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Habanero Tomato Salsa Recipe

Habanero Tomato Salsa Recipe

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  • 3 large tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

  • 2 cups finely chopped white onion

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice

  • 6 habanero chiles or 8 serrano chiles, seeded, finely chopped

  • 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

Recipe Preparation

  • Mix all ingredients in large bowl. Season to taste with salt. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

Recipe by Steven Raichlen


Photos by Tom Schierlitz

Reviews Section

Spicy Habanero Salsa

We are less than 2 weeks away from the Super Bowl. You know that that means? Lots of yummy snacks are coming your way.

And we’re kicking it off (see my pun skills ?) with this Spicy Habanero Salsa.

If you’ve never dabbled with habanero peppers, they are these little orange guys that pack a punch. The kind of heat that lingers on the tongue – but in a good way.

I love a spicy salsa and making it fresh at home is always a good idea.

I recommend starting with 1 habanero and then increasing the heat from there. Peppers can vary in spice – so you may get one that is a dud and another that is spicy as hell. So add carefully.

Oh, and did I mention, there are also jalapenos in this salsa? I like having both since I think they bring different qualities to the table. Jalapeno has spice, but also a nice flavor. Habanero doesn’t have as much flavor, but really ups the spice level.

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This is a delicious way to use up all your
unripe, green tomatoes before the first frost of winter.
Don't throw them away! This makes for a great sauce for enchiladas, casseroles and burritos!

    • 10-20+ chopped cored green tomatoes (any size, type, or feel free to use a mix of green tomatoes, just use all the green ones that you have!)
      • 10-20+ Habañeros, Jalapeños or any hot peppers or even super hot peppers (to taste, add a lot if you want it spicy and sample until it gets to the desired spiciness)
        • 4-6+ cloves garlic, finely chopped
          • 1/2-1+ cups lime juice (Measure per jar: 4 Tablespoons per Pint, 8 Tablespoons per Quart)
            • 1/2 cup loosely packed finely chopped cilantro
              • 2-4 tsp ground cumim
                • 2+ tsp pickling salt to taste
                  • 1-2 tsp ground black pepper
                    • Half Pint jars, Pint Jars or Quart Jars as desired

                    Note: you can also make this fresh, and cut down on the lime juice if you're not canning it. The lime juice helps keep it shelf-stable after canning.

                    Bring water to a boil in your large pot or canner. Simmer the clean jars until ready for use. Wash lids in warm soapy water, then set aside with the bands.

                    We core the tomatoes, cut off the stems of the peppers, then in batches, we throw the tomatoes and peppers along with the salt, pepper, garlic and cilantro in our food processor and blend until fairly smooth. You could also instead chop your tomatoes to desired thicker consistency if desired. Then we pour all of the batches of pureed veggies (excluding onion) into the pot to bring to a boil. Stir in the cumin, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer 5-10 minutes.

                    Take jars out of simmering water, place on a towel-lined counter near the canner. Add lime juice to each jar (4 Tablespoons per Pint, 8 Tablespoons per Quart) - this gives it enough acidity to preserve it. Depending on how many tomatoes and peppers you used, this could make anywhere from 6 pints to 20 pints of salsa. That's why it's nice to just measure the lime juice on a per jar basis.

                    Then spoon or ladle the hot salsa into the jars, leaving a half inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles by agitating with a butter knife or small spatula, then wipe rim clean. In the meantime, put lids in hot water for a minute or so, then place on top of each jar, screw each band on to fingertip tight. Put jars back in boiling water and process for 20 minutes (adjust for altitude). Remove the jars, place on a towel lined counter and leave them for 24 hours. Remove the bands and check lids for seal with your fingers, and check to make sure the lid doesn't flex up and down if pressed. If sealed, store in a dark dry place, unstacked, and use within a year.

                    Recipe Tips:

                    When cutting hot peppers, make sure to wear gloves or be careful not to touch the insides of the peppers. That's why we like to use a food processor!

                    You also don't have to Can this salsa (boil in jars), you could just boil the sauce for 10 minutes, then let cool, put in a glass dish and refrigerate for eating within a few days.

                    This also makes a great Enchilada sauce!

                    FOR ALL YOU CHILEHEADS:
                    If you want a wicked spicy green tomato salsa,
                    you could even make these with the
                    SUPER HOT PEPPERS such as the Carolina Reaper .
                    They're super easy to grow from seed!

                    • 1 pound roma tomatoes, halved
                    • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt, plus more to taste
                    • 1 medium jalapeño pepper
                    • 2 medium cloves garlic
                    • 1/2 medium white onion, peeled and quartered
                    • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
                    • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
                    • Sugar, to taste

                    Preheat broiler. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon salt. Add jalapeño, garlic, and onion to baking sheet. Place baking sheet in broiler and cook until tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, and onion have slightly blackened, about 20 minutes, flipping jalapeño and garlic half way through. Remove from broiler and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

                    Stem and seed jalapeño and peel garlic. Transfer tomatoes, jalapeño, garlic, and onion to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped.

