Strawberry Salsa

STRAWBERRY SALSA MAKES A SPECTACULAR APPETIZER OR instantly elevates any of your favorite proteins!

Strawberry salsa is the juicy, sweet and spicy summer appetizer of your dreams!  It is stand-alone delicious with just tortilla chips or serve it on top of your favorite grilled chicken, fish, pork, steak, tacos, etc. AKA it makes everything better!  This strawberry salsa recipe is made with juicy strawberries, sweet pineapple, bursting blueberries, zingy red onion, zesty cilantro, spicy jalapenos and tangy lime for a mesmerizing balance of sweet, tangy, and spicy. You can can customize the spice level from fiery hot to just a hint of heat and can customize the ingredients as well by adding or omitting any of your favorite fruit and veggies. This strawberry salsa is not only intoxicatingly delicious, but also happens to be guilt free, gluten free and dairy free for a snack or party appetizer win everyone will rave about!

up close showing how to make strawberry salsa by tossing strawberries, pineapples, cilantro, red onions and cilantro together with a wooden spoon

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STRAWBERRY SALSA RECIPE

If you have been following me for long – you know I LOVE my salsas!  From standard (but SO GOOD) homemade restaurant-style salsa and roasted salsa verde; to all my fun and flirty salsas: mango salsa, pineapple salsa, corn salsa, avocado corn salsa, black bean corn salsa and now this strawberry salsa – they are all splendid in their own unique way.

I love all of my salsa recipes so much that I honestly didn’t know if there was room to love this strawberry salsa just as much – but oh my YUM, is it AMAZING!  I expected to like it, but it knocked my socks off!  And now is the time to make it when strawberries are at their plump prime – so please don’t miss out!

Why You’ll Love this Strawberry Salsa:

  • Fresh and delicious!  This beautiful strawberry salsa is sweet, tangy, spicy (customizable), bright and refreshing. The addition of pineapple and blueberries add pops of texture and sweetness while still allowing the strawberries to shine.   This salsa is a favorite dish for potlucks, pool parties, picnics, barbecues, and just to snack on at home.
  • Healthy.  This strawberry salsa tastes like an indulgence because it’s unbelievably delicious but is deceptively healthy!  Strawberries = vitamins, minerals and antioxidants!
  • Customizable:  You can customize your strawberry salsa with any of your favorite add-ins such cucumbers or peaches and make it more or less spicy.
  • Make ahead: You can chop all of the ingredients for the strawberry salsa ahead of time and then just combine a little before it’s time to serve for stress free entertaining, lunch or dinners.

STRAWBERRY SALSA INGREDIENTS

  • Strawberries:  use ripe strawberries so they’re nice and sweet but avoid soft strawberries.  I’ve included tips on how to choose ripe strawberries below.
  • Pineapple:  adds a layer of delightful sweet tanginess. I highly suggest fresh but you may substitute canned in a bind.
  • Blueberries:  add another dimension of berry goodness.
  • Red onion: I like the fresh pop of red onion but if you would like to soften the bite, you can submerge the diced onions in cold water for 10 minutes, then drain and pat dry. 
  • Jalapeno: remove the seeds and the white veins of your jalapenos because these pack the fieriest heat.  You can add the seeds back in after you taste the salsa and still want more heat.
  • Fresh Cilantro: adds a bright, fresh, citrus pop.  You can use more or less to taste.
  • Lime Juice: you can use fresh or bottled lime juice but fresh is best.  Use more or less to taste depending on how sweet your strawberries and pineapple are and how tangy you would like your strawberry salsa.
  • Seasonings:  salt, pepper and chili powder awaken all the flavors – don’t skip – although you may use more or less to taste.
  • Honey:  complements the tanginess. Use more or less depending on how sweet your fruit is.
up close showing how to eat strawberry salsa by scooping it up with a tortilla chip

INGREDIENT VARIATIONS

  • Green onions can be used in place of red onions.
  • If cilantro is not your thing, then add some fresh mint.
  • Both the pineapple and the blueberries can be omitted and replaced with strawberries although I highly recommend keeping them.

