This classic Molcajete salsa is made roasted tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and spicy chiles, all mashed up together into a delicious, smokey and chunky salsa.
This Molcajete salsa, is made in the traditional Mexican stone mortar and pestle. It is the perfect way to grind and mix ingredients together, believed to enhance the flavor of the sauce by releasing the oils and aromas of all ingredients.
Salsa is the soul of Mexican food, is not just a sauce or a seasoning. It is a reflection of our culture, our traditions and our passion for life. It’s the perfect combination of flavors and heat that makes each dish come alive.
This salsa also goes by “salsa molcajeteada” or “salsa martajada”.
About the Molcajete & History
An authentic Mexican molcajete is a big, heavy mortar and pestle made out of volcanic rock. It has been used for centuries by indigenous peoples in Mexico to grind herbs, spices, and other ingredients into a paste. This tool was essential in pre-hispanic times, and many traditional dishes, including Molcajete Salsa, have been passed down through generations.
Today, this salsa remains an essential part of Mexican cuisine!
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Not only is this recipe delicious, but it also has many health benefits. This salsa is rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and potassium. According to Health.com, the tomatoes in the sauce are high in lycopene, which has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
The chilies used in the sauce contain capsaicin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Additionally, capsaicin has been linked to a reduced risk of obesity and improved heart health.
This makes a small batch of salsa but you’re more than welcome to double the ingredients to make 2 cups salsa.
- 3 roma tomatoes stem removed
- Garlic cloves peeled
- Jalapeño peppers and serrano peppers
- Chile de arbol or chiltepines – optional for extra spicy
- Kosher salt or sea salt (or any coarse salt)
- Black pepper (optional)
How to Make Molcajete Salsa
Let’s dive into how to make it at home.
This is a visual overview of the steps to make this recipe. See the detailed list of ingredients & instructions in the recipe card below.
Roast on Comal (see recipe card for roasting instructions in the oven or air fryer).
- Heat a comal, large non stick skillet or cast iron skillet. Wrap the tomatoes in foil and place on comal.
- Add the chiles, garlic and onion.
- Cook on medium high heat until all veggies are soft and roasted. Keep turning them during the cooking process to ensure all sides are cooked evenly. Turn the tomatoes as well but keep them wrapped in the foil. The tomatoes are done when cooked all the way thru.
- Place the veggies in the molcajete and use the pestle to grind them. Start with the dried chiles if using any and grind with some coarse salt.
- Add the garlic and grind until you reach a paste consistency.
- Add the chiles and continue. Use a circular motion to grind the ingredients against the rough surface of the molcajete.
- Lastly, grind the tomatoes until you reach to desired consistency.
- Add the chopped cilantro to the mixture and stir to integrate with the rest of the ingredients. Serve in a bowl or directly on the the molcajete.
While the classic this salsa recipe is delicious on its own, there are many variations you can try to switch things up. Here are a few ideas:
- Use tomatillos: Instead of red tomatoes you can make this with tomatillos or even a combination of both.
- Add lime juice or apple cider vinegar for some acidity flavor.
- Mango Salsa: Add diced mango to the classic recipe for a sweet and spicy twist.
- Pineapple Salsa: Similarly, adding diced pineapple to the salsa is a great way to add a tropical flavor.
- Add dried chiles: For a deeper flavor, add dried chiles that have been rehydrated in hot water for 10 minutes. Use chiles like chile de arbol or chiltepin.
- Avocado Salsa: Blend a ripe avocado with the classic recipe for a creamy and flavorful salsa.
My favorite Mexican dishes to serve it with is to top carne asada tacos with it or over scrambled eggs. But here are a few more ideas to get you started:
- Tacos: Top your favorite tacos with a spoonful of salsa for a burst of flavor.
- Over eggs like these Huevos Divorciados and Migas.
- Nachos: Drizzle the salsa over your favorite nacho toppings for an extra kick.
- Grilled Meats: Use on any grilled meats like chicken or steak.
