Pico de Gallo is one of my favorite Mexican foods! It is packed full of fresh and delicious flavors and is perfect for an appetizer, eaten with chips, or as a topping on tacos, burritos, salads, enchiladas, or almost any Mexican dish. This Pico de Gallo recipe is super easy to make and the one little trick we use helps to make the flavor burst even more. If you love Mexican food, salsa, or just fresh, healthy and delicious, you might want to keep a regular batch of Pico de Gallo in your refrigerator.
Pico de Gallo Recipe
Since I spent the first 20+ years of my life in Texas, Mexican food is pretty much life for me. I have so many memories of growing up making with with my mom and my mom’s friends. We would spend the whole weekend making huge batches of homemade tamales or salsa so we could freeze it and eat them for months. Pico de gallo has always been one of my favorites and this pico de gallo recipe is super simple and perfect for dipping or topping your favorite foods.
Sometimes Mexican can get a bad wrap for being unhealthy, and I get it with all of the cheese, fried food, and even lard you can find in it, but there are also plenty of ways to make Mexican cuisine more healthy and Pico de Gallo is absolutely one of my favorites. If you haven’t had Pico de Gallo, or you have never made it yourself, you are in for a treat today because I am going to walk you through how to make it with a special little step that results in the best and most flavor pico de gallo.
What is Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo is a type of salsa made from fresh tomatoes, onion, cilantro, peppers, salt and lime. It is also often called Salsa Fresca, but both refer to a fresh salsa made of these same ingredients. Sometimes additional ingredients like avocado may be added as a twist on the recipe, but traditional pico de gallo only includes the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, peppers, salt and lime.
Is Pico de Gallo and Salsa the same thing?
The difference between traditional salsa and pico de gallo is that pico de gallo is made from fresh tomatoes cilantro, and peppers. Often salsa typically thought of as traditional is made from canned or cooked tomatoes and not fresh. Another difference is that traditional salsa is usually blended so that it is thinner in consistency where as pico de gallo has less juice and is made primarily of the diced tomatoes, onion, peppers and cilantro.
What does Pico de Gallo mean?
Pico de Gallo literally translated means beak of the rooster. Although the roots of this word have some different tales the general thought is that it dates back to when cock fighting was popular. It is said that the cock fighters used to calm their animals by placing the rooster’s head in their mouth and sometimes the roosters would bite their tongues. Since the fresh peppers in pico de gallo give it a little bite on your tongue, the it is like the beak of the rooster pecking. You can make your pico de gallo recipe as spicy or as mild as you prefer so you don’t have to be too worried about the bite of the rooster when you make it from scratch. Isn’t it funny how food can get named sometimes?
Is Pico de Gallo Healthy
I think there is little debate that Pico de Gallo is an extremely healthy food. This pico de gallo recipe is packed with fresh vegetables and herbs and is low fat and contains only natural sugars, however it is recommended to consult your doctor if you have specific dietary concerns. Pico de gallo is:
- Gluten Free
- Dairy Free
- Low fat
Can I make Pico de Gallo without peppers
Yes! Serrano or Jalapeño peppers are traditionally included in pico de gallo, but if you would like to make a mild version of the pico de gallo recipe you can reduce the amount of pepper or omit it all together.
How to make Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo is quick and easy to make. You make it from fresh ingredients and it doesn’t require cooking. I will go through the recipe with your here step by step to hopefully answer any questions that you have, but if some still arise, feel free to drop them in the comments below and I will try to help out. For the quick version of the recipe, feel free to jump down to the bottom for the full, printable recipe card.
Pico de Gallo Recipe Ingredients
- 2 cups diced sweet tomatoes like grape or roma– This will be about 1 pound of tomatoes total. I suggest using smaller tomato varieties like grape or roma because they are sweeter and the flavor in them is more concentrated. Since the tomato is pretty much the star of the show here, you really want to get a variety that has the most flavor and the least seeds you can.
