We sat down recently, tortillas in hand, to try several major bottled brands. How'd your favorite do? Read on to find out.
Emeril's Original Recipe Salsa
The best and most sizzling of the salsas we tried, Emeril's has the ideal balance of spices. And once you taste it, you're hit with a blast of onions, garden-fresh tomatoes, and jalapeños hot enough to make your forehead sweat-but not so overpowering that you're left breathing fire.
Ortega Original Salsa
The salsa for masochists: Ortega Original had the best appearance of the brands we tried-thick and chunky, with lots of fresh-tasting vegetables that looked as if they'd just been chopped. Still, Ortega loses points for its spiciness. It's super hot for a medium-intensity salsa-but the heat seems forced, not natural, as if it were added on the assembly line.
Old El Paso Thick n' Chunky Salsa
Great natural color. Loads of tomato flavor. A rich, robust undercurrent of onions and spices. Old El Paso is a definite winner . . . if you're talking pasta sauce. But when it comes to salsa, you might as well be dipping your chips into a vat of tomato paste, because this dog has no bite. Throw it on spaghetti instead.
Chi-chi's Original Salsa
Although it's much better than the hepatitis-tainted fare that famously hit the Chi-Chi's restaurant chain, this salsa from Hormel is still a definite pass. More runny tomato soup than chunky salsa, the red mush has a bland, mild taste and looks like it was made with vegetables that had been frozen and then thawed. ¡Ay caramba!
Newman's Own All Natural Chunky Salsa
Taste test after taste test, Paul just can't win. And Newman's salsa is no different. It starts out OK, with a natural, very visually appealing blend of tomatoes, peppers, and onions. But despite the winning appearance, the salsa itself tasted like chemicals, with an odd hint of vinegar and dill pickles.
Tostitos Chunky Salsa
Looks like the Tostitos people had a mix-up at the bottling factory. What they're selling as salsa is actually a remarkable cocktail sauce with a few chunks of green pepper tossed in by accident. Try a spoonful on its own, and you'll be begging for a platter of shrimp rather than a bag of corn chips.