Molcajete salsa (mexican roasted tomato salsa)

An old fashioned molcajete salsa that can’t be more traditional and authentic: Roasted tomatoes, chilies, onions and garlic is all you need to make this amazing spicy salsa, even if you don’t own a molcajete, keep reading because I’m gonna tell you how can you still enjoy this staple recipe in just a few minutes.

Homemade molcajete salsa with tomatoes, chilies and onions seen from above.

What is molcajete?

Molcajete refers to a Mexican mortar and pestle made from volcanic stone, used since ancient times in Mexico. The bowl’s (mortar) name is molcajete and the hand-held tool, made from the same material, is called tejolote, both comes 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. Mine is bought from an online store but my older sister, Nora, has the one that belonged to our grand grandmother.

A molcajete filled with freshly made Mexican salsa.

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 now below how to do so.

How is made the molcajete sauce?

Salsa de molcajete can be made with many type of chilies and tomatoes. There are tomatillo sauce, tomate sauce and plain chili sauce. But today I’d like to introduce to this salsa my grandma and my mother used to make almost every-single-day.

They loved this salsa with frijoles de la olla sprinkled with queso fresco and paired with homemade corn tortillas. So simple, yet so delicious that actually that’s one of my favourite ways to enjoy it aswell :)

There are two ways to cook the ingredients for this molcajete salsa, one is boiling them and the other is roasting them in a comal. I love the second one and I always go for it every time I can. If you don’t have a comal at home no worries, you can roast ingredientes in the oven or use a stove griddle.

Mexican molcajete salsa garnished with cilantro and onions.

About The Ingredients

TOMATOES. Use ripe tomatoes, the ones that are very soft and also very bright in color.

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 jalapeno or thai green chilies. If you don’t want the salsa to be too spicy, you can cut them longwise and discard the veins and seeds.

CILANTRO. We are using cilantro only as garnish, feel free to leave it out, but believe me when I tell you that it really adds a nice touch to this molcajete salsa!

ONIONS. Some for roasting and making the sauce and some fresh for garnish.

GARLIC. Garlic is all you need to add a bit of flavor to this sauce, roasting brings it to the next level.

SALT. Sea salt, kosher salt, himalaya salt or my favourite: Cuyutlán salt.

ingredientes para salsa de molcajete

Our recipe for molcajete salsa

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 onions and last add chilies and garlic. You can also use your oven to roast everything at 400°F/200° for about 20 minutes.

Tomatoes, onions, chilies and garlic roasted on a comal.

In a molcajete or mortar add first the garlic, chilies, and one teaspoon of salt. Grind until mixture is almost pastelike. Add also onions and pestle to combine.

Crushed garlic and chilies on a molcajete.

Add tomatoes one by one and grind slowly until you reach the desired consistency, I like to leave some chunks here and there. Leave the mixture to cool until room temperature.

The salsa molcajete just made.

Chop the remaining onions and cilantro and add to the sauce. Mix, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve.

Using a blender

You can use a regular blender to make this Mexican salsa. Just try to not blend too much if you want to achieve a “rustic” consistency. Also, the taste might change a bit, so take in mind that and only use this option if you don’t have a mortar at home.

Place first garlic, a few chillies, salt and one or two tomatoes. Blend for 20 seconds at medium speed. Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse two or three times to achieve a mashed/chopped consistency. Serve as suggested.

salsa de molcajete en un cuenco. Receta mexicana
Molcajete salsa made with a blender.

How to store

This molcajete salsa stores nicely in the fridge for about 3-4 days. Place it on a plastic 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.

Molcajete salsa with roasted tomatoes and chilies.

Molcajete Salsa

Molcajete salsa is the most standing mexican sauce for your grill cookouts. From steak to chicken, this sauce is the perfect combination of flavours.
PREP 5 minutes
COOK 10 minutes
TOTAL 15 minutes
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 4
Author: Maricruz

Ingredients 

  • 1 lb ripe tomatoes
  • 1 to 5 jalapeno or serrano chilies (depends on how spicy you’d like)
  • 1 medium white onion (halved)
  • 2 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • Salt

For garnish:

  • bunch of cilantro (chopped)
  • 1 small white onion (chopped)

Instructions

  • 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 onions and last add chilies and garlic (read note 1)
  • In a molcajete or mortar add first the garlic, chilies, and one teaspoon of salt. Grind until mixture is almost paste-like.
  • Add onions and crush them until combined with the paste.
  • Add tomatoes one by one and grind slowly until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Add onions and cilantro to the salsa. Mix, taste and add more salt if needed. Serve.

NOTES

  1. You can also use your oven to roast everything at 400°F/200° for about 20 minutes.
  2. You can use any kind or color of chilies as long as they’re fresh and spicy. 
Nutrition
Calories: 41kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 8mg | Potassium: 361mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 1080IU | Vitamin C: 34mg | Calcium: 24mg | Iron: 1mg
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Never heard of cuyutlán salt, I’m very curious to hear that is your favorite, any chance where I can find it in the USA? I used it to spread into the bread and for me was def a 5 start sauce! I think I will try it in more things like meat and chicken, thanks!

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