Pico de Gallo is a Mexican salsa (salsa Fresca) made of raw tomatoes, onion, salt, lime juice, and cilantro. It’s delicious, tangy, and so fresh! Leave out the jalapenos for a non-spicy pico de gallo recipe and top it over your favorite Mexican food like beef enchiladas, Mexican rice, bean dishes, soups, tacos, grilled meats, quesadillas, or taco salad!
We love canned salsa throughout the winter season as a staple condiment for breakfast casserole or chili. However, pico de gallo is a fresh salad to enjoy on any given day! We especially love to use it in these grilled stuffed burritos, topped over beef enchiladas, and as a side to chicken quesadillas!
What is Pico De Gallo?
Pico de gallo is a type of raw Mexican salsa traditionally made of chopped tomato, onion, serrano peppers, salt, lime juice, and cilantro. It’s also referred to as Salsa Mexicana as it represents the colors of the Mexican flag (red, white, and green.) Generally, this salad can vary from region to region and is highly versatile as far as ingredients. We enjoy mild pico de gallo and prefer to make it in smaller batches to avoid leftovers. Usually, when pico de gallo sits it will release lots of its natural juices from the salt and lime juice, which you can simply drain before serving. The flavors only get better as the fresh salad sits so make ahead by a day or two and keep in the fridge.
Best Tomatoes for Pico De Gallo:
The best pico de gallo is made from fresh Roma tomatoes. Plum tomatoes are slender and have few seeds which, is perfect for a fresh tomato salad like homemade pico de gallo. Look for ripe tomatoes that are still firm to the touch but not mushy. We have tested this with heirloom tomatoes with great results, however, pico de gallo can tend to be sweeter this way. Another popular tomato is the beef steak tomato which is easy to cut for its large plump size.
What Kind of Jalapenos Should I Use?
Authentic pico de gallo is usually made with serrano peppers, which are spicy green chili peppers. For milder salsa use a jalapeno pepper and remove seeds and veins to reduce some of the heat. For a non-spicy, pico de gallo simply omit the chili peppers. Another pepper to use is a quarter of a habanero pepper which is aromatic and herbal only scorching hot so, be sure to remove the seeds and veins. Try using small amounts of very spicy chili peppers and always use kitchen gloves so your hands don’t burn from the peppers later.
Pro-Tips For Chopping Ingredients for Pic De Gallo:
Traditional pico de gallo ingredients are chopped bite-size. Generally, the onions and tomatoes should be equal or similar in size. The spicy pepper should be finely chopped for a subtle spicy kick. Ideally, I like to use a serrated tomato knife for cutting tomatoes and a sharp knife (with a smooth blade) to cut my onions. You could use a food processor or vegetable chopper for easier chopping the onion and tomatoes and Chef’s knife to chop the cilantro. I like this lime squeezer that will juice a lime real quick. Remove the tomato cores with this handy tool before chopping.
Pico De Gallo Ingredients:
What is in Pico de gallo? The ingredients for pico de gallo are simple. Generally, you want about equal parts of tomato and onion, use fresh cilantro, and lime juice to make a delicious, tangy, fresh salsa that you can’t substitute with concentrated lime juice or dried herbs.
- Roma Tomatoes- have fewer seeds than larger tomatoes and are the best for pico.
- Onion- white or purple onion can be used interchangeably.
- Jalapeno- use half of a small jalapeno and de-seed and remove any veins for a milder pico. Chop it very fine using a chef’s knife so you don’t bite into a big chunk. If you’re out of fresh Jalapenos, just chop up a tablespoon of pickled jalapenos or leave them out completely it’ll still be great!
- Cilantro- use about 1/4 of a bunch for this fresh pico de gallo.
- Lime- chipotle pico de gallo uses both lime and lemon juice for their pico. You can add 1 Tbsp of lemon juice to this recipe to make the chipotle copycat recipe.
- Salt- brings out the flavors from all the ingredients, it’s the secret to pico de gallo recipes at restaurants! I use Redmond Real Sea Salt.
How To Make Pico De Gallo:
Pico de gallo is easy! To make pico de gallo you will have to dice your ingredients. You can use a food processor for easier chopping but I like uniform pieces that are slightly bigger than minced pieces for my pico, so I use a sharp knife. Use a clear glass bowl to show off all those vibrant colors!
- Dice your onion and tomato into equal pieces. Finely chop the jalapeno pepper and layer it into a glass bowl.
- Add the chopped cilantro.
- Squeeze the lime juice over the chopped veggies. Season with salt and stir everything together until combined.
- Keep refrigerated until serving and give it a good stir before serving.
How Long Does Pico De Gallo Last?
Pico de gallo is good in the fridge, for 3-4 days. The longer it sits the more juice will be drawn from the tomatoes making it more mellow in taste. Always toss everything together before serving as the juices settle to the bottom. Also to keep the fridge odors out, keep it stored in an air-tight container and avoid having pico sit out at room temperature for long periods of time.
Pico de gallo vs Salsa?
The main difference between pico de gallo and salsa is that pico is more of a fresh sauce using raw ingredients whereas salsa is more of a tomato sauce condiment. Often times salsa is made from other canned tomato products like tomato sauce or diced tomatoes and sometimes cooked. Pico de gallo is a raw sauce (salsa Cruda) traditionally made and served raw.
What To Eat with Pico De Gallo:
Need dinner recipes with pico de gallo? Pico de gallo is a staple condiment for many Mexican dishes. You can add it to quesadillas, dollop it over enchiladas, stuff it into burritos, or you can eat it like a dip to tortilla chips! Here are more creative ways to use this fresh sauce.