                    Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in cilantro and lime juice. Season with salt and sugar to taste. Let rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container up to a week.

                    How Hot Is This Mango Habanero Salsa?

                    It has the potential to be blazing hot.

                    Habanero peppers are spicy, and the level of heat can vary from pepper to pepper.

                    For a milder salsa, here’s what to do.

                    Remove both the seeds and the membrane after roasting. A lot of the heat is in the pepper membrane, not just the seeds!

                    You can also try adding half of the habanero pepper to the final salsa, tasting the salsa, and then adding more for extra heat.

                    For a hotter salsa, add leave the habanero pepper whole. For an even hotter salsa, add an extra pepper or two.

                    Keep in mind that with three whole habanero peppers, your salsa will be hotter than most store-bought hot salsa.

                    New to Canning?

                    No worries…Ball® Fresh Preserving has you covered! The Ball® 9-Piece Preserving Starter Kit is perfect for any aspiring canner. It includes all of the necessary tools for canning and a recipe card with step-by-step visual and written instructions that make learning the canning process as easy as possible. (You’ll also need a large, deep, covered stock pot to use as a hot water canner.)

                    The Ball® 9-Piece Preserving Starter Kit includes 4 half pint jars, preserving rack, real fruit classic pectin, jar lifter, headspace/bubble remover tool, and jar funnel, plus a step-by-step instruction sheet, and a coupon for a 12-pack of Ball® Mason Jars. You can buy your Ball® 9-Piece Preserving Starter Kit by clicking here.

                    As a new home canner, I think you’ll also love knowing exactly what goes into every jar: real, natural ingredients, and no preservatives or unnecessary additives. You can proudly serve this Plum Habanero Salsa knowing that it is homemade!

                    Essential Simmered Tomato-Habanero Sauce

                    Yucatecans roast lots of their vegetables, usually on a griddle since ovens with broilers are not common. I've described the traditional method for the tomatoes, then given you the simpler, more controlled broiler method.

                    Replacing fresh tomatoes with good-quality canned is an option (you'll need a 28-ounce can) you'll miss the roasty flavor, but the sauce is certainly worth making.


                    • 1 1/2 pounds (3 medium-large or 9 to 12 plum) ripe tomatoes
                    • 1 1/2 tablespoons rich-tasting lard or olive oil or vegetable oil
                    • 1 small (4-ounce) white onion, thinly sliced
                    • 1 fresh habanero chile, halved
                    • Salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)


                    1. Roast the tomatoes.The griddle method: Line a griddle or heavy skillet with aluminum foil and heat over medium. Lay the tomatoes on the foil and roast, turning several times, until blistered, blackened and softened, about 10 minutes. Don't worry if some of the skin sticks to the foil.
                      The broiler method: Lay the tomatoes on a baking sheet and place about 4 inches below a very hot broiler. Roast until blistered and blackened on one side, about 6 minutes flip the tomatoes and roast the other side. Cool, then peel, collecting any juices with the tomatoes. Coarsely puree tomatoes and juices in a food processor or blender.
                    2. Make the sauce. In a medium-size (2 to 3-quart) saucepan, heat the lard or oil over medium. Add the onion and fry until deep golden, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chile halves and simmer 15 minutes or so, stirring often, until nicely reduced but not dry (it should be an easily spoonable consistency). Taste (it will be wonderfully picante and nicely perfumed), season with salt, remove the chile if you want, and it's ready to use.

                    Advance preparation: Covered and refrigerated, the sauce will keep for several days it also freezes well.


                    • 1 bone-in pork shoulder, about 5 pounds
                    • 6 tablespoons achiote paste
                    • 1 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
                    • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
                    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
                    • 1 onion, sliced
                    • 3 garlic cloves
                    • 8 plum tomatoes
                    • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
                    • 2 habanero chiles, toasted over an open flame until lightly blackened
                    • 1/4 cup dark beer
                    • Corn tortillas, lime slices and cilantro, for serving


                    Stab the pork shoulder about 50 times with a thin metal skewer all over, being careful not to tear the meat.

                    Combine the achiote paste, orange juice and lime juice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Place the pork in a large Ziploc bag and add the achiote mixture. Squeeze to remove excess air and seal. Let marinate for 48 hours in the fridge, turning bag occasionally.

                    Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

                    Place pork in a large roasting pan with a rack large enough to hold the pork shoulder up and out of the pan, allowing heat to circulate around the roast. Roast for 5 hours, or until the internal temperature of the roast is 160 degrees F and the meat is fork tender.

                    While the pork is roasting, place the oil in a large pan over high heat. Add the onions, garlic and whole tomatoes. Sprinkle with the salt. Pan roast until tomatoes and onions are caramelized and blistered. Put the onions, garlic and tomatoes in a blender.

                    Remove stems and seeds from habaneros, and add to the blender along with the beer. Process until smooth and reserve to the refrigerator while the pork roasts.

                    When the meat is done roasting, let it rest for 45 minutes. Shred pork, discarding bones. Serve with the salsa, plenty of tortillas, limes and cilantro.