If you can’t get enough salsa, you likely enjoy using it for other recipes, including pasta sauce. For the most part, you can substitute salsa for pasta sauce, but there are still some things you should keep in mind before doing this. Not all pasta sauces are alike, neither are all salsas.
Below are a few important tips to remember when using salsa to make your pasta sauce.
1. Use Salsa That is Thin
When using salsa as pasta sauce it is better to use a thinner salsa instead of thicker, chunkier one. Even if your pasta sauce is usually filled with chunky vegetables such as onions, bell peppers, and carrots, they usually aren’t nearly as chunky as regular salsa is.
If you have a favorite salsa and you believe it’s too thick, just put it in the food processor and process it until it’s a little thinner.
2. Remember That Salsa Has a Different Taste
Some adjustments may need to be made when you swap out your pasta sauce and replace it with salsa. Keep in mind that while pasta sauce can be very flavorful, it won’t have a spicy “kick” like salsa does.
This means that the sauce will also have a slight spicy kick.
3. Use the Right Tomatoes
If you choose to make your own salsa, you can use almost any tomato you like, but there are still some that are better than others.
Don’t use canned tomatoes because they are usually too thin and are already skinned. Instead, try Amish paste, big mama or little mama tomatoes, roma, and viva Italia. Cherry tomatoes are also a great choice.
4. You Can Use Both Salsa and Pasta Sauce
If you’re concerned that the pasta sauce will taste too much like salsa and not enough like spaghetti sauce, you can look for recipes with both of these ingredients in it.
Mix one 14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, 1/3 cup of salsa, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste, and seasonings such as garlic salt, cumin, oregano, cilantro, and regular salt to get the flavor they want.
5. Use Green Salsa for a More Unique Flavor
If you decide to use salsa instead of pasta sauce but you don’t want to add too much spicy kick, consider using the green salsa instead of the red.
Mixing green salsa with a can of diced tomatoes makes a great pasta sauce with just enough kick but not too much spice. The tomatoes will slightly dilute the salsa so it isn’t too spicy, making for a delicious sauce in the end.
6. Add Italian Spices to Your Salsa
Add spices such as oregano and basil to the salsa, along with a little bit of sugar to make it more like pasta sauce.
You might have to add a few more tomatoes as well, but this is a good suggestion if you only have salsa and you want it to taste more like a pasta sauce than a salsa.
How to use salsa as a cooking sauce
You can use salsa as a cooking sauce however both the taste and texture will be different than those other sauces.
Here are some great ways to use salsa as a cooking sauce. Some of the ways to do this include:
- Cook pork chops and vegetables until they’re done; then drain them and add a jar of salsa over the ingredients.
- Place a few spoonfuls of salsa into a bowl of macaroni and cheese (store-bought or homemade) to give it a little more flavor.
- Pour a little salsa over skinless, boneless chicken pieces, cooking them both at the same time.
- Pour some salsa into a pan and heat it up; then place white flaky fish on top of it and cook until it’s done.
- Mix the salsa in with your scrambled eggs – perfect for breakfast tacos or burritos!
- Use it as an ingredient in ground beef when you’re making meatloaf, burgers, and more.
- Use is as a sauce in a Mexican casserole or other types of Mexican dishes.
Can I Use Salsa Instead of Marinara Sauce?
Marinara sauce is a delicious tomato based sauce usually used on pasta but can be used on meat, fish and vegetables. You have to remember that the taste, ingredients, and even the texture of marinara is different from that of salsa.
Marinara is a smooth sauce and salsa is chunky. While you can use salsa instead of marinara sauce on crumbed chicken or fish it will taste different if mixed through pasta.
Is Salsa a Dip or a Sauce?
Salsa is a sauce simply because the word “salsa” is Spanish for “sauce.” In Mexican-American dishes, salsa is also used as a dip, but in most cultures, salsa is considered a sauce above everything else.
That being said, you can still classify salsa as both a sauce and a dip because in reality, it is used for both of these things all the time.
Can You Use Salsa as Pasta Sauce? | Summary
Salsa is a delicious, tomato based sauce that can be used to top up your pasta dishes. Most salsas will have chili added so they will be spicier than your regular pasta sauce. If you are adding salsa to pasta sauce, keep the amount small so it doesn’t overpower.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.