Besides being quick, this easy Pico de gallo recipe is a tasty condiment to use in almost any Mexican dish, such as burritos, quesadillas, and even scrambled eggs. They can be a great addition to appetizers, served with tortilla chips, or used to top Carne Asada or Grilled Chicken in a main dish.
What is Pico de Gallo?
Pico de gallo is a raw, fresh salsa, also known as salsa fresca (fresh sauce), salsa cruda (raw sauce), or salsa Mexicana. Pico de gallo mainly uses diced fresh tomatoes mixed with fresh onion (any onion), lime juice, chili peppers (such as jalapenos or serranos), and fresh cilantro leaves. It is typically served with tortilla chips or used as a condiment for tacos or burritos. Fresh pico de gallo is flavorful and spicy, a popular dish in Mexican cuisine.
What is the Difference between Pico de Gallo and Salsa?
- Pico de Gallo is prepared differently than Salsa: Pico de gallo is a simple mixture of freshly chopped ingredients. On the other hand, Salsa almost always involves a food processor or blender to convert the ingredients into a smoother, pureed form. (You can also use a food processor to make pico de gallo, but if you process it too much, the ingredients will become mush.).
- Pico de gallo is always made fresh: While pico de gallo is technically a type of Salsa, it is usually made with fresh ingredients. While Salsa can be made using canned or cooked tomatoes, there are fewer variations for making pico de gallo.
- Salsa can be made with more ingredients than pico de gallo: Pico de gallo is typically made from a set list of ingredients, including tomatoes, onions, lime juice, and cilantro. However, tomatoes for Salsa can be made roasted or charred before blending with different ingredients. You can even make a tomatillo salsa (or salsa verde) for a different flavor.
- Pico de gallo has far less liquid than Salsa: Though Salsa can be made chunky, the tomatoes are often blended with the other ingredients, making it runnier than pico de gallo.
Note: The full ingredients list is provided in the recipe card below.
✏️(The measurements of some ingredients can be adjusted according to personal taste.)
- Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes or plum tomatoes are traditional, but heirloom, steak, or cherry tomatoes also work well. If you'd like, you can core and deseed the tomatoes.
- Onion: It adds flavor and texture. We used yellow onion, but any onion will work.
- Fresh Jalapeños: It adds flavor and heat. This recipe for pico de gallo calls for 3 fresh jalapenos. Feel free to substitute for serrano peppers if you like, but remember you'll need only one or 2, depending on how spicy you like your guac since serrano pepper is hotter. Also, if you want to keep it mild, de-seed and devein the pepper you use. To seed and devein a pepper, cut off the stem, cut the pepper in half, and then use a spoon or a melon baller to scoop out the seeds; use a knife to scrape away the veins of the pepper.
- Fresh Lime Juice & Kosher Salt: It enhances the overall flavor. I use pink Himalayan salt.
- Cilantro: It adds a herbaceous flavor with notes of citrus and pepper.
Tools you'll need
How to Make Pico de Gallo
Note: The full instructions are provided in the recipe card below.
Combine tomatoes, cilantro, onion, jalapeño (unseeded or seeded), lime juice, kosher salt, and ground black pepper; mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding kosher salt, ground black pepper, or lime juice as needed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld for 1 hour or up to 1 day. Enjoy!😋
- Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes or plum tomatoes are traditional, but an heirloom, steak tomatoes, or even cherry tomatoes also work well. If you'd like, you can core and deseed the tomatoes.
- Onion: We used yellow onion, but any onion will work.
- Chili Pepper: Feel free to substitute the Jalapeno for Fresno chile or Serrano.
- Spicy pico de gallo: Much of the heat in Jalapeno is concentrated in the ribs, so go with your taste, adding more or less as you like. Use serrano pepper instead of jalapeno for an even hotter pico de gallo.
- Spice it up: Add ½ teaspoon of cumin to the pico de gallo mixture for an earthy undertone.
- Fresh Chili pepper: You can use canned jalapeno instead of fresh jalapeno.
- Herby: Add chopped green onion, white and light green parts, thinly sliced in the avocado mixture.
- Pico de gallo de Uruapan: Chopped or sliced in cubes of approximately ¼" and usually includes jicama, watermelon, orange, papaya, and cucumber, although it may contain other seasonal fruits such as mango, melon, guava, etc. It is commonly offered with salt, lemon, and chili powder, of which there are several types. It is consumed as a snack.
