Those from the store never tastes as good.

  4. Casey Storer

    Ahh very awsome
    Never thought of the Oil
    Hmm why do we add this ?
    I also add alot of Cilantro ( I am a junkie)
    I make this same Salsa as well but I also add a few tomatillos and grill them as well on BBQ till just carmelized a bit
    Issue I always have is that it seems to get watery after a bit which is a bit frustrating as it looks less appetizing and water does not please my tongue on the chip.
    I seem to correct this a bit if before I process the veggies I let them cool in fridge.
    I use a Tray with holes in it on BBQ and just keep rotating the Veggies in it so that the juices kind of mingle around

    1. As you know, many salsas are fresh (raw), but this recipe is for a cooked salsa, called “fried” in the cookbooks, so oil is the medium in which the salsa is cooked. There are infinite possibilities for salsa recipes, and one of them is adding roasted tomatillos, which add an acidic flavor, something I like very much. I share your love of salsa.
      Tomatoes with a high water content make a watery sauce. Try to find low-water tomatoes, like romas. Another option, for a cooked salsa, is to cook it a little longer to reduce it and make it thicker. Or let the salsa sit a while in the fridge to drain, as you have already discovered.
      Often, it is hard to find really ripe tomatoes. When this is the case, especially in the winter, canned tomatoes will offer a better flavor. If you use canned tomatoes, drain them well first, and add to the skillet to cook with the blistered chile.

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