How to choose THE best STRAWBERRIES

  • How to pick strawberries:  Choose strawberries that are dark red, firm, fragrant and fully ripe – but not soft!  Ripe strawberries will deliver the sweetest, deepest flavor.
  • Can I use frozen strawberries? NO, frozen strawberries have too much moisture and will not work for this strawberry salsa recipe.
  • Don’t soak strawberries:  Rinse and drain the strawberries carefully. Dry berries on towels in a single layer – you don’t want any excess moisture or your strawberry salsa will become runny quickly.  Never soak strawberries in water or they’ll become water logged and lose some flavor and nutrients.

STRAWBERRY SALSA VARIATIONS:

You can mix up your strawberry salsa with any of the below add-ins, or anything else you can dream up!

  • Mango:  Swap the pineapple for mangos or add mangos in addition.
  • Vegetables:  diced English cucumber or red bell peppers add a nice crunch.
  • Stone fruit:  add chopped peaches, nectarines, plums, or apricots.
  • Avocado:  chop and add just before serving.  Use avocados that are ripe but on the firmer side so they don’t get mushy in the salsa. If you add avocados, keep in mind the leftovers will not keep for as long or as well because the avocados will brown and get mushy. You can even combine strawberry salsa with guacamole.
  • Mint:  fresh mint adds another dimension of flavor.
  • Tomatoes: use Roma tomatoes and remove the fleshy part so the strawberry salsa doesn’t get soggy.
  • Corn: add corn from 1-2 ears grilled sweet corn.
  • Coconut: toasted sweet coconut and add just before serving.
  • Quinoa:  make it a quinoa salad with quinoa and some olive oil.
  • Kale:  make it a kale (quinoa) salad.
  • Protein: make it a meal by adding chopped cooked chicken, rotisserie chicken, chopped pork, salmon, etc. directly to the salsa along with some spinach or other greens.
up close showing how to make strawberry salsa by adding strawberries, pineapples, cilantro, red onions and cilantro to a glass bowl

HOW TO MAKE STRAWBERRY SALSA

Are you ready to see just how easy strawberry salsa is to make?  Here’s how:

  1. Chop ingredients. The size of the chopped ingredients comes down to if you like a chunkier salsa or finer salsa.  I personally like my strawberries chopped about 1/2,” and pineapple 1/4.”
  2. Add lime juice and seasonings to a large bowl.  Choose a bowl that gives you some wiggle room to toss, so everything can get evenly combined.  Next, add the lime juice, sugar or honey, salt, pepper and chili powder and whisk them together. 
  3. Add fruit.  Add all the remaining strawberry salsa ingredients:  strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, red onions, jalapeno, cilantro, and basil and stir to evenly combine.
  4. Taste and adjust:  Taste your salsa with a chip if you’re serving with chips (because chips add saltiness) or with a fork if not serving with chips.  Add additional lime juice for tangier, salt for more flavor, jalapeno for spicier (and more flavor) and/or honey/sugar if you would like it sweeter. 
  5. Honey to taste. The amount of honey will depend on how sweet your fruit is (can vary wildly) and how spicy your salsa is. If you like your strawberry salsa on the spicy side, you may like more sweetener to balance the heat and vice versa for mild salsa.
  6. Serve.  If your strawberries are juicy, serve immediately, otherwise, let rest for 30-60 minutes.  Drain of excess liquid if needed before serving (if your strawberries are extra juicy and you don’t serve immediately, a lot of juice can accumulate).

