Sometimes we feel like buying a bunch of ripe tomatoes and mincing up onions for an hour. But most of the time, let’s face it: We’d rather just sit back on the couch and pop the top off of a really damn good jar of grocery store salsa. The only problem? There are so many options. We taste-tested the 14 top-selling brands in the country to find the best for all of your double dipping, taco bar and party-planning needs. Here are our top five.
The 5 Best Grocery Store Salsas, Hands Down, No Contest
Next Best To Homemade: Chi-chi’s Medium Thick And Chunky
Presenting our overall winner. It tastes like it was made an hour ago, you can buy it at any grocery store in the country, and it’s super affordable. While other medium salsas are made with bell peppers, this crowd-pleaser packs an appropriate amount of “medium” heat with fresh jalapeños. It’s rounded out with naturally sweet tomatoes—not granulated sugar like many competitors.
If You Can’t Take The Heat: Archer Farms Restaurant-style Salsa
Our favorite store for chic but affordable decor (Target, we’re looking at you) just so happens to have a killer house line of salsas. Saucy but not too soupy, this winner is plenty flavorful thanks to pasilla and Anaheim peppers—which pack flavor instead of spiciness.
Buy the salsa ($3)
If You’re A Heat Seeker: Trader Joe’s Extra Hot Habanero Ghost Pepper Salsa
Calling all heat hounds (you know who you are). TJ’s really isn’t messing around when it comes to this refrigerated dip, made with a smidgeon of the spiciest pepper in the world. It’s combined with tomatoes, fresh onion, cilantro and roasted bell and poblano peppers so there’s plenty of robust flavor, too.
Best For Cooking: Pace Mild Chunky Salsa
Maybe you’re whipping up a batch of chili, enchiladas or some salsa-fied chicken. Whatever the case, you need a jar of salsa you can cook with. Enter this mild but intensely tomato-ey pick. Because it’s pretty thin (but still filled with toothsome chunks), it’s perfect for reducing into salsas that taste one hundred percent homemade.
Best Gourmet: Desert Pepper Trading Company Roasted Tomato Chipotle Corn Salsa
Pull out all of the stops at your next fiesta with this smoky-sweet offering. Slow-fire-roasted tomatoes, sweet yellow corn and pulverized chipotle chiles are practically tasty enough to eat with a spoon—though we suggest you down it with scoop chips instead.