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When you prepare your own homemade red sauce picante, you get to adjust the spice level according to your taste and preference. Whether you prefer a mildly spicy sauce that teases your taste buds or a fiery picante that delivers a powerful kick, the choice is entirely up to you.

Additionally, by preparing picante at home, you can ensure it’s free from artificial additives and preservatives.

fresh salsa picante recipe. Made with fresh ingredients like ripe tomatoes, onions, peppers, lime, and cilantro. ready for the chips to be dipped into the bowl.

Do you love salsa? Personally, I could eat salsa every day, and I enjoy trying out unique new recipes. After you print this picante recipe, be sure to check out my salsa verde, spicy pico de gallo, homemade salsa, shrimps pico de gallo, and cherry tomato salsa.

What Is Picante? 

Picante has a rich history in Mexican cuisine, with its origins dating back to ancient Aztec and Mayan civilizations. The use of spicy sauces made with fresh ingredients like peppers and tomatoes has been a staple in Mexican cooking for centuries. The word “picante” itself means “spicy” in Spanish, and the sauce has evolved over time to become a beloved condiment in Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine. Its versatility and ability to add a kick of flavor to dishes have made it a popular choice for enhancing the taste of Mexican meals. 

What’s the difference between salsa picante vs salsa?

Salsa Picante refers to a spicy sauce in Spanish, typically made with fresh ingredients like tomatoes, onions, peppers, lime, and cilantro. It is known for its heat and flavor. On the other hand, “salsa” translates to “sauce” in Spanish and can refer to a wide variety of sauces, not necessarily spicy. Salsa Picante specifically denotes a spicy or hot sauce.

Ingredients And Tools Needed

salsa picante ingredients, garlic, cilantro, jalapenos, onions, oregano, salt sugar, green pepper lime and bay leaf
  • Tomatoes: Choose fresh tomatoes that have a meaty flesh, such as Roma, Amish Paste, or Big Beef tomatoes. If there are a lot of seeds, scoop those out before adding the tomatoes to the food processor. 
  • Onion: White or yellow onions both work fine.  
  • Cilantro:  In Mexico, cilantro stems are often used in cooking, including in salsa picante. The stems pack more flavor than the leaves, actually. We will be processing this cilantro, so don’t worry. Toss them in with the leaves. 
  • Hot peppers: Great-tasting picante is spicy, so choosing a good, flavorful pepper with some heat is important.  I use jalapeño; however, serrano peppers are a good choice also. For even more heat, use a habanero pepper.  
  • Bell pepper: I use green bell peppers; however, red, yellow, or orange would all make a nice-looking Picante sauce. 
  • Garlic: Only use fresh garlic, not the kind already minced in a jar. 
  • Lime:  I highly recommend taking the time to make fresh lime zest and squeeze a fresh lime for the best flavor.
  • Oregano: A classic seasoning in Mexican cooking, oregano adds a warm, earthy flavor to the sauce.
  • Bay leaf: Do not add the bay leaf until it is time to simmer the already processed picante in a pan on the stove. The bay leaf releases essential oils while cooking that infuses the picante with a mild, herbal note. However, it’s crucial to remove the bay leaf after simmering and before serving because its texture and sharp edges might be unpleasant or cause a choking hazard. 

Pro Tip: Tip: I highly recommend wearing disposable gloves while cutting chile peppers. The oil from the cut chiles can cause a painful and uncomfortable feeling on your skin or eyes if you accidentally rub them. It’s also easier to process the picante sauce in a food processor vs cutting all of it by hand.

How To Make Salsa Picante Step-By-Step

You will be amazed at how easy it is to make homemade picante! Basically, blend, cook, and serve.

  1. Start by quartering your tomatoes and removing the seeds with a small spoon. It’s okay if you don’t get them all out. This helps to thicken your picante, making it perfect for scooping with chips.
tomatoes sliced and center scooped out
  1. Place all the ingredients except the bay leaf into a food processor. Blend until smooth, with only a few small chunks remaining (you can blend it thinner if you prefer).
salsa picante ingredients in a food processor bowl ready to be chopped
  1. Pour the blended picante into a medium-sized pan and gently stir in the bay leaf. 
  1. Over medium-low heat, simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. If it sticks to the pan, lower the heat. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Chill or serve warm.

Variations To Create Your Own Style of Picante

  • Switch out raw garlic cloves vs roasted garlic for a smoky flavor
  • Char or grill tomatoes for a depth of smoky flavor
  • Substitute the hot peppers for a tablespoon of chipotle peppers for a rich, smoky heat
  • To add some sweetness to a spicy Picante, add a hint of fruit, such as pineapple or mango when blending. 
fresh salsa picante recipe made with fresh ripe tomatoes, onions, peppers, lime, and cilantro.

Great Ways To Serve Picante

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fresh salsa picante recipe. Made with fresh ingredients like ripe tomatoes, onions, peppers, lime, and cilantro.
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Salsa Picante Recipe With Fresh Ingredients

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 18 minutes
Servings: 12 1/3 cups
Let's spice up your favorite Mexica recipes with this delicious and quick-to-make fresh salsa picante recipe. Made with fresh ingredients like ripe tomatoes, onions, peppers, lime, and cilantro. It's a great salsa that is perfect for parties, family dinners, or game-day snacking.

Note: Be sure to read through the recipe’s post for tips and details about this recipe.

hand showing you to tap on the ingredient to add to your walmart and target list.

Ingredients
 

  • 1 pound tomatoes, This will equal about 4 cups of fresh cubed tomatoes. Be sure to use a variety of tomatoes that are meaty.
  • 1 medium onion, yellow or white, peeled and quartered
  • ¼ cup cilantro , fresh leaves and stems
  • 2 jalapeño, seeded and quartered. You could use serrano or, for more heat, habanero pepper.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ medium sized green bell pepper, seeded and cored, then cut in quarters
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf , (do not add to the sauce until after it is processed and during the cooking time in the pan. Be sure to remove it before serving.

Instructions
 

  • Start by quartering your tomatoes and removing the seeds with a small spoon. It’s okay if you don’t get them all out. This helps to thicken your picante, making it perfect for scooping with chips.
    1 pound tomatoes
  • Place all the ingredients except the bay leaf into a food processor. Blend until smooth, with only a few small chunks remaining (you can blend it thinner if you prefer).
    1 medium onion
  • Pour the blended picante into a medium-sized pan and gently stir in the bay leaf.
    ¼ cup cilantro, 2 jalapeño, 2 cloves garlic, ½ medium sized green bell pepper, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 teaspoon lime zest, 1 teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon sugar
  • Over medium-low heat, simmer for 7 to 8 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes. If it sticks to the pan, lower the heat. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Chill or serve warm.
    1 bay leaf

Notes

Variations (Make It Your Own)
  • Switch out raw garlic cloves vs roasted garlic for a smoky flavor
  • Char or grill tomatoes for a depth of smoky flavor
  • Substitute the hot peppers for a tablespoon of chipotle peppers for a rich, smoky heat.
  • To add some sweetness to a spicy Picante, add a hint of fruit, such as pineapple or mango, when blending.
Serving: 11/3 cup, Calories: 15kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 0.1g, Saturated Fat: 0.02g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.04g, Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g, Sodium: 3mg, Potassium: 126mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 386IU, Vitamin C: 14mg, Calcium: 11mg, Iron: 0.2mg
Cuisine: Mexican
Course: Appitizer
Author: Gina Dickson

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