There’s nothing wrong with using one type of pepper to make salsa. In fact, it’s fairly common in many recipes. For instance, salsa criolla utilizes aji amarillo peppers, while serrano peppers may be found within pico de gallo, per WebstaurantStore.
But what happens when you combine different peppers together? Well, as Epicurious explains, you’ll get lots of varying personalities within each salsa bite. They also reference a homemade salsa roja recipe, which incorporates three types of dried peppers, along with fresh serrano peppers. These are anchos (smoky), pasillas (fruity), and guajillos (really sweet). So when these peppers are combined together, you’ll taste the above flavors in your salsa.
Spices Inc. offers a list of flavor characteristics that can be found within various chile peppers. Some of the more common characteristics include sweet, smoky, fruity, and earthy. But these also branch into way more specific tasting notes. For instance, chocolate flavors can be found in ancho peppers, while scotch bonnets have notes of apples, tomatoes, and cherries. Other interesting characteristics include pine, soapy, hay, grassy, and tobacco flavors.
So in short, if you want a more well-rounded flavor profile within your salsa, try combining different peppers together! Not only will it be fun to play this mix-and-match pepper game, but you’ll also taste so many contrasting flavors that may make your next batch of fresh salsa the star of any tailgate party.