Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca is fresh, healthy, quick and easy to make. Made with a few simple ingredients, Pico de Gallo can be used in many different ways. As a topping or served as an appetizer or snack with tortilla chip, this fresh salsa recipe makes everything taste better!
You may want to check my recipe for the best taqueria-style Pickled Jalapeños. They are the absolute best!
Pico de Gallo
Classic Mexican Pico de Gallo is one of those dishes that boosts the flavor of everything it touches. This low-calorie, non-cooked tomato based condiment used to be served only in Mexican restaurants, but it has become a staple in many American homes.
We love piling up fresh pico de gallo on chicken, fish and burgers. It’s vibrant flavors make tacos, burritos and quesadillas even more delicious, and who can resist the amazing flavor of bright, tangy and refreshing pico de gallo with tortilla chips? Not me!
What Is Pico de Gallo?
Pico de Gallo is a Mexican condiment made with fresh tomatoes, onions, chiles (jalapeños or serranos), cilantro and lime juice. Pico de Gallo is also known as salsa fresca (fresh salsa), salsa cruda (raw salsa), salsa Mexicana, salsa huevona (lazy salsa) and salsa bandera (flag salsa, in reference to the red, white and green colors of the Mexican flag).
Pico de Gallo Pronunciation and Translation
Pico de Gallo pronounced PEE-koh day GUY-yoh literately translates to “rooster’s beaks”. There are many theories about the name but no one knows for certain where it comes from.
What’s The Difference Between Pico De Gallo And Salsa
Pico de gallo is always made with raw chopped tomatoes, onions and chiles while salsa, salsa verde and salsa roja are usually made with ingredients that are first roasted and then blended. This gives salsa a thinner consistency and texture.
While there are multiple variations in the ingredients of salsa recipes, when it comes to Pico de gallo, the recipe always includes the same ingredients. As fun as it is to make some creative additions, you will always start with the same exact set of produce.
Traditional Pico de Gallo Ingredients
When it comes to this recipe, I am a purist! No extra unnecessary ingredients go in it! This is how every one of my Mexican friends makes authentic Pico de gallo. This recipe has very few ingredients so it’s important to choose ripe tomatoes and fresh good quality produce.
- Tomatoes: Fresh Roma or plum tomatoes are traditionally used in this recipe. That being said, you can make this recipe with any ripe, fresh, and firm tomato. I always deseed the tomatoes when making this salsa recipe.
- Onions: White onions are usually used as they resemble the white in the Mexican flag. Red onions also work, although you won’t get the classic look of salsa cruda.
- Jalapeños or Serranos: Jalapenos are a bit more mild than serranos, however like I tell my kids, you’ll never know what you’re getting until you cut one open! The heat is in the veins of the chile so remove them if you don’t want any heat.
- Cilantro: Fresh cilantro is key for success! You can use the leaves and the stems. Both taste just like cilantro!
- Salt: I prefer using sea salt or Kosher salt.
- Lime Juice: Use fresh lime for best flavor.
How To Make Authentic Pico De Gallo?
All you need to do is mix the ingredients together in a bowl, season with lime juice and salt and toss gently to combine. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes (or up to half hour) and serve.
You have questions? We have answers!
How To Make Pico de Gallo Mild Or Spicy?
Salsa Fresca can be made more mild by removing the seeds and veins of the chiles (jalapeños are milder than serranos). If you are very sensitive to spice, you can omit the chiles altogether.
For a spicy Pico de Gallo, choose serranos and do not remove their veins – that’s where the heat is!! You can also add additional chiles, if you prefer.
Can You Freeze Pico De Gallo?
No, this recipe doesn’t freeze well. The texture of the vegetables changes in the freezer as well as the taste.
Pico the Gallo can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3 days. Preferably, I like to eat it within a day.
Uses for the Best Pico De Gallo
There are many ways to enjoy salsa fresca or pico de gallo. You can top many dishes with this fresh and tasty condiment. Here are a few ideas:
- Carne Asada or Carne Asada Tacos or Quesadillas
- Chipotle Barbacoa or Barbacoa Tacos
- Carnitas, Carnita Tacos or Burritos
- Breakfast Tacos
Are you feeling adventurous and want to mix things up a bit? Here are a few ideas for delicious additions to salsa fresca.
- Avocados: Finely chopped or mashed, add extra salt and lime juice. (You just made guacamole! You are welcome!)
- Mango: Chopped ripe mango adds sweetness. Great topping for fish and chicken.
- Corn: Fresh or roasted corn makes the absolute best corn salsa.
- Beans: Add extra protein and make it a bit filling. I love this served with warm tortillas.
- Shrimp: Add cooked small shrimp. Makes for a great appetizer or salad.
- Cream Cheese: This was new to me until I moved to the south. Place the cream cheese in a baking dish, top it with pico and bake it for 20 minutes. Serve it with crackers and pretzels.
Pico de Gallo Fun Facts
- According to the USDA, salsa is officially a vegetable. Ketchup, however, is not!
- In 1991, sales of bottled salsa were higher than the sales of ketchup. This came as a shock to many, including George Costanza (Seinfeld). This development seemed to signal the major cultural influence of Latin America in the United States. To Jerry Seinfeld, though, it was just a sign that people love to say salsa.
- The French have their own spin on salsa. The recipe includes cornichons, pickles and ketchup.
Pico de Gallo Recipe Tips
- This is one of those recipes where you can adjust the amount of each ingredient to suit your taste.
- Use fresh, good quality ingredients.
- Chop ingredients finely for best texture.
- This recipe is best when it’s allowed to sit for 5 minutes and up to 30 minutes for the flavors to develop.
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Classic Pico De Gallo
- 1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, deseeded and diced (about 6-8 medium tomatoes )
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 jalapeno or serrano chile, halved, seeded and finely chopped
- ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro leaves and top part of stems
- 2-3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste about 3/4 teaspoon
- Place the tomatoes, onion, chile, cilantro, lime juice and salt in a bowl and toss well. For best results, allow it to sit for 5 – 10 minutes before serving so the flavors have time to meld and develop.
- Tomatoes should be cut into about 1/4 inch dice.
- You can adjust the amount of each ingredient to suit your taste.
- Chop ingredients finely for best texture.
- For a spicier Pico de gallo, leave the chile’s veins intact. You can also add more chiles if you want.
- For best results, allow the pico de gallo to sit for 5 minutes or up to 30 minutes before serving so the flavors have time to develop.
- Pico de Gallo can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.