This chunky, mango habanero salsa is made from ripe mangos, spicy habanero chilis and a few simple ingredients. It’s a delicious blend of sweet and fiery flavors, creating a perfect pairing for chips or used as a fresh topping for blackened mahi mahi, fish tacos, or your favorite chicken dish. Naturally gluten-free and vegan friendly, this flavorful salsa adds a tropical twist to your favorite dishes!
Mango has been my favorite fruit since I was a kid. I remember when my dad would proudly show me how to choose perfectly ripe ones – a life skill that I still carry with me today. Even when choosing the best, he’d always remind me how the mangos here just aren’t as sweet as the ones back in Cape Verde.
Combining mango with savory foods isn’t the usual tradition in my culture, but I’ve never met a Cape Verdean (or anyone) – who passes on mango anything. This recipe gets a solid thumbs up from everyone in my family – it is that good.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Adds a tropical twist to any dish – perfect for elevating your favorite chicken and seafood dishes!
- It’s fresh and flavorful. The refreshing, sweet flavors will have you ready for summer barbecues and beach days!
- Quick and easy – it only takes few minutes to dice everything up and toss it together.
- Healthy and affordable – even with food prices soaring lately, I still spent less than $10 for everything. You should be able to get everything you need for this recipe at your local grocery store.
- Adjust to your liking – there are endless possibilities with this recipe! Skip any of the ingredients you don’t like (except the mangos!) and add pretty much anything that suits your taste. Skip the habaneros if you don’t want it to be spicy.
How to choose ripe mangos
The best way to tell if a mango is ripe is by gently squeezing it in your hand. The softer it feels, the more ripe it is. I typically choose mangos that are mostly red or yellow in color. Avoid choosing mangos that are completely green or too firm.
When making mango salsa, look for a mango that gives a bit when squeezed but is not overly soft or too ripe. When you cut into it the flesh should be bright yellow, smooth and juicy.
Ingredients you’ll need
This recipe calls for a few simple ingredients – exact quantities are listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this blog post:
- 2 large ripe mangos – use any type of mango. The most common variety sold in the US is called the Tommy Atkins mango. It’s medium to large in size and has dark red skin, with some green and yellow areas. My favorite mangos are Ataulfo mangos and Haitian mangos – both yellow in color but smaller in size with sweeter flesh than Atkins mangos. The smaller the mango, the more you’ll need to buy for this recipe.
- Habanero chilis add lots of heat and a sweet, smoky taste. Most of the heat comes from the seeds – you can leave them in if you like your salsa hot, or take them out for less intensity.
- Red onions – added for tanginess and sweet, crunchy texture.
- Fresh lime and cilantro add zest and a fresh burst of flavor.
- A pinch of salt brings out the sweetness in the mangos and is optional.
Substitutions and add-ins
- Yellow onions – although not as sweet or mild as red onions, you can certainly use what you have on hand and save yourself an unnecessary trip to the market!
- Red or green bell pepper – I prefer red because of its color and sweetness, but you can use a green bell peppers too, if habanero chilis are too spicy for you.
- Any other hot chili – there are other hot peppers that are not as intense as habaneros. Serrano chilis are less spicy than habaneros but 2-4 times more spicy than jalapeños – they both work well for this recipe.
- Add diced tomatoes and roasted garlic for a sweet, pico de gallo-style salsa.
- Experiment by adding fresh pineapple or peaches. You can also add avocado – it’s buttery texture and creamy, mild taste pair well with spicy foods.
- Tajin is a popular Mexican seasoning that’s made with chili peppers, concentrated lime and salt – it’s often sprinkled on fruit to enhance flavor.
How to make Mango Habanero Salsa
Step 1: Peel and dice the mango, cut the stems off of the habanero chilis and remove the seeds. Chop the chilis, red onions and fresh cilantro.
Step 2: Place all of the chopped ingredients in a bowl, then add the juice from ½ of the lime with a pinch of salt.
Step 3: Use a spoon or silicone spatula to combine all of the ingredients together.
Recipe tips and tricks
- “Roast” the habaneros by tossing them whole in a dry skillet over medium heat. I prefer roasting them in a pan on the stove rather than the oven so they don’t burn. Roasting the chilis gives them a charred look and releases the oils – I only suggest doing this if you like your salsa extra spicy.
- It’s best to wear gloves when handling hot habanero peppers. Wearing gloves keeps the natural oils from the peppers from burning your hands.
- Use a sharp knife to chop the ingredients – dull knives require more pressure while cutting, increasing your chance of injury.
Uses and serving suggestions
There are many ways to serve mango habanero salsa – here are some exciting possibilities:
- As a fresh topping for blackened fish, chicken, seafood or tacos.
- With chips – blue corn tortilla chips are my favorite!
- With mixed greens or on top of your favorite salad.
- As a glaze: blend with honey or bbq sauce and brush on ribs, chicken breast or wings.
- Puree with garlic and fresh tomatoes to make a dipping sauce or marinade.
Q: What does mango habanero salsa taste like?
A: Mango habanero salsa strikes a perfect balance between sweet and spicy, with a refreshing kick. The sweet, juicy mango is complemented by the spiciness of habanero chilis, balanced by fresh flavors of lime juice and cilantro.
Q: Is mango habanero salsa really hot?
A: Habanero chilis, known for their spiciness, score ‘very hot’ on the Scoville scale. For this recipe, I use 2 peppers without the seeds which gives it a kick without being too intense. For extra spice, feel free to add more peppers or keep the seeds!
Q: Can I use frozen mango?
A: Yes, you can use frozen mango; simply let it thaw and make sure to squeeze out any excess water. While I prefer fresh mango for chunky salsa, using frozen mango works perfectly for the pureed version.
Q: How should I store leftover mango salsa?
A: Keep it fresh in the refrigerator by placing leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days. For longer storage, transfer to a sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Love this recipe? Please leave a 5-star 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating in the recipe card below & consider scrolling down and leaving me a review if you REALLY liked it. Thanks!
Fresh Mango Habanero Salsa
- 2 large ripe mangos
- ½ red onion
- 2 habanero peppers
- 1 handful cilantro leaves
- 1 lime cut in half
- pinch of salt optional
- Peel and dice the mangos, cut the stems off of the habanero chilis and remove the seeds. Chop the chilis, red onions and fresh cilantro.
- Place all of the chopped ingredients in a bowl and add the juice from ½ of the lime with a pinch of salt.
- Use a spoon or silicone spatula to combine all of the ingredients together.
- Garnish with leftover lime wedges and serve with tortilla chips or as a topping on fish, chicken or tacos.
- Release the oils in the habanero chilis by tossing them in a dry skillet over medium heat before chopping them.
- Wear gloves when handling hot chilis to keep the natural oils from burning your hands.
- Use a sharp knife to chop the ingredients - dull knives increase your chance of injury.
- Keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. For longer storage, transfer to a sealed container and freeze for up to 3 months.