Skip to Content

Fresh Salsa Roja Recipe using a Molcajete

Fresh Salsa Roja Recipe using a Molcajete
Home » Low carb Mexican recipes » Fresh salsa roja

I always wondered whether a mocajete (aka mortar & pestle) truly made a difference or whether it was just another item to take up space in the kitchen and something else to clean.  Well, this fresh salsa roja, made with seasonal heirloom tomatoes and a few other fresh ingredients made me a true believer.  

Low carb fresh Mexican salsa
Low carb fresh Mexican salsa

Jump to: RECIPE | Using a Molcajete | Ingredients and Substitutions

This post may contain affiliate links, and you can read our disclosure information here– 

Using a Molcajete

Mashing the tomatoes, onion, cilantro and peppers together with a little salt released more of the oils and blended the various flavors than my food processor or kitchen knife ever did! 

Cooked salsas would be a different story, but when you’re in the high season of fresh, juicy heirloom tomatoes, using a mortar and pestle (aka a molcajete in spanish) will turn your salsa into a food memory that will last all winter.

Just make sure you get a quality Molcajete made of fine-grained lava rock and get one that is large enough for a whole batch of salsa (6 to 9-inch diameter). They need to be pretty heavy to really grind the spices and chiles together.

Flavor Options for Fresh Salsas


The tomato is the star of a salsa roja so first opt for the freshest, tastiest tomato you can find.  I use a range of heirloom tomatoes because I grow them and have easy access to them.  It’s fairly easy to find heirloom tomatoes at most farmers’ markets these days.

If all you have access to is grocery store tomatoes, then make sure and roast them in the oven first to bring out the flavor.  Roasting the heirloom tomatoes is also a good idea and makes them easier to peel and muddle in the molcajete.

5 different heirloom tomatoes laid out in a line on burlap.
5 different heirloom tomatoes


I used a jalapeno, but of course any chili pepper works well and just depends on your heat preference.  Serranos are a classic salsa pepper, but you can mix it up a bit with Anaheims, Habaneros, or even some sweet bell peppers.

Variety of chile peppers that would work for a salsa garden
Variety of chile peppers that would work for salsa


Tomatillos are great in fresh salsas and add a bit of tartness and acid.  Lime juice is often added to salsas also.  There is no harm in being creative here.  Like radishes?  Add them!

Pico de Gallo vs Salsa

If you keep the salsa fresh and chunky, rather than a soupier, saucier version you are now treading into Pico de Gallo territory. 

I like them all and every which way, as long as they have good tomatoes!  Below is a photo of our first heirloom tomato to ripen this year, the Italian Costoluto.

Heirloom Costoluto tomatoes on a white plate
Heirloom Costoluto tomatoes

The Chips:

It’s pretty tough to enjoy salsa without the crunchy, salty tortilla chips.  The good news is there are now low carb tortilla chips available (I order cactus tortilla chips online) and you can put a little oil and salt on them and bake them at 350 for 10-12 minutes for delicious chips. 

If you’re not living a low carb lifestyle, then do the same thing with flour or corn tortillas.  They are soooo much better than store-bought!

Tortilla chips in a wood bowl on a blue placemat
Tortilla chips for Salsa

Fresh Salsa using a Molcajete

Fresh tomato salsa in a mortar and pestle with a side of chips.
Fresh salsa Roja made using a molcajete (mortar and pestle) rather than a blender
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 21


  • 2 heirloom tomatoes large roma types
  • ½ cup onion chopped
  • 1-2 tsp jalapeno coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic coarsely chopped
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • ½ tsp salt


  • To get the most flavor out of the tomatoes, roast them on a sheet pan for about 15 minutes in a 400 F degree oven.
    2 heirloom tomatoes
  • While the tomatoes are roasting, chop the remaining ingredients and muddle together in the molcajete (mortar and pestle) with the 1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 cup onion, 1-2 tsp jalapeno, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp cilantro, 1/2 tsp salt
  • Add the tomatoes to the mortar and grind together with the other ingredients (depending on the size of your molcajete, this may need to be done in 2 batches)
  • Enjoy with the freshly baked chips and store any remaining salsa covered and in the refrigerator.


Calories: 21kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 1gFat: 0.1gSaturated Fat: 0.03gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.1gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.02gSodium: 295mgPotassium: 182mgFiber: 1gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 533IUVitamin C: 12mgCalcium: 13mgIron: 0.2mg
Did you make this recipe?If you tried this recipe, please give it a star rating! To do this, just click on the stars above. Comments are always helpful also and I respond to all of them (except rude ones)

Online Coaching Available:

I have followed the slow carb diet for 2 years, the keto diet for 1 year and now I currently do a nuanced version of the best of both including a 16/8 intermittent fasting protocol.  I have put my “been there done that” knowledge to work helping people figure it out and customize the approach that works for them.  I am currently an online fitness coach (info can be found here if you’re interested), and have just hit the 325-client mark.  Come and visit me and see if online coaching might be for you!

If not for diet or exercise, there are other coaches on the site that coach anything from writing a blog, to getting up early, to getting rid of that pesky procrastination.  Explore the site while you are there.  There are some wonderful coaches and the testimonials will tell you what you need to know.  Click here to get to my profile and then explore others from there.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Dee says:

    Sorry it should be Salsa Roja (salsa is feminine so the adjective ending needs to be feminine as well)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.