Red salsa is the ultimate consensus builder, whether it’s the squeeze bottle at your favorite taqueria that brightens the al pastor or the free vat served up at a Tex-Mex dive where you and your friends gossip and sip on oversized margaritas. Because of its culinary importance, I wanted to see which red salsa at the grocery store is the best one for gathering around.
In the diverse world of jarred salsas, I made some executive decisions. For this ranking, I tasted 13 red salsas, collecting all I could in my visit to three different stores—apologies in advance if your favorite brand didn’t make the cut. Each salsa was tasted with the king of salsa-sampling vessels: the Tostitos Scoop. For consistency, I selected salsas labeled as “Medium” spicy whenever possible and avoided those that contained fruits or alternate flavorings.
The salsas were judged on the following factors:
- Flavor (salt, spice, tang)
- Texture (the chunky/smooth balance)
- Freshness (can I taste the jar this has been sitting in?)
With that, I present to you a list of which salsas to buy, and which to avoid, at the grocery store.