Homemade Pico de Gallo! This healthy Mexican topping and dip is deliciously bright and flavorful, super easy to make and it doesn’t require any special kitchen equipment. It’s just one of those back pocket recipes you’ll turn to time and time again.
What is Pico de Gallo?
Pico de gallo (also known as salsa fresca) is a Mexican condiment made up of fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, cilantro, spicy peppers, and lime. It’s similar to salsa but with a bolder taste, chunkier texture and it’s not quite so wet (and any excess moisture is easy to drain off since it’s chunky). It’s commonly served with tortilla chips for dipping or used as a topping for things like tacos and nachos.
It’s nothing complicated, just a handful of ingredients paired together to make such a satisfying and addictive topping!
Fun fact, did you know “pico de gallo” translates to “roosters beak” in English? There’s speculation as to why, some say it’s the shape of the pepper used, others think it’s the texture which looks similar to bird feed, and some say it’s because people used to eat it by pinching between the thumb and forefinger (source) – the world may never know.
Ingredients in Pico de Gallo
All you need for pico de gallo is 6 basic ingredients + salt:
- Roma tomatoes – this type of tomato has a light sweetness, less pulp and a firmer texture so it works best here.
- Yellow onion – red onions work great here too. I like to rinse to remove some of the harsh flavor.
- Cilantro – this has a lot of cilantro, it gives it that traditional, memorable flavor.
- Jalapeno – this adds a little kick, if you want it spicer try it with a serrano pepper instead.
- Garlic – this isn’t a typical ingredient in authentic pico de gallo but I love a hint of it added for background flavor.
- Lime – as always stick with fresh lime for best flavor.
- Salt – this will really bring out the flavors and keep it from tasting flat.
- Tip: You can also add in a chopped avocado for extra flavor!
How to Make Pico de Gallo
This Mexican dip and topping is so easy to make! All you need to do is dice everything up then toss it together in a bowl with the lime and salt.
How Far in Advance Can I Make It?
Pico should stay fresh for about 4 – 5 days in the refrigerator. Don’t keep at room temperature more than 2 hours.
Can I Freeze It or Can It?
No to freezing, and no to canning if you ask my opinion. Most of what makes pico so good is that fresh flavor and the texture wouldn’t be the same if either frozen or canned. But you will see with a quick internet search there are methods for canning it (which require more lime) if you insist.
Can I Use a Food Processor?
While I do prefer the hand chopped texture, in a rush you can use a food processor. Roughly chop ingredients first, then add to food processor and chop in quick bursts to a chunky texture, don’t puree!
How to Make it Mild?
Just omit the pepper if you want to make it mild. It shouldn’t be too spicy with them though because the seeds are removed.
How About Making It Spicer?
Make it spicer by leaving the seeds of the jalapeno or adding an extra jalapeno. Or use a spicier pepper like serrano, or even get crazy with a habanero pepper.
Tips for the Best Pico de Gallo:
- Use a freshly sharpened knife if possible, it makes chopping through the tomato skin a breeze and prep work faster. I love my knife sharpener!
- Chop ingredients very small for best texture.
- Rinse the onion to remove extra harsh bite so it doesn’t over power.
- Use the best quality ingredients you can find. Under-ripe and over-ripe tomatoes can ruin it. Tomatoes should have a nice red color and shouldn’t be hard or too soft and squishy.
Ways to Use Pico de Gallo:
- Grilled Chicken Street Tacos
- Ground Beef Tacos
- Nachos (pictured above): melt cheddar or monterey jack over tortilla chips (microwave or broiler), add black beans drained and tossed with taco seasoning, diced avocado, pico de gallo and sour cream. Easiest dinner ever!
- Add leftover to scrambled eggs or breakfast tacos.
More Mexican Condiments You’ll Love:
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Pico de Gallo
- Add tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice to a mixing bowl and toss while seasoning with salt to taste.
- Serve right away or store in refrigerator up to 4 days. Use a slotted spoon to serve if you don't want the excess moisture.
- *I like to chop onion then place in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cool water to remove harsh bite, then drain well. Red onion can be substituted for yellow onion.
- **For a spicer option try it with a serrano pepper.
- Try it with a diced avocado for extra flavor!