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Taco sauce or salsa

What's your preference? Should I serve both at my taco party?

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    1. re: bbqboy

      Very good call! So both sauce and salsa? Is it just that sauce is thinner?

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Sauce seems less chunky and more acidic too. Personally I like a fresh salsa over a jarred in general. For a party I would probably have both and tortilla chips so the salsa would have another vehicle too. Honestly I skip either on my tacos most of te time.

        1. re: fldhkybnva

          Green sauce is a mix of green chiles and tomatillos.
          Make your own or buy a jarred version.
          I also agree with melpy-both. What kind of tacos and what kind of meats?
          Are you setting up a taco bar?

          1. re: bbqboy

            The request for a traditional TexMex/American style shredded chicken and ground beef tacos el Taco Bellish style.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              In that case, I really don't think you need salsa.

          2. re: fldhkybnva

            No, the difference is not in consistency.

            Taco sauce is generally based on dried chiles, onion and seasoning and may or may not have tomatoes in it. This type of sauce may also be cooked. By cooked, I mean the ingredients are probably roasted before being blended. It could also be cooked after everything is blended to reduce or meld the flavors.

            Salsa is generally a tomato (or tomatillo in the case of salsa verde) based sauce to which fresh chiles and seasonings are added along, often with other complimentary add-ins like fruit or corn. This type of sauce is almost never cooked.

            Personally, I like fresh green salsa cruda with chicken tacos, but this is more Cal-Mex than Tex-Mex. For the ground beef, Taco Bell-style tacos, the thinner, cooked dried chile based taco sauce is the best bet. Rick Bayless has a good taco sauce in his book Salsas That Cook. The recipe title is Mellow Red Chile Sauce and it can be scaled for various yields (always handy for a party) and he gives various chile substitutions as well that you could play around with. The recipe is pretty solid, I've made it thousands of times. It's easy and almost never fails.

            1. re: DiningDiva

              Excellent summation. Nothing else need be said.

        2. "Is it just that sauce is thinner?"

          No. These are two different condiments. I must assume you have actually seen and tasted both. One might think of salsa as a relish.

          Most taco sauces on a supermarket shelf will taste very similar. On that same shelf you might find tomato salsa, corn salsa, peach salsa, black bean salsa, etc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: FrankJBN

            Yea, I have seen and tasted both. The sauce seems a bit more tomato/ketchupy vs the salsa of course which is more chunky. I often find in taco salad that sauce works better as it provides some liquid (dressingish if you will)

          2. Out of curiosity, where do you live fldhkybnva?

            3 Replies
              1. re: fldhkybnva

                All regions of the country are not created taco equal. :)
                It helps me with your question.
                Different areas view the same question through different eyes.
                You just want jarred stuff or are you wanting to make your own sauces/salsas?

                1. re: bbqboy

                  Quick prep, so looking for jarred stuff? This meal is a typical "taco bell-esque" affair

            1. Pico de gallo! I use that on tacos but not a more saucy, tomato-based product.

              I too am not a fan of any jarred salsas but my kids love it with chips.

              1. Pico de gallo is a salsa you see a lot of here in So Cal. It is a mixture of chopped tomato, onions, jalapeno (or other chile), garlic and cilantro. It is fresh and has no thickeners of any kind.

                3 Replies
                1. re: escondido123

                  I am usually not a big fan of pico de gallo as I am a cilantro hater.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Tastes like soap to me too, so I usually skip it. But sometimes they make it without, which is what I do at my house. (I have discovered that cooked cilantro, as in not-fresh salsas, doesn't pack such a soapy punch.)

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      I'm not a hater, but I wouldn't miss cilantro if it vanished irrevocably from planet earth.

                  2. I like Heinz ketchup on my tacos. Sue me. : )

                    1 Reply
                    1. The liquidy red sauce like what they have at Taco Hell is also called salsa. They are just different kinds of salsas. The liquidy kind would typically be like a rehydrated chile piquin or chile de arbol based sauce. The thicker kinds would have more ingredients in them and be tomatoey with a lot of room for variation, cooked or raw, some roasted ingredients, and many more options, probably a ranch style or basic red is what you have in mind. Then you have the entire green category, just as varied as the red. And then you have what are chopped/picada sauces like pico de gallo (salsa bandera or salsa fresca). I mean, there are really so many varieties.

                      A favorite salsa of mine is salsa de ajonjoli which is a red chile de arbol based sauce with roasted sesame seeds ground in it. It is delicious.

                      I like all kinds. I find myself pairing green with chicken and red with beef or goat, too. You could put representations of all four kinds on the table just for fun.

                      I like to make salsas at home since it is super easy. However, I come from TX where there isn't a salsa section but a salsa aisle at our local grocery store. Now I am also in the DC area and our store bought salsa options here are fairly limited. If you want to keep it simple, I recommend the Herdez brand (even the canned is OK but jarred tastes better). Herdez Salsa Casera and also Salsa Verde are pretty good, not all vinegary like so many other jarred salsas. Go for Salsa Valentina for the thin hot Taco Hell style sauce. Whatever you go for, make sure it has no thickeners like corn starch. Sauces with stuff like that in them are just yucky.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: luckyfatima

                        Great post. Two big thumbs up on the Herdez recommendation. For a jarred product it is really good.

                        Salsa de ajonjoli is wonderful too :-)

                      2. Has anyone mentioned that the word "salsa" is Spanish for "sauce"?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: escondido123

                          OK. ┬┐Te explico, Federico? salsa is the Spanish word for sauce :D

                        2. It's funny, when I have tacos at a restaurant I use neither. Tacos prepared at home, on the other hand, always get taco sauce. I never apply salsa to my tacos.

                          1. How did your taco party turn out.?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: bbqboy

                              Well I am glad that I offered both taco sauce and salsa as there were people with definite preferences. For myself however, I actually went with a taco salad loaded up with lettuce, cheese, jalapenos, guacamole and skipped both. Oh, also the salsa verde was a hit as well.

                            2. I know this is probably after the fact, but if I were doing tacos for guests I'd most likely offer 3 "sauce" toppings - a chunky red salsa, a smoother red taco sauce, & a green salsa. Most likely would offer Pico de Gallo as well, but for me that belongs more in the "toppings" category than sauce.

                              As for cilantro, since it's so contentious, I'd offer a bowl of it chopped on its own in the "toppings" area.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Bacardi1

                                Indeed! I offered all 3 and they all went to good use.