Zero Waste Salsa Recipe

Zero Waste Salsa
If there’s one thing I’ve been itching to make all summer, it’s definitely been zero waste salsa! I have a serious love for salsa and chips – not gonna lie. And, while I can totally buy salsa pre-packaged in a glass jar (and just reuse the glass jar) I was totally itching to make some from scratch. Also, as we all know, chips come in wasteful plastic bags. Thankfully, I have a way around that (which I share more on later, so stick around). I try to live by the seasons, so I tend to buy only in-season produce from my local farmers market. And guess what? Summer (AKA June, July and August) are full of all the ingredients I could ever want to make salsa. I can find practically all of these ingredients at my market right now, which is why I waited until summer to make it. Incorporating the freshest produce at their peak season only makes your dishes taste better, after all. 

Plus, it’s much easier to shop plastic free at the farmers market (here are my zero waste farmers market essentials, if you’re curious). There aren’t any of those little plastic stickers on produce at the market, and farmers at the market are generally more accepting, even downright encouraging, of reusable totes and produce bags. So, this weekend I made it a mission to grab all the ingredients for salsa at the market. My cousin Sydney was staying over and helped me make it! We both love salsa, so it was honestly a blast. For our first time making it, it certainly didn’t come out bad at all. We learned a few things, got to bond over good food, and of course satisfied our craving for homemade salsa. I love how it came out, so I figured it’d be fun to share the recipe on my blog! Want to learn how we made it? Here’s my recipe for zero waste salsa (you’re welcome).

Zero Waste Salsa

zero waste salsa
  • 3 – 4 pounds of tomatoes (5 big heirloom tomatoes should be more than enough)
  • 1/2 of a red onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 2 small jalapeno peppers (seeds removed, chopped – adjust according to heat preference)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • 1 handful of cilantro
  • 1/2 of a lemon or lime, juiced (this was the only thing I actually had to get from a grocery store – lemon isn’t grown locally in NY)
  • A splash of vinegar (can use red wine, white, or apple cider vinegar depending on preference or what’s available)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Note on ingredient packaging: Try to find these ingredients as plastic free as possible. Support your local market and bring your own tote bags and reusable produce bags. Also, try to get some of the ingredients from a bulk food store, or in the most sustainable packaging available. Choose a glass container for the vinegar if possible. If not, get the biggest plastic container of vinegar you can find so it’s easier to recycle at the end of its life. 

zero waste salsa
  1. Roughly chop tomatoes, onions and jalapeno peppers.
  2. Add all the ingredients to a blender or a food processor (I used a blender). Pulse until desired consistency (we literally pulsed it for a few seconds, and in batches because it couldn’t all fit at once in my blender). You’re bound to end up with a lot of food scraps from this recipe so be sure to compost them! You can also save any onion or garlic peels to make zero waste vegetable broth too.
  3. Transfer your homemade salsa to a bowl if eating right away and serve with chips or veggies. If not eating right away, store it in a salvaged empty glass jar and put it in the fridge. That’s it! How easy is that?
zero waste salsa
For the chips:

If you’re like me, you love a good crunchy chip to dip into your salsa. But one of the biggest problems with that is the plastic waste a bag of chips produce! I’ve got you covered though: You can either make your own homemade chips to go with your salsa, or buy them package free from a local Mexican restaurant.


My boyfriend, me and my cousin went into a local Mexican restaurant to grab tortilla chips. They make them in abundance there and they’re soooo delicious. The cashier filled up three paper bags with tortilla chips, and it only came out to $3. I also asked if I would be able to bring my own bag, or my own container next time, and he said it wouldn’t be a problem. So you can totally get chips, plastic free!


I recommend calling a local Mexican restaurant ahead of time and asking if you can bring your own reusable container, or produce bag, for chips. Heck, you can even reuse an old salvaged paper bag you have lying around too. The worst they’ll say is no, but at the least the paper bags they put their chips in can be composted at the end of their life.

zero waste salsa
Final thoughts:

I’m no chef or anything, but I’ve got to admit this recipe is absolutely the bomb. For my first time making it, it came out really great! My cousin, my boyfriend and me sat around the table listening to music, eating this. It was a lot of fun. I still have some leftover, but it’s going fast! I’ll have to make more soon before the summer is out.


You can probably get most of the ingredients for this recipe at your local farmers market well into September. After all, a good chunk of September is still summer. However, these ingredients will be much harder to find at your market in the fall and winter.


Also, don’t be alarmed if the salsa isn’t the brightest red color on the block. Taste matters way more than looks! However, if you find you want it a little more red in color, adding a few more tomatoes won’t hurt. You can use any kind of tomatoes you want in this recipe – plum, cherry, beefsteak, whatever. I just suggested grabbing big heirloom tomatoes because they’re what I prefer.


Also, don’t be afraid to experiment! Once you’ve made it once, you’ll learn a lot for how you’ll want to make it a second time around. My only suggestion is not to add too much cilantro, as it’s a pretty strong herb.

zero waste salsa
Would you give this zero waste salsa a try? For even more zero waste recipes, be sure to check out my ebook, How to Reduce Food Waste – it’s got 14 yummy (and low waste) recipes inside!
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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


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