What is the Difference Between Picante Sauce and Salsa? (Updated 2024)

Difference Between Picante Sauce and Salsa

There’s nothing like snacking on some chips and sauce on the side. With various sauce options to choose from, it can be quite confusing just what to pick when it comes to these situations.

Knowing the difference between Picante sauce and salsa is the best way to choose the right one. Check out their essential distinctions.

What is Picante Sauce?

What is Picante Sauce

The first thing you need to know is that Picante is a type of sauce that is available in both supermarkets and traditional food stalls or restaurants.

Many people are aware of the retail product sold in groceries and stores. It was created by Campbell’s company, which is in the business of developing and selling food products. It was released by the company under the Pace brand over 60 years ago as Pace Picante Sauce.

This sauce is made using blended tomatoes, combined with pieces of onions and jalapenos. It has a smooth texture with a little chunkiness from onions and peppers.

It does not contain any hint of sugar and gluten, making it a friendly choice for individuals with food sensitivities. It is also low in fat, making it a great choice for individuals watching their diet. This sauce can be used as a dip, as a garnish for tacos, or as an ingredient in various dishes.

Campbell’s offers the Pace Picante Sauce in two variants namely Mild and Medium, each available in two bottle sizes, making it easier to use for big batches with varying levels of spiciness.

However, the traditional version of Picante sauce in Mexican cuisine differs from the Pace product in a few ways. Traditional Picante is thinner and more fluid. Moreover, it is composed of seasonings, vinegar, spices, and red peppers.

What is Salsa?

What is Salsa?

So, how does Picante differ from salsa? What you need to know is that salsa means sauce in Spanish. Do you know what else is a Spanish word? Picante! Picante is the Spanish word for spicy, so Picante sauce simply means spicy sauce. Given this, you can probably guess that Picante is a type of salsa.

The use of salsa dates back to the ancient civilizations of Central America with records from the Spanish colonizers from around the 1500s. It is usually made using tomatoes, chilies, squash, beans, and other ingredients.

Today, salsa is known in the United States in different forms such as in a saucier, fluid type, as well as in a chunky form. Visiting Tex-Mex restaurants, and authentic Mexican restaurants is the best way to get a taste of this sauce.

To get a spicy sauce, you just need to add more peppers. You can use different kinds of peppers such as jalapeno, serrano, poblano, and many more. 

Difference Between Picante Sauce and Salsa

Picante and salsa have some differences including the textures, spice level, and applications.

The most important distinction you should remember is that salsa is an umbrella term that refers to sauce, while Picante describes a characteristic of the sauce.

So, you can have salsa Roja, Verde, and pico de gallo depending on the ingredients you use.

When you add a little spicy kick to the sauce, then you have a salsa Roja Picante, salsa verde Picante, pico de gallo Picante, and so forth.

Pace Mild Picante Sauce, 8 oz.

However, if you are referring to Pace Picante Sauce, then the differences are starker. The texture is a huge distinction because Campbell’s product is more fluid. After all, the tomatoes are blended.

Meanwhile, the tomatoes and other ingredients in the traditional salsa are cut in a rougher way, so they have more solid pieces of vegetables.

Pace Picante Sauce comes in two different spice levels, but salsa comes in different levels of spiciness, depending on how much pepper you add or what type of pepper you use. Remember, various types of peppers have their respective levels of spiciness.

Lastly, Campbell’s sauce can be more convenient for hand-eaten dishes such as tacos and burritos. You can easily pour it on top of your food because it is runnier.

On the other hand, the traditional salsa is chunky, so you will need to scoop it up with a spoon so you can place it on top of your food.

Don’t get it wrong, though. Just because they have contrasts, does not mean that the two sauces do not have similarities.

For example, both of them use the same base ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, peppers, seasonings, and spices.

These two also suit a lot of Mexican dishes, making them very flexible. On the part of Pace Picante, you can use it in different dishes as one of the ingredients.

The Bottom Line

Picante and salsa are two of the most popular types of Mexican sauces in the United States market. Now that you know how they differ, you can get the right sauce for your dish.

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