Salsa Vs Pasta Sauce: Do You Know Their Differences?

salsa vs paste sauce

Salsa & pasta sauce are mainly tomatoes, onions, and a lot of garlic. That’s the reason why many people have difficulty distinguishing them. Some often think of using one as a substitute for the other.

This formative article will provide you detailed information about the differences between these two.

Quick Facts


  • Ingredients: Garlic, fresh/canned tomatoes, red/green onion, lime juice, cilantro, seasonings.
  • Texture: Chunky
  • Flavor: Spicy
  • Ways of use: Perfectly for the party dip or savory snacks.

Pasta Sauce

  • Ingredients: Garlic, onion, fresh/canned tomatoes, basil, parsley, seasonings.
  • Texture: Liquified
  • Flavor: Savoury
  • Ways of use: Condiment or accompaniment to food.

Related: Mexican dishes, so good you can’t ignore them!

Main Differences

Ingredients and flavor

In cooked salsa, it’ll go perfectly with canned or fresh tomatoes, onions, peppers, and seasonings, whereas avocado, cilantro, fresh green chiles, and lime juice are used to make fresh salsa.

Must-have ingredients in salsa like tomatoes, onions, and seasonings also appear in pasta sauce. But, in this sauce, Italian herbs like oregano, basil, and leaf parsley are necessarily added. 

Therefore, salsa usually has spice while pasta sauce is more savory.


The difference between these two kinds of sauce is that salsa includes chopped tomatoes which make the texture chunkier, whereas the other is more liquified.

Another distinction is that pasta sauce has a pure red, thin texture with crushed tomatoes blended with leaves. In contrast, salsa is green and red, with chunky tomato bits for a rough texture.

Ways of use

Salsa can be served as a topping for the party dip or savory snack. But chips are not the only options; salsa is also fantastic with tacos, Mexican casserole, breakfast burritos, nachos, and much more.

Otherwise, pasta sauce goes perfectly with the pasta. This sauce can also taste better with meatloaf, eggplant parmesan, English muffin pizza, Italian quesadilla. 

Is Salsa OK For Keto?

Of course, low in calories and contain little or no fat, salsa is considered a healthful addition to a balanced diet. In addition, there are approximately 1.5-2 grams of fiber per medium tomato, which helps balance out the carbs, and many of the ingredients contribute vitamins and minerals. But, some store-bought brands add unnecessary sugars and preservatives to their salsas, making them higher in carbs, so that is not keto-friendly anymore.

Can I Use Salsa In Place Of Tomato Sauce?

It is not a good idea. Salsa tends to either be chunky to make a good pasta sauce; it either won’t stick because there’s too much water, or the ingredients are in pieces that are too big or heavy to stick reliably.

Is Pasta Sauce The Same As Spaghetti?

Spaghetti sauce is tomato sauced-based, possibly with meat. It’s based roughly on marinara or bolognese, depending on what variety you have.

Otherwise, Spaghetti is a type of pasta but long, thin, usually round. Therefore, spaghetti sauce means the same thing, and there is no problem substitute one for another.

How Do I Make Pasta Sauce Thicker?

Fresh tomatoes have high water content so that that tomato sauce can get very watery. In case the sauce is too runny, don’t throw your batch away. Instead, use these easy ways to take your red sauce from a watery mess to a thick masterpiece.

1. Add cornstarch

Cornstarch will change the consistency a bit and give it a glossy sheen or thicker texture. However, cornstarch won’t alter the flavor of your sauce because the cornstarch doesn’t have flavor. 

For this method, let’s mix equally water and cornstarch to ensure it won’t go too thick. At first, add a small amount and gradually add more to achieve the thickness that you desire. Because cornstarch is a solid thickening agent, you’d better only use less than a teaspoon of the mixture for a pot of red sauce.

2. Thrown in mashed potatoes

It may sound strange because potatoes are taboo ingredients to make any sauce, but this method works wonders for your watery tomato sauce. You would only need boiled, peeled potatoes at this method and one more critical step – mash that potato. 

Because potatoes contain a slight flavor, you can even add butter and milk if you want. This result will turn out a slightly sweeter sauce, but it will be thicker and more filling.

3. Add tomato paste

Tomato paste is an indispensable ingredient to make this sauce and a go-to for many to thicken it. The beginning is the best time to add tomato paste so that the flavors of spices can tone down the flavor of the paste. Tomato paste probably makes your sauce a little bland; in this case, you need to add more spices and seasonings.

Mariana Rouco

Mariana Rouco is the editor-in-chief of She loves traveling and writing about foods and cooking in general. She has a degree from the New England Culinary Institute and enjoys Mexican, Italian, and Chinese cuisines the most.

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