6 Picante Sauce Substitutes

Picante sauce is one of the most unique and flavorful sauces that you can find on the market today, however, it isn’t always that readily available. It contains tomato sauce, chili powder, chopped onions, limes, cilantro, garlic, salt and a few other ingredients.

You can make this sauce by yourself, but you won’t always have the time or the patience to do that. So, what if you get to the store and find that there is no picante sauce for you to use in your Mexican dish?

Well, you’ll be happy to know that there are some alternatives out there. What are the best substitutes for picante sauce? How do they compare in terms of flavor and texture? How much will you have to put into your meal?

Well, we’ve compiled a list of the best picante sauce substitutes so that you won’t be left holding an empty spoon when it comes to dinner.

6 Picante Sauce Substitutes

Picante Sauce – The Scoop On This Sauce

This is a sauce that originally hails from Mexico and it is made with cilantro, tomatoes, onions and cilantro. This is a very bright and refreshing sauce and we can guarantee you that it will lighten up any bland pasta dish.

The secret ingredient of this sauce is serrano pepper, which is what gives it its heat. This is great for use in tacos if you want to counterpoint the cheese and meat with a little bit of spiciness.

This has quickly become one of the most popular hot sauces in the USA. This has been compared to salsa, although we would say that salsa is a lot chunkier, more designed to be eaten with tortillas and other dipping bread.

Picante sauce is a lot more fluid and should be poured over pasta, casseroles and enchiladas. But what if you have run out of this sauce? Well, there are some alternatives out there, some more like the classic picante sauce than others.

Let’s have a deep dive into these substitutes to see which ones are most suitable for your dish.

1. Salsa

As we have mentioned above, there have been repeated comparisons to this type of Mexican sauce, although there are some differences in terms of texture and taste.

This kind of sauce is far zestier than it is spicy, so you might have a milder flavor in your Mexican meal. Salsa is often used for dipping, but you can use it for spreading over tacos and quesadillas. Salsa will certainly boost the flavor of any dish.

You can make your own salsa if you want to accentuate certain flavors or you can simply buy some from the store. This is a widely available sauce.

2. Pico De Gallo

This is another sauce that is made from similar ingredients to picante, including cilantro, limes, tomatoes and onions. This is a much chunkier sauce than picante, so make sure you accommodate for the excess if you are going to be scooping it with tortillas.

This sauce also comes with fewer calories, making it a much healthier sauce than picante. If you are looking to cut back and lose some weight, then we would certainly recommend that you swap out your picante for pico de gallo.

3. Salsa Ranchero

This is a sauce that is primarily made from tomatoes, so you can be sure it will give your dish pep when you add it to your tacos. If you are making this sauce yourself, then you can add and subtract certain ingredients to make it more or less spicy and flavorsome.

This is also great to have on eggs, fish and chicken, covering the natural flavors with some much-needed zest.

This type of sauce can be bought at any Mexican store, so if you want a more natural texture and taste, then we would recommend that you get one that is locally made.

4. Enchilada Sauce

This next sauce is one that is made from peppers, tomatoes and onions, all of which combine to make a sauce that is very similar to picante. This has a much more grounded flavor and is not as spicy as picante sauce.

This type of sauce is not as thick as picante, which makes it much easier to pour over your meat and vegetable dishes. You’ll have to take into account how runny this dish is, so make sure that you add less than you would if you were applying picante sauce.

5. Romesco Sauce

This is a Spanish sauce that is made from roasted peppers, almonds, garlic, olive oil and vinegar. The combination of these various different flavors is delicious and not too dissimilar to picante, although it is a lot less spicy.

Romesco sauce is usually used as a kind of dip, but you can use it as a filling for sandwiches and even spread it over your taco. This sauce is slightly thinner in consistency, although you can swap it out with picante without having to lower the amount.

6. Salsa Roja

This is a type of salsa that is very spicy and uses tomatoes, chopped onions and jalapeno peppers, making it a slightly spicier sauce than picante. This sauce is best made from fresh ingredients, as it will really bring out the more subtle tastes and flavors.

All you need to make this is a food processor and a pot in which you can boil and simmer all of the ingredients. This will take 20 minutes to cook and you’ll have a tangy sauce that you can spread over your tacos or in your enchiladas.


We hope that our guide to picante sauce replacements has helped you to decide which ones you are going to use for your next Mexican or Spanish dish. Make sure that when you are swapping out picante for another sauce, it has a similar heat level.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Nutritional Benefits Of Picante Sauce?

This type of sauce is very rich in vitamin C, which means it is a good source of eye health. This sauce contains mostly carbs, so it is a good source of energy.

Some people like to combine this with a protein like chicken or eggs and eat it a few hours before a workout at the gym.

What Pepper Is Used In Picante?

The main pepper that is used in picante is serrano, which is what account for its spicy aftertaste.

If you are making your own picante at home, then you can always swap out your serrano pepper with something hotter like jalapeno or something less hot like bell peppers.

How Can I Make My Own Picante Sauce?

Picante sauce has a few basic ingredients that include chopped onions, tomatoes, fresh cilantro, serrano peppers, lime juice, chili powder, garlic, salt, lime zest and hot pepper sauce.

All you need to do is put these in a blender and blend them up into a puree-like thickness.

Is Picante Sauce Hotter Than Salsa?

Picante is much hotter than salsa, which is more of a mild sauce. Salsa is more used for dipping, whereas picante is meant to be added to dishes like tacos and enchiladas.

6 Picante Sauce Substitutes

Recipe by AubreyCourse: Substitutes


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Have you run out of picante sauce and are looking for an alternative? Well, here is a list of some of the best picante sauce substitutes that we can find.


  • Salsa

  • Pico De Gallo

  • Salsa Ranchero

  • Enchilada Sauce

  • Romesco Sauce

  • Salsa Roja


  • Decide on what substitute you need
  • Pick a substitute from the list above
  • Read what you need to substitute with
  • Create the recipe and enjoy
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