Copycat Baja Fresh Salsa

Fire up the grill to make this wonderful Copycat Baja Fresh Salsa. Grilling the vegetables until charred produces a smoky salsa like no other. It’s so easy to make and so delicious, it’ll become your new go-to!!

quesadilla dipped into copycat baja fresh salsa in wooden square bowl

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We used to have a Baja Fresh in our city, but sadly it closed down. I’m not sure why because it was so good. It was really fresh (the name doesn’t lie) and fast and like most things that seem to be better for you around here, they’re gone in a flash. Instead, we get things like Burger King to take the place of El Pollo Loco. Burger King? Really??? Who would rather have Burger King than fresh grilled chicken and all the sides you want?

Both Baja Fresh and El Pollo Loco really made an impression on me for their fresh takes on Mexican food. What I loved the most about Baja Fresh, though, was their “black” salsa. I call it black salsa, but I guess it’s real name is something like fire-roasted or charred tomato salsa. Whatever its name, it’s my favorite salsa ever!! And whenever I make it, everyone loves it and either wants the recipe or wants me to make them some (my daughter is definitely a lover of this salsa).


The dark, or black, color of this copycat Baja Fresh salsa is from the charred tomatoes and jalapeños. And when I say charred, I mean charred. Like blackest black charred. Not roasted.

So how do you do this? Put the cut tomatoes on the grill on medium high heat for about a half an hour. Don’t touch them. Just leave them there to get blackened. After the tomatoes have been on for half an hour, put the jalapeño(s) on the grill to also get as charred as possible.

charred tomatoes and jalapeno


  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Chicken stock (or broth)
  • Fresh garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The whole thing gets whirred in a blender until smooth.

baja fresh salsa in blender
I Don’t See Onions. Aren’t There Onions in This Salsa?

Every salsa ever made seems to have onions in it, but I am NOT an onion person (can’t stand them!) so I left them out. If you ARE an onion person and want to add them, place a couple of halved onions on the grill with the jalapeño(s) and continue to char for the same amount of time.

What Can I Serve This Salsa With?

Anything!! You can dip tortilla chips in it, put it on tacos, serve it with quesadillas, mix it with sour cream or Mexican crema for a perfect cold dip for regular chips and/or veggies, or stir it into soups and Instant Pot recipes, like my Mexican Bean Soup. You’re only limited by your imagination, so BYOC (be your own chef)!

How Long Will it Last?

This salsa makes a whopping 4 cups! So unless you’re planning on sharing with everyone you know, you can definitely store this in the freezer for 3-6 months. I like to separate it into smaller portions in freezer jars. It will also keep in the fridge for a good week.

charred tomatoes and jalapeno with lime and cilantro

Fire up that grill to make this amazing Baja Fresh style “black” salsa. It’s so different from the usual salsa, I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes a favorite of yours, too!

copycat baja fresh salsa in front of tacos

Copycat Baja Fresh Salsa

Fire up the grill to make this wonderful Copycat Baja Fresh Salsa. Grilling the vegetables until charred produces a smoky salsa like no other. It's so easy to make and so delicious, it'll become your new go-to!!
4.65 from 31 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Appetizer, sauce
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 4 cups


  • 10 large tomatoes
  • 2 small jalapeños (or one large one)
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 to 1½ cups (240 to 360 ml) chicken stock (as needed to thin salsa)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
  • ½ cup (one small bunch) fresh cilantro
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Slice tomatoes in half and place each half skin side down on a grill over medium high heat and grill for a half an hour. Add jalapeños to grill and continue to grill tomatoes and jalapeños for another half an hour, or until very charred and blackened.
  • Remove from grill and put tomatoes, jalapeños, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, fresh cilantro, and half the chicken stock in a blender and puree. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add more chicken stock as needed for a thin, pourable salsa.


*The recipe makes a LOT of salsa, which can be divided into smaller servings and frozen for about 3-6 months.  
Keyword baja fresh, Gluten Free, salsa
Tried this recipe?Tag @letthemeatglutenfreecake on Instagram so we can see!

24 thoughts on “Copycat Baja Fresh Salsa”

    • I honestly don’t think it will work without one because I don’t know of anything that would get the tomatoes blackened like the grill does. Unless you have a gas stove and want to hold them over the flame of a gas stove? But I would think that would get quite messy. I’m sorry I can’t be of any further help.

      • Would this possibly work in the broiler of a gas stove though? I have used that to char veggies for a queso recipe, but I have never tried to blacken them like this in a broiler. I guess I could try and find out! Unfortunately I live in an apartment in NYC so I don’t have a grill (but I want one very much!!)

  • So the tomatoes, etc. go directly on the grill grates? Or do you put them on foil or something else? My wife is convinced the tomatoes are going to cook down, fall to pieces and disappear into the grill.

    Can’t wait to try this recipe! I loved Baja Fresh too (whatever happened to them? The ones around my area are all gone too) And the black salsa was my favorite thing there! Thanks!

    • Yep, they go directly on the grill grates! What happens is the bottom of the cut tomatoes get blackened and quite crispy actually. You won’t believe how much this salsa is just like the real Baja Fresh! We had only one in our area and I was so sad when they left (not sure what happened to them either).

      • Oh yeah, this stuff is AWESOME! I’ve made two batches now. I cut the recipe in half, the first time because it was experimental, and if I messed it up I didn’t want to have that much to deal with, the second time because I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get all that stuff into my blender. But both times it was great!

        The second time, I chopped up another tomato, some white onion, and cilantro, and added it raw to the salsa when it was done. That gives it a little texture and makes it a little more like the Baja Fresh salsa I remember. But it’s got just the right smoky flavor. It’s not hot as such – there’s just that one jalapeno – but the flavor is great. Even my wife likes it, and she has very little tolerance for spicy.

        So glad I found this recipe! Thank you!

  • Had to leave a comment. This salsa is off the hook. Followed it exactly, but added 1/2 tsp of onion powder, and a little extra lime juice. The secret is to NOT BE AFRAID OF THE CHAR! I used large stem tomatoes, sliced in half, with liberal s&p on each before placing skin side down on a 550 degree grill. Oil your grill grates well beforehand to avoid sticking. 1/2 hour later, added four large jalapenos, let them sit 1/2 more, as the recipe said. Only needed 3/4 cup of chicken stock, but you can add a bit more if you like it thinner. Totally addictive!

  • I made this today, but my salsa isn’t close to black. I think maybe my tomatoes were bigger (more meat, less skin?)? It still tastes amazing though!!!

    • Did you let them get super charred? I had very large (beefsteak) tomatoes as well. But regardless, if it tastes great, it doesn’t really matter what color it is 🙂

  • You are such a life-saver! But I was hoping to find something for our Mexi-night dinners…flour tortillas!
    I have found a decent corn tortilla in the store. But I am soooo missing burritos and fajitas! Do you have a gf flour tortilla recipe?

  • Thank you for posting this, I LOVE this salsa! And I’m totally the same about onions, I’ve never met someone who was the same.

    • OMG, me neither!! (except my daughter, but I don’t count her as she just takes after me). Is it possible we’re somehow related, Pam? Haha!! We seem to like all the same things 😉

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