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Difference Between Salsa and Pico de Gallo

What is the difference between salsa and Pico de Gallo?  They seem to be used interchangeably on restaurant menus.


Salsa is the Mexican word for "sauce".  It can include both cooked salsas, like those found on supermarket shelves across North America, or "Salsa Cruda", meaning uncooked sauce.  A salsa cruda is typically prepared from fresh ingredients shortly before serving, although it will last refrigerated for several days and the flavor can become more blended and complex if it is allowed to rest for several hours before being used.

Salsa is usually made from sweet and hot peppers, onions, tomatoes and/or tomatillos, garlic, and cilantro, seasoned with salt and possibly pepper.

Pico de Gallo [pronounced Pee' Koh de Gah" Yoh] means "rooster's beak".  According to The New Food Lover's Companion, the name may refer to eating Pico de Gallo by picking it out of the bowl with thumb and fingers.  While Pico de Gallo may be made using similar ingredients to salsa, it may also include cucumbers, tropical fruits including mango or pineapple, corn, or other ingredients not typically found in other salsas.  While it may be considered a form of salsa, Pico de Gallo may also be drier than cooked or fresh salsa.


Great post.

I love getting inspiration for submissions to my recipe club while simultaneously learning new and interesting facts about food. I love salsa and pico de gallo, but never had put much thought into the differentiation of the two. Cheers!


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