Mexican Sauces: 12 Types of Salsas For Authentic Flavors

Mexican sauces are is all about spiciness, but it’s never only about heat, but also the rich traditional flavors. The way many dishes achieve those flavors is through the use of tomatoes and peppers.

Mexico is the spiritual home to hot peppers and even popular vegetables like tomatoes, two of the critical ingredients in any sauce or salsa.

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The Mexican table is not complete without salsas. They bring life to tacos. Mexican sauces are the key to almost every signature dish in the country’s cuisine dating back centuries.

Salsas are the soul of the country, and they’re so varied that it would be impossible to describe them all. Amongst the vast array of spicy concoctions, though, some must be acknowledged for their popularity and importance.

These are the 12 most popular types of Mexican sauces; we bet you’ll love them all. How many of these have you tried so far?

1. Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo Salsa

One of the most straightforward, but versatile salsas in the Mexican repertoire is Pico de Gallo. Unexplainably called The Roosters Peak, this sauce is known for showing the colors of the Mexican flag: red, white, and green.

Diced tomatoes and onions mixed with minced green peppers and chopped cilantro leaves are fresh, spicy, and full of flavor.

Brought together by lime juice and a pinch of salt, Pico de Gallo is excellent over all kinds of tacos, from grilled meat tacos to the famous Tacos al Pastor. This Pico de Gallo recipe is quick and easy.

2. Guacamole

Guacamole Salsa

Yes, guacamole is a type of Mexican salsa. Actually, the suffix “mole” means sauce in the Aztec dialect.

Pureed avocados give body to a thick sauce brought to life by minced green jalapeño or serrano peppers, diced onions, cilantro leaves, and sometimes tomato.

The avocado pulp will brown quickly when exposed to oxygen. However, lime juice will keep it green and fresh.

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Guacamole can be used as a dip or in tacos.

3. Salsa Verde Cruda

Salsa Verde Cruda

Green tomatoes are one of the most cherished ingredients in Mexican gastronomy and massively under-represented elsewhere.

Tangy and citrusy, juicy, and herbal, this variety of tomatoes are not unripe red tomatoes but hardcore-green all the way to ripeness.

Green tomatoes are the base for the vast realm of Mexican green salsas, from which the most popular is the salsa verde cruda or raw green salsa.

Raw ingredients, green tomatoes, onions, garlic, cilantro leaves, hot peppers, and a pinch of salt are pounded or blended for a fresh sauce hard to beat.

This sauce can be used with any type of taco.

4. Salsa Verde Cocida

Salsa Verde Cocida

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This green salsa variety, the cooked green salsa, shares ingredients with its raw counterpart, but the ingredients are cooked in boiling water before being incorporated into a thick, savory sauce.

This sauce is a classic enchilada recipe. It’s also ubiquitous on the Mexican table, and although similar to the raw kind, it’s decidedly different.

You can try both the raw and cooked versions and decide which one you like best.

5. Salsa Roja

(*12*)

The green tomato is special, sure, but it’s its red sibling that conquered the world and made its way to pizzas and burgers alike.

Red tomatoes are the base for the Mexican red salsa, for which there are too many variations. This sauce can be powered by any hot pepper, while garlic and onion keep it balanced.

You can make green and red sauces completely new and exciting, much like French mother sauces. To make a chipotle salsa or a chipotle paste, you can use ancho peppers.

6. Salsa Borracha

Salsa Borracha

This interesting sauce is called the drunken sauce; we know we have your attention now.

Salsa Borracha is great over charcoal-grilled meat. It is made with green tomatoes, garlic and pasilla chili peppers.

Pasilla peppers can be dried peppers and must be hydrated before they are used. These spicy, smokey peppers add a coppery colour to the sauce.

Pulque, fermented, agave syrup, is the most important ingredient in this sauce and it’s also the one that gave it its name.

Very perishable and nowadays rare, if you don’t find pulque, you can use lager beer to your sauce for a similar effect.

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7. Xnipec

Xnipec Salsa

The southern Yucatan Peninsula, home to the Mayan culture, is known for the use of the fiery habanero, one of the hottest peppers on the planet.

