I LOVE Mexican food – I probably should call it Tex-Mex, since what I’m referring to isn’t always totally authentic.  For me, probably more important than the food itself , are the flavors and the SAUCES!  Which brings me to the topic of this post…

What’s the difference between salsa, picante, and pico de gallo?


Well if I was thinking about what you’d buy from the store, I would say picante is thin and sauce like and may even be cooked.

Salsa may (or may not) have more ingredients than picante but is thicker and uncooked.

And pico, for me, is the best of all three.  From what I’ve seen in restaurants and in what you could buy at grocery stores like Fiesta, H-E-B, or Kroger, it is more chunky with fresher ingredients.  You can see and taste the tomatoes, onions, cilantro, peppers, garlic, spices… everything.  This is most like what I make at home.  And I love it!

For me, I think salsa and picante are meant to be refrigerated and eaten later if you want. But I feel like pico is meant to be eaten fresh. If it’s refrigerated it may only be for a few hours but it’s meant to be eaten fresh so that you can taste all those wonderful ingredients.


In fact, I have a natural progression of “sauces”.  I love Pico de Gallo, so that’s pretty much what I almost always make with a very fresh, chunky mixture of tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro, and jalapenos ( spices).  SO good, it tastes like it’s fresh from the garden.

If that’s not all eaten within a day or 2 (and I can’t recall when that’s ever happened unless I was home alone for the weekend), then I add lemon juice, put it in a jar, shake it up and refrigerate it.  It starts to render more “juices” but is still pretty chunky.  Ta Da!  Salsa.

Mine rarely makes it to the picante level, but if I’m lucky enough to have more after that I’ll just blend it a little and… Ta Da! Picante.  Except I don’t cook it at all.


Hey!!!  You might even be able to take it one step further – add some acid (apple cider vinegar or white vinegar), sugar, and pepper; cook it, puree it and… Ta Da! Ketchup.

Ooh, could you imagine Sriracha?!  I may have to look into that

Disclaimer:  The descriptions I give are mine alone.  They are not necessarily authentic & I am not an expert or a chef.  As a matter of fact, I am hoping that a fellow blogger friend might interject with some tips or corrections for authenticity. (Not that I’m calling anyone out…  😉 )

Until then, check out Sauce It Up for a basic salsa recipe, grab yourself a margarita, and…


photo credit: The garden is kicking into gear. Fresh #picodegallo with homegrown onion, tomatoes, and peppers. The cilantro was store bought. 🙁 via photopin (license)



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