Extra Salsa? 12 Delicious Salsa Uses

The ingredients list for a standard salsa recipe includes some of the most versatile ingredients in the world: tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. And, of course, for many salsas: chili peppers. If you have run out of ideas for using salsa and have leftovers, you still have options. Here are some of the best ways to use up your extra salsa to finish up that jar.

Before taking any steps with that extra salsa, consider when you last opened the jar. Salsa can go bad. If it has been weeks (or months), then it may be best to simply throw it out (similar to hot sauce), even if it has been in the refrigerator. You can also opt to freeze extra salsa, though that comes with some cons as well. Consider how quickly you can use it vs. our options below.

Also, read the ingredients list of your salsa (and any recipe instructions you have) before using it in pairings. Beyond those fresh tomatoes or tomatillos, a basic salsa (red or green) often contains many spices, including salt, fresh cilantro, and ground cumin. If you add salsa, you may not need to spice your dish any more than what the salsa provides.

Make a creamy dip

Salsa alone is a great dip, but mixing it with something creamy brings your salsa dip to a whole different level. The best mixing options are either sour cream or cream cheese. They both can be served with tortilla chips or crackers. Or they can be used as a topping for tacos, burritos, enchiladas, or even burgers.

–> See The Recipe: Spicy Salsa And Cream Cheese Dip

Add it atop a simple salad

Salsa is a great way to add flavor to a green salad. It pairs well with greens and other vegetables, and it adds a delicious tangy flavor. Salsa also is often quite healthier than many salad dressing options that are on the market.

And don’t overlook adding additional ingredients to the salsa salad topping. Black beans, pinto beans, corn, onions, and other ingredients all work well. And they add a lot of depth to your salad. A salsa sour cream dip also works quite well here.

Use salsa in your mac and cheese

The flavor of salsa is the perfect addition to mac and cheese. Salsa’s fresh, tangy flavor and spices in salsa add a depth of flavor that takes the dish to a whole new level. The creamy cheese pairs perfectly with the acidity in the salsa, and the combination is irresistible.

Try it as a side (or atop) pork chops or chicken

A chunky red salsa makes an excellent side or topper to white meats like pork or chicken. The fresh sweetness and tanginess of salsa give the otherwise bland taste of both of these meats something extra on the plate.

Add it to soup

Salsa is a good addition to soup because it gives the soup a kick of flavor. The salsa’s spices (and potentially spiciness) add a depth of flavor that can’t be matched by just using herbs alone. Salsa is also a good way to add some extra healthy ingredients to soup, like tomatoes and peppers.

It works best with soups with a tomato base, but salsa can work in other cases too. Adding it as a topper to a bowl of cheese soup (like our beer cheese soup) is a good use case here.

Use it for Spanish rice

Sometimes called Mexican rice or red rice, Spanish rice recipes typically require all or most of the ingredients that you might see in a typical salsa roja recipe. Having a pre-made salsa ready to go eliminates a few steps and makes the preparation easier.

Some vegan recipes may require only two ingredients: rice and salsa, though you will need to add chicken stock for the non-vegan ones. Salsa taquera, salsa verde, and corn salsa all can be used to make versions of Spanish rice.

–> Learn More: Six Types Of Salsa That You Should Know

Add it to queso dip

The simplest recipe for queso dip — also known as salsa con queso — consists of an easy-to-melt cheese combined with a salsa roja or salsa fresca. Serve your queso dip with tortilla chips.

Use it as a marinade

The flavor profile of salsa allows it to work well as a seasoning. From the onion and lime juice to the garlic that you find in some salsa recipes, salsa can make a great marinade. Spoon it over chicken, fish, or pork that you plan to roast or grill.

Another way to use it is to add it to ground or shaved beef to make meat for tacos or fajitas. The acidity of most salsa makes it a particularly useful addition to fajita meat since a tart component is usually a requirement in that dish.

Add it to a Bloody Mary cocktail

When you think of ways to use up excess salsa, a beverage might not be the first thing that springs to mind. That said, everything in salsa can work as a complement to the famous tomato-based drink. Almost any savory salsa makes a great addition to a bloody Mary. A traditional salsa will have a spicy kick from jalapeños or other hot peppers. The spiciness makes it an even better fit for the world’s most popular savory cocktail.

Note that you will have to run most salsas through a blender to make them drinkable – you don’t want your bloody Mary too chunky.

Use it in gazpacho

The typical gazpacho recipe will include cucumber, but aside from that, the ingredients are the same ones that show up in salsa recipes. Add cucumber to your salsa, puree it, and you have most of what a gazpacho recipe will require. You may need to add oil, vinegar, and water.

Add it to chili

A typical red salsa will have most of the ingredients needed for a flavorful chili. Not only will it have chili peppers for a source of heat, but it will also have tomatoes and onions. You have the option of sweating the salsa at the start with your meat or pureeing it to add later for a wetter texture.

Add it to gumbo

Aside from ingredients like cilantro and lemon juice, most of the ingredients in a standard salsa recipe are found in gumbo recipes as well. Onions, tomatoes, and hot peppers will all work in a gumbo. Cilantro and lemon juice don’t usually appear in the standard gumbo recipe, but they shouldn’t detract from it either. You should be able to use them and still wind up with an enjoyable dish.

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UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on November 19, 2022 to include new content.
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The best way to use up salsa is to either dump it into your favorite Italian tomato-based sauce recipes or top your Italian dishes with it as you would a Mexican dish!! Lasagna, spaghetti, pizza – it doesn’t matter.

Unless you’re actually in Chicago or New York, chances are your pizza won’t have enough sauce and the sauce it does have will be too sweet so, just top it with some salsa! As long as you haven’t overdone the cilantro (the most ridiculous and blasphemous food fad in history!!) in your salsa, you’re good to go!