To master your taco game, you have to master salsa. In fact, if it doesn’t have a salsa of some sort, it really isn’t even a taco.
Salsa is one of the three key components of a taco:
- The tortilla
- The filling
- The salsa
When you choose a salsa for your taco, you should consider how it balances out the filling. So, if your filling is fatty like barbacoa, consider adding an acidic salsa, like roasted tomatillo salsa verde. On the other hand, lean meats like grilled chicken go better with a creamy salsa to add fat, like salsa de aguacate (avocados have healthy fats).
Balance is what makes a killer taco.
1. Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno Salsa
Roasted Tomato and Jalapeno salsa is an all purpose red salsa that goes with just about anything. If you aren’t sure what to choose, start here. The key to making it great is picking the best tomatoes possible.
2. Salsa de Chile Arbol
Arbol chile salsa is a somewhat acidic salsa that works great with most proteins. The distinctive flavor of arbol chile makes this the favorite salsa in my house. Be prepared for a little heat if you choose this one though.
3. Salsa Ranchera
Salsa Ranchera is a robust, cooked red salsa with a lower level of acidity that works perfectly with huevos rancheros.
4. Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde
Roasted tomatillo salsa verde is a highly acidic, tart green salsa that goes exceptionally well with fattier taco fillings. Pork carnitas and salsa verde make a great combination. Just be careful not to add too many pickled items or it can be overpowering.
5. Pico de Gallo
Pico de gallo is a raw salsa that will add an amazing fresh element to whatever you’re cooking. This salsa works as a perfect counterbalance to fatty ingredients. It is also great for seafood since it won’t overpower the other ingredients.
6. Salsa de Chile Cascabel
Salsa de chile cascabel is an excellent table salsa. It’s complex and nutty flavors don’t need any other ingredients to make a splash. When I set out multiple salsas for guests to choose from, it is always the first to disappear.
7. Texas-Style Chiltepin Sauce
Although it’s a sauce rather than a salsa, I love this stuff so much that I had to include it. The chiltepin is the official Texas State Native Pepper and loaded with heat and flavor. It’s the perfect pepper, in my mind, for a vinegar sauce.
8. Salsa de Uña
Similar to a Pico de Gallo, but with the addition of diced radishes, Salsa de Uña goes great on a hot day with some tortilla chips and cold beer.
9. Salsa de Aguacate
Salsa de Aguacate (or Avocado Salsa) is a creamy and tangy salsa that goes great with lean meats, like grilled chicken or fish. The fattiness from the avocado helps amp up and balance out the flavor of the lean meat.
10. Salsa Borracha Norteña
Salsa Borracha Norteña (Northern Drunk Salsa) is a salsa from the Northern part of Mexico and South and West Texas, made for the barbacoa commonly found in the region. It is similar in some ways to the thin barbecue sauce sometimes served with Texas barbecue but has a chile-forward flavor.
11. Guajillo Salsa
This guajillo salsa recipe is like a fancy version of the little packets of salsa you get at that certain chain fast-food Mexican restaurant in the United States. You know, that fast-food chain that isn’t really Mexican at all and serves a ton of crunchy tacos with cheddar cheese on them?