Pico de Gallo is made in just 10 minutes with fresh tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime. This is the best low-calorie topping for just about any Mexican dish.
We love making authentic and healthy Mexican dishes during summer times. This recipe is guaranteed to boost the flavors of pretty much any dish. Use it on Taco Salad, Grilled Shrimp Tacos, or Baja Fish Tacos. It makes a great appetizer, finger food, party food, and it’s also perfect as a side dish. Use it as topping on salads, and as a stuffing for burritos or quesadillas.
Authentic Pico de Gallo Recipe (Salsa Fresca)
This Homemade Pico de gallo is made with fresh ingredients like fresh tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeno, and corn. It is basically a loaded bowl of fresh salsa but with freshly chopped veggies, that tastes just as authentic as the one at your local Mexican restaurant.
I love making it at home because it is super easy to put together and also budget-friendly. In addition, by making it at home, you will ensure that you have the best and tastiest recipe possible, by controlling the ingredients. The secret to making this the best and healthy homemade recipe is to use fresh ingredients.
Since it requires only 5 ingredients in total, make sure to go with fresh ones as the flavor will be so much better!
We serve it with tacos, quesadillas, on top of grilled meats, fish, or just plain with tortilla chips. It is best to serve it immediately. However, you can also enjoy it for later on Mexican nights if refrigerated. Just follow the steps below on how to best store it.
Why is it called pico de gallo?
It is a classic Mexican tomato dip (or sauce) that adds a fresh, healthy, low-calorie boost of flavor to just about any Mexican meal. This dish is also known as “Salsa Fresca,” or “Salsa Cruda.”
It is a type of fresh, chunky salsa, with each ingredient chopped into distinct pieces.
Traditionally, it uses fresh tomato as its main ingredient. Then dressed with a simple dressing such as lime juice and salt. It is one of the most popular Mexican dips served nowadays, which is ready in a few minutes, and goes pretty much with everything!
The most important thing to remember here is to use fresh ingredients. You will need the following:
- Tomatoes: I like using fresh grape tomatoes whenever possible as they do not get mushy. However, if you cannot find them, go with Roma, cherry, or other types. Also, you can use a combination of different varieties for a more flavorful and colorful dish,
- Green onions or white onions.
- Fresh jalapeno: It adds some heat to the dish as well as flavor. Adjust it per your taste.
- Sweet corn: This balances out the flavors perfectly. You can use freshly cooked corn or canned one. If you happen to grill some corn, make some extra and add it to this recipe.
- Garlic: Freshly minced will have the boldest flavor.
- Lime or lemon: To make the zest, obviously lime is more authentic, but lemon will work as well.
- Cilantro: This is a must ingredient here, it adds plenty of aromas!
- Seasoning: Salt and black pepper.
- Olive oil: Just a bit is enough.
How to Make the Best Pico de Gallo?
- Prep: First, start by preparing the tomatoes and herbs, wash, pat dry everything and have them on hand.
- Chop: Next, chop the ingredients as needed and add them to a large bowl. Gently stir everything together.
- Chill: It is important to chill the dish for at least 30 minutes. During this time the tomatoes will release some of the juices and also it will taste more refreshing.
- Serve: Finally, give the mixture a final stir right before serving. Serve with tortilla chips.
- Store: Although it is best to serve it fresh and immediately, storing it for later is also an option. The best way to keep it fresh is to scoop out the pulp (seeds and juice) and chopping up the outer layer of the tomato. This helps reduce the liquid in it, which keeps it fresh longer without getting soggy or super watery! Therefore, you can keep leftover for about 3 days if you store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Otherwise, consume with 1-2 days.
Recipe Variations and Mix-ins:
This is a very versatile dish, and you can easily swap the ingredients and the flavor profile. Here are some great suggestions:
- Cucumber: Add some fresh cucumber to the mix.
- Avocado: Another great option would be to add some freshly chopped avocado.
- Mango: This is probably one of my favorite add-ins.
- Beans: Feel free to add some protein to this dish by adding some Chipotle black beans.
- Seasoning: Mix in other seasonings as well, such as Cajun Seasoning, Ranch Seasoning, and Taco Seasoning.
How to Serve Salsa Fresca:
This makes a great appetizer, side dish and its also the perfect recipe to serve at large parties or gatherings. There are many ways to serve it, here are our favorites:
- Use it to add flavor and texture to your burrito bowl.
- It makes a great stuffing for chicken, or try making this Instant Pot Salsa Chicken.
- Serve it as a topping on main dishes, like chicken, beef, fish or pork.
- Make some fancy Hot Dogs and use it as a topping for a Tex Mex twist.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between pico de gallo and salsa?
Although they are both similar, they have some differences. For example, salsa is more of a “sauce” with more liquid in it, where pico de gallo contains very little liquid and is made with fresh, uncooked ingredients. Also, salsa can be made in a variety of ways. It mainly uses a variety of cooked, roasted, or uncooked tomatoes, peppers, spices, and other ingredients.
On the other hand, pico de gallo always contains the same ingredients: fresh and uncooked tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and jalapeño.
Is pico de gallo healthy for you?
Yes, this dish is super healthy. It is made with vegetables and has just a few calories, while is loaded with many health benefits. It is packed with antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, and lycopene which could help protect against prostate, urinary, intestinal, and a few stomach cancers.
Therefore, feel free to indulge yourself as much as you want. Not only does it taste amazingly delicious, but it is also super beneficial for your health!
More Tex-Mex recipes to try:
Recipe Tips and Tricks:
- Use ripe red tomatoes – We like using Roma or grape tomatoes as they are sweeter and more flavorful. Also, they are less watery and are ideal in this recipe. In addition, using ripe tomatoes is absolutely key to making this a great recipe. Therefore, try not to use the best tomatoes and skip the pink ones.
- Chop your ingredients very finely – For best results and texture, we recommend chopping the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro finely. This might take some extra effort but it’s well worth it, as the flavor will be enhanced. Make sure you are using a very sharp knife, as the tomato skin sometimes is hard t cut through.
- Give the finished product some extra time to marinade – We have discovered that letting it rest for 10-15 minutes results in the best flavor. As the tomatoes and remaining ingredients rest, the salt draws the moisture out of the ingredients and condenses their flavor. Therefore, we strongly recommend waiting for a few minutes for the ingredients to rest before serving.
- Let it rest: Also, you want to let the dish rest for at least 30 minutes. This will combine the flavors together. Feel free to make a larger batch if you are hosting a party or an event. Just remember to let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 30-60 minutes ahead for the flavors to combine.
- Adjust the flavors: Lastly, remember to taste and adjust per your own taste. Go slowly on salt, and if needed add more later on.
Easy Pico de Gallo Recipe
- 3 cups chopped tomatoes (about 4-5 ripe tomatoes, I like to use cherry tomatoes)
- 1/3 cup green onions (finely diced)
- 1 jalapeño (seeds removed and diced)
- 1 tablespoon red chili (seeds removed and diced - optional, for extra spiciness)
- 1 cup sweet corn (optional, but delicious! If frozen then thaw, if canned then drain)
- 1 lime (zested and juiced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced - optional)
- 1/4 cup cilantro (finely chopped)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)
- Prepare all the ingredients, clean and chop the tomatoes in small pieces.
- In a medium serving bowl, add all the ingredients and gently stir until combined.
- Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
- Serve with lime on the side and tortilla chips.