- Pico de gallo from Yucatán: is called salsa yucatan and it is added habanero chile and sour orange.
How to Serve
Homemade pico de gallo doesn't just make a great dip with Tortilla Chips. It can also be used as a side dish or filler for a fish taco, chicken quesadillas, burritos, and fried eggs; it can also be used for veggie sandwiches, Steak Sandwiches, toast, etc.
How to Store
Cover tightly by laying a sheet of plastic wrap. Seal the wrap to the edges of the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours; after that, the flavor of the pico de gallo will start changing.
This pico de gallo recipe can be made 2 hours ahead of time. Cover tightly by laying a sheet of plastic wrap. Seal the wrap to the edges of the bowl and refrigerate until ready to use, up to 24 hours; the flavor of the pico de gallo will start changing.
Tips For Making The Best Pico de Gallo
- Choose ripe tomatoes: Look for ripe, juicy tomatoes for the best flavor. Roma tomatoes or plum tomatoes are commonly used, but you can also use other varieties like cherry tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes. Make sure the tomatoes are firm and free from blemishes.
- Dice ingredients uniformly: It's important to dice the tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos into uniform pieces. This ensures the even distribution of flavors and textures in the Pico de Gallo. Aim for small, bite-sized pieces.
- Remove tomato seeds and excess moisture: To prevent the Pico de Gallo from becoming too watery, remove the seeds and excess moisture from the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half, scoop the seeds with a spoon, and gently squeeze to remove any excess juice.
- Adjust heat level: The spiciness of Pico de Gallo comes from jalapenos or other chili peppers. Adjust the heat level by removing the seeds and membranes from the peppers for a milder flavor, or keep them intact for a spicier kick. Taste as you go to find the right balance.
- Use fresh lime juice: Freshly squeezed lime juice adds brightness and acidity to the Pico de Gallo. Avoid bottled lime juice, as it lacks the same vibrant flavor. Adjust the amount of lime juice according to your taste preferences.
- Let it sit for flavors to meld: After mixing all the ingredients, let the Pico de Gallo sit at room temperature or refrigerate it for at least an hour or up to a day. This allows the flavors to meld together and develop a more pronounced taste.
- Adjust seasoning before serving: Taste the Pico de Gallo and adjust the seasoning as needed. Add more salt, lime juice, or even a pinch of sugar to balance the flavors. Remember, Pico de Gallo should have a good balance of acidity, saltiness, and freshness.
Is eating pico de gallo healthy?
Pico de gallo is a nutritious and healthful food choice that can benefit overall dietary health. It is typically composed of fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and salt—ingredients that contain substantial amounts of vitamins and minerals. Additionally, capsaicin in pico de gallo contributes to antioxidant activity within the body, which helps combat free radicals and bolster the immune system.
My Pico de Gallo is too watery. What should I do?
If it's too watery, drain some liquid from the tomatoes before mixing the other ingredients. Also, ensure you're using ripe but not overly ripe tomatoes, as they tend to release more liquid.
My Pico de Gallo is too chunky. How can I make it finer in texture?
If you prefer a finer texture, finely dice all the ingredients or pulse them a few times in a food processor. Just be cautious not to over-process, as you still want to maintain some texture.
Can I use bottled lime or lemon juice instead of fresh citrus?
While fresh lime or lemon juice is recommended for the best flavor, you can use bottled citrus juice in a pinch. However, the flavor may not be as vibrant as fresh juice.
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Easy Pico de Gallo
- 5 medium to large sized fresh Roma Tomatoes , diced small
- 1 medium yellow onion , diced small
- 3 fresh jalapeños , finely chopped ( stemmed and seeded for for mild Pico de gallo
- 1 small Bunch of Cilantro leaves , roughly chopped (discard the long leafless stems before chopping)
- 2 limes or lemons , juiced (about ¼ cup), or add more as needed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt , adjust to taste
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper , adjust to taste
- In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, cilantro, onion, jalapeño (unseeded or seeded), lime juice, kosher salt, and ground black pepper; mix well.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding kosher salt, ground black pepper, or lime juice as needed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate to allow the flavors to meld for 1 hour or up to 1 day.
All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.