- Top it over chicken, fish, or shrimp tacos. We love tomato salsa with breakfast egg casseroles too!
- Pico de gallo sauce is great with grilled and sliced beef like classic carne asada.
- Pico de gallo chicken is a great way to use up this sauce. Simply season chicken breasts with your favorite chicken seasonings and layer them into a baking dish. Top chicken with a generous amount of pico and Mexican cheese and bake until the chicken is done!
- Mix it into cooked black beans for some jazz or top it over a burger.
- Serve it on the side with Spanish rice. My friend seasons plain white rice with a packet of Goya Sazon when cooking and it’s a great Mexican rice hack.
- We love fresh tomato salsa over these burrito bowls.
There are so many mix-ins to making pico de gallo salsa! A simple fruit or vegetable can transform the entire dish, like adding con mango, pineapple, cucumbers, bell peppers, or corn! Here are creative add-ins and top-rated variations:
- Mango Pico de gallo: add 1 lb of diced mangoes, 1/4 cup more lime juice, 4 mint leaves, 3 Tbsp of white balsamic vinegar, 2 Tbsp olive oil, and 1 avocado.
- Copycat Chipotle Pico de gallo recipe: use 9 oz of diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup onion, 3/4 Tbsp minced jalapenos, 3/4 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp lime juice, and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. I like to add 1/2 tsp salt instead. This is a copycat Chipotle pico de gallo that is just like the restaurant so you can use it over any Authentic Mexicana cuisine!
- 3-ingredient Pico de gallo: mince together 1/2 cup cilantro, 1 beef steak tomato, and 1/2 white onion. I love this when I need a quick and easy pico de gallo for my grilled stuffed burritos.
- Pico de gallo with no onions: substitute 1/3 cup of scallions for the onion and add 2 cloves of garlic.
- Avocado Pico de gallo: use purple onion, add 1 large ripe avocado (diced into 1-inch chunks), and substitute 1/4 of Harberno pepper, seeded and finely minced.
Can you, Can pico de gallo?
Yes! Like salsa, pico de gallo can be canned. However, it’s more watery, whereas salsa is more of a tomato-based sauce and thicker in consistency. I have tested canning pico de gallo with successful results, it does require a safe water-bath canning method and I’m planning to share that recipe here on the blog, soon so stay tuned.
Is Pico De Gallo Spicy?
Although this homemade pico has a jalapeno pepper, it’s actually very mild. The key to a mild pico de gallo is to finely mince the pepper into almost mush so as to not bite into a chunk of spicy pepper. Another tip is to de-seed and remove any white veins inside, before chopping. Serrano peppers are spicy and if you like scorching hot, add a fourth of habanero pepper. You can make this without jalapenos if you wish but it’s really mild here following these tips.
Can You Freeze Pico de gallo?
Pico de gallo is more of a fresh sauce to be enjoyed for any Mexican meal, however, if you wish to extend the use, you can freeze it. You will need to leave some extra space for the container as the liquid expands when freezing. Also, keep in mind tomatoes will get softer after thawing, to a consistency of canned diced tomatoes, so if you’re fine with that, go for it.
Is Pico De Gallo Healthy?
Pico de gallo is loaded with healthy ingredients like fruit and vegetables. Yes, tomatoes are classified as a fruit since they contain seeds and grow from a flowered plant. Not only that but fresh cilantro and juice from a lime is such a healthy salad dressing to jazz up simple ingredients! Add garlic for even more health benefits!
Tips for Making Authentic Pico de Gallo:
- Let the pico de gallo rest in the fridge for 24 hours. This will bring out the flavors and make the onions more mellow in taste.
- Finely mince the jalapeno pepper to make a mild pico.
- Dice the tomato and onion into equal-sized pieces for a uniform salad.
- Use a chef’s knife to finely chop the cilantro, you want finely chopped pieces of cilantro, not too big.
- Make it spicy by adding different chili peppers and leaving the seeds in.
- Cut down on the onion by 1/4 cup if you like more tomatoes in your pico.
- Use Roma tomatoes for the best pico de gallo.
- Change up the onion by using purple or white onions.
- Serve pico in a glass bowl to see all the vibrant colors.
How to Make Pico De Gallo:
Pico De Gallo Recipe
Pico De Gallo:
- 3 Roma tomatoes (8 oz or 1.5 cups of diced tomatoes)
- 1/2 cup diced white onion (about 1/2 of medium onion)
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper* (de-seeded and finely minced)
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro (chopped)
- 1 Tbsp lime juice (from half a lime)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
How to make Pico De Gallo:
- Dice the tomatoes, onion, and jalapeno pepper. Chop the cilantro and add everything to a medium glass bowl.
- Stir in 1 Tbsp of lime juice and season with 1/2 tsp salt. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
- Notes: for mild pico de gallo, use a jalapeno pepper and finely mince the jalapeno pepper. For spicy pico de gallo use half a Serrano pepper or 1/4 of a habanero pepper, seeded and minced. You can also use 1/2 Tbsp of pickled jalapenos, chopped.
- Copycat Chipotle Pico de gallo: use 9 oz of diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup cilantro, 1/4 cup onion, 3/4 Tbsp minced jalapenos, 3/4 tsp salt, 2 Tbsp lime juice, and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. I like to add 1/2 tsp salt instead.
Nutrition per serving