Don’t let the strange Mayan name frighten you; be afraid of the spiciness of the sauce itself instead.

The xnipec is a combination of minced habanero and julienne red onion, along with dried oregano leaf seasoning. The perfect appetizer for the famous pork cochinita; the region’s signature dish.

8. Peanut Salsa

Peanut Salsa

Some Mexican sauces are thicker than others, and they can incorporate unusual ingredients like mango, pineapple, or in this case, peanuts.

A peanut salsa gets its body from peanuts, but it’s dried hot peppers like the popular arbol, ancho, or pasilla chiles that add an addictive spiciness to the nutty sauce.

This is a great companion for any grilled dish.

9. Mole

Poblano Mole Salsa

As mentioned before, “mole” means sauce in the native Aztec dialect, but mole is not one sauce but many.

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There are dozens of different moles in the Mexican cookbook, and they’re used in stews and more elaborate dishes beyond tacos.

The Poblano is the most well-known mole. It is often served with roasted turkey and can include more than twenty ingredients such as chocolate, hot peppers, almonds garlic, seeds, spices and herbs.

Considered the most complex sauce on earth, it’s a tough challenge to undertake for both amateur and professional cooks alike, but we recommend you trying it if you have the chance!

10. Chiltomate

Chiltomate Salsa

Another Mayan specialty, famous in the Yucatan Peninsula, is chiltomate. This sauce is simple and based on tomatoes, chili peppers, especially habanero.

With an exceptionally smooth texture and a bright red color, this sauce is lovely, and despite being made with one of the spiciest peppers on earth, it can often be quite mild.

This sauce can be used with eggs in many Mayan specialty dishes. This chiltomate recipe is also very easy.

11. Salsa Bruja

Salsa Bruja

Somewhat of an oddity, the salsa bruja, or ‘witch’ sauce is unlike any other. It’s more of an infused vinegar than a sauce, and in Mexico, it’s used to give spiciness and flavor to seafood dishes like the shrimp cocktail.

The process begins with a glass container that is filled with vinegar, coarsely chopped onions, garlic and carrots. Many aromatic herbs are added, such as laurel, thyme and rosemary.

Cumin, cloves, and oregano are common, and a few sliced serrano peppers bring the heat to an infused vinegar so intensely flavored that it’s hard to describe.

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Just a teaspoon of the coastal specialty changes the flavor profile of your shrimp cocktail massively. This is witchcraft.

12. Salsa Macha

Salsa Macha

When you think you’ve seen it all, there comes salsa macha to open your eyes to new, exciting, and spicy possibilities.

Salsa Macha is an oil-based sauce. It’s made by infusing olive oils with fried dried chili peppers. Sometimes with garlic and peanuts. This oily paste can be used with whole fried fish.

There are several versions for the salsa macha, but they include neither green nor red tomatoes, this is the purest essence of hot peppers and not much more.

Here you have it! Many different types Mexican sauces to spice up your life!

Mexican salsa are always better when homemade, and there’s no official recipe for any of them. Every cook, every family has recipes for their favorite types of salsas with their way of bringing some spiciness to the table, and you can have yours.

We can debate which one of these Mexican sauces are the best. Pico de Gallo, Guacamole and other sauces are very popular. Some will argue that it’s simple because you can make them quickly and easily. But you will see that most of these recipes are pretty easy. Try a few of these and let us know which one is your favorite.

Inspired in the most popular Mexican sauces, with the right ingredients, you can make fabulous types of salsas to share your love for traditional Mexican food with your friends and family.

You can become a salsa master by adding hot peppers to the grocery list. The main piece of equipment you can buy to make your prep a bit easier would be a good quality blender. You can use your existing food processor. Otherwise, you’ll have to go old school and chop everything by hand.

Are you a Mexican Foodie? Then make sure you check out these other stories to learn more about the traditional Mexican dishes, or our delicious fun facts about the most popular types of tacos in Mexico. And if you are really adventurous and want to try making these dishes at home then make sure to take a look at our list of Mexican spices before you start.

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