Looking to Spice Up Your Life? Try the 7 Best Store Bought Salsas

Not to sound like a snob, but I do not typically buy brand name, store bought salsa. How could they ever compare to the pints of fresh salsa I can buy at my local burrito place? Or something I can whip up at home with vegetables from the farmers market?

But my snobbery was unwarranted and I should’ve realized that sooner. If you can have good jarred marinara sauce or tomato chutney, why can’t you have good salsa from the store? I’m now a store bought salsa convert and I’m here to impart the knowledge I gained during this taste test to hopefully heal you of your store bought salsa snobbery too. Vianai Austin from Mythical Kitchen joined us to dip some chips and figure out what store bought red salsas felt fresh, flavorful, and authentic.

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Casa Sanchez Foods Hot Salsa Roja

Best of the Best

Casa Sanchez Foods Hot Salsa Roja

Casa Sanchez Food Hot Salsa Roja was easily the most flavorful salsa we tasted during our extensive research. Each item from the minimal ingredient list of tomatoes, onions, peppers, and cilantro shines, while also seamlessly melding with the others to create the perfect restaurant-style salsa. The fact that this salsa comes from the refrigerator section makes it feel extra fresh. It’s not out of this world hot, but it has a nice kick. Casa Sanchez is perfecting store bought salsa.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

10/10

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Mateo's Gourmet Mild Salsa

Best Smoky

Mateo’s Gourmet Mild Salsa

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!

Credit: Ryan Martin / Target

Rating:

9/10

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On The Border Medium Chunky Salsa

Best Chunky

On The Border Medium Chunky Salsa

Chunky salsas have to work extra hard to win me over because I’m not a fan of big, wet pieces of tomato. Luckily, On The Border Medium Chunky Salsa brought their A-game to the taste test and made a fan out of me. The first thing I noticed when I dipped my chip is that this salsa is super aromatic. I was warmly greeted by the scent of onion, garlic, and chilies. Another plus is that, unlike most jarred salsas, it doesn’t have a weird citric acid flavor. It tastes like there’s actually lime in it! This is an awesome alternative to homemade salsa if you’re in a pinch.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

8/10

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Casa Sanchez Foods Medium Salsa Roja

Best Medium

Casa Sanchez Foods Medium Salsa Roja

The Casa Sanchez Foods Medium Salsa Roja is almost as good as the hot. It is…just not as hot. The lower spice level pushes it down on the list because I prefer hot salsa and I’m the one writing this list! That being said, if you like the hot version of Casa Sanchez’s Salsa Roja, you’ll also like this medium version. It has a wonderfully textured but saucy mouthfeel and plenty of fresh onion-y, cilantro-y flavor. If you are a spice coward who wants to build your heat tolerance, this is a great medium to start with.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

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Mission Medium Chunky Salsa

Best Mild

Mission Medium Chunky Salsa

I know that the Mission Medium Chunky Salsa explicitly states that it is a medium salsa. I would like to argue, though, that it is most certainly not. This salsa is very much a mild salsa. There’s almost zero heat. I’m not sure who in the world would consider this to be medium. And while Mission is wrong about the heat at which they’re categorizing their salsa, they are right about the flavor of their salsa. Its gentle tomato-y taste with hints of onion and cilantro make it perfect for the salsa novice in your family.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Amazon

Rating:

6/10

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Pace Medium Chunky Salsa

Best Nostalgic

Pace Medium Chunky Salsa

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.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Target

Rating:

6/10

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Bobby Salazar's Medium Salsa

Best for Cooking

Bobby Salazar’s Medium Salsa

First of all, I love the name: Bobby Salazar’s Salsa. It makes me feel like a person I know made this and gave it to me. “Whose salsa is this?” “It’s Bobby’s!” While the taste is fresh, the flavor of Mexican oregano is very strong. Too strong for me to want to eat it plain on a tortilla chip. I do, however, think this would be delicious for cooking. Toss this into a pan with some black beans and let it simmer, that’s soup! This in a crockpot with some chicken thighs? A perfect taco filling! Bobby Salazar, call me if you ever want to do a collab.

Credit: Ryan Martin / Albertsons

Rating:

4/10

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Tostitos Chunky Mild Salsa

Between this and their favorite tortilla chip, Rhett & Link appear to be Tostitos loyalists. They enjoyed the strong flavor and the chunk that this salsa brought to the table.

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About the Author

Jordan Myrick

Jordan is an L.A.-based writer and comedian who believes all food should come with extra sauce. When they're not writing for Sporked, Jordan is at the movies or sharing an order of french fries with their elderly chihuahua.

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  • Chichi’s medium chunky is hands down the best salsa. I hope you tried it.

    Reply
  • I would love if you all ranked store bought salsa verde. I struggle so hard to find a good one that tastes like what you get from a restaurant.

    Reply
  • My favorite from the refrigerated section is “La Mexicana Brand Cantina Salsa.” It is made here in Southern California so might not be available everywhere. It lasts forever in the fridge but tastes so fresh. I use it to make Mexican rice and other recipes too.

    Reply
  • Cowboy Caviar from Trader Joes is my personal favorite!

    Reply
  • I live where Bobby Salazars is from and there are two different restaurants: Bobby Salazars and Sal’s. Both serve the Bobby’s salsa and I have to say, we love it!! I can eat a whole container with just chips. It’s definitely one of the best store bought salsas (even better when you get it fresh!). Locally, the Costcos sell bulk containers of Bobby’s salsa and we buy it all the time for parties or just to have to snack on with chips.

    Reply
  • Can we get a best salsa without cilantro for those of us cursed with soap genetics?

    Reply
  • I like Herdez Salsa Casera(Hot), now I do tamper just a smidgen by blending it. I don’t add anything, just change the texture. I like it quite a bit, I will try your winner however. Can never have too many salsas to enjoy!

    Reply
  • The Pace medium (as well as the Chi-Chi’s medium) are store-bought defaults. Always good, never great. I’m sorry that Frontera didn’t make it to this comparison. I’m trying all their varieties because I like Rick Bayless. By the way, that GMM video is fundamentally flawed from the start. Deciding to go with all the mild varieties is…just wrong. That’s like saying you’re going to compare coffee k-cup brands but you’re only tasting the decaf varieties. Salsa is supposed to have heat, people! Fresh chilis are an essential ingredient like tomatoes and onions! Mild is for children. Children who should be grounded.

    Reply
  • I think that the salsa from the refrigerated section is hands down better than any jarred.

    Reply