Spice Up The Party (for Cheap) With These 3 Homemade Salsa Recipes

Photo courtesy of Timothy Moore

Snacking is one of my favorite activities — you can do it while you’re reading, watching TV, in bed with the dogs or even while writing an article for The Penny Hoarder, like I am now (home-popped popcorn, light salt).

One of my favorite snacks when I’m in a crunchy mood is chips and lots of dip. But given that I toe the line between dad bod and straight-up beer gut, I’m trying to watch what I eat. That’s why I turn to tortilla chips and salsa when I’m feeling snacky (that is, every day).

Plain old jarred salsa from Kroger can get a little boring and is never as good as the fresh stuff, but a pound of fresh Whole Foods Market salsa pico de gallo is nearly $10 where I live in Nashville.

Heck, go to Chipotle and ask for guac and they say, (everybody chime in), “Guac is extra; is that OK?” But you want that guac so desperately that of course it’s OK to spend an extra two bucks for a spoonful of that green guacamole goodness.

Instead of paying those high store and restaurant prices to get our fix, my partner Nick and I have decided to keep things healthy by making our salsas at home. Not only is it cheaper, but it also allows us to try out a variety of flavors and gives us some bonding time in the kitchen. (Let’s be honest, though: he does the cooking, and I just sneak spoonfuls of half-made salsa when he turns around.)

Here are three of our favorite super-easy, super-healthy and super-affordable homemade tortilla chip dips.

The amount of servings, of course, depends on how well your eyes and stomach are communicating. Produce costs may vary; I’ve estimated using current produce prices at a Kroger in Nashville.

Pico de Gallo

pico de gallo ingredients
Photo courtesy of Timothy Moore

The beauty of this recipe is that it is so simple I could make it without Nick’s supervision (though I don’t). Makes 4 to 6 servings.


2 cups red onion, diced: $1

4 to 6 medium-sized tomatoes, diced: $2

½ cup cilantro, chopped: 15 cents

3 cloves of garlic, minced: 10 cents

1 large jalapeño, seeded and diced: 10 cents

2 tablespoons of lime juice: 10 cents

Total Cost: $3.45


Prepare all ingredients on a cutting board. Combine in a large mixing bowl and stir until everything is mixed evenly. Eat with no shame, right there at the counter.


This recipe is so easy to customize to your liking over time. Depending on your preferences, you can add more jalapeño (or even throw in a habanero) or do away with them completely, if you’re averse to spicy flavors. You can cut out the garlic, go with a yellow onion instead of a red one, and you can use different types of tomatoes to alter the flavor.

Mango Guacamole

Photo courtesy of Timothy Moore

Adding mango or a similar fruit to guac gives this staple dip a unique twist, but if you want to keep it traditional, use two tomatoes on the vine in place of the mango.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.


3 to 4 avocados, peeled, pitted and sliced: $4

1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced: $1

¼ cup red onion, diced: 25 cents

¼ cup cilantro, chopped: 7 cents

2 cloves of garlic, minced: 7 cents

1 large jalapeño, seeded and diced: 10 cents

2 tablespoons of lime juice: 10 cents

Salt and pepper to taste

Total Cost: $5.59


Prepare all ingredients on a cutting board. Mash the avocados with a fork in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle lime juice over the avocados while preparing the rest of the ingredients. Add all ingredients to the bowl with the avocados. Stir until everything is mixed evenly. Consume as much as you can before Nick tells you it’s for your guests, who are arriving soon.


Nick and I have played with the cilantro/garlic-to-mango ratio of this recipe to adjust the sweetness; add or subtract to your liking. We’ve also swapped mango for pineapple for a different flavor and have resorted to frozen mango when fresh wasn’t available. I also would love to sneak a habanero into this recipe when Nick isn’t looking, but I haven’t been successful yet.

Corn Salsa

Photo courtesy of Timothy Moore

Easily my favorite of the three, the roasted red peppers give this dip more of a kick — and when eaten fresh, warm the dip up compared to the other room-temperature options.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.


One 15.25-ounce can of sweet corn: 60 cents

1 red pepper: $1

1 large jalapeño, seeded and diced: 10 cents

¾ cups cilantro: 20 cents

½ cup red onion: 50 cents

1 tablespoon lime juice: 5 cents

Splash of olive oil

Salt, pepper and chipotle seasoning to taste

Total Cost: $2.45


Dice red pepper on a cutting board, then mix with a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper and chipotle seasoning in a bowl. Place on a baking sheet and put in the oven to broil. Prepare all other ingredients on a cutting board.

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add the red pepper when broiled to your liking (we usually broil for about 10 minutes). Stir until everything is mixed evenly. Inhale copious amounts over the sink.

We prefer to roast our red peppers for this dish, but raw red peppers give the salsa its own unique flavor. You can also use corn straight from the cob for a fresher taste.

One final tip to save even more money and make these dishes healthier/tastier: Consider growing a few of the essentials, such as peppers and tomatoes, in your own garden. Nick and I just moved to Nashville and hope to garden next year. But much like the cooking, I suspect Nick will do most of the work, and I’ll just be playing in the dirt when his back is turned.

Happy eating!

Timothy Moore is a writer and editor in Nashville who loves to eat. In fact, he’s been doing it since the day he was born. His favorite foods are burgers, peanut butter, mashed potatoes, ice cream, sour cream and jalapeños — but never all together.

Nicholas Kreider is an interior design and décor small-business owner who sometimes swaps his paintbrush for a spatula. Despite having celiac disease, Nick has a recipe for everything, but he can usually be found making something with Tim’s favorite foods.