- With tortilla chips, Breakfast quesadillas or Carne Asada Quesadillas
Storing, Tips and Notes
- Can I make Molcajete Salsa without a molcajete? Sure you can! While using a molcajete is traditional, you can make the salsa using a food processor or blender. However, the texture and flavor may differ slightly.
- Can you jar this recipe?
- How to clean the molcajete: After use, clean the molcajete with warm water and a soft brush. Avoid using soap as it can leave a residue that affects the flavor of your food.
- Fridge – Store in the refrigerator in a glass jar or container for up to 1 month. The vinegar in the salsa makes it last longer than salsas without it.
- Freezer – Freeze in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container or freezer bags for up to 3 months.
- To Thaw – Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.
I hope you like this recipe! Share it, or leave a rating and comment below. For questions that need an answer right away, please contact me and I’ll get back to you asap. Gracias!!!! xx, Ana
Molcajete Salsa Recipe
- Molcajete or food processor
- 3 roma tomatoes stem removed
- 2 garlic cloves peeled
- 2 large jalapeños
- 1 serrano pepper
- ½ medium white onion cut into quarters
- 3 to 5 chile de arbol or chiltepines optional for extra spicy
Roast on Comal
- Heat a comal, large non stick skillet or cast iron skillet.
- Wrap the tomatoes in foil and place on comal. Also add the chiles, garlic and onion.
- Cook on medium high heat until all veggies are soft and roasted.
- Keep turning them during the cooking process to ensure all sides are cooked evenly. Turn the tomatoes as well but keep them wrapped in the foil. The tomatoes are done when cooked all the way thru. See note #1
Roast in oven or air fryer
- Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are charred and soft.
Grind the salsa:
- Place the veggies in the molcajete and use the pestle to grind them. Start with the hardest ingredients first and gradually add the softer ones.
- Use a circular motion to grind the ingredients against the rough surface of the molcajete. You can add a small amount of sea salt to the molcajete to help break down the ingredients.
- Grind all ingredients to desired consistency. Serve in a bowl or directly on the the molcajete.
Muy Delish Notes:
- If any of the veggies are done before then others, remove from the comal and set aside.
- To clean the molcajete: After use, clean the molcajete with warm water and a soft brush. Avoid using soap as it can leave a residue that affects the flavor of your food.
Add Your Own Private Notes
Whenever you come back to this recipe, you’ll be able to see your notes.
The nutritional information and US conversions are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee the accuracy of this data. If this is important to you, please verify with your favourite nutrition calculator and/or unit conversion tool.
How To Cure a New Molcajete
“Curing” a molcajete is an important step to take before using it for the first time. This process will help remove any debris and impurities left over from manufacturing and prepare it for use in cooking. Here’s how to do it:
- Clean the molcajete thoroughly with warm water and a stiff brush. You can use a small amount of mild dish soap if needed. Rinse it well and let it dry completely.
- Grind some uncooked rice in the molcajete until it turns into a fine powder. This will help remove any debris and impurities from the surface of the molcajete. Be sure to grind the rice thoroughly, using a circular motion and pushing the rice into the corners and crevices of the molcajete.
- Discard the rice powder and repeat the process until the powder comes out clean. You may need to repeat this step several times, depending on how much debris is left in the molcajete.
- Rinse the molcajete thoroughly with warm water and let it dry completely.
- Rub the inside of the molcajete with a cut clove of garlic or onion. This will help season the molcajete and add some flavor to your dishes.
- Fill the molcajete with water and let it sit for several hours or overnight. This will help the seasoning process and prepare the molcajete for use in cooking.
- Rinse the molcajete with warm water and let it dry completely.
And there you have it! Your molcajete is now cured and ready to use for all your favorite recipes. Just remember to take good care of it, and it will serve you well for many years to come.
Love this recipe!! is delicious and easy to make, my family really like it, will be in my regular menu. Thank you for sharing.
This roasted salsa is super flavorful and loved the char taste! It’s a family favorite and can’t wait to make it again.