Mexican restaurants typically serve both salsa and pico de gallo, but what’s the difference? Are they the same thing?
The Short Answer
Salsa and pico de gallo are nearly identical. They can be told apart by their texture and whether or not the ingredients have been cooked.
The Long Answer
I get where the confusion comes from here.
Salsa and pico are both Mexican condiments that can serve as an accompaniment to chips or on a burrito or taco salad. In fact, a lot of their ingredients are identical, so why the different names?
Salsa is the Spanish word for sauce, so it can refer to both fresh or cooked mixtures, which means the term is pretty broad.
When most of us hear salsa we think of cooked tomato salsa, which is made out of onions, chiles, herbs, and of course tomatoes. Other variations do exist, like bean or corn salsa. There are even some salsas which are made from cheese or tomatillos and cilantro.
The kind of salsa you’re likely thinking of usually has a lot of liquid. That comes from the ingredients being processed into a puree before it is served. Usually, these ingredients are also cooked or roasted for a more savory flavor.
Pico De Gallo is a form of salsa sometimes known as salsa fresco. That’s because it is an uncooked mix of cilantro, chiles, lime juice, salt, onions, and tomatoes. While salsa is super open-ended in terms of recipes, pico is typically pretty consistent.
So, while all pico de gallo is salsa, not all salsa is pico de gallo.
Did you know that you can make your own salsa in the Instant Pot? And these vegetarian fajitas are a perfect vessel for salsa OR pico de gallo!
What do you think about these two Mexican condiments? Which is your favorite? Sound off in the comment section below and let us know!
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