Molcajete Mash Ups - 5 Mortar & Pestle Salsa Recipes To Kick Off Summer

Molcajete Mash Ups - 5 Mortar & Pestle Salsa Recipes To Kick Off Summer

8 minute read

What’s the best salsa recipe? It really depends on who you ask. The thing to remember with salsa is that it isn’t just one taste, one set of ingredients, one traditional salsa recipe (though we did include one).


Salsa is an explosion of flavors, and they can be sweet, salty, sour, spicy, pungent, even bitter. It all depends on what you’re in the mood for. With summer just around the corner, salsa season is almost in full swing. 


Social distancing backyard get-togethers may seem strange at first, but give everyone their own bowl of salsa and chips and they’re happy. And because 2020 has not been an ordinary year, why make the same old ordinary salsa?

What You’ll Need To Make The Best Salsa


  1. A sharp, high-quality knife set 

  2. A stone mortar and pestle set (to avoid elbow grease)

  3. A large skillet, cast iron if possible

  4. A garlic peeler (to make your life easier)

We’ve put together five of our favorite salsa recipes to spice up your summer. Each recipe requires fresh ingredients, a sharp knife, and a molcajete––a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have a molcajete, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

Why does a stone mortar and pestle set make the best salsa? The heavy weight of the pestle crushes, grinds, and pulverizes to release oils, flavors, and aromas that enhance the quality, taste, and texture of food. Besides being a timeless treasure, it’s easy to use and clean, and a good quality one will last a lifetime. 


How To Care For Your Mortar And Pestle

3 Steps Before The First Use: 

  1. Wash with warm water (no soap) and remove any stone debris. Repeat a few times, and allow the mortar to dry thoroughly.

  2. Grind a small handful of white rice until fully pulverized. Remove and repeat the process with fresh rice until the grounds are white.

  3. Season the surface to remove any final stone debris: Mash 4 cloves of garlic and 1 tsp each of cumin, salt & pepper into a paste. Dig the aroma.


Once you’ve completed this initial preparation, your stone mortar and pestle is food safe and ready for everyday use. To maintain it, wash thoroughly with warm water between uses.

5 Sensational Summer Salsas

Each of the following five salsa recipes can be adapted to your taste preference. If you want a spicier version, include a few seeds of the chili or jalapeno peppers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days for the freshest tasting salsa. Serve with tortilla chips, toasted pita strips, crackers, carrot sticks, or as a tasty side or topping to a main meal, such as tacos.

Grilled Pineapple Salsa

There’s only one way to describe this salsa––zesty. It has the perfect blend of sweet and spicy, with just a whisper of lime-based zing. Cooking the pineapple releases its natural sugars, creating a mouth-watering caramelized effect. Serve it up in a carved out pineapple boat and enjoy with corn chips or heaped on top of steamed rice or quinoa.


2 tsp olive or coconut oil

1 fresh pineapple, sliced into ½ inch rings

1 large red bell pepper, chopped

½ red onion, diced

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

⅓ cup cilantro, chopped

2 tbsp lime juice, freshly squeezed

Salt & pepper



  1. Heat a skillet on medium heat and add 1 tsp of the oil.

  2. Fry the pineapple slices for a few minutes on both sides until slightly brown and caramelized.

  3. Cool, cut the core from each slice, and dice the pineapple rings.

  4. Using the same skillet, add the remaining oil and fry the bell pepper pieces until lightly seared.

  5. Combine the pineapple, red pepper, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno, and lime juice in the mortar.

  6. Use the pestle to slightly “rough up” the mixture until blended and chunky, but not pulverized.

  7. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If you prefer a chunkier version, skip the mortar and pestle, and just mix with a large spoon.

Black Bean Salsa

The avocado adds a nice twist and holding agent for this salsa to make it more scoopable. This protein and fiber rich salsa bodes well as a taco topping too.


