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6 Ways To Make Salsa Less Spicy

This is something I’ve been battling with for over 50 years. I do like salsa. In fact, nothing is better for a snack than tortilla chips and salsa. However, I cannot do the spicy thing. So, here are some things I’ve tried over the years that help tone down the fire and make salsa less spicy so I can enjoy the snack without the excessive heat.

Cartoon of man with mouth of fire from eating hot or spicy food

1. Add Something Sweet

Just a touch of honey or sugar added to salsa cuts the heat and makes it more tolerable. Adding approximately ½ to 1 teaspoon of either honey or sugar to 1 cup of salsa is my preferred method of making salsa less spicy.

I recommend starting with ½ teaspoon of honey or sugar and tasting before adding any more. There is a point where the salsa will be too sweet, and adding too much will ruin the taste.

This is a method you can do wherever you are, at home, at a restaurant, or visiting a friend. There is almost always a little sugar handy.

2. Add Citrus

An important ingredient in most salsa recipes is lime juice, and to reduce the amount of heat added by the peppers you have used, add more citrus juice. Just add the juice of 1/4th of an additional citrus fruit, and it can be any kind of citrus you have on hand, lemon, lime, or any other type of citrus you might have.

Woman squeezing fresh lime juice into salsa

3. Add Vinegar

If you don’t happen to have any citrus fruit or juice on hand, you can always add a little vinegar to serve the same purpose as adding citrus, and that is to add a bit of acidity to neutralize and take the edge off the heat from the peppers. You can use plain distilled vinegar or apple cider vinegar, whichever you happen to have on hand.

4. Add Tomatoes

This is my other favorite method of calming down the heat of too-spicy salsa, and that is to add some tomatoes, fresh or canned, or tomato sauce to the salsa. I have also been known to add both a fresh tomato chopped into small pieces and a small amount of sugar to a batch of salsa to prevent the salsa from being too hot for my taste.

Related The 7 Most Suitable Substitutes for Mexican Stewed Tomatoes.

5. Add Dairy

Adding dairy to the salsa can also solve the too-spicy salsa problem. Instead of adding dairy to the entire batch of salsa, I would simply add a large dollop of heavy cream, yogurt, or sour cream to an individual serving of salsa. This is a delicious and easy way of making sure the salsa isn’t too spicy for your taste.

6. Add Other Ingredients

There are a number of different foods you can add to salsa to tone down the spice and create a unique flavor combination at the same time. Here is a list of some extra ingredients that will serve both purposes.

  • Chopped fruits like peaches, papaya, and melon.
  • Onions sauteed in butter.
  • A small amount of browned ground beef and beef broth.
  • Chopped vegetables like cucumber, summer squash, and carrots.
  • Chopped cilantro.
Woman pouring chopped cilantro into salsa

Related 10 Similar Substitutes for Cilantro in Salsa and Guacamole.

Pro Tip: Make Homemade Salsa to Match Your Taste

The best way to have salsa that is just perfect for your taste is to make your own. Instead of following a recipe exactly, here are some things you can do to reduce the heat:

  • Substitute milder peppers like bell peppers for part of the hot peppers called for in the recipe.
  • Use fewer peppers in the batch of salsa.
  • Remove the seeds from the hot peppers that you use.

When I make homemade salsa, I use this recipe from Martha Stewart and reduce the amount of hot peppers. Sometimes I leave out the hot peppers and just use a sprinkling of my homegrown and dried cayenne pepper flakes so that it has a lot of flavor and a little kick but doesn’t burn my mouth too badly.

Use Canned Green Chiles

Use canned green chiles that are not overly spicy, and you can also control the number of chiles that you add to your salsa.

Use Raw Or Roasted Tomatillos

Use raw or roasted tomatillos, which are not spicy but add an acidic taste to the salsa. 

How To Roast Tomatillos

Broiler Method:

  1. Set the oven on the broiler setting.
  2. Remove the outer brown wrapping of the tomatillos and rinse well.
  3. Cut the tomatillos in half horizontally and place on a baking pan skin side up.
  4. Spray the tomatillos with cooking spray.
  5. Place the baking pan on a rack in the center of the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes until the skin begins to blister. Watch them closely to avoid burning them.
  6. Remove the tomatillos from the oven and cool before using.

Bake Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400℉.
  2. Remove the outer brown wrapping of the tomatillos and rinse.
  3. Cut the tomatillos in half horizontally and place on a baking pan skin side up.
  4. Spray the tomatillos with cooking spray.
  5. Place the baking pan on a rack in the center of the oven and bake for about 20 minutes until the skin begins to blister.
  6. Remove the tomatillos from the oven and cool before using.

What Makes Peppers Spicy?

The reason that peppers are so spicy is actually very interesting. The fact that they are so spicy is that they have a built-in defense mechanism that is primarily found in the membrane or pith that surrounds the seeds as a deterrent from animals eating the peppers. That defense mechanism is called Capsaicin which is an oily chemical that causes the heat.

Different peppers have different levels of heat depending on the amount of capsaicin found in each particular type of pepper.

The amount of heat contained in each particular type of pepper is measured by using a system called the Scoville heat scale that measures heat on a scale from 0 to 16 million. The hottest peppers to be found, called the Moruga Scorpion, would rank at 16 million, while bell peppers rank at 0 because they contain no capsaicin. 

The best way to put out the fire in your mouth after eating hot peppers is to drink a glass of milk, which works, whereas drinking a glass of water will only intensify the pain.

How To Add More Spice To Salsa?

Making salsa spicier is much easier than making it less spicy. All you have to do is add more peppers to the salsa or make the salsa from peppers that are higher on the Scoville Heat Unit scale to add enough heat to please those spice lovers in your life.

Final Bite

I am a big wimp when it comes to spicy foods.

If you are like me, make sure you always choose the mild option when buying salsa, even though some of the mild options are too hot for me. I prefer Pace’s Chunky Mild Salsa (Amazon Market Link) over most of the other brands. It has almost no kick to it but it still tastes great.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

Jelly Grandma