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Smoky Chipotle Salsa (Restaurant Salsa Copycat)

This Smoky Chipotle Salsa rivals our favorite restaurant salsa and tastes good on EVERYTHING. Make it mild, medium, or spicy! (Paleo, Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Overhead view of a bowl of chipotle salsa on a white background with tortilla chips

One of the things I’m looking forward to most as things open back up (other than family and travel!) is eating at restaurants. I miss it! We’ve done LOTS of carry-out and delivery from our favorite places in the last year, but there’s just something so fun about being at the restaurant, with the music and clinking glasses and the buzz of the room. Right?

One of our favorite places closed down last year, and we were SO SAD for the owners and staff. We were also so sad to lose our favorite restaurant salsa. It. Was. GOOOOOOD.

Whenever we went there, we basically planned to bring our dinners home in boxes hardly touched since we’d dive head first into the chips and salsa. Their chipotle salsa was INCREDIBLE, especially with warm, salty house-made tortilla chips. Since we can’t get it in person anymore, I’ve been playing around with a homemade version, and we finally got it down!

One of the secrets of this Chipotle Salsa recipe is the combination of tangy tomatillos with fire-roasted tomatoes. Pair that with the smoky chipotle peppers, a little lime juice, and some cilantro, and you’ve got yourself a truly excellent salsa. We may or may not have finished off all of it in just a few sittings. *cough* (FINE! We did!)

Once you taste it, I think you will, too. Here’s what you’ll need to get started…

Overhead view of ingredients for chipotle salsa
Overhead view of a blender with chipotle salsa ingredients, ready to puree

HERE’S WHAT GOES INTO OUR SMOKY CHIPOTLE SALSA:

  • Tomatillos. Our chipotle salsa is actually chipotle tomatillo salsa and uses a combination of tomatillos and tomatoes for really great depth of flavor. I prefer fresh tomatillos when you can find them, but canned will do in a pinch.
  • Onion. Next up is some onion. I find a little goes a long way in salsa, so you’ll only need about half of a yellow or sweet onion for our chipotle salsa recipe.
  • A *Tiny* Bit Of Oil. To help the tomatillos and onion develop their flavor a bit, I drizzle them with a tiny bit of oil and pop them under the broiler. The oil helps keep everything from scorching too much.
  • Fire-Roasted Tomatoes. A trick I use in my chipotle salsa recipe is canned fire-roasted tomatoes. The fire-roasting gives them a smoky flavor that’s beautiful with our chipotle chiles.
  • Chipotle Chiles in Adobo. Speaking of chiles, our chipotle salsa gets its chipotle flavor from chipotle chiles packed in adobo. Chipotle chiles are smoked jalapeños and the adobo sauce they’re packed in is spicy and smoky. Don’t worry–you can totally control the heat in this salsa! It can be made mild, medium, or spicy.
  • Cilantro. Fresh cilantro is a must in salsa for me. It adds bright flavor and a pretty pop of color I love to see swirled into the chipotle salsa.
  • Lime Juice. The acidity of fresh lime juice really ties the flavors together and keeps your chipotle salsa from tasting flat. I highly recommend fresh lime juice only for this recipe.
  • Salt. Last, but not least is salt. I’ve found that salt is KEY in homemade salsa. Often, if my salsa doesn’t taste *quite* the way I want it to, it just needs a bit more salt. The salt will help break down the veggies and highlight the flavors. If something’s missing, add a little more salt!
Front view of a jar of chipotle salsa with a platter of tortilla chips on a white background
Overhead view of a bowl of chipotle salsa on a wooden board with tortilla chips

