Brighten your favorite Mexican-inspired foods with this easy homemade Pico de Gallo recipe (salsa Fresca) filled with spicy fresh ingredients.
If you love Mexican cuisine, this homemade pico de gallo recipe is your ticket to turning a handful of ingredients into a bright finish for all your favorites. Don’t wait for Cinco de mayo, and don't stop with tacos. It's a great addition to stuffed peppers, topping hummus, or smothering pakoras. Yep, it's a global indulgence.
This post contains helpful tips and tricks to ensure success on your first attempt. Below, you'll find a handy table of contents with links. But if you're in a rush, please use the link at the top to jump to the recipe card at the end!
Why You'll Love This Recipe
No cooking. Grab a sharp knife because that's all you'll need to toss together the simple ingredients for this delicious topper for tacos, wraps, taco salad, and more Mexican food favs.
Spicy or mild. Use jalapeno or milder serrano peppers. Adjust the amount to make this chunky salsa as heated or mellow as desired.
Healthy & fat-free. This homemade Pico de Gallo recipe is naturally vegan and made without oil making it naturally fat-free and triple-scoop healthy.
📋 Ingredients, notes, & substitutions
Fresh tomatoes – Use firm, ripe red tomatoes such as Roma tomatoes or fresh plum tomatoes. You can also use cherry tomatoes which are sometimes the best ripe tomatoes you can get in colder months.
Onions – Traditionally, Pico de Gallo is made with red onion, but a white onion can add similar sweetness. If you want less onion, use just half. If you use a diced yellow onion, you can soak the pieces in cold water to help mitigate the intense flavor.
Jalapenos – Nothing says chunky salsa better than a fresh jalapeno pepper. You won't get the same flavor if you use pickled jalapenos. If all else fails, cross over a use a fresh red chili or another kind of fresh pepper.
Fresh limes – Fresh lime juice is zestier than the prepared kind. There's a difference, so go for a few lovely green limes if possible.
Garlic – Mince a fresh garlic clove (or two).
Fresh cilantro – Chopped cilantro gives classic Pico de Gallo a peppery, earthy flavor. If you are not a fan of cilantro (coriander), just use it a little bit or eliminate it. Parsley isn’t a great substitute here.
🔪 Step-by-step instructions & tips
Deseed the tomatoes. Removing the seeds and jelly-like membrane from tomatoes keeps them fresher for longer. Cut the tomatoes into quarters and run your knife blade down the middle of each piece. Even the best tomatoes will benefit from this easy process.
Dice the tomatoes small and place them in a medium bowl. Pile in the rest of the ingredients as you prep them.
Dice the onions. My favorite way to dice onions into small pieces goes like this:
- Peel the onion and cut it in half.
- Place each half, cut side down, and slice horizontally, about three-quarters of the way to the end of the onion.
- Cut the onion laterally, from the cut-side to toward the stem.
- Cut across the onion to form small, diced pieces.
Jalapeno-dicing. Cut the jalapeno(s) in half lengthwise, then use a small spoon to remove the seeds and membrane. Cut the jalapeno into thin, long slices, then bunch them up and dice.
Roll and cut. Have you tried the ball-and-cut method for chopping cilantro? Ha, it’s so easy. Trim the thicker stems from the bottom of the plant, roll the remainder into a ball, and chop it. Turn the ball 90 degrees and keep chopping.
Garlic, limes, and salt. Finish your best pico de gallo by mincing or pressing a garlic clove and adding it to the bowl.
Next, cut a fresh lime and squeeze it over the top. You might need two if they are tiny. Then add a pinch of salt. Mix all the ingredients.
Rest. A good pico de gallo must rest at room temperature for the flavors to combine. Allow at least 15 minutes or longer for this. Give it another stir, taste it, and adjust the ingredients if necessary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Traditional Pico de gallo or salsa cruda is a raw salsa made from fresh ingredients. Although salsa has similar ingredients to pico de gallo, salsa often has more ingredients. Salsa is made with blended tomatoes and is usually cooked.
When you compare pico de gallo and salsa in the grocery store or your favorite Mexican restaurant, you’ll notice that the ingredients in pico de gallo are distinctive. If lifted with a slotted spoon, you can easily pick out pieces of tomato. Traditional salsa has a saucy texture.
The Spanish translation of pico de gallo means beak of rooster. However, it has nothing to do with a rooster's beak or poultry.
The spiciness of pico de gallo is controlled by the jalapenos or other fresh chilies you add. When you make your own, you can easily adjust by adding fewer jalapenos. Deseeding and removing the white membrane of jalapenos will also reduce the spiciness.
🌮 Serving suggestions
This is a great recipe to accompany just about any Mexican dish. It might be gushing, but this easy pico de gallo recipe goes with everything. From breakfast tofu scrambles to your lunchtime burrito bowl or those tempeh Asada tacos you've been craving. And let's not forget about a healthy dip with your favorite tortilla chips.
One recipe variation that deserves mention is fresh fruits. For example, tossing in diced mango or peaches can refresh and bulk out leftovers.
If you deseed the tomatoes, your pico won't get as mushy. Spruce it with added lime juice and serve with a slotted spoon as it can get watery after sitting. Store leftovers in an airtight container for 2-3 days.
Easy Homemade Pico de Gallo
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 0 minutes
- Total Time: 15 minutes
- Yield: 12 1x
- Category: Dips
- Method: Chipping
- Cuisine: Mexican
- Diet: Vegan
- 4 Roma or plum tomatoes, deseeded and diced (2 cups)
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- 1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
- 1 lime, juiced (about 3 tablespoons)
- 1 clove of garlic, minced or pressed
- A pinch of salt (optional)
- Deseed and dice the tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half, lengthwise (through the stem), then cut each half again. Run your knife blade inside each tomato piece to remove the seeds and jelly-like middle. Dice into small pieces after deseeding. Place the diced tomatoes into a medium bowl.
- Dice the onions and jalapenos. Small dice the onions. Cut the jalapenos lengthwise, then use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds to reduce the spiciness. Dice the jalapenos. Add both to the bowl with the tomatoes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients. Chop the cilantro, mince the garlic, and add the juice of 1 lime. Add the ingredients to the bowl, along with a pinch of salt. Mix well.
- Rest the pico de gallo. Let the pico de gallo rest at room temperature for at least 15 minutes. Stir before serving.
- This recipe makes 3 cups of pico de gallo. Nutritional information is based on ¼ a cup per serving.
- Removing the seeds and white membrane from the jalapenos will make them milder.
- Store pico de gallo in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Spruce it up by adding fresh lime juice. You can also add diced mango or peaches for a flavor twist.
Keywords: pico de gallo, salsa fresco, fresh salsa, vegan pico de gallo