How to Build a Salsa Board, an Easy, Colorful Appetizer Perfect for Sharing

Move over butter and charcuterie—there's a spicy, zesty new board option in town.

Salsa board with chips, cilantro, lime and sour cream
Photo: Laura Manzano

For your next gathering, go beyond a bag of chips and a jar of salsa. A more Martha approach to hosting that requires only slightly more effort is a chips and salsa board. Inspired by the cheese board, the charcuterie board, and yes, the butter board, this casual appetizer is made for sharing. So, pull out your favorite charcuterie board and get ready to create. Your board will play host to an array of salsas, chips, and other toppings that you can arrange and assemble in endless delicious combinations.

The Ingredients


When you're thinking about what types of salsa to include, a classic tomato option is a great starting place. But don't stop there—scan the aisles (the assortment of high-quality salsas at grocery stores today has never been better) for a mix of styles and colors for your board. Pro tip? Don't skip charred tomatillo salsa, made from the small husked vegetables native to Mexico; it's a little tangy, earthy, and dazzling green.

Use Fresh Salsas

Consider contrasting jarred or roasted salsas with homemade fresh salsas which usually require few ingredients and are simple to make. A classic variety is Pico de Gallo, made from fresh tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.

Consider Seasonality

While jarred salsas are perennial, fresh salsas are a great way to showcase the best fruits and produce of each season.

  • In the summer, peaches and other stone fruits all pair well with spicy chiles—the sweet-heat combination is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
  • Another summer favorite is using crisp, sweet corn. It makes a fantastic salsa either raw or charred on the grill, the kernels cut off the cob and mixed with peppers, herbs, and plenty of lime juice.
  • In the fall, try roasted squash or pumpkin as a salsa, or the Mexican classic salsa macha, which is made from toasted pumpkin seeds and smoky dried chiles.
  • For winter, consider a bright salsa made with citrus, pomegranate, or persimmon.

Vary Texture

Also, make sure to have a mix of textures in the salsas you choose: chunky, blended, and everything in between. This makes for an interesting spread.

Turn Up the Heat

As the saying goes, variety is the spice of life—so another way to vary the selection of salsas on your board is by having a variety of levels of spice. A mix of hot, medium, and mild salsas will cater to the palettes of all your guests. Scattering fresh or pickled jalapeño slices throughout the board also give your bravest attendees the opportunity to spice up their bite even further.

For the courtesy of all, label your salsas so everyone is privy to what's hot and what's not.

trio of salsas in different bowls
Laura Manzano

The Chips

A chips and salsa board is a great opportunity to go over the top, and your choice of chips can help you get there. Opt for different varieties of corn—such as blue, yellow, and heritage—for a gorgeous rainbow of tortillas chips. Consider the shapes of the chips, too; adding those shaped for dunking or scooping adds a fun visual element to the salsa board and has function, too.

Bonus Toppings

Though this app is called a chips and salsa board, you need more than these elements for your sharing platter. Round out the selection with pickled peppers, sliced avocado, shredded chicken, a bowl of sour cream, and cubed cheese. These are just some of the options that take a simple chip with dip to the next level; they encourage guests to assemble an impromptu nacho that's all their own.

How to Assemble Your Salsa Board

  1. Choose a board that's larger than you think you'll need. Guests will enjoy nibbling on chips both with salsa and without, so you want to have enough space to be accommodating for plenty of everything: chips, a variety of salsas, and any desired garnishes.
  2. To hold the salsas, choose bowls of varying heights, colors, and textures for a visually intriguing spread. Place brighter-colored salsas in dark bowls, and darker salsas in light bowls for contrast. Consider including spoons in the bowls of salsa, in the event that a broken chip needs rescuing, or an extra chunky salsa might benefit from being spooned onto a chip, rather than dipped.
  3. Be equitable with your distribution of chips and dippers, and don't pile any one type of chip in a single corner. Create mirroring zones of the same item across the board, so no matter where your guests are reaching from, they can still access their preferred choice.
  4. Garnish with fresh herbs like cilantro and scallions, but only right before serving so they stay fresh.

Above all, don't stress about perfection. The more natural and scattered different items are, the more inviting the salsa board will look to your guests.

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