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I know there is guacamole dip you can buy in the store refrigerator case. I know there's guacamole itself. I know there's jarred "guacamole style salsa" which is a smooth salsa with avocado in it. But where is the line where guacamole becomes a salsa and a salsa becomes guacamole?

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    @Max many salsas are completely blended with no chunks. – Catija Jul 14 '17 at 13:34
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    and many dips are chunky !!! :-) – Max Jul 14 '17 at 13:37
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    Salsa is just Spanish for sauce. Guacamole is a salsa. – GdD Jul 14 '17 at 14:34
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    It probably would if you were a spanish speaker. My point would be that the english usage of the word Salsa is pretty broad and has no real definition, so there's no good answer. – GdD Jul 14 '17 at 14:38
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    ... If you're looking in the refrigerator case for "true guacamole"... you're doing it wrong. – Catija Jul 14 '17 at 15:23
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Part of the problem is that "salsa" doesn't mean just one thing to everyone. If you do a web search for "avocado salsa" you get images ranging from liquid to chunky:

Creamy Avocado Salsa Mexican Food Journal
Avocado Salsa Food Network

Similarly, there's no one "correct" way to make guacamole. Some people like it smooth and thick - hummus-like, if you will, other people like it partially mashed and partially chunky... almost the same as the chunky-style salsa.

Guacamole Serious Eats
Guacamole Autentico

So, how do we set limits if the products are so varied?

We really can't. I could write long "definitions" claiming that guacamole should be X% avocado and must be mashed in an authentic molcajete rather than in chunks or pureed... that salsas should be X% or less avocado and must contain things like tomato, onion, tomatillo... but you'll always be able to find something that calls itself "salsa" but seems more like "guacamole" or the other way around.

The important thing is, it's all delicious. Enjoy it!


The other part of your problem is that guacamole is a kind of salsa. From Wikipedia:

Salsa is the Spanish, Italian, Greek and Turkish (salça) term for sauce, and in English-speaking countries usually refers to the sauces typical of Mexican cuisine known as salsas picantes, particularly those used as dips. Salsa, contrary to common belief, is in fact not a condiment, although it may be used to flavor various food items.

Salsa is often a tomato-based sauce or dip that is a heterogeneous mixture that includes additional ingredients such as onions, chilies, beans, corn, and various spices. It is typically piquant, ranging from mild to extremely hot.

If you look under the "types", you will find guacamole.

Guacamole is thicker than a sauce and generally used as a dip; it refers to any sauce where the main ingredient is avocado.

You'll also find "Creamy avocado salsa".

Creamy avocado salsa is a sauce made from avocado, lime, cilantro, jalapeño or serrano peppers, garlic, olive oil, cumin, and salt.

Still, they're both "salsas".

So, in the end, there is no way to separate the two... though, if I were at a restaurant and order "guacamole" and they give me the first image at the top... I'd complain. Any of the other three, I'll take.

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I think what you are seeing is marketing speak. Many different manufacturers put out similar products but may call them by different names. From what I've seen, guacamole, guacamole dip, and avocado dip are pretty much synonymous. They can all be used as a dip or condiment.

There will be differences, e.g. one may taste slightly different than another or one may be chunky and another smooth, but the manufacturer chooses what name they give it from a marketing standpoint.

Regarding a line between salsa and guacamole, I don't see that there is really a line. What I mean is, adding avocado to a salsa doesn't make it guacamole any more than adding apples to a salad makes it a Waldorf salad.

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    +1 for "marketing speak". The point of corporate naming is to make you buy the product. It's often completely unproductive to try to pull meaningful information from the product's name. – Lorel C. Jul 14 '17 at 14:12
  • "Guacamole dip" is the same thing as actual guacamole. It's more like the difference between "whipped topping" and whipped cream. They put a little avocado in there to make it green, I guess, but it's just green vaguely-avocado flavored artificial goo, in my experience. – stannius Jul 14 '17 at 16:15
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    @stannius Have a look at the ingredients list on "Kraft Guacamole Dip". If you keep reading long enough, you'll come across the word "avocado". "We think customers understand that it isn't made from avocado," said Claire Regan, Kraft Foods' vice president of corporate affairs. " latimes.com/archives/… – Wayfaring Stranger Mar 30 at 23:54
  • Guacamole dip is not the same thing as actual guacamole. – stannius Mar 31 at 17:16
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The traditional guacamole is a salsa made specifically from avocado (the word comes from Nahuatl "ahuacatl" - avocado + "mole" - sauce).

So your Venn diagram would have guacamole inside salsa. Once you start omitting the avocado in your salsa, you've left guacamole-land.

  • I appreciate the tongue in cheek response. – Jesse Cohoon Jul 14 '17 at 18:32
  • Well, there's also the other sense of the word āhuacatl... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avocado#Etymology – eb1 Jul 15 '17 at 0:21
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    @eb11 I knew about the etymology of the avocado. But I don't think anyone wants to talk about smashing those – Jesse Cohoon Jul 15 '17 at 2:16

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