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Ingredients

What’s the Difference Between Spanish and Mexican Chorizo?

Don’t let the wrong kind of sausage spoil your dinner.

It’s obvious that different kinds of sausage can change the flavor profile of your baked potato or breakfast burrito, but how exactly can they change it? When it comes to two popular varieties, Spanish chorizo and Mexican chorizo, what are the differences in taste and texture, and how are they best used?

Cook’s Country has all the details about when to use these divergent yet equally delicious meats for the very best results in your cooking.

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

What Is Mexican Chorizo?

Mexican chorizo is generally made with ground pork mixed with pork fat, vinegar, and a variety of spices, including spicy red pepper, which gives it its signature bright-red color. You’ll notice that links of Mexican chorizo are quite short, and because they’re sold raw, they must be cooked before eating. 

Mexican chorizo is a fresh meat and isn’t cured; instead, it’s air-dried for one to seven days before it’s sold. Links of Mexican chorizo are popular candidates for the grill, but the meat can also be removed from the casings and used as ground pork in recipes such as chili, burgers, or tacos.

A small note if you’re cooking with Mexican chorizo: Since it’s already so strongly spiced during processing, you most likely don’t need to season it very much. It’s also best served alongside bright, fresh ingredients for balance, as in these Chorizo, Corn, and Tomato Tostadas with Lime Crema.

What Is Spanish Chorizo?

Spanish chorizo, rather than being made with ground pork, is made with chopped pork and mixed with a mélange of herbs, garlic, and white wine. The majority of Spanish chorizo’s flavor comes from paprika, which can lend the meat either a sweet or spicy flavor depending on the variety of paprika that’s used.

To lend it a further smoky flavor, Spanish chorizo is usually smoked and then cured for several weeks, meaning that it can be enjoyed without cooking as part of a charcuterie plate or tapas spread.

Should I Prepare Spanish and Mexican Chorizo Differently?

The main difference between these two varieties of chorizo is their preparation. As mentioned, Spanish chorizo is a cured meat and can therefore be eaten raw, without any need to cook it beforehand—though it can, of course, be a component of cooked dishes as well. Mexican chorizo, as a fresh meat sausage, does need to be cooked before enjoying.

For this reason, if your recipe doesn’t specify which style of chorizo you should be using, your best bet is to look at how it will be used. If the meat is being removed from the casing, or if you’ve been instructed to cook the sausage, then go for Mexican. If you’re chopping, slicing, or serving the sausage raw, then you should use Spanish.

So the next time you’re using either of these delectable meats in your cooking, you can rest assured that you’re using the right variety to its very best effect.