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10 of the best store-bought salsas, according to chefs

Published by Business Insider on Sat, 14 Dec 2019


Although many chefs make their own salsas, sometimes they use the jarred stuff you find at the store.Two chefs told Insider that they love salsa from the brand Frontera.Trader Joe's Spicy, Smoky, Peach Salsa is a top pick for one culinary pro.One of the chefs gave Whole Foods' store-brand salsa high marks.Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.Whether it's used as a marinade, taco topper, or chip dip, salsa brings a vibrant flavor blast to everything it touches.And although many professional chefs and at-home cooks prefer to make their own salsas from scratch, sometimes you just can't go wrong with a jar of store-bought stuff.Here are 10 of the best ready-made salsas you can buy, according to chefs.This chef said he usually buys Frontera's Roasted Habanero Salsa.Chef Jason Tilford of Mission Taco Joint in St. Louis, Missouri, and Kansas City, Missouri, said his go-to salsa is Frontera's Roasted Habanero Salsa because it "has a very fresh taste."He said the brand includes roasted vegetables and chiles in the salsa, which gives the overall dip a rich flavor."It has a nice viscosity for dipping or topping or whatever it is you're using it for. The roasting process adds a lot of charred vegetable specks that gives it a great look as well," Tilford told Insider. "It is a bit on the spicy side, which I like."Frontera is also this chef's go-to brand of salsa, but he prefers the jalapeno-cilantro flavor.Robert Carr, executive chef of La Cantera Resort & Spa in San Antonio, Texas, said he also chooses the Frontera brand when buying a jarred salsa.He told Insider that his preferred variety is the jalapeno-cilantro flavor with roasted tomato and garlic because it "has a rich, smoky flavor with some heat."Trader Joe's Spicy, Smoky, Peach Salsa is a top pick for one chef.When Hannah Hopkins, chef and cofounder of Bsame in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, needs to snag a jar of store-bought salsa, she said she heads to her local Trader Joe's."I highly recommend Trader Joe's Spicy, Smoky Peach Salsa. This addictive salsa is not only delicious, but it also covers all your spicy, sweet, salty cravings," Hopkins told Insider.She said it pairs well with tortilla chips but is also a great dipping sauce for grilled chicken or shrimp.One of the chefs gave Whole Foods' store-brand salsa high marks.Chef Lauren Shockey, author of "Hangover Helper," said she particularly appreciates Whole Foods' jarred 365 Everyday Value Salsa Roasted Verde."The flavor of this salsa is tangy, and it particularly makes a great base for cooked dishes. I like to use it mixed with shredded chicken for an easy enchilada filling, or I'll use it to make chilaquiles," she told Insider.Chi-Chi's Mild Chunky Salsa delivers both bright flavor and a welcome dose of nostalgia, according to this chef.The Mexican restaurant chain Chi-Chi's closed its last US eatery in 2004but the brand still distributes its line of jarred salsas throughout North America.And for Chef Jason Goldstein, food blogger of Chop Happy, Chi-Chi's Mild Chunky Salsa "has the perfect balance of sweetness from the tomatoes and spice from the citrus.""There's also a nice [textural] ratio of chunky to soupy," he told Insider. "It's also nostalgic for me; when I was growing up, there was a Chi-Chi's restaurant nearby and we would always go for my birthday and order crunchy tortilla chips and salsa."This chef also swears by Chi-Chi's salsa, but he prefers a smokier flavor.Ronald DeSantis, certified master chef and CulinaryNXT principal adviser, said he also has a soft spot for Chi-Chi's salsas, but his favorite variety is Fiesta-Style Smoky Chipotle."This salsa has a satisfying smoky heat that works with chips, tacos, grilled fish, and roasted veggies," DeSantis told Insider, adding that it also works well in recipes as a base for dips, sauces, and marinades.This chef swears by the Tex-Mex staple Pace Salsa.Sarah Khosravani, executive chef of Old Major in Denver, Colorado, said she always goes for Pace Salsa, a popular dip that's been made in Texas for decades."I live and die by Pace Salsa, preferably chunky medium. The thickness of the salsa allows the chip (or chips!) to be perfectly coated in that tomatoey goodness. Plus, the shelf life is incredible," she added.This chef said Herdez Salsa Verde offers authentic flavor and a perfect balance of tastes.Maggie Unzueta, a first-generation Mexican-American chef at Mama Maggie's Kitchen, told Insider that Herdez Salsa Verde gets her stamp of approval."It's the closest to homemade as you can get," she said, adding that she always keeps a jar or two in her home.Any salsa from Xochitl is this chef's top pick.Chef Kayisha Thompson, CEO of DeLor Cakery in New York City, said she always includes Xochitl on her grocery list because it has less sodium than other brands she's tried."The flavor of this salsa comes out when you cook with it," Thompson told Insider, adding that it is especially great in recipes.This chef enjoys salsa from ZUBI's range of flavors.Chef Stacie Zollars of Sugar Face Bakes in Houston, Texas, said ZUBI's is one of her favorite brands of salsa, especially if she's hosting a get-together of people who have different spice preferences.The Texas-based brand has a range of dips that come in a few different heat levels and it's also dairy-free, nut-free, and gluten-free."I love this brand because it's consistent every time, with a combination of herbs and spices that pair with just about any dish," Zollars told Insider.Read More:I tried following the 'Taco Cleanse' for a week and it was harder than it soundsChefs reveal the 9 things they always order at ChipotleThe 8 foods you should always make in a microwave
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