Taste Test: The Best Salsas

We taste-tested dozens of salsas from the grocery store and online to find our favorites.
salsa
sandwich

BEST MILD

Brad's Organic Salsa

The biggest complaint about most jarred salsas: processed flavor. But panelists said this chunky combo tastes "like a bowl of fresh tomatoes" and has a "pleasantly sweet edge." As one fan raved, "I could eat it like gazpacho." ($4 for 16 ounces, bradsorganic.com for stores)

 
3 bean salsa salad

BEST MEDIUM

Rosa Mexicano Chile Pasilla de Oaxaca Salsa

Created by chefs at the popular restaurant chain, this salsa's "intense, smoky" flavor comes from pasilla de Oaxaca chiles (a cousin of the chipotle). The smooth texture makes it a "great stand-in for enchilada sauce." ($6 for 16 ounces, rosamexicano.com)

 
food

BEST HOT

Drew's Hot Organic Salsa

New England-based chef Drew Starkweather uses all organic ingredients in this chunky blend. Testers loved the balanced mix of tomatoes, cumin, jalapeņo and roasted vegetables, and the measured level of heat: It's great flavor without the pain. ($4 for 12 ounces, chefdrew.com for stores)

 
burritos

BEST CORN

Desert Pepper Trading Company Corn, Black Bean, Roasted Red Pepper Salsa

Many brands in this category were runny or low on corn, but this one is up to any Tex-Mex task: "It would hold its own on nachos or burritos," one panelist said. A generous helping of lime juice supplies "just the right amount of zing." ($5 for 16 ounces, desertpepper.com for stores)

 
meat

BEST GREEN

Santa Fé Seasons Tomatillo Salsa

Fresh tomatillos (a green relative of the tomato), jalapeños and lime juice give this salsa its intense green color and ripe, tangy taste. Panelists said the light, refreshing blend would be just as delicious over seafood as on a chip. The company's quality control: Employees taste every batch. ($6.30 for 16 ounces, santafeseasons.com for stores)

 
nachos

BEST OF THE BIG GUNS

Pace Picante Mild Sauce

The recipe hasn't changed since David Pace developed it 60 years ago in San Antonio, Texas, and it still calls for handpicked jalapeņos: more than 25 million pounds a year. Judges said Pace's mild version "stands out for flavor, not for heat" and has a "classic, no-fuss taste."($3 for 16 ounces, at grocery stores)

 
meal

BEST FRUIT

Santa Barbara Tangy Apple Salsa

Tomatoes and apples aren't an obvious match, but this salsa stood out over more typical fruit salsas. Judges loved the "unique, appealing flavor," likening it to "apple chutney with a kick." One panelist said, "Forget the chips, it would be great on a pork chop." ($3.50 for 12 ounces, sbsalsa.com for stores)

 
sliced beef

BEST EXOTIC

Natalie's Naturals Edamame Bean Salsa Invented by stay-at-home mom Natalie Hardage, this salsa was designed to be more than just snack food: Hardage added soybeans for an extra dose of protein. Panelists appreciated the "smart, healthy twist," and "appealing crunch." ($4.30 for 16 ounces, natalienaturals.com

 

Prices and other details were accurate when we published this article in September 2007. for stores)

 

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