This fire-roasted Santa Maria salsa absolutely needs to be shared. You need this salsa. It screams at you from the depths of the coals where it’s born. Literally. Char your ingredients right in the coals and get ready for this bold, savory salsa.

Fire roasted salsa from the coals.

Recently I took a deep dive into Santa Maria style barbecue and worked on developing my interpretation of their Santa Maria Tri-tip. The most intriguing part of my research was that this steak was regularly served with a regional salsa, a savory one at that.

I’m ALL about the salsas. Many of my dinners are nothing more than delicious tortillas and salsas (ice cold brews of course). My eyes have been opened, bring on the new salsa!

There are so many varieties of Santa Maria salsa: canned ingredients, fresh ingredients, premade seasonings, fresh ground spices, hot sauces, and the list just goes on and on. This made me realize that I’m going to take the flavor profiles and prepare them in a true Chiles and Smoke fashion… throw them in the coals!

The fire roasted Santa Maria salsa hits you with char, texture, and all of the savory flavors of the region. Get those chips ready, half of it will be gone before you even start the meal!

fire roasted vegetables
Easy to prep, toss them in the coals!

Unique Ingredients

Onions, tomatoes, Anaheim chiles, yes they are all there. Wait, is that a CELERY? You are correct!

Celery is a common ingredient with Santa Maria salsa, typically not thrown in the coals, but diced up fresh along with the rest of the ingredients. Celery seeds themselves are quite popular ground up for beef seasonings, so this wasn’t a far stretch.

Shallots were also added in. Most of the recipes found call for a variation of onions and garlic. The flavor of shallots reminds me of a combination of red onions and garlic, and they are so savory when roasted. Chuck them in!

Fire roasted Santa maria salsa

Don’t have a grill?

You can broil the vegetables in the oven. It is summer though, so your house can get quite hot. No need for oil or seasoning, just the veggies and a sheet pan with foil.

Clean the vegetables well and pat them dry. The tomatoes will take the least time in the oven, the shallots and chiles will take the longest. You’ll need to check every few minutes and rotate as needed.

Pair this with my recipe for Santa Maria Tri-tip and you’re in for an amazing combination.

I recommend picking up a molcajete if you don’t have one. This is literally the best tool in the world for making salsa. Not all of them are equal! You want the porous ones from Mexico, made from the volcanic stone. It makes a world of difference.

Vegetable medley waiting to be pounded into salsa
Fire roasted vegetables, ready for salsa
Tri-tip steak and salsa
Meat can be a chip too, right?
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fire roasted santa maria salsa

Fire Roasted Santa Maria Salsa

The fire roasted Santa Maria salsa hits you with char, texture, and all of the savory flavors of the region. Bring on the chips and tacos!

  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups 1x


  • 3 medium tomatoes (on the vine, or heirloom preferred)
  • 1 celery stalk, leaves included
  • 1 medium shallot, whole
  • 3 scallions, whole
  • 3 Anaheim chiles
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped, stems included
  • Juice of lime, about 2 Tbsp
  • 1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Mexican oregano
  • dash of hot sauce
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Clean your grill of any extra ash, this does not taste good on the vegetables. Light a medium pile of charcoal in your grill. You will need enough to nestle the vegetables in. Allow them to burn about 15-20 minutes until they are glowing and grey.
  2. Carefully place the peppers and shallot into the coals, they do not need to be covered. Rotate the veggies after a few minutes, making sure each side gets char. Add in the celery, scallions, and tomatoes.  You will need to continue rotating and monitoring. The tomatoes might split, that’s OK, you’ll be peeling the skin off before you use them. The chiles needs to be fully charred on the outside.
  3. Remove the vegetables when they are charred and set aside to cool. Place the tomatoes and chiles in a sealed container to have them steam as they cool. Peel the skins from the tomatoes, chiles, and outside layer of the shallot. Dice up everything into small chunks, about 1/4″.
  4. I recommend using a molcajete (mortar and pestle) if you have one. A food processor will work as well. Add in the chopped vegetables, the cilantro, and Mexican oregano. Grind down to desired texture. Stir in lime juice, Worcestershire, and a dash of hot sauce. Season and adjust.
  5. You may consume immediately, but flavors develop more after a couple of hours.


The substitute for Anaheim chiles would be Hatch chiles, or jalapenos.  Jalapenos do not taste quite the same, and will be spicier, so if you use them just be aware.

  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Category: salsa
  • Method: grilling
  • Cuisine: bbq

Keywords: bbq, salsa, spicy

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