Learn how to make salsa brava, the spicy Spanish tomato sauce! This bravas sauce recipe is easy and adds a delightful rich flavor to anything you use it on.
❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Super easy to make.
- Rich and flavorful.
- Versatile and can be used many different ways.
- Naturally vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free and soy-free.
🗒️ Ingredient Notes
Olive oil: This is a great recipe to use that fancy olive oil you had stowed away for a rainy day. A good quality extra virgin olive oil does the trick here. Bonus points for Spanish olive oil!
Onion: I’ve made this sauce with white, yellow and red onion—all delicious. Use what you like or have on hand.
Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves really add a depth of flavor to this spicy sauce, but if you do not have any on hand, 2 teaspoons of garlic powder can be used in a pinch.
Smoked paprika: This is a classic, essential ingredient in a good salsa brava recipe, so I do not recommend omitting it or replacing it with any other spices. A good Spanish smoked paprika gets the job done here.
Hot smoked paprika: Hot smoked paprika, aka pimenton de la vera, has that rich smoky body not unlike regular smoked paprika, but with a delightful kick. It is another quintessential bravas sauce ingredient, but if you aren’t here for a spicy factor you can replace it with more smoked paprika.
Cayenne pepper: This optional ingredient just adds additional depth of flavor and heat for the true spice lovers.
Tomatoes: I find a can of fire roasted tomatoes to add the most flavor this sauce, but any kind of diced tomatoes, fresh or canned will work well.
Roasted red pepper: I find adding just one roasted red pepper to really round out the flavors in this recipe and also add a subtle sweetness. If you do not have it on hand however, it can be omitted for a still-tasty sauce.
Sherry vinegar: I really love the subtle flavor and acidity sherry vinegar adds to this sauce, but any vinegar will get the job done. White wine, red wine and even apple cider vinegar are great choices as well. Do not have vinegar? Use lemon juice!
Salt: What’s nearly any recipe without a bit of salt? I leave it up to you to adjust the salt in this recipe to suit your own tastes. I like to add around 1 teaspoon, for a mild-moderate salty factor, but it really is a personal preference in this case. I recommend starting with 1/2 teaspoon and going from there.
🔪 How to Make Salsa Bravas
🍽️ How to Use
The most common use for bravas sauce is in a Spanish dish called patatas bravas, which means “spicy potatoes” and they are just that: fried potatoes tossed about with salsa brava. Salsa bravas is also great served alongside a favorite tapa (aka an appetizer or snack as known in Spain).
Salsa bravas has many uses including, but not limited to, the below:
- Pasta sauce.
- Dipping sauce for fries, fried appetizers, chips and more.
- Marinade for roasted vegetables or tofu.
- Pizza sauce with a kick.
- Drizzled over grain bowls, roasted veggies and more.
- Sandwich spread.
- Mixed into mayonnaise (or vegan mayo) for a fun twist.
💭 Top Tip
You can easily adjust the spiciness level of this recipe to suit your own tastes. To make a mild salsa brava, omit the cayenne and replace the hot paprika with more smoked paprika. For the true spicy food lovers, you can make a spicy salsa brava by using the optional cayenne pepper and if you really want a kick, saute a chopped fresh cayenne or Thai chili when sautéing the garlic and onion.
This delicious sauce keeps stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Any longer, and I would advise freezing the sauce in a freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.
Bravas sauce, also known as salsa brava, originated in Madrid, Spain. It is most commonly served over fried potatoes in a dish called “patatas bravas”, which can be found in tapas bars throughout the country. This dish is also sometimes served alongside a garlic aioli, which helps balance this spicy tomato sauce! You will find some regional variances throughout Spain in the ingredients used to make salsa brava, but all delicious.
🌶️ More Delicious Hot Sauce Recipes
Salsa Brava (Bravas Sauce Recipe)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons hot smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon hot paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional, omit if not a fan of super spicy
- 1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes or fresh diced tomatoes
- 1 roasted red pepper
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or any vinegar of choice
- salt to taste
- In a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat, add the olive oil, garlic and onion. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onions appear translucent.
- Add the paprika, cayenne, tomatoes, red pepper and vinegar. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and then carefully add the cooked ingredients to a blender or food processor. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender. Blend until smooth.
- Salt to taste, serve and enjoy!