Picante Sauce Vs Enchilada Sauce (How They Differ)

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Difference Between Picante Sauce and Enchilada Sauce



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If you have ever wondered about the differences between Picante sauce vs enchilada sauce, this post is for you.

Picante sauce and enchilada sauce differ in several ways, even though they both contain tomatoes, chilies, and lots of similar spices. They primarily differ in their origin, uses in different dishes, and how they’re made.

The Picante is a tomato-based sauce that can be used as a topping for many dishes. It has a thick texture and can be very hot or mild, according to taste. Enchilada sauce is a Mexican chili-based sauce, usually used as a dip and baking sauce for enchiladas.

Enchilada sauce is full of spice and flavor; you can spoon it over your tacos, as well as use it to enhance the filling in of burritos or chimichangas.

Let’s quickly look at Picante and enchilada sauce to learn more about them and their differences.

What is Picante Sauce?

“Picante” is derived from the Spanish word “Picar,” which means “to sting.” It is made primarily from hot peppers, hence the name Picante, which could mean spicy or hot.

David E. Pace invented it. Picante is a food product that the Pace corporation invented, among others.

The man developed the mixture of tomatoes and hot peppers like jalapeños and onions from the old recipe of the salsa, which was first used by the Aztecs, Incas, and the Mayans.

Types of Picante Sauce

The sauce comes in only two main variants: mild pepper and hot pepper.

There are over a dozen homemade recipes that have been developed, though, but they all fall under the substitutes that one can use when one has run out of the main Picante sauce.

What is Picante Sauce Made Of?

Picante sauce is made of different ingredients, such as:

  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Cilantro
  • Jalapeño chili
  • Clove
  • Chili powder
  • Salt
  • Hot pepper sauce
  • Lime juice
  • Lime zest

These ingredients are mixed and blended into a smoothened mixture that is thick. You can use it as a sauce for fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, and tacos.

What is Enchilada Sauce?

Enchilada sauce is the sauce that enchiladas are baked in.

For the sake of emphasis, we will mention again that it is full of flavor and spice.

It is usually thick, yet somehow soupy, with a lot of flavors that sink into the stuffed corn tortilla that it is baked with, and it enriches the tastiness of the meal as it bakes gradually.

Enchiladas are soft corn flapjacks rolled around shredded or ground meat or chicken, then smothered in enchilada sauce and baked in the oven.

“Enchilada” was coined from the word “enchilada,” which means “spicy” or “to be spiced” in the Spanish language. This is because the sauce is chili-based, and it must be spiced with chili.

Therefore, from that definition, the fact is established that all enchilada sauce must be made with chili.

Types of Enchilada Sauce

Picante Sauce Vs Enchilada Sauce

The types of enchilada sauce are quite a few.

The most common is the traditional red sauce, made with tomato paste, chili powder, and other ingredients. It is quite a savory sauce and is full of warm spices.

Another kind is the green enchilada sauce which is creamier and spicier; it all depends on how you make it.

There is no added tomato paste to this sauce; it is made mainly with roasted green chilies blended with broth.

There is also the white enchilada sauce, mainly used with chicken enchiladas, and is the least among all Mexican enchiladas.

There is no tomato paste as well. It has a creamy base made with butter, flour, and sour cream.

What is Enchilada Sauce Made Of?

The red enchilada sauce usually consists of the following ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Oregano
  • Tomato paste

You can then add salt and pepper to your taste.

It could also include broth or water and possibly white vinegar or apple cider vinegar, and it could be thickened with some flour.

Difference Between Picante Sause Vs Enchilada Sause

The major difference between the two sauces lies in their ingredients.

The Picante is tomato-based but can include chilies, while the enchilada is chili-based but can include tomatoes.

The Picante is used as a seasoning or flavored for meals, while the enchilada is an integral part of the dishes it is made with. The Picante is often thicker than the enchilada as well.

Finally, the Picante is frequently served cold, and the enchilada, on the other hand, is served hot.

Can You Substitute Picante For Enchilada And Vice Versa?

Since they are both different food products with typically different ingredients, it wouldn’t be wise to use one instead of the other.

You will run into complications that can alter the taste and flavor of your dish in the long run.

You can substitute the Picante with the enchilada in some dishes, but because the enchilada sauce does not have the freshness that the Picante has, you cannot use it in place of the Picante in most cases.

It also has a different level of consistency. Even though its smoothness might be the reason it’s the choice in making a casserole-like dish, as a condiment, it gives no at all texture to your tacos burritos or fajitas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between enchilada sauce and salsa?

Salsa means sauce has a thicker and chunkier texture than enchilada sauce. It’s made with tomatoes, onions, and chilis, unlike enchilada sauce. The tomatoes are a primary part of the salsa, which gives it its signature textural flavor.

What is the difference between enchilada sauces?

The main difference between them is that red enchilada sauce is made with red chilies, and green enchilada sauce is made with green chilies.

Is mole sauce the same as enchilada sauce?

The mole sauce can be served in a lot of ways. It is mainly served with chicken, and it is very delicious, like the enchilada sauce.

Is salsa Verde the same as enchilada sauce?

The difference between green enchilada sauce Verde sauce and salsa Verde is that enchilada sauce is cooked, and salsa Verde is raw.

What is the difference between enchilada sauce and taco sauce?

The major difference between them is the ingredients that are used for each. Enchilada sauce is made with chili powder, and taco sauce uses paprika.


The phrase “Picante sauce vs Enchilada sauce” projects the question of which sauce is hotter or spicier in anyone’s mind. But getting to know the characteristics and functional qualities renders that question irrelevant.

Both sauces are spicy and full of flavor in their capacities.

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