Salsa Brava (Bravas Sauce Recipe)

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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.

a teak wooden bowl filled with bright red salsa bravas sauce alongside a gold spoon.
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❤️ 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.
a golden spoon topped with rich red bravas sauce.

🗒️ 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.

salsa brava fills a dark wood bowl.

🔪 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.
red spanish salsa bravas sauce fills a dark wooden bowl with a gold spoon sticking out.

💭 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.

a gold spoon juts out of dark wooden bowl filled with a rich red spanish bravas sauce.

🥡 Storing

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.

top view of red salsa bravas filling a wood bowl.


Where did bravas sauce originate?

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.

swirls of orange red bravas sauce fill a dark wooden bowl.

🌶️ More Delicious Hot Sauce Recipes

Best Fresh Salsa Recipe

Mango Salsa

Louisiana Hot Sauce

Peri Peri Sauce

Do you LOVE hot sauce? Check out my books Hot Sauce Cookbook for Beginners and Fermented Hot Sauce Cookbook for more!

salsa bravas

Salsa Brava (Bravas Sauce Recipe)

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.
4.91 from 54 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiments
Cuisine: Spanish
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 servings
Author: Kristen Wood


  • 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!


Please see the full post above this recipe card for lots of valuable information including ingredient substitutions, storage information and more.
You might like: Boom Boom Sauce.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 41kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 44mg | Potassium: 55mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 691IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 1mg
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4.91 from 54 votes (33 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating



  1. 5 stars
    We just returned from Spain, and I’ve been craving olives, Salmorejo, and Patatas Bravas! I didn’t have hot paprika on hand, so I used smoked paprika, sweet paprika in paste form, and calabrian chili’s for a kick. I think the recipe is forgiving – it turned out ON POINT. Absolutely perfect! I can’t wait to fry up some patatas to cover them with this delicious sauce. Thank you for sharing!

  2. 5 stars
    I wanted to try a different type of salsa and this spicy sauce was just what I needed. We loved it as a dip for tortillas.

  3. 5 stars
    Need to make a triple batch next time because this one went so fast! My kids LOVE spicy, and use this stuff like ketchup. SO delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    I just had this sauce on potato bravas at a Spanish tapas restaurant and wanted to recreate the recipe at home. This salsa brava was spot on! I can’t wait to make this again and again!

  5. 5 stars
    Had patatas bravas before in a tapas bar and it was so simple but delicious. I’m so happy I can prepare this at home with your recipe now. 🙂

  6. 5 stars
    This is a great sauce recipe, and exactly what I’ve been needed to give more spice and moist-maker to my potatoes!

  7. 5 stars
    This sauce has such an amazing colour and has so many uses too. I can’t wait to make it again.

  8. 5 stars
    Brilliant recipe! Made it a few days ago and we have tried it with pasta, in toasties and as a dip mixed with mayo! So many brilliant uses for the sauce! Delicious!

  9. 5 stars
    This sounds delicious! We were out at a Spanish restaurant this weekend and now I’m excited to make this!

  10. 5 stars
    truly a delicious sauce that can be used on so many things! Brings me back to living abroad in Spain though and love the memories associated with the taste 🙂

  11. 5 stars
    This sauce turned out great! We used our over some roasted potatoes and veggies and it was the perfect finish.

  12. 5 stars
    This bravas sauce adds so much flavor to everything you make! Of course, the potatoes bravas will always be my favorite though.