Latin food is one of the most flavorful, rich, and exciting cuisines in the world. And it’s no secret that spices, herbs, sauces, and salsas are a huge part of what makes Latin food the delectable category that it is. After all, there’s a reason that people buy certain “cooking-made-easy” seasoning packets when they’re labeled as Latin or tropical. It’s because they know that Latinos know how to season!
To cook delicious Latin American food, you should first know the country where your desired dish originates from. This will help determine what spices, sauces, and salsas you use. For example, Argentina uses spices like bell pepper, chili pepper, oregano, paprika, and of course, their famous sauce chimichurri. Mexico uses spices like annatto, cumin, cilantro, as well as salsa verde and mole poblano. Using the correct spices and sauces can often make or break whether your recipe comes out as planned.
Don’t worry, though, you don’t have to necessarily be Latin to get the tasty and authentic stuff. Nowadays, you can find everything you need online, and better yet, you can get ones that are completely meatless and dairy-free! Here are 15 to get you started.
Gardel’s Chimichurri Sauce
Chimichurri is an herb-based condiment that is a culinary specialty of Argentina and Uruguay. It typically contains parsley, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, and flakes of chili pepper. Gardel’s Chimichurri Sauce, for the most part, keeps the original recipe intact and strays away from using preservatives or non-GMO ingredients. While chimichurri is normally served alongside meat, Gardel’s also recommends using this spread as a delicious bread topper or a nice addition to a savory spread. One reviewer even puts it on top of her salads! Reviewers are raving about this sauce saying it is “the absolute best you can buy,” “the taste of authenticity,” and “exquisitely delicious.” Pretty passionate reviews! To see if this product lives up to the hype, you can get one eight-ounce jar for $10.
Arriba! Mango Agave Salsa
Arriba! Mango Agave Salsa is a nice alternative to the heavily-processed salsas available on the market today. This gluten-free and fat-free product is made primarily from roasted fresh tomatoes, fresh mango, agave nectar, dark brown sugar, roasted Serrano pepper, salt, and lemon juice. Reviewers are reporting that this salsa is “fiery” and very fresh-tasting. You can get a pack of four 16-ounce jars for about $26.
Hernan Mole Poblano
Mole poblano is a thick, rich, chocolate-tinged sauce made famous by Mexico. Hernan Mole Poblano is a Mexican-made product that is made primarily from cocoa, a mix of chile peppers – ancho, mulato, pasilla, chipotle – raisins, almonds, peanuts, walnuts, sesame seeds, and corn tortilla. To enjoy this sauce, you must mix it with broth or water. Reviewers are reporting that the texture of this sauce is “perfect” and that the flavor is “incredibly rich.” One reviewer even commented that they are from Mexico and that it is “very close” to the traditional kind. To try it out for yourself, you can get one 7.2-ounce jar for $9.
La Victoria Green Taco Sauce
La Victoria Green Taco Sauce is a traditionally Mexican product made from green tomatoes, water, bell peppers, onions, tomatillos, jalapeños, modified food starch, salt, distilled vinegar, garlic, sodium benzoate (0.1 percent as a preservative), and spice. Reviewers describe this sauce as fresh-tasting and say that the flavor is more zesty than spicy. A few reviewers have even said that this is the best taco sauce they’ve ever had! To see if you feel the same you can get one 15-ounce bottle for $11.
Inca’s Food Aji Amarillo Paste
Aji amarillo chile pepper is a staple in Peruvian cuisine that is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. You can either purchase these peppers and crush them yourself or invest in a convenient product like Inca’s Food Aji Amarillo Paste. It is made primarily from yellow hot pepper, salt, and citric acid. Reviewers are reporting that this sauce is authentic-tasting, a “must-have for the kitchen,” and spicy enough to “add a zing” to Latin dishes (though some reviewers wish it was even spicier). It is worth noting, however, that this product uses a small amount of sodium benzoate as a preservative. If you’d still like to try it, you can get one 7.5-ounce jar for $6.
Simply Organic Adobo Seasoning
Adobo seasoning exists in many forms in Mexico, the Caribbean, and, with the same name but different flavors, in the Philippines. Simply Organic Adobo Seasoning is an organic and kosher product that contains sea salt, garlic, onion, black pepper, oregano, bay leaf, and turmeric. While many commercial adobo seasonings contain MSG, Simply Organic does not. Almost all of the reviewers give this product five stars and are reporting that this seasoning has great flavor, is versatile, and may just be the “best adobo seasoning on the market.” You can get one 4.41-ounce bottle for about $7.50.
Saucy Lips Zesty Cilantro Marinade
Saucy Lips Zesty Cilantro Marinade is a gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and sugar-free marinade that contains eight simple ingredients: fresh cilantro, apple cider vinegar, pimento, olive oil, green onion, garlic, spices, and sea salt. It does not contain any preservatives or artificial colors and flavorings. Reviewers are describing this product as “fantastic” and extremely fresh. One reviewer even says that they put this sauce “on everything.” You can either enjoy this sauce as it comes, with clumps of herbs, or follow in the steps of some reviewers, who used olive oil to make the marinade pourable. You can get one 12.75-ounce bottle for $11.
Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso
Chile con queso, sometimes described simply as queso, is an appetizer or side dish of melted cheese and chili pepper typically served in Tex-Mex restaurants as a dip for tortilla chips. Nacho Mom’s Vegan Queso is a healthier alternative to this typically-processed nacho dip. Made primarily of tomatoes, green chilies, and nutritional yeast, this cheese is free of fat, soy, and nuts, and the whole jar is only 120 calories. Reviewers are raving about this dip, saying that this product is great on nachos and Latin fare, has amazing texture, and “tastes like the real deal.” Don’t expect this dip to taste like a healthy vegan dip, though, as reviewers have pointed out, Nacho Mom’s is trying to emulate cheesy dips like Tostito’s, which aren’t the most natural-tasting products either. If this is the kind of cheese you’re looking for you can get this four pack – two “Ultimate Queso,” one “Fire-Roasted,” and one “Hatch Chile” – for $30.
Amalia’s Cocina Green Enchilada Sauce
Amalia’s Cocina Green Enchilada Sauce is a gluten-free sauce made from tomatillo peppers, water, onions, roasted poblano peppers, cilantro, corn starch, garlic, serrano peppers, salt, jalapeño peppers, and spices. Amalia’s describes this sauce as “mildly spicy.” One reviewer reports that the taste of this sauce is “absolutely fabulous” but you can find it cheaper at Whole Foods (though this reviewer admits that she is from California, where the sauce is made, so you may not be able to get it everywhere). If you’d like the convenience of ordering it online, you can get one 25-ounce jar for $11.
McCormick Ancho Chile Pepper
Ancho chile is another name for poblano peppers when they are dried. McCormick Ancho Chile Pepper is a seasoning made from just two ingredients: ancho chile pepper and silicon dioxide (an ingredient which makes the seasoning flow freely from the container). To enjoy this product, McCormick suggests mixing two teaspoons of this seasoning with two cups of whatever you’re cooking, be it chilis, soups, salsas, or sauces. Reviewers report that this seasoning is excellent, has a mildly spicy flavor that “doesn’t overwhelm,” and works well “on everything.” You can get one 1.62-ounce container for $12.63.
Cranky Rooster Chipotle Crushed Pepper Sauce
Chipotle is a smoke-dried jalapeño. It is a chili used primarily in Mexican and Mexican-inspired cuisines, such as Mexican-American, Tex-Mex, and southwestern dishes. Cranky Rooster Chipotle Crushed Pepper Sauce is a gluten-free and kosher sauce that is made from chipotle pepper, water, salt, carrots, onion, lemon juice, garlic, habanero pepper, passion fruit, acetic acid, xantham gum, and citric acid. Cranky Rooster describes the spiciness level of this sauce as “medium-high.” Reviewers report that this sauce is thick and chunky (there are chunks of carrots and onion in it), is not watery like other hot sauces on the market, and “enhances any dish.” You can get a set of two 5-ounce containers for $16.
Gindo's Jalapeño Poblano
Gindo’s Jalapeño Poblano is an award-winning fresh pepper hot sauce that is made primarily from jalapeño peppers, Distilled Vinegar, Water, Poblano Peppers, Red Bell Peppers, organic cane sugar, ground peppercorn and a mix of salts – Black Lava, Pink Himalayan, La Baleine, and Aussie Flake. Reviewers are saying that this sauce is delicious and a nice preservative-free and dye-free alternative to many poblano sauces currently on the market. You can get one 8-ounce container for $10.
Make your Latin fare a little healthier with Amy’s Salsa. This salsa has no MSG, no trans fat, no preservatives, and no unpronounceable ingredients and fillers. It comes in mild, medium, and black bean and corn. This particular Amazon posting is for the Medium variety, which is made from organic tomatoes, organic onions, jalapeño peppers, organic cilantro, organic lime juice, sea salt, organic garlic, and spices. Reviewers are saying that this salsa is fresh-tasting, zesty, and nicely textured. You can get one 14.7-ounce jar for a little over $5.50.
La Sabrozita Homestyle Tomatillo Salsa Verde
La Sabrozita Homestyle Tomatillo Salsa Verde is a Mexican salsa made primarily from water, tomatillo, jalapeño pepper, onion, and salt. Reviewers are describing this salsa as “limey,” very spicy, and one of the best green salsas on the market, if not the best. 93 percent of reviewers gave this product a 5-star rating. Reviewers have been using this sauce on tacos, enchiladas, veggies, and even drizzling it on sour cream and other dips for a spicy kick. To try it out yourself, you can get a pack of four 35-ounce bottles for $32.
Harvest Eating Seasoning
Harvest Eating Seasoning is an organic blend of herbs and spices, including garlic, onion, black pepper, thyme, parsley, sage, orange peel, paprika, sea salt, bell pepper, cumin, and red pepper. While many seasoning blends on the market contain MSG, Harvest Eating does not, a detail that does not go unnoticed by reviewers. Although the packaging of this seasoning says “grilled chicken,” meaning it is recommended for use as a spice rub for grilled chicken and other meats, reviewers have been using this for more than barbecuing meats. As one reviewer shares, it also adds a nice flavor to veggies and dressings. You can get one three-ounce package for $11.
Lead image source: Cilantro Avocado Chickpea Salad Tacos