Pico de Gallo
Apr 14, 2023
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Pico de gallo is an authentic Mexican chunky salsa recipe that’s super simple to make at home with a handful of fresh ingredients (and homemade tastes a million times better than any store-bought versions).
I believe that pico de gallo is always an essential part of any Mexican meal. You can serve it as a fresh appetizer with tortilla chips or top it on all the tacos, fajitas, and other Mexican dishes your heart desires.
Pico de gallo, along with guacamole, are delicious nibbles that get your taste buds ready for the main course. And after numerous trips to Mexico (the perk of living in Southern California), I’d like to think I’m an expert on fresh salsa recipes. So, let me tell you how to make the best pico de gallo!
What is Pico De Gallo?
It’s a chunkier salsa made from tomatoes, onion, cilantro, a spicy chile like jalapeño or serrano peppers, lime juice, and salt. That’s it! And fun fact — its name translates to “the beak of the rooster” in Spanish. There are a lot of opinions on the meaning behind the name, but no one really knows for sure. One name everyone does agree on though is salsa fresca (fresh sauce). Quite fitting!
What’s the Difference Between Salsa and Pico De Gallo?
Pico de gallo is a salsa, but what sets it apart from other salsas is two things.
- Salsa usually has a much more liquid consistency. Pico de gallo is chunky with far less liquid.
- When referring to salsas broadly, they can consist of cooked ingredients (or flame-broiled). Pico de gallo is never cooked and should always be made with raw ingredients.
Pico De Gallo Ingredients
Since you’re relying on the natural flavors of all the ingredients, make sure to use the freshest ingredients possible for this salsa recipe.
- Tomatoes: It’s best to stick with Roma tomatoes for the best flavor and texture! Just make sure to scoop out the seeds.
- Onion: You’ll need white onions for this salsa. Although, sweet yellow onions or red onions would be fine too. It just won’t be the classic version.
- Cilantro: The more the merrier! But one bundle is all you really need.
- Serrano Pepper: Ideally, you want to use a serrano pepper instead of a jalapeño pepper. I’ll talk more about this in the next section below!
- Lime & Salt: The essentials to tie all the flavors together! And if you find that it needs more salt or lime juice, do as you please.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
Should I Use Jalapeños or Serrano Peppers?
If you go to Mexico and order pico de gallo, in most cases, you’ll have salsa with serrano pepper. Unless you are at a touristy restaurant where they may swap the serrano for a jalapeño.
Those restaurants know that some tourists can’t take the heat, so they turn down the spice with jalapeños (how thoughtful!). But traditionally, in Mexico, serrano peppers are the way to go so that’s what I’m using in my pico de gallo recipe. But feel free to use the chile pepper you’re most comfortable with.
Helpful tip: If you’ve never had a serrano pepper before, to put it into a spice context, the serrano pepper is 8,000 – 22,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) and jalapeños are only 2,500 – 8,000 SHU. The hotter the pepper, the higher units on the Scoville scale.
How To Make Pico De Gallo
Once you’ve chopped all the ingredients, add them to a bowl and stir everything together. If you can wait 15 minutes before serving to let all the flavors meld, that’s even better. But if you can’t wait to dig in, I completely understand!
Helpful tip: While pico de gallo is chunkier than regular salsa, hand-chopping everything very finely ensures that you can get all the flavors on one chip! A food processor might expedite the process, but you won’t have as great of a texture.
Storage and Make-Ahead Tips
If you’re serving this at a party, feel free to make it a few hours beforehand. That way, all the natural juices from the tomatoes, onion, lime, and pepper will marinate together providing a more robust flavor. Stir the ingredient a few times before serving.
Any leftovers will keep for about 3 days in the fridge. Just note that the salsa will soften and water down a bit as it sits.
What to Serve with Pico De Gallo
Once you make this pico de gallo recipe a few times, you’ll know it by heart! Let me know what you, your friends, and your family think of it in the comment box below.
Pico de Gallo Recipe (Easy & Authentic)
- 4 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced
- ⅔ cup white onion, finely diced
- 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 serrano pepper or jalapeño, finely chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, pepper, lime, and salt to a bowl. Stir everything together.
- If you can wait 15 minutes to let all the flavors meld, that's best. But if you can't wait to dig in, I completely understand. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
- This recipes makes 3 cups of pico de gallo.
- Serve it up with corn tortilla chips or my favorite Siete brand cassava tortilla chips (they’re gluten-free, grain-free and corn-free).
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Recipe originally published May 2019 and April 2020, but updated to include new information.