Salsa is one of the most popular dips available. Versatile and delicious as a topper, a dip, or even on its own; salsa is a must at many dinner tables. There are a wide variety of salsas that are available at retailers and online. To learn about the top five best salsas and avoid the stinkers, we turned to our sources and the results were tasty indeed!
Salsa is a great savory addition to many foods, and some consumers eschew this in favor of going right at it with a spoon. More than six in 10 Americans are not ashamed of eating dip with a spoon straight from the container. The survey of 2,000 adults finds that 63 percent have no qualms about eating their favorite spread straight out of the packaging, so it’s no surprise that a similar percentage believe the act should be considered socially acceptable (62%).
People love dip so much, in fact, that 35 percent of those surveyed would replace a typical lunch meal with their favorite spread. According to the survey, adults do this five times per month on average. Aside from devouring it on their own time, 38 percent believe dip is the top thing every party needs to have available. At events, many say these spreads should always be present: salsa (32%), guacamole (32%), and spinach and artichoke (29%).
“Dipping foods provides an extra burst of flavor and, let’s face it, makes eating more fun,” says Alvaro Andres, associate director at Hidden Valley Ranch, in a statement. “The best condiments to keep on hand for dipping are ones that work with the most food, so you’re never craving more flavor.”
Retail brands line supermarket aisles and endcaps in an endless array of vibrant red and green jars. A person could lose themselves while trying to consider them all. Our list of the top five best salsas aims to make the choice a little bit easier. Let us know your favorites in the comments below!
The List: Best Salsa, According to Experts
Desert Pepper Trading Co. makes a well-reviewed salsa. “We sampled the cantina-style medium salsa, and on the first bite, ‘medium’ seemed a little generous. It was milder on our tongues. Then, the jolt of jalapeño and vibrant flavors kicked in. Those tomatoes tasted nice and juicy, too. It’s a bit of a drippy salsa, but not watery because the flavor is always on point,” describes Tasting Table.
The picky and discerning tasters at one of our sources offers the following critiques: “I actually enjoyed this salsa. While it wasn’t super spicy, the flavor was balanced and smooth compared to some of its more acidic or sour counterparts. Taste testers noted that they wanted a little more heat to punch up the salsa, though some of our Midwestern testers who weren’t particularly keen on spice thought it was perfect. The texture was also pretty good compared to the other salsas. We actually ended up finishing the tasting bowl of salsa we had on the table! Solid marks on flavor and texture, though it still could use a little extra punch,” writes Camille Styles.
“I am somebody who eats with my nose before my eyes and this was one of the freshest-smelling out of the jar, which is shocking considering how these recipes are concocted to be shelf-stable for months at a time. Desert Pepper delivered on subtle spice, balanced texture and a hint of citrusy lime that brought everything together. It absolutely earned a permanent spot in my jarred salsa rotation and I can’t wait to pour it over tacos to see how it interacts with even more bold flavors,” adds Today.
Herdez Salsa Verde is one of the most widely purchased salsas in the nation. Rather than a dip, it is most frequently heated up and used to smother other dishes like burritos suizos or with warm tortilla chips with queso fresco. “Every Mexican grandma living in LA has a jar of Herdez in her fridge and that’s probably because your local Mexican market has it on sale. That gives this brand a certain allure and authenticity, and flavor-wise it’s pretty authentic,” offers Uproxx.
Herdez might not be quite as good as homemade salsa verde but it is darn close. “For the most authentic green salsa at the store, you need to check out Herdez Salsa Verde. This salsa verde isn’t usually the one you’ll grab a tortilla chip and dive into, but you can if you want. It’s made with serrano chiles, onions, garlic, tomatillos, and citric acid for a tangy flavor that’s great on burritos, enchiladas, and more,” writes Restaurant Clicks.
Delish ranks Herdez Salsa Verde as number one. “In a sea of tons of grocery store salsas, we set out to taste test and find the very best store-bought salsas, from simple to complex… [regarding] Herdez Salsa Verde, don’t be afraid to mix up your typical red tomato salsa for some salsa verde,” states Delish.
Pace is a surprise hit with many of our sources. “Yep, I’m as shocked as you are. Perhaps I haven’t given this salsa the credit it deserves, but my taste testing panel consistently ranked this one as their favorite jarred salsa. Notes mentioned that this salsa had the best balanced flavor when it came to judging how the heat and spice mixed in with the ingredients. It wasn’t sour or too acidic like some of the other salsas and had a little bit of creeping heat without being too spicy. The texture was pretty good and the entire bowl was finished by the end of the taste test. Our taste testing panel agreed that this earned best jarred salsa status for simply being an all-around solid pick,” writes Camille Styles.
