With coronavirus making travel a tricky and even potentially dangerous prospect this year, we’re embracing the summer staycation. All week (and all summer) long, we’ll bring you transportive flavors and travel-inspired ideas from around the world, so you can take your tastebuds on a trip and give your mind a mini vacation while you’re still at home. Here, we delve into the difference between Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo.
If you’re a sausage lover who hasn’t tried chorizo (we’re not sure how that’s possible, but we’re not judging you!), you’ll be running out to find some after reading this. It’s a salty type of sausage found in Mexican and Spanish cuisine, and it’s oozing with the type of flavors that have you coming back for bite after bite. There are slight—but equally delicious—differences between the various types, so we tapped Aarón Sánchez, award-winning chef, TV personality and Cacique spokesperson, to break down the tastiness.
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Mexican vs Spanish Chorizo
Both are must-tries, but they’re importantly different. “Mexican style chorizo is actually raw meat that’s been heavily seasoned with dry chilies and aromatic spices like cinnamon and clove. Spanish chorizo is a hard sausage that’s been cured like a salami,” explains Sánchez.
Mexican chorizo can be made from pork, beef, or even soy, and it’s so saturated with the flavors of those herbs and spices that it requires barely any manipulation to make it taste great. “You will sometimes find special names like Longaniza, which describes a particular style of Mexican chorizo,” Sánchez adds. “They’re very regional.”
Try this Easy Homemade Chorizo recipe if you want to make the Mexican-style sausage from scratch—no casings required.
Loose Chorizo, $8/lb from Porter Road
Flavored with ancho chili powder, garlic, oregano, and paprika, this fresh sausage tastes a bit like Mexican and Spanish chorizo.
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What’s the Best Way to Prepare Each Kind?
If you have a favorite Mexican dish, it can be made with chorizo—tortas (Mexican mayo, beans, jalapeno, lettuce, tomato, onions, avocado, and a protein layered between a traditional Mexican roll), tacos, tostadas, burritos, nachos, chilaquiles, and the list goes on.
But Sánchez has a favorite way to prepare it that’s going to make your mouth water. “There’s really no wrong way to eat chorizo, but I like to make a taco with Mexican-style pork chorizo, grilled pineapple, some beautiful Mexican cheese, and tons of cilantro,” he says. “If I have Longaniza, it’s all about the eggs with some roasted chiles and onion. It makes for a perfect breakfast taco.”
For Spanish chorizo, add it to a cheese plate or crisp it up in a pan and use it as a crispy, salty, crunchy element in a salad or cheesy dish (chorizo fondue, anyone?!)
Aurelia's Spanish Chorizo, $12.99 from Amazon
This cured Spanish style chorizo is ready to eat, or add to cooked dishes.
Both Types Lend Themselves to Experimentation
One of the most beautiful aspects to chorizo is that it’s perfect for when you’re feeling creative. That means don’t consider it a meat that needs to strictly stay within the bounds of Mexican cuisine.
“One of my favorite ways to use chorizo is in a stuffing for Thanksgiving turkey. You can do traditional components of stuffing, such as cooked cornbread, but then amp it up with chorizo,” says Sánchez. “It’s great when you pair it with something that doesn’t have a lot of inherent flavor, like chicken or turkey.”
Try some of our favorite recipes for Mexican and Spanish chorizo:
A lighter, spicier take on surf and turf, this pasta pairs briny clams and Mexican chorizo sausage with fresh parsley, garlic, and a little vodka. Get our Linguine with Clams and Chorizo recipe.
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Mix soft Mexican chorizo with ground pork for burger patties that make ground beef seem bland. Get our Pork and Chorizo Chile Burger recipe.
Chorizo tacos are good any time, including in the a.m. Pair sliced Spanish chorizo with crisp potatoes and a fried egg for our Chorizo Potato Breakfast Taco recipe. Or make our Mexican Chorizo Breakfast Tacos with scrambled eggs.
If you’re feeling more ambitious, either variety of chorizo works wonderfully in an empanada too, whether it’s our Breakfast Empanada recipe with eggs, or our Chicken Chorizo Empanada recipe for later in the day.
A hot, cheesy dip is always a good idea; load it up with crispy chorizo and it’s even better. Get the Queso Fundido recipe. (Or for a self-contained spin on the same flavors, try our Chipotle-Chorizo Jalapeño Poppers recipe.)
Header image by Chowhound, using photos from Shutterstock.