Un-Junked: Homemade Doña Sauce (Whole30/Vegan)

A small jar of salsa dona on my countertop with a bottle of olive oil in the background a white dish towel with a lemon print on it in the foreground

If you live in Texas, or have at least visited, you might be familiar with Taco Deli. If you are familiar with Taco Deli, you probably already know that their Salsa Doña is objectively the best sauce in the lineup. Unfortunately it’s full of canola oil, and the Trader Joe’s knock-off (we call it Foña, for Fake Doña) is full of even more foolishness like gums and cane sugar on top of the canola oil. Aside from not being Whole30-compliant or Paleo-friendly, these ingredients are also just really unnecessary for this smooth & creamy jalapeño sauce so naturally I set out to make my own. It wasn’t particularly difficult or time-consuming, but it is entirely delicious so I’m here to share my junk-free version of Salsa Doña with all y’all!

To make your very own Salsa Doña, you’re going to need:


Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or foil (for easier clean up). Wash and dry your peppers, then arrange them on the baking sheet so no peppers are touching. Arrange your baking sheet on the top rack and broil the peppers on medium (~450-500*F) for 5-7 minutes on each side. You will know the peppers are “ready” when the skin is charred and cracking.

Immediately transfer the peppers to a bowl and seal with plastic wrap or to a zip-top bag and seal. Let the peppers steam undisturbed for 10 minutes. This step helps to separate the skin from the pepper and makes them much easier to peel.

After the peppers have steamed, carefully peel off the skin while leaving the flesh intact. Then, using a sharp knife, remove the stems and most of the seeds. Now when it comes to pepper seeds – it’s mostly personal preference. If you like ’em super spicy, you might want to leave more seeds in. If you want your sauce to be more mild, or are looking for an especially smooth texture, you might want to be more diligent with your seed removal.

Once the skins, stems, and seeds have been removed, add all of the peppers to your blender or food processor bowl along with the salt, onion, and garlic. While blending/processing on the “puree” setting or equivalent, slowly drizzle in five tablespoons of high quality olive oil and one tablespoon of lemon juice; continue to blend for at least 2-3 minutes.

Remove the lid, scrape down the sides of the blender or processor bowl, and taste. This is the point at which I decided to add a teaspoon of citrus champagne vinegar and it made such a difference! You may decide it needs a pinch of salt, or want to add an additional tablespoon of olive oil – which you should again slowly drizzle in while blending. Adjust seasoning/salt as needed and continue blending until desired texture is reached.

Pour/scrape all of the sauce into a jar, seal tightly, label with the date, and refrigerate for up to 10 days. Enjoy on everything from tacos to eggs to grilled chicken. This is a great after-cooking condiment, but don’t sleep on using it as a marinade!

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