Snobby salsa gatekeepers might scoff at the idea that Pace Salsa could be the best of the best, but our sources refute this. “Pace’s Mild Chunky Salsa is a popular option that gets our seal of approval. As the label states, it’s (very) mild, but nicely tart from the distilled vinegar and tomato juice. The bites of onion and tomato aren’t overly soft but not crisp enough to call it a pico de gallo. It’s also not necessarily the most exciting salsa on this list, even though we enjoy its versatility. Pace’s Mild Chunky is certainly a solid option for your next breakfast burrito, eggs, or upcoming Super Bowl party,” writes Paste.
Another source recalls a classic commercial from the days of broadcast television. “I can’t come across a jar of Pace salsa without thinking ‘New York City?!’ so they get bonus points for effective advertising. To me, the wonder of Pace salsa is that it tastes familiar. I don’t want this salsa at a restaurant or from a taco truck, but I would thoroughly enjoy this salsa at a potluck-style baby shower for an acquaintance I don’t know that well. The sauce is weirdly but pleasantly thick, the flavor is extremely tomato-forward, and the energy is that of a sleepover I went to in the third grade. It’s not the best salsa, but it’s comforting,” claims Sporked.
Whole Foods offers one of the best-rated salsas on the market. “This salsa is marketed as ‘small batch,’ and while I can’t confirm if that’s just clever marketing or reality, I can confirm it’s abso-freaking-lutely delicious. More than any of the other salsas I tasted, balance is really the key here. It’s pretty much everything you could ever want a salsa to be: pleasantly spicy, packed with flavor (the garlicky notes were particularly delightful), sweet enough without overwhelming your taste buds, and juuuust smoky enough to make things interesting,” raves BuzzFeed.
“One of our team members has been known to eat salsa in spoonfuls, plain, right out of the jar. Though we don’t necessarily condone that sort of behavior, we do see it as the ultimate test for a great salsa: Would we eat it with a spoon? We tasted a bunch of other Whole Foods Market salsas, and, honestly, they’re all delicious, but we had to settle on this Medium Taqueria Small-Batch Salsa as the very best. We’re excited to report that not only is it good on sandwiches and salads, but we would indeed savor it by the spoonful — it’s that good,” praises Tasting Table.
Despite two absolutely glowing reviews, not all of our sources were as impressed. “Two of the best jarred salsa contenders fell somewhere between not-so-great and pretty good. Whole Foods 365 landed in the middle for its texture, though there were notes from taste testers who were looking for more spice and flavor,” counters tasters at Camille Styles.
Mateo’s salsa is a brand that has gained popularity and is offered at major retailers like Costco. “I can’t believe I’m putting a mild salsa so high on the list, but Mateo’s Mild Gourmet Salsa definitely earned its spot. This salsa had, in my opinion, the perfect texture. It wasn’t completely liquified, but there weren’t any big chunks of cooked tomato either. It felt like a salsa that was made at home in a blender instead of something that was produced in a factory. It’s not named on the ingredient list, but I got a strong hit of cumin the second this salsa touched my tongue. Sometimes mild salsas end up being mild on flavor, but that is not the case here!,” exclaims Sporked.
Cumin can be a divisive spice; some people love cumin for its earthy punch while others despise it for being too pungent. But for those who love cumin, this salsa could be a great hit. “When you open a jar of salsa (or even make it at home), you expect a handful of basic flavors, like tomato, onion and pepper. Really tempting salsas, though, bring layers of flavor. That’s the case with Mateo’s Gourmet Salsa. From the very first dunk, testers noted many ingredients beyond the basic. ‘There’s a lot of cumin which is really unique and yummy,’ says Sarah Tramonte in the Test Kitchen,” adds the team at Taste of Home.
“Mateo makes a dang good jar of salsa, heaping with sun-drenched tomato flavor, fresh-cut herbs, and authentic seasonings. We could taste the care and craft that went in and definitely enjoyed the process. But the price made us picky, and we had to admit that one or two other gourmet-style options went the extra mile. It does taste more gourmet than most of the others, so we think that you get what you pay for,” writes Tasting Table.
You might also be interested in:
- Camille Styles
- Tasting Table
- Taste of Home
- Restaurant Clicks
Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.