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion- This is about 1/2 large onion, or one whole small onion if you are making your shopping list. I like the yellow onion for this because of the neutral, sweet flavor that is brought out by the salt and lime. You can also use white onion.
- 1 serrano or jalapeño pepper- Traditional pico de gallo generally uses serrano peppers, but sometimes they can be harder to find, if you can’t find a serrano, a jalapeño will work just fine and is what I use often. Also, make sure that you are using fresh peppers not jarred jalapeños since they have a very different flavor.
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro- This is generally about half a bunch but I have found that the size of bunch can vary greatly so grab a bunch and chopping until you get to half a cup.
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 lime, juiced- The big thing here is that you use fresh lime juice, not the bottled stuff. Since it is a completely fresh salsa with no cooking required you will REALLY taste the difference using fresh!
Pico de Gallo Recipe Instructions
- Dice the tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. I like to dice the tomatoes about a quarter of an inch and dice the onion as fine as I can manage so the flavor distributes as evenly as possible. Wash the pepper and remove the stem, seeds and ribs from the pepper and then dice that as well. If you want more heat you can leave the seeds and ribs or add more peppers. Also, if you want to make the pico de gallo without the pepper you can do that to make a mild version.
- Mix the tomatoes with the salt and place them in a mesh food strainer over a bowl for 10 minutes. At the end of the time discard the juices that have drained from the tomatoes. I learned this trick from Serious Eats and it is an extra step, but a really worthwhile one! What this does is allow the salt to pull out some of the water from the tomato which helps them to become more concentrated in their sweet delicious tomato flavor, which is what we want.
- In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, pepper and lime juice together and mix to incorporate the flavors. You want to allow all of the veggies to get coated with the lime and salt so that it can help the flavors to mellow and combine to make the unique pico de gallo flavor.
- Let chill for 10-20 minutes or more to allow the flavors to meld. Although it is tempting to dive right in, this step helps all the flavors to come together so that it gets its salsa taste rather than just tasting the individual ingredients. Serve with chips or as a topping on your favorite Mexican dish. Enjoy!
How to serve Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo is great as an appetizer, on almost any Mexican dish, and also on a lot of dishes that aren’t Mexican. Here are some of my favorite things to serve with pico de gallo:
- With chips or veggies as an appetizer
- On top of or mixed into queso cheese appetizer
- On top of:
- Sautéed in or on top of an omlette
- With sliced avocado as a side
- On top of grilled chicken
Can you Freeze Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo can be frozen for use later, however the texture will change quite a bit. Since the liquid in the tomatoes and cilantro expands as it is frozen, it makes them much softer to slightly mushy when thawed. The taste will still be delicious, but it will not have the same fresh quality in texture. Since this is a salsa though, the texture often isn’t an issue and so freezing can be a great option.
To freeze pico de gallo:
- Drain any excess juice
- Place in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Thaw in the refrigerator until thawed and serve as desired.
I really hope you love making this Pico de Gallo recipe as much as we do! Between all of us in our family we can even make it multiple times a week sometimes! If you do get a chance to try it, I would love to hear about it! Drop me a comment in the section below. It makes me smile from ear to ear knowing that others enjoy the recipes that I share. If you make it and share a pic on Instagram, make sure to tag me @easyfamilyrecipes so that I can see what you are cooking! Happy eating friends!
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Pico de Gallo
- 2 cups diced sweet tomatoes like grape or roma about 1 pound
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion about 1/2 large onion
- 1 serrano or jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro about 1/2 bunch
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 lime juiced
- Dice the tomatoes, onion, and cilantro. Wash the pepper and remove the stem, seeds and ribs from the pepper and then dice that as well.
- Mix the tomatoes with the salt and place them in a mesh food strainer over a bowl for 10 minutes. At the end of the time discard the juices that have drained from the tomatoes.
- In a medium bowl, combine the diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, pepper and lime juice together and mix to incorporate the flavors.
- Let chill for 10 minutes or more. Serve with chips or as a topping on your favorite Mexican dish. Enjoy!
- Gluten free
- Dairy free
- Low fat
(Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.)