This bravas sauce recipe, or salsa brava, is a Spanish spicy tomato sauce made with hot paprika, perfect for topping the popular tapas dish, patatas bravas.
We're heading off to the great nation of Spain today, my friends, to bring to you a wonderful new sauce for your cooking repertoire. I love sauces, and a good, spicy sauce is always welcome in my kitchen. The secret to many a great recipe is in the sauce, so for me, the more the merrier.
This particular sauce is a Spanish recipe, a sauce called Salsa Brava, or Bravas Sauce, and I think you're going to love it. It's a tomato-based sauce that incorporates chili peppers and spiced with paprika along with a few other flavor building ingredients.
It is typically served with a popular Spanish tapas dish, Patatas Bravas, which are fried potato wedges. The sauce is served over the potatoes or on the side, but it's really a versatile sauce you can use in so many different ways. It's tomatoey and spicy in all the right ways, and I love it.
Let's talk about how we make Salsa Bravas, shall we?
Salsa Brava Ingredients (Bravas Sauce)
- Oil. Use 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil, for cooking down the vegetables.
- Chili Pepper. Use 1 red pepper of choice, chopped. Choose according to your heat preference.
- Onion. 1 small onion, chopped, or use 1-2 shallots.
- Garlic. I used 3 cloves garlic, chopped, though you can easily add more garlic if you'd like.
- Paprika. I use 1 tablespoon smoked paprika and 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika, though I often include more hot paprika for my own preference. You can also use cayenne in place of hot paprika.
- Tomatoes. Use 1 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes, or you can use the equivalent of fresh diced tomatoes.
- Vinegar. I use 3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar are good options, too.
- Salt. Salt to taste, or salt and pepper to taste, if you prefer some cracked black pepper.
- Sweet. 1 teaspoon sugar or honey is optional if you prefer a touch of sweet to your bravas sauce.
How to Make Salsa Brava (Bravas Sauce) - the Recipe Method
Cook the Vegetable Base. Heat the oil in a pot or saucepan to medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook them down for 5 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
Seasonings and Tomatoes. Add the smoked paprika, hot paprika (or cayenne), diced tomatoes, vinegar, salt and sugar if using. Stir.
Simmer for Flavor. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors develop.
Blend Until Smooth. Transfer the bravas sauce to a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.
Boom! Done! Your amazing Bravas Sauce is now ready to serve. Easy enough to make, isn't it? How are you serving yours up? I love this stuff.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- For the Chili Peppers. For a milder bravas sauce, use a bell pepper or Spanish piquillo pepper. For a bit of heat, Fresno peppers are a great option, or even a red jalapeno pepper. For more of a hot sauce, use cayenne peppers or even hotter. Yes, you can make this with superhots, my crazy chilihead friends.
- Heat Factor. Aside from the chili peppers, you can adjust the overall heat with your choice of paprika or cayenne. Skip the cayenne or hot paprika for a milder version, or adjust your ratios with more hot paprika for a spicier version.
- Thicker, Creamier Bravas Sauce. You can thicken your salsa brava by starting with a light roux of flour and butter, or by mixing in a few tablespoons of mayonnaise.
Serving Bravas Sauce
Salsa Brava is an important component for Patatas Bravas, the popular tapas dish in Spain, though this is an incredibly versatile sauce. It is essentially a spicy tomato sauce, so consider it as your next pasta sauce. It also makes for a great dip with toasted bread, or slathered over vegetables. And yes, you can also serve it as a salsa.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy my bravas sauce recipe. Let me know if you make it. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you. Extra hot paprika for me, please! Maybe I'll make a superhot version.
Check out my Patatas Bravas Recipe. So good!
Try Some of My Other Popular Recipes
- Mojo Picon - Canarian Red Pepper Sauce
- Spanish Romesco Sauce
- Red Chimichurri (Chimichurri Rojo)
- Homemade Harissa
- Sweet Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
- Sambal Oelek
- Peri Peri Sauce
- Zacusca: Romanian Roasted Eggplant & Red Pepper Sauce
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Bravas Sauce Recipe (Salsa Brava)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red chili pepper chopped (mild or hot - see recipe notes)
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika or more to taste - cayenne pepper is a good substitute
- 14 ounce diced tomatoes 1 can, or use fresh
- 3 tablespoons vinegar use white wine, sherry, or red wine vinegar
- Salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon sugar or honey optional, for sweetness
- Heat the oil in a pot or saucepan to medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook them down for 5 minutes to soften.
- Add the garlic and cook another minute, until the garlic becomes fragrant.
- Add the smoked paprika, hot paprika (or cayenne), diced tomatoes, vinegar, salt and sugar if using. Stir.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors develop.
- Transfer the bravas sauce to a food processor or blender and process until smooth.