2 cups of corn kernels, fresh off the cob

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ cup green onions, chopped

8-10 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

⅓ cup jalapenos, seeded and chopped

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, skinned, seeded, and halved

¼ cup fresh-squeezed lime juice

½ tsp cumin

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp sea salt

½ tsp pepper


  1. Combine the corn, beans, onion, tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro in a large bowl.

  2. Place the avocado in the mortar and smash it up until creamy. Add it to the other ingredients.

  3. Drizzle the lime juice and olive oil, and sprinkle the cumin, salt, and pepper. 

  4. Gently mix and serve immediately.

Coconut Indonesia Sambal

If you like spice, indulge in this traditional Indonesian salsa that accompanies just about every local Indonesian dish. There are variations in sambal, depending on region, but this is one of the more popular and nutritious versions. You probably won’t need it, but if you want to kick up the spice factor, add a few of the chili pepper seeds. This one takes more time to prepare than the others, but it’s well worth the effort! Serve with grilled fish and steamed rice.


100-150 grams fresh red chili peppers, coarsely chopped

6 large tomatoes

4 shallots, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tbsp whole peppercorns

Sea salt to taste

4 tbsp coconut oil

1-2 tbsp coconut sugar (palm sugar) 



  • Brown sugar is a suitable substitute for palm sugar.

  • Add a couple drops of fish sauce to make it a bit tangy.



  1. Smash shallots, garlic and peppercorns with a stone mortar & pestle.

  2. Add chilis, sugar, and salt.

  3. Chop tomatoes into quarters and blend until slightly chunky (not until smooth)

  4. Heat the oil in a skillet at medium heat for 2 minutes.

  5. Add the mortar mash-up to the oil and cook for about a minute, mixing well.

  6. Add blended tomato and cook for 10-15 on medium-high heat, stirring well.

  7. Allow it to cool before storing or eating.

Avo-Mango-Ginger Salsa

Avocado and mango combined is a heavenly match. Throw some ginger in there and you have a love that’ll last a lifetime. Not everyone digs cilantro, so feel free to leave it out; this recipe maintains full flavor even without it. When selecting a mango, if you have the choice, pick one that has a yellow skin (they’re the sweetest), and is only slightly soft when pressed. The lime extends the freshness, but plan to serve this salsa immediately as avocado oxidizes quickly. While brown avocado tastes fine, it doesn’t look very appetizing!


1 avocado, diced

1 yellow mango, diced (learn how to cut a mango here)

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 red onion, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, diced

½ inch fresh ginger root, peeled and sliced

¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Juice of 1 fresh-squeezed lime

½ tsp sea salt



  1. Place the ginger slices in the mortar and smash until pulpy.

  2. Combine the mango, avo, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno pepper, and cilantro with the ginger.

  3. Use the pestle to gently combine the ingredients (to avoid mushy mango).

  4. Drizzle lime and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Perfect Everyday Salsa

If you don’t want to venture too far away from familiar, this one’s a winner and perfect crowd-pleaser. Simple, refreshing, and just the right amount of heat. Serve it up classic style with your favorite salted corn chips, guac, and sour cream.


3 large tomatoes

½ onion, chopped

½ jalapeno pepper, chopped

1 garlic clove

Pinch of sea salt

Fresh cilantro 


  1. Oven-roast the whole tomatoes for 20 minutes at 400F.

  2. Add the chopped onion, jalapeno, and garlic clove to the mortar

  3. Smash and grind until perfectly pulpy.

  4. Add the roasted tomatoes and continue the mash-up, removing the tomato skins if desired.

  5. Add a pinch of sea salt.

Making your own salsa is fun and easy when you have the right kitchen tools, and it invites creativity too. Experiment with different ingredients and techniques to develop your own brand of flavor.


Don’t have sharp kitchen knives? If the ones you do have are in decent shape, treat them to a little stone work with a Priority Chef whetstone. It comes with a quick how-to guide, or you can download the full version.


Do you have a favorite salsa recipe you want to share? What to enhance one of the above recipes? Tell us about it in the comments or send us a message.


From our kitchen to yours, happy smashing and salsa-ing all summer long.

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