One of my favorite snacks of all time is chips and salsa. This is actually true of my entire family; chips and salsa is almost always the featured appetizer at my parent’s house, regardless of whether or not we’re having Mexican food for dinner. My mom has been known to put out a bowl of chips and salsa on Thanksgiving Day or even before a big meal of Chinese takeout. And, hey what’s not to love? You’ve got crunch, you’ve got spicy, and salsa has to count as one of your daily servings of fruits and vegetables, right? Add a bowl of guacamole to the mix and I call it dinner!

Over the past few years, however, Robert and I have noticed that we are finding fewer and fewer salsas that we really like. Most of them are too sweet and few of them are spicy enough for our tastes, sometimes even those that are labeled “extra hot” (we’re not masochists or anything, but a little bit of a burn would be nice.) Some of the novelty salsas (e.g. black bean and corn salsa) are good every once in a while, but we have yet to find a really great everyday tomato salsa. And, when you’re facing price tags of $6 to $8 per jar, it’s tough to go out and try a bunch of different kinds in search of the perfect one.

Recently, I discovered the canned salsa shelf in the Mexican section of my grocery store. Right next to the small cans of chopped green chilies, I found a plethora of small cans of salsa imported from Mexico. Actually, I’ve kind of known about this section for some time now because I have been buying cans of green salsa to serve with my Banana-Cheese Empanadas. Robert isn’t crazy about green salsa so buying these small cans was a good way for me to avoid having lots of leftover waste. For some reason, however, my brain just never made the connection that these cans of salsa could also be served with chips (and were probably, in fact, intended for that purpose.) With prices ranging from as little as $0.80 to $1.75, I could try them all without breaking the bank! On Superbowl Sunday, we had a little canned salsa tasting. Here is a brief rundown:

Embassa Salsa Mexicana – This was our favorite as far as consistency. It has plenty of chunks but isn’t watery at all. It has a nice, tomato flavor (although it could be spicier.)

El Herdez Salsa Casera – This is a very basic tomato salsa. Ingredients include nothing more than tomatoes, onions, peppers, salt and cilantro. It is nicely spicy. I only wish that it was a bit less watery (and it’s also kind of high in salt.)

El Pato (“The Duck”) Tomato Sauce – This is actually a Mexican-style tomato sauce, not a salsa (yes, yes, I’m aware that salsa means sauce in Spanish, but you get the point.) Robert and his buddies used to use this in place of salsa back when they were on a tight budget, and then he later introduced me to it. It’s pretty good on chips, but perhaps we just feel that way for sentimental reasons. Robert also uses this as his secret ingredient in bloody marys.

Embassa Salsa Verde – This one is flavorful and somewhat spicy. It is quite tart (not entirely unexpected considering that the main ingredient in salsa verde is tomatillos.) I think this would be great doctored up with a little fresh cilantro.

El Herdez Salsa Ranchera – Like the El Pato, I don’t think this one is meant to be eaten as a salsa with chips. Although tomatoes are listed as the first ingredient, dried red chilies and vinegar are the dominant flavors. Robert liked it fine as a salsa, but I thought it was a little bitter due to the high amount of dried chilies. For some reason, I think this would be really good served over eggs.


  1. S&W used to make salsa in a can that was really good but I have not been able to find it or they stopped making it. It was in a 12 oz can that sold for arround a buck. It was great savings and it was much better than most of the salsas in ajar for $3-5. I just emailed S&W to find out if they still make it–see if I hear back.

    Comment by barry — June 6, 2009 @ 8:26 am

  2. I live in Mexico and the best salsa I have ever had anywhere is to put one can of El Herdez Salsa Casera in a small sauce pan along with a small box of Del Fuerte 7.4oz seasoned (sazonado)tomato sauce bring to a boil turn down heat and simmer for 10 minutes. It thickens up the Herdez and adds a ton of flavor. If you do not have the tomato sauce readily available you can order it online. I guarantee once you try this you will never want any other red salsa. I use it for my enchiladas and all my other Mexican dishes.

    Comment by Allen (Kancunkid) — August 19, 2010 @ 10:23 am

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