Differences Between Salsa, Pico de Gallo, and Picante

Differences Between Salsa, Pico de Gallo, and Picante

When you go out to eat at your favorite Mexican restaurant, the menu can start to get a little confusing if you don’t speak the language. There are myriad varieties of many classic Mexican dishes—especially salsas. To help you keep the different types straight, we’ve put together a few differences between salsa, pico de gallo, and picante.


There are several distinct types of salsa, all of which contain tomatillos or red tomatoes. Salsa can also include a number of other ingredients, such as corn, peppers, and beans. Whether it includes raw or cooked ingredients determines if it should be served chilled. Salsa comes in a variety of heat levels as well, from mild to very spicy to extra scorching.

Salsa is frequently eaten as an appetizer with tortilla chips or as a condiment on meals such as tacos. The ingredients it includes influences its nutritional value. The shelf life of raw salsa is only a few days, so be sure to store it properly.


Picante is the Spanish word for “spicy,” so needless to say, this sauce tends to be on the hot side. While salsa and other Mexican condiments are thick and heavy, picante sauce is thin and liquid-like. To make a simple picante sauce, all you need are tomatoes, onions, garlic, jalapeños, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. It’ll be hotter or milder according to how much jalapeño you use. The key to this sauce’s consistency is to process or blend all the ingredients until smooth and runny. Quality picante sauce is a crimson liquid with no discernible bits.

Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants serve picante sauce as an appetizer or as a side dish with tortilla chips. Picante sauce can also incorporate cooked components, so expect some variation in taste and texture.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo, often known as salsa fresco, is a kind of salsa made using fresh tomatoes and cilantro. Onion, fresh chilies, lime juice, and salt flavor the raw tomato. The components of pico de gallo are always the same and always fresh. Pico is chunky, with every diced element clearly visible, whereas regular salsa is thinner.

Now that you know some of the differences between salsa, pico de gallo, and picante, pop over to our store and pick up some salsa in bulk for your next big party! Or you can keep it all for yourself!