TIPS FOR MAKING STRAWBERRY SALSA:

  • Modify ingredients.  The ingredient quantities are just a guideline, feel free to add more/less of anything to make it YOUR perfect strawberry salsa.
  • Ripe strawberries.  Make sure your strawberries are ripe so they are sweet, and flavorful. 
  • Microwave honey. You may need to microwave the honey a a little so it combines easily, especially if adding additional honey after the strawberry salsa is tossed.
  • How to chop strawberries.  You can chop your strawberries any way you wish, but here’s how I efficiently chop mine:  first, chop the stem off the strawberries.  Next, slice the strawberries in half lengthwise and lay the halves cut side down next to each other on the cutting board.  Slice each strawberry half in half or thirds (depend on the size) lengthwise then chop them the other direction all at once.
  • How to chop cilantro.  There is no need to pick off and separate the fresh cilantro leaves from the stem.   When chopping any fresh herbs like cilantro, parsley and oregano (those without a woody stem, unlike rosemary and thyme), chop the leaves with the stem.  The stems offer substantial flavor and texture.
  • Jalapeno to taste. If your strawberry salsa tastes like it’s missing something, it’s probably a kick of heat from not enough jalapenos.  The jalapenos not only add heat but tons of flavor.  I recommend 1 large jalapeno or 2 smaller jalapenos. You can start with less but add more to taste if your strawberry salsa doesn’t have enough kick.  You can also reserve the jalapeno seeds and add some seeds to taste, but be careful, a little goes a long way!
  • Drain salsa.  If your have extra juicy strawberries, then your salsa can accumulate liquid quickly as the strawberries release their juices. This isn’t problem, just be prepared to drain the liquid and serve soon.
showing how to make strawberry salsa by tossing strawberries, pineapples, cilantro, red onions and cilantro together in glass bowl with two wooden spoons

What should I do with leftover salsa?

If you have leftover strawberry salsa that is not going to be eaten before the texture softens, try pureeing it!  Pureed strawberry salsa makes a fabulous sauce for chicken, fish, or pork.   

How Long is Strawberry Salsa Good for?

Strawberry salsa dramatically varies in freshness depending on how juicy your strawberries are to start with.  I have made strawberry salsa when the strawberries softened within a few hours and was too soft by the next day and I have made strawberry salsa when it was still good the next day. 

Bottom line, serve strawberry salsa the first day for optimal freshness but it can be good for up to 2 days.  The longer the strawberry salsa is stored, the softer the strawberries will become and the more juice they will release.  This doesn’t mean it’s bad, but the texture isn’t as appealing; make sure to drain the excess juice before serving.

CAN I MAKE STRAWBERRY SALSA AHEAD OF TIME?

Strawberry salsa is best served within 1-2 hours because the strawberries continue to soften and release juices.  If you want to make the salsa ahead of time, you can prep the ingredients but wait to assemble:

  • Strawberries: chop and store in a single layer on a paper towel lined plate/tray covered tightly with plastic wrap in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead of time. This storage method helps prevent the strawberries from becoming too soft.
  • Chop remaining ingredients: the pineapple, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro and basil can all be chopped and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead of time.  You can store the pineapple red onions, blueberries and jalapenos together and the cilantro and basil together.
top view of strawberry salsa in a glas bowl with strawberries, cilantro, red onions and cilantro

WAYS TO USE STRAWBERRY SALSA

This vibrant strawberry salsa goes with everything, not just chips!  Here are a few serving ideas:  

Helpful Tools to Make Strawberry Salsa

  • Lemon and Lime Squeezer/Press: I use fresh lemon/lime juice all the time and this press makes prep so much easier!  It’s is made with ultra-strong high quality 18/8 STAINLESS steel (not cheap aluminum) to last a lifetime without rusting or breaking.   This more economical version also has great reviews (but isn’t made of stainless steel).
  • Quality Knives: a chef’s knife will be your most used kitchen tool by far! Quality knives make prep time much quicker and are important for safety as well.  If you’re concerned about moola, please remember that your best chef knives, depending on how hard you use them and how well you take care of them, can easily last 25 years or more. I love my Wusthof but there are hundreds of less expensive knives with great reviews such as this one.
  • Cutting Board:  I use my big solid cutting board daily so it’s worth the investment.  This large cutting board allows you to prep all your veggies on one surface and the teak is moisture resistant.

up close dipping a tortilla chip into strawberry salsa

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©Carlsbad Cravings by CarlsbadCravings.com

