If your guests demand this dish at every event from now on, we can't be held accountable.

By Betty Gold
Updated July 25, 2019
Grilled salsa recipe
Credit: Getty Images

Sure, it might be the easiest option to buy a jar of salsa and put it out with chips next time you have guests over, but homemade salsa tastes infinitely better, and it requires almost no prep work to make. Chop up your bounty of farm-fresh tomatoes, tomatillos, and chiles, add some onion, salt, and herbs and you’ve got the most mouthwatering peak summer appetizer possible.

One of our favorite ways to upgrade a simple homemade salsa recipe is by charring your chiles first. The grill gives them a sweeter, smokier flavor that’ll have your guests wondering where that special salsa je ne sais quois complexity came from.

To bring you the best-ever tips on how to nail your next grilled salsa recipe, we checked in with Chef Jose Alarcon of Centro & Popol Vuh, a Mexican cuisine expert and James Beard Award semifinalist. Here are Chef Alarcon’s top tips for making grilled salsa:

Select the right ingredients

Chef Alarcon recommends using Guajillo, chipotle, or jalapeño chiles, or a combination of the three. For the acid component, choose between tomatillos, lime juice, and apple cider vinegar. These will all pair perfectly—and add a delicious sweet-and-sour flavor—to your smoky chiles. For herbs, cilantro (of course). But oregano, marjoram, and thyme are other great options to add.

Give them a good grilling

Meaning with direct heat. “Put your chiles straight on the grill, or the flame from a gas stove,” says Chef. “Don’t be afraid to burn or char them—it adds flavor!”

Add some spice

According to Chef Alacon, we shouldn’t be afraid of overdoing it when it comes to sprinkling spices into grilled salsa. Why? Because if it's too spicy, you can always add more acid (i.e. tomatoes, lime, or vinegar), sugar, and a hit of salt to balance the flavors out.

Be smart about storage

Because the dish is so acidic, we recommend using glass to store your salsa in the fridge. It should last well for up to four days, so don’t be afraid to make this app ahead of time! (Music to our ears.)

Try it this weekend in our super simple grilled salsa recipe—and once you’ve nailed that, you can use your grilled salsa in one of these delicious dishes.