Pico de Gallo

5 from 2 votes

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The quintessential fresh tomato salsa from Mexico, chunky with tomatoes, hot peppers, cilantro, and onions.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is a fresh tomato salsa that makes a daily appearance on many Mexican tables. It is used on tacos, served on enchiladas and quesadillas, and is a great companion to all kinds of grilled foods. But truly, it’s the perfect partner for pretty much any Mexican or simply cooked food. Not to mention the best dipper for tortilla chips ever.

Try pico de gallo with Chicken and Black Bean Enchiladas, Ground Beef Tacos, or Steak Fajitas. Pico de gallo also might be called fresh tomato salsa, salsa fresca, salsa bandera, salsa Mexicana, or salsa cruda.

Pico de Gallo in a green serving bowl.

Pico de Gallo: The quintessential fresh tomato salsa from Mexico, chunky with tomatoes, hot peppers, cilantro and onions.

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Pico de Gallo Ingredients

  • Tomatoes – The starring ingredient in this fresh tomato salsa. Make sure your tomatoes are nicely ripe for the best flavor. Traditionally, this salsa is made with red tomatoes, but you are certainly welcome to play with other colors or heirloom tomatoes.
  • Jalapeño pepper – The hot pepper brings the heat! See below for information about seeding the pepper. You can also use a serrano pepper if you like.
  • Cilantro – This is the traditional fresh herb used in pico de gallo. Start with 2 tablespoons, and add more if you like. Some folks like a very strong cilantro presence, while others like a milder herb flavor. Yes, if you have cilantro haters in your family, you could skip it, but it is a non-negotiable ingredient in authentic pico de gallo. Only use fresh here!
  • Lime juice – Even though there is acidity in the tomatoes, most pico de gallo salsas have lime juice added for that delicious acidic pop of citrus flavor.
  • Onion – Brings that delightful spicy sharpness — dial the amount up or down as you wish.
  • Salt and pepper – You can hold back on the pepper if the heat from the peppers and the onions is enough, but make sure to season generously with salt. Start with 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt, and see what you think.
Pico de Gallo with other Mexican toppings in bowls.

FAQs

What does Pico de Gallo mean?

Pico de gallo translates from Spanish to “rooster’s beak” or “beak of rooster.” The name may have come from the act of pinching one’s fingers together like a rooster’s beak to eat the chopped mixture, but that’s not clear. But there are no roosters involved in the making of this salsa!

What is the difference between pico de gallo and salsa?

Pico de gallo is a type of salsa, but when people refer to salsa, they often mean a more liquidy sauce with some pureed or crushed tomatoes.

This fresh tomato salsa is made up of mostly chopped vegetables and herbs, with only the juices from the tomato forming the liquid that holds the salsa together. If you want a less watery pico de gallo, then you can drain the juice from the salsa before serving (but you should add that liquid to a sauce or soup!).

Is pico de gallo spicy?

That’s up to you! This recipe calls for a jalapeño pepper, though you can use a serrano if you like. Most of the heat in a hot pepper resides in the seeds and white membrane inside, so if you remove all of those parts, you will just have mild heat from the flesh of the pepper. Leave in some seeds for a bit more heat, and feel free to leave in all the seeds if you are looking for a super spicy salsa!

How to Make Pico de Gallo

  1. Combine the ingredients.
  2. Serve right away: Or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.
Pico de Gallo Salsa in a green bowl.

Storage

This salsa is best served on the day it was made, though it will last for several days in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator.

What to Serve With Pico de Gallo

Homemade Pico de Gallo in a green bowl with pickled onions and crumbled queso nearby.

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5 from 2 votes

Pico de Gallo

The quintessential fresh tomato salsa from Mexico, chunky with tomatoes, hot peppers, cilantro, and onions.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 0 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 8 People
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Ingredients 

  • 2 medium-size ripe tomatoes (seeded and diced)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper (with or without seeds; finely chopped)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)

Instructions 

  • Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper in a medium-size bowl.
  • Serve right away or refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.

Notes

Most of the heat in a hot pepper resides in the seeds and white membrane inside, so if you remove all of those parts, you will just have the mild heat from the flesh of the pepper. Leave in some seeds for a bit more heat, and feel free to leave in all the seeds if you are looking for a super spicy salsa!

Nutrition

Calories: 8kcal, Carbohydrates: 2g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 75mg, Potassium: 85mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 282IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 5mg, Iron: 1mg
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About Katie Workman

Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks, Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook.

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