OUR FAVORITE WAYS TO EAT CHIPOTLE SALSA

  1. CHIPS AND SALSA. You knew I was going to start here! I will take ALL of the chips and salsa forever and ever, amen. We really like Cantina-style tortilla chips (the really thin ones that mimic our favorite restaurant tortilla chips). For a grain-free option, Siete chips can’t be beat!
  2. IN BURRITO BOWLS. We eat burrito bowls 2-3 times a month and just LOVE THEM. Try our Chipotle Sweet Potato Burrito Bowls with this Chipotle Salsa on top. The double dose of smoky chipotle flavors is tough to beat!
  3. WITH ALL THE TACOS. Whether they’re Breakfast Tacos, Fish Tacos, Chicken Tacos, Barbacoa Beef, Slow Cooker Carnitas, or anything else you can think of, we love tacos with Chipotle Salsa. (But seriously, try the breakfast tacos. They’ll change your life.)
  4. ON FAJITAS. Fajitas are another regular dinner around these parts, whether we stay meatless with our Sizzling Veggie Fajitas or opt for ease with our Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas.
  5. OVER NACHOS. We always have an easy dinner on Fridays (our family movie night) and nachos make a regular appearance. Pile them high with goodies, pop them in the oven to get melty and toasty, then top with dollops of our famous Guacamole and some Chipotle Salsa. SO. GOOD.
  6. WITH EGGS AT BREAKFAST. I love salsa with eggs, whether I’m having simple scrambled eggs or doing something like Huevos Rancheros. I sometimes swap the traditional pico de gallo for this chipotle salsa. It’s delicious.
  7. ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING. Okay, not *everything,* but basically everything else! Spoon this chipotle salsa over grilled chicken, roll it into burritos, use it to make Instant Pot Salsa Chicken, add it to your Chicken Taquitos and top all your Tex-Mex faves with this tasty goodness.
Front view of a bowl of chipotle salsa with a platter of tortilla chips on a white background
Overhead view of a bowl of chipotle salsa on a white background with tortilla chips

FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR THE BEST CHIPOTLE SALSA:

  • MAKE IT SPICY OR MAKE IT MILD. You control the heat here, so if you’re a bit nervous, start small and work your way up. You can always add more, but you can’t take it out!
  • GLUTEN-FREE? READ THIS! Not all chipotle chiles in adobo are gluten-free, since some brands use flour to thicken their adobo sauce. If you need to be mindful of gluten, double check your chipotle peppers are gluten-free. Our favorite gluten-free chipotle chiles in adobo are La Costeña brand.
  • HELP! I CAN’T FIND FRESH TOMATILLOS. CAN I USE CANNED TOMATILLOS INSTEAD? If you can’t find fresh tomatillos? Look for canned ones! They’ll work just fine in a pinch. (You can even order them online to keep a stash on hand)
  • HOW LONG WILL HOMEMADE CHIPOTLE SALSA STAY FRESH? Homemade salsa usually lasts 5-7 days in the refrigerator. (If you don’t eat it all first 😉)
Close up Overhead view of a bowl of chipotle salsa on a white background with tortilla chips

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Overhead view of a bowl of chipotle salsa on a white background with tortilla chips

Smoky Chipotle Salsa (Restaurant Copycat)


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 3.5 cups 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This Smoky Chipotle Salsa rivals our favorite restaurant salsa and tastes good on EVERYTHING. Make it mild, medium, or spicy!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 12 oz. tomatillos (peeled, if fresh or drained, if canned)
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 (14.5oz) can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 12 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, minced (about 12 Tbsp.) 
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • olive or avocado oil

Instructions

  1. Place tomatillos and onion on a baking sheet. Drizzle with oil (or mist with spray oil) and broil for 5-8 minutes, turning over halfway through, until slightly blistered. Let cool slightly.
  2. Place tomatillos and onions in a blender with tomatoes, chipotle peppers, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
  3. Pulse or puree until you reach the texture you prefer (if you like more texture, you can just pulse it to break it up a bit). Taste and add salt, as desired.
  4. Makes 3.5 cups
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
  • Category: Appetizer
  • Method: Blender
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Keywords: chipotle salsa, restaurant salsa, restaurant copycat salsa, smoky salsa

8 Comments

  1. I made this today and I thought it was really yummy but that was without the chipotle part…just saw that tonight! I was wondering how to spice it up for my husband, but I guess that answers that question!

  2. This looks amazing! I have started making salsa every week so we have it on hand for eggs in the morning. My daughter even eats it on her toast! I will definitely be trying your version when I am ready to make a new batch.

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