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I Tried 6 Store-Bought Salsas & the Best Was Chunky and Fresh Tasting

Chunky or smooth, green or red, hot or mild—see which dip gets top honors in this taste test.
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Salsa is a staple in many homes, whether it's there waiting to be served as an appetizer to guests at a party or it's on tap as an after-school snack.

From classic tomato to tomatillo-based dips and from thick and hearty bean salsas to sweet, fruity mixtures, the world of jarred salsas is vast and varied. Anyone who has shopped for salsa in the grocery store knows how overwhelming the options can be.

Aside from the base ingredients, salsas vary in spice level and texture. Some shoppers might want a super chunky tomato dip that packs a punch of heat, while others prefer a light and smooth salsa without a pepper in sight. No matter your preference, there is a salsa for you at the grocery store.

Not everyone has the time or inclination to personally work their way through the salsa aisle to find the best dip—but I do. To find the best-tasting salsa, I sampled six dips from the most popular and easy-to-find brands.

I tried each salsa on its own and with a tortilla chip (my favorites are Somos Unusually Thick & Crunchy Tortilla Chips) to asses flavor, texture, spice level, and how well the dip adheres to a chip. The best salsa is not too salty (tortilla chips have plenty of salt) and has staying power after a dip. The salsa shouldn't be so watery as to slide right off the chip, nor should it be so chunky that a tortilla chip cracks under the load.

Find the perfect salsa for your needs below. Here's how these six grocery store jarred salsas stacked up, ranked in descending order.

Tostitos Restaurant Style Medium Salsa

tositos salsa
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (2 tablespoons): 15 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 210 mg sodium, 3 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 1 g protein

As a big fan of Tostitos regular salsa, I was disappointed by the texture and flavor of the brand's restaurant-style dip. This blend is made with onions and jalapeños in addition to two varieties of tomatoes.

The look: There's so much liquid in the jar that the tiny bits of tomato, onion, and jalapeño appear to be floating. Rather than having a cohesive texture, the components of the salsa are easily distinguished from one another.

The taste: Water is the second ingredient in this product, and, unfortunately, that's reflected in the flavor and texture. This is a very loose, thin, and watery dip that doesn't stick well to a chip. Compared to the other products I tested, it's bland. It does, however, taste more like a fresh pico de gallo than a savory jarred salsa.

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365 By Whole Foods Market Thick & Chunky Medium Salsa

365 salsa
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (2 tablespoons): 10 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 140 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (<1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein

This store-brand salsa is perfectly fine but not memorable. It's fully organic and flavored with onion, jalapeños, garlic powder, and cayenne.

The look: This salsa is finely puréed until it's nearly smooth. There are tiny visible chunks of perfectly minced white onion, but you won't find any meaty pieces of tomato in this sauce. It's good for dipping, though, and leaves a thin, uniform coating on a tortilla chip.

The taste: This salsa tasted the sweetest of the bunch. Though it doesn't have any added sugars listed in the ingredients, it does contain tomato juice, which can be sweet. I prefer my salsas savory and umami-rich, so this was not my favorite.

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Fronterra Tomatillo Salsa

frontera tomatillo salsa
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (2 tablespoons): 10 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (<1 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 1 g protein

This was the only tomatillo-based salsa I tried, and it had a different flavor and look than the tomato-forward dips. In addition to fire-roasted tomatillos, this dip is made with tomatoes, onions, and serrano peppers.

The look: This salsa also has water listed as a prominent ingredient, and it has a thin, liquid texture. It's also grassy green, thanks to the tomatillos, and has been very finely puréed into a uniform texture. You can see specks of black from where the tomatillos and tomatoes were fire-roasted, as well as pepper seeds, presumably from the serranos.

The taste: This wasn't the most flavorful of the salsas I tried, but it did have a unique smoky flavor and offered a bit of heat at the back of the throat. This is a popular product for making crockpot chicken, so it may be better used as a cooking sauce.

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Siete Mild Salsa Roja

siete mild salsa
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (2 tablespoons): 10 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 240 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (1 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein

This salsa roja comes in a squat 4-ounce jar, which may not be enough if you're hosting a Super Bowl party, but I appreciate the smaller size because I never seem to be able to finish an 8-ounce jar of salsa before it goes bad. This salsa also has a noticeably shorter ingredient list than most of the jars I sampled.

The look: This salsa has more texture to it than many puréed options. There are small (but not teensy) chunks of tomato, jalapeños, onions, and garlic in the mix. You can see that the tomatoes were roasted, as there are specks of blackened tomato skin throughout.

The taste: This salsa has a deep concentrated tomato flavor. It's a touch sweet (but not nearly as sweet as the 365 brand product) and salty (it has a higher sodium content than most of the salsas in this test). Roasting the tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness and umami, which are both heightened in this dip by fresh lemon juice and sea salt. You also get a nice herby finish from cilantro.

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Green Mountain Gringo Medium Salsa

green mountain gringo salsa
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (1 tablespoon): 12 cal, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 82 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (1 g fiber, 0 g sugar), 0 g protein

This salsa is made with a blend of tomatoes and tomatillos, three kinds of fresh peppers, as well as both cilantro and parsley. It's full of flavor and has a nice meaty texture that you'll want to scoop right up with a tortilla chip.

The look: This salsa is for chunk lovers. There are generous pieces of diced tomato and tomatillo interspersed with green peppers (pastillas, serranos, and jalapeño) and nubs of real garlic. It has a rustier red color than some of the other salsas I sampled.

The taste: This dip has an almost fresh flavor, if that's possible from a shelf-stable jarred sauce. The combination of tomatoes, peppers, and real herbs gives this dip a homemade touch, and the juicy chunks are super satisfying to scoop up with a chip.

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Late July Medium Salsa

late july medium salsa
Lizzy Briskin, Eat This, Not That!
PER SERVING (2 tablespoons): 10 cal, 0 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 110 mg sodium, 2 g carbs (0 g fiber, 1 g sugar), 0 g protein

Late July's thick and chunky medium organic salsa hits the right notes of flavor, heat, and texture. It's fully organic and contains bell peppers, two kinds of fresh chilies, and both garlic and garlic powder, in addition to the tomato base.

The look: This salsa has a bold red color and a texture that's both loose and chunky. The tomato purée separates a bit from the meaty chunks of diced tomato, so you get the best of both worlds. You can also see (and smell) the fresh garlic throughout the mixture.

The taste: This salsa is perfectly spiced and seasoned. It's not overly salty and certainly not sweet. It has a touch of heat that keeps you coming back for more, and the large chunks of tomato taste fresh and juicy. This is a crowd-pleasing salsa made for all taste buds.

Lizzy Briskin
Lizzy is a trained chef, food writer, and recipe developer for print and digital outlets including Insider, Real Simple, and the Chicago Tribune. Read more about Lizzy