Strawberry Salsa

Strawberry salsa is the juicy, sweet and spicy summer appetizer of your dreams! It is stand-alone delicious with just tortilla chips or serve it on top of your favorite grilled chicken, fish, pork, steak, tacos, etc. AKA it makes everything better! This strawberry salsa recipe is made with juicy strawberries, sweet pineapple, bursting blueberries, zingy red onion, zesty cilantro, spicy jalapenos and tangy lime for a mesmerizing balance of sweet, tangy, and spicy. You can can customize the spice level from fiery hot to just a hint of heat and can customize the ingredients as well by adding or omitting any of your favorite fruit and veggies. This strawberry salsa is not only intoxicatingly delicious, but also happens to be guilt free, gluten free and dairy free for a snack or party appetizer win everyone will rave about!
Servings: 6 -8 servings
Total Time: 25 mins
Prep Time: 25 mins

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Ingredients

  • 2 pints strawberries hulled and chopped
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1-2 jalapenos seeded, deveined, minced
  • 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon honey more or less to taste
  • 1/4 tsp EACH salt, chili powder
  • 1/8-1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  • Add lime juice, honey, salt pepper and chili powder to a large bowl and whisk to combine (microwave honey a little if needed). Add all remaining strawberry salsa ingredients. Toss to evenly combine.
  • Taste and adjust the sessions if desired: more jalapenos for spicier, more lime for tangier, more honey/sugar for sweeter.
  • If your strawberries are juicy, serve immediately, otherwise, let rest for 30-60 minutes. Drain off excess liquid if needed before serving (if your strawberries are extra juicy and you don’t serve immediately, a lot of juice can accumulate).

Notes

TIPS AND TRICKS

  • Modify ingredients.  The ingredient quantities are just a guideline, feel free to add more/less of anything to make it YOUR perfect strawberry salsa.  You can add/swap in mangos, peaches, cucumbers, bell peppers, avocados, etc. 
  • Ripe strawberries.  Make sure your strawberries are ripe so they are sweet, and flavorful. 
  • Jalapeno to taste. If your strawberry salsa tastes like it’s missing something, it’s probably a kick of heat from not enough jalapenos.  The jalapenos not only add heat but tons of flavor.  I recommend 1 large jalapeno or 2 smaller jalapenos. You can start with less but add more to taste if your strawberry salsa doesn’t have enough kick.  You can also reserve the jalapeno seeds and add some seeds to taste, but be careful, a little goes a long way!
  • Drain salsa.  If your have extra juicy strawberries, then your salsa can accumulate liquid quickly as the strawberries release their juices. This isn’t problem, just be prepared to drain the liquid and serve soon.
  • Leftover idea.  If you have leftover strawberry salsa that is not going to be eaten before the texture softens, try pureeing it!  Pureed strawberry salsa makes a fabulous sauce for chicken, fish, or pork.   

Storage

  • Strawberry salsa is best served within 1-2 hours because the strawberries continue to soften and release juices. 
  • That being said, strawberry salsa dramatically varies in freshness depending on how juicy your strawberries are to start with.  If the strawberries are extra juicy they can become soft in a couple hours, if they are less juicy, they can last longer.  
  • Bottom line, serve strawberry salsa the first day for optimal freshness but it can be good for up to 2 days.  The longer the strawberry salsa is stored, the softer the strawberries will become and the more juice they will release.  This doesn’t mean it’s bad, but the texture isn’t as appealing; make sure to drain the excess juice before serving.

HOW TO PREP AHEAD 

If you want to make the salsa ahead of time, you can prep the ingredients but wait to assemble:
  • Strawberries: chop and store in a single layer on a paper towel lined plate/tray covered tightly with plastic wrap in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead of time. This storage method helps prevent the strawberries from becoming too soft.
  • Chop remaining ingredients: the pineapple, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro and basil can all be chopped and stored in airtight containers in the refrigerator up to 24 hours ahead of time.  You can store the pineapple red onions, blueberries and jalapenos together and the cilantro and basil together.

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