Molcajete salsa is a traditional Mexican salsa made with roasted tomatoes and chilies. It has a chunky texture and a smoky flavor and is perfect to serve with many favorite Mexican dishes.
What Is Molcajete Salsa?
Molcajete salsa is known in Mexico with various names, such as salsa de molcajete, salsa martajada, or salsa molcajeteada.
All of them refer to a salsa made in a molcajete. The ingredients can vary from recipe to recipe and also the cooking method for those ingredients.
There are two ways for cooking the ingredients for molcajete sauce, one is boiling them and the other is roasting them in a comal. I love the second method and I always go for it every time I can.
If you don’t have a comal at home no worries, you can roast the ingredients in the oven or use a stove griddle.
What is a Molcajete?
Molcajete refers to a Mexican mortar and pestle made from volcanic stone, used since ancient times in Mexico. The bowl’s name is molcajete and the hand-held tool, made from the same material, is called tejolote, both come from the Nahuatl language molcaxitl and texolotl respectively.
This amazing tool is used for grinding many ingredients, from seeds to vegetables and almost every home in Mexico owns one. Is also used as a bowl to serve salsas on it.
Is not easy to find a good molcajete these days but if you want to make this sauce you can also use a regular mortar and pestle or even a blender, I’ll let you know how to do so.
My older sister, Nora, still has the molcajete that belonged to our grand grandmother Elvira. So I had to buy one online. You can find many types of molcajetes in Amazon or Mexican online stores.
How Is Made This Recipe?
The recipe for molcajete salsa I am sharing with you is the one my grandmother and my mother used to make every single day.
It is a simple recipe using only tomatoes, fresh chilies, onion, and garlic. That’s it. Chopped onion and cilantro are also added to the salsa, but only after the salsa is made and is totally optional.
About The Ingredients
TOMATOES. Use ripe tomatoes, the ones that are very soft and also bright in color. Roma or any other type of plum tomato works fine in this recipe.
CHILIES. You can use any kind or color of chilies as long as they’re fresh and spicy. For example, serranos are the first option but you can also use jalapeño or Thai green chilies.
ONIONS. Some for roasting and making the salsa and some fresh for garnish.
CILANTRO. We are using cilantro only as a garnish, feel free to leave it out, but believe me when I tell you that it really adds a nice touch to this salsa.
GARLIC. Garlic is all you need to add flavor to the recipe. I use only 2 small cloves, but feel free to add more if you want.
SALT. Such as sea salt, kosher salt, Himalaya salt, or my favorite: Cuyutlán salt.
The Easy Step By Step Recipe
Heat a comal or a cast iron pan over high heat. Roast ingredients turning them frequently until cooked and charred.
Start with tomatoes, then add chilies and onions. You can also use your oven to roast everything at 400°F/200° for about 20 minutes.
In a molcajete or mortar add first the garlic and one teaspoon of salt. Grind until the mixture is almost pastelike. Then add chilies, onions, and pestle to combine.
Add tomatoes one by one and grind slowly until you reach the desired consistency, I like to leave some chunks here and there.
Chop the remaining onion and cilantro and add them to the salsa. Mix, and adjust salt to taste. Serve in the same molcajete.
How to make it in a blender
You can use a regular blender to make this roasted salsa. Just try to not over blend if you want to achieve a rustic and chunky texture.
- If you don’t want the molcajete sauce to be too spicy, you can cut them longwise and discard the veins and seeds.
- On the other side, if you like spicy food, add more chilies!
- You can also cover the ingredients with foil when you’re roasting them, this way they will also cook faster.
- Riper tomatoes are sweeter, and more colored. But not only, they will be also easier to grind.
- Always grind first garlic with salt, to make a paste that will be easier to incorporate with the other ingredients.
How To Serve
This molcajete sauce is perfect to serve with many Mexican dishes, but it’s particularly amazing with grilled meats such as carne asada or fajitas de res.
Or you can also serve it for any game day or party as an appetizer and scoop it up with homemade corn chips.
Got some leftovers?
Molcajete salsa stores nicely in the fridge for up to a week. Just place leftovers on a jar or glass container with an air-tight lid.
And, you can also freeze it for up to 3 months, just don’t garnish with cilantro and onions, you can add those after thawing the salsa overnight and right before serving.
Watch How To Make Molcajete Salsa
More salsas recipes
- 1 lb ripe tomatoes
- 1 to 5 fresh hot chili peppers (serrano, jalapeño, etc.)
- 1 medium white onion (halved)
- 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
- bunch of cilantro (chopped)
- 1 small white onion (chopped)
- Heat a comal or a cast iron pan over high heat. Roast first the tomatoes, then chilies and onions turning them frequently until cooked and charred.
- In a molcajete or mortar add first the garlic and one teaspoon of salt. Grind you'll have a paste.
- Add chilies and onions. Crush them until combined with the paste.
- Add tomatoes one by one and grind slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
- Add chopped onions and cilantro to the salsa. Mix, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve.
- You can also use your oven to roast everything at 400°F/200° for about 20 minutes.
- You can use any kind or color of chilies as long as they’re fresh and spicy.
Maricruz Avalos Flores is a Mexican cook and photographer living in Italy where she shares authentic Mexican & Italian recipes that can be easily made at home using easy-to-find ingredients.