How to Make Salsa With a Molcajete

by Fides Ang

Items you will need

  • 1 lb. fresh tomatoes
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 1 hot chili of choice
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • Chopped cilantro, lime juice and coarse salt to taste

A molcajete is a Mexican mortar and pestle made from basalt, or volcanic rock. Basalt is porous, so food flavors carry on from one use to the next. Salsa is traditionally made in a molcajete. The ingredients impart more flavorful essential oils in the mashing process. The following is a very general salsa recipe. Feel free to make adjustments to taste.

Step 1

Line your baking sheet with foil and broil the tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño pepper and chili. If you are using a dried chili, brush it with oil before putting it in the oven. Broil for eight minutes, then flip them over and broil for another eight minutes.

Step 2

Let the ingredients cool. Peel the tomatoes, garlic, jalapeño pepper and chili. Seed the pepper and chili and cut into smaller chunks.

Step 3

Add coarse salt, garlic, jalapeño and chili to the bottom of the molcajete. Pound with the pestle until the mixture is pastelike.

Step 4

One at a time, add tomatoes, then onion and cilantro. You should grind them into a desired texture before adding the next ingredient.

Step 5

Add lime juice to thin out the mixture. Add additional salt to taste.


  • Serve the salsa straightaway in the molcajete for a more festive presentation. Try a mix of tomatoes and tomatillos.


  • A new molcajete must be seasoned before use to avoid sandy grit in your food. Consult with the manufacturer’s guidelines for instructions. Be careful not to touch your eyes after handling hot chilies or peppers. Wear gloves to protect your hands.

About the Author

Fides Ang is a writer and business owner. In her former corporate life, she was a consultant for a national closet company and a buyer for a high-end fashion consignment business. Fides holds a Bachelor of Science in graphic design from University of California, Davis. She has been writing for Demand Studio since 2009.