Difference Between Picante Sauce and Salsa

Corn, chile peppers, squash, and beans may form the base of Mexican cuisine, but in reality, it’s the sauce that enhances its taste and makes it so remarkably appetizing.

In regards to selecting the best variety of sauce in a Mexican restaurant or market, the most popular choices are often salsa and Picante sauce.

Both these sauces are used as condiments, either as dips or to complete a dish and are prepared using liberal amounts of tomato, chilies, jalapeño peppers, onions, and lime, making them quite comparable in looks and taste.

However, this often leads to an uncertainty about the two sauces as many individuals believe they are very similar to each other but that’s not entirely true.

Picante Sauce vs Salsa

The main difference between Picante sauce and salsa is that Picante sauce is a subdivision of salsa that is spicy and the ingredients are always cooked and stirred to form a thinner, soupier texture whereas salsa is a sauce that has a spice level that ranges from mild to molten-lava hot and can be prepared either with canned ingredients or fresh ones, and the ingredients can be cooked or uncooked to form a thick and chunky texture.

Picante sauce vs Salsa

In Spanish, the word salsa means sauce. In general, when people think of salsa, it’s a common misunderstanding that salsa is made only from tomatoes.

Even though it’s a popular ingredient, salsa can be made from a variety of different ingredients as well like dried chilies, mangoes, peach, tomatillos, or even corn.

On the other hand, Picante sauce refers to hot sauce which is primarily prepared from chili peppers. Seasoned chili fans usually pair this hot sauce up with almost all sorts of food to give it a chili edge.


Comparison Table Between Picante Sauce and Salsa (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of comparisonPicante sauceSalsa
BasisPicante sauce was initiated in Spain.Salsa was introduced by the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas.
Taste and texturePicante sauce is mainly a hot sauce that is thicker and chunkier.Salsa has a wide range of spice levels and is comparatively a thinner and smoother sauce.
Made ofPicante sauce is made up of chilies and peppers.Salsa is made of tomatillos, bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
Cooked or uncookedPicante sauce is mainly made of cooked ingredients.Salsa can be prepared by either cooked or uncooked ingredients.
Used asPicante sauce is hot sauce which helps in adding a great deal of spice to snacks and delicacies.Salsa is a mild sauce and can be used as a dip or a dressing for many dishes.
CategoryPicante sauce the subset of salsa.Salsa is a food category all by itself.


What is Picante Sauce?

Picante sauce is a product of the Pace Corporation and was instituted by the owner of the organization,

David Pace during the 1940s. It all started in 1947 when David Pace tested salsa and added more ingredients to the sauce to come up with different forms of salsa. Over a period, he discovered the Picante sauce.

The word Picante was derived from the Spanish word ‘picar’ which implies ‘to sting’ because it referred to a feeling that comes when spicy food touches one’s tongue. Picante sauce is made of ingredients like jalapeño peppers, lime, tomatoes, and onions.

Picante sauce is a subcategory of salsa. Picante sauce is a thick and semi-liquid form of sauce that has a pourable consistency like red sauce. Picante sauces have a spice level of mild, medium and spicy sauces.

Picante sauce is generally made of chili peppers and consists of ingredients that are cooked.

This sauce can be used as a dip for all sorts of food to make it hotter or spicier. Picante sauces can be prepared at home as well because it takes just 15 minutes to cook when you have the perfect amount of ingredients you need.

Leftovers of Picante sauce can be refrigerated for a couple of weeks to keep it from rotting

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What is Salsa?

The word ‘salsa’ is a Spanish word for sauce. Salsa was first prepared by Aztecs, Mayans, and the Incan people. They added tomatoes, bell peppers and combined many herbs to prepare salsa. 

Most people generally tend to compare salsa to a spicy Mexican sauce. Salsa is a dish prepared with fresh and raw ingredients like tomatoes, spices, peppers, and tomatillos.

Likewise, some salsas are prepared by including ingredients like avocados and cucumbers. Hence, there is no specific recipe or ingredient that can be used to describe salsa.

Salsa is considered to be a mild sauce and can be used as a dip for tortilla chips or as a dressing for dishes like burritos to add a sweet, sour, or spicy flavor to the dish. The ingredients in salsa can either be cooked or raw.

Although salsas are generally considered to be thick and chunky, they come in various thicknesses and textures.

In the United States, salsa is a spicy tomato and chili sauce which is a Texan, Mexican, and Central American dish. Also, salsa is not very moist like other forms of salsas.

Salsa can be made at home or can even be purchased at convenience stores but salsa usually tastes the best when originally made.

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Main Differences Between Picante Sauce and Salsa

  1. Picante sauce was introduced in Spain and was a product of the Pace Corporation. Salsa was introduced by the Mayans, Aztecs, and Incas as they cultivated the ingredients and made the earliest incarnations of salsa.
  2. Picante sauce is considerably thinner and soupier and mostly has a spicy and hot taste. Salsa has a thick and semi-chunky texture when compared to Picante sauce. Salsa can have a wide range of spice levels like it can be sweet, sour or spicy.
  3. The main ingredients of Picante sauce are bell peppers and chili because it gives the sauce its spicy taste. The main ingredients of salsa are tomatoes, peppers, onions, and tomatillos.
  4. The ingredients added to Picante sauce can be cooked. The ingredients added to Salsa can either be cooked or raw.
  5. Picante sauce is a hot and spicy sauce that can be paired up with all sorts of foods or dishes to give it a spicy taste. Salsas are a mild sauce that can be used as a dip for tortillas or dressings for burritos to give it flavor.
  6. Picante sauce is a sauce that belongs to a category of salsa. Salsa is a complete food category all by itself.
Difference Between Picante Sauce and Salsa



Pretty much anything sweet, salty, meaty or savory tastes even better when dipped in salsa. Although the word salsa means ‘sauce’ in Spanish,

it commonly refers to a kind of dip which is generally savored with potato chips and can be relished at home as well as many Mexican restaurants.

When we look into the topic of salsa in detail, we notice that it includes a wide range of forms. Since the word describes an entire category, it represents different forms of taste and spice intensity like bittersweet to extra spicy.

Also, while salsa can be prepared from any ingredient, tomatoes are one of the most favored ingredients. The sauce can be thick or velvety and can be served either raw or cooked.

On the other hand, Picante sauce is a spicy subdivision of salsa. Its spicy flavor comes from a lot of chili or pepper.

The word Picante in Spanish means ‘to sting’ because it signifies the feeling an individual experiences in his mouth when he eats something very spicy.

Picante sauce is different from other types of salsa because of its texture. When compared to other sauces, this sauce comprises ingredients that are cooked and usually comes in a semi-liquid form.

Since Picante sauce belongs to the category of salsa, it is easy for individuals to confuse themselves over the two terms.

Therefore, this article attempts to help ease the understanding of individuals by giving a brief description of salsa and its subset, Picante sauce to highlight the significant differences which set them apart from each other.


  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salsa_(sauce)
  2. https://www.whatsinmyfood.com/product/pace-salsa-sauce/
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