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How to Thicken Salsa (When It’s Too Watery)

How to Thicken Salsa (When It’s Too Watery)

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Struggling to get the perfect salsa consistency? Getting a watery salsa is a common issue among most beginner cooks. It usually tastes odd and doesn’t cling to the food as it should.

Luckily, to save your next taco night, there are different ways you can use to fix up your watery salsa.

For instance, choosing the ideal tomato type, adjusting the ingredients, or adding a thickener can make a world of difference in this situation. 

What else? In this post, I’ll guide you on how to thicken your salsa and how to save it if it gets too watery. Let’s dive into all the tips and tricks!

3 Tips to Prevent a Watery Consistency: Cooking Thick Salsa

As I mentioned, cooking up a good salsa with the perfect consistency can be tricky if you’re still a novice. However, the following tips can save your meal:

1. Pick the Right Tomatoes

Obviously, the primary ingredient of salsa is tomatoes. So, the perfect salsa preparation starts by choosing the optimal tomatoes for your recipe.

I recommend using Roma tomatoes for salsa as they’re firmer and have less moisture content than other types. This makes them the perfect option to produce salsa with a thicker consistency. 

I know that Roma tomatoes might not be accessible for some people. If this applies to you, no worries! You can also look for San Marzano tomatoes as a substitute or simply any firm, fresh, and young tomato.

2. Prepare Your Tomatoes Correctly

Achieving a perfect consistency isn’t only about the type of tomato but also how you incorporate it into the salsa.

When adding tomatoes to your salsa, two tricks will help you yield thicker output. First, add the chopped skin of the tomato to the recipe before adding the interior flesh. 

To do so, scoop out the flesh and keep it aside until you finish adding the skin. After that, add the flesh bit by bit and watch the consistency of the salsa. 

Once you’ve reached the desired thickness, stop adding the flesh.

Roma Tomatoes

The second trick is to drain the tomatoes for a couple of minutes before using them. To do so, place the chopped tomatoes in a strainer and let them drain for a few minutes. 

When the tomatoes lose some of their water, add them to the sauce.

3. Hand-cut the Main Salsa Ingredients

Overprocessing your salsa ingredients in the food processor is one of the main reasons it turns watery and thin. However, this doesn’t mean you must chop all the salsa ingredients by hand to get the desired consistency.

You’ll only need to hand-cut the main ingredients: tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. All the other ingredients will be cut using the food processor as usual. 

By hand-cutting the primary ingredients of the salsa, you’ll ensure that you get a nice, chunky consistency.

This will also ensure that the important parts of the salsa flavor profile remain delicious and robust.

How to Thicken Salsa You’ve Already Made: 3 Additions You Can Use

If you’ve already prepared your salsa and it turned out thin and watery, you still have a high chance of improving its consistency. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Use Tomato Paste 

I prefer thickening tomato-based salsa using tomato paste. The reason is that tomato paste, unlike other additions, doesn’t change the salsa flavor much.

To use this addition, add one tablespoon of tomato paste to the salsa and mix it well. Repeat the process until you get the desired consistency. Keep some salt and pepper on the side to adjust the flavor per your preference. 

2. Add Some Vegetables or Fruits

Some fruits and vegetables can work wonders in turning your watery salsa thicker by adjusting its consistency and absorbing some of the moisture. 

Bowl Of Peppers

For example, adding chunky vegetables such as bell peppers, chilies, and onions will increase the salsa’s crispy texture.

Avocado, mango, cucumber, and tomatillos can also be excellent salsa thickeners. However, the bad news is that these fruits and vegetables will change the flavor of the salsa. 

Chopping Fresh Cilantro By Hand

Some people may be okay with that, but others won’t love it. If you’re okay with the change in the sauce flavor, here’s how to choose between these additions:

  • Adding mango can make your salsa sweeter. 
  • Tomatillos will bring a bit of warmth to the sauce.
  • Avocados add a creamy texture to the salsa with a nutty, earthy taste. 
  • Cucumbers will bring a cool, nice touch to the sauce but nothing spicy, of course.

3. Sprinkle Some Cornstarch

Scoop Of Cornstarch

Besides the above options, adding cornstarch to your salsa to thicken it is a well-known solution. 

However, you need to be accurate when adding cornstarch to get the desired consistency. Here are the steps you need to follow precisely:

  • In a bowl, place one tablespoon of cornstarch for every cup of salsa and add an equal amount of water.
  • Stir the salsa, the cornstarch, and water well until they form a pasty texture. 
  • Move the mixture into a saucepan and place it on a stove.
  • Set the stove to low or medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer for a minute or two.
  • Whisk the mixture while on the stove every few seconds.
  • Increase the stove temperature and bring the salsa to boil for 30 to 60 seconds maximum. Make sure not to boil the sauce for more than one minute!
  • After boiling the salsa, remove it from the stove and check its consistency.
  • If it’s reached the desired consistency, well done. If not, repeat the previous procedures until you get it. Keep your herbs and seasonings next to you, so you can adjust the salsa’s flavor if need be.

Final Thoughts

By now, you know how to thicken your salsa using different ways. Remember that the perfect salsa consistency starts with picking the optimal tomato and preparing it well. 

If your salsa turns watery after preparing it, you can use some additions to improve its consistency. 

Things like tomato paste, cornstarch, and some vegetables and fruits can be great for this purpose.

That said, when using any of the additions mentioned above, it’s vital to use them with the proper amounts to get satisfying results. This means to always start low, check your salsa’s flavor and texture, then add more if it needs it. Good luck!


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