Homemade Pico de Gallo (Fresh Tomato Salsa)

You’ll love this easy pico de gallo recipe! With just 6 simple ingredients, you’ll have fresh, zesty, delicious tomato salsa in no time. Jump to the Homemade Pico de Gallo Recipe or watch our quick recipe video showing you how we make it. We’ve also shared lots of extra tips in the article below.

Watch Us Make Pico de Gallo

What is Pico de Gallo?

Pico de Gallo is a chopped relish-like salsa or sauce from Mexico that, in it’s most basic form combines ripe tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, cilantro, salt, and lime. According to Rick Bayless (an American chef that’s devoted his career to Mexican cuisine), this kind of fresh tomato salsa is a condiment popular in every region of Mexico.

In Texas, this fresh salsa is know as pico de gallo, but in Mexico, it’s known by a variety of other names including salsa Mexicano, salsa fresca, and salsa cruda. If you’re wondering what pico de gallo actually means, it translates to “rooster’s beak.” I’m not really sure why it’s called this and from a little research, there are a number of theories why, but for now, I’m just going to move on to making it 🙂

How to Make the Best Pico de Gallo Salsa // You'll love this easy pico de gallo recipe! With just 6 simple ingredients you'll have fresh, zesty, delicious tomato salsa in no time.

How to Make Pico de Gallo

Not only is pico de gallo delicious, it’s incredibly simple to make. I’ve shared the full pico de gallo recipe below, but here are some takeaways:

Chop tomatoes and onion into small pieces. For a salsa with less seeds and liquid at the bottom of the bowl, you can remove the seeds and excess liquid from the tomato (I usually skip this unless I have a particularly seedy tomato). To do it, cut the tomatoes in half and gently squeeze them out.

Next comes the chile pepper, you can use jalapeño or Serrano in this. For a spicy salsa, leave the seeds and white membrane intact (that’s where all the chile pepper’s heat lives). For a mild salsa, remove the seeds and membrane. I like to mince the pepper pretty small so I don’t ever bite into a big chunk.

Cilantro is next. Roughly chop the cilantro. I like a lot of cilantro in my salsa, but you can always pull back the amount we suggest below if you’d like.

Last, but not least, add salt and acid. My go-to acid for pico de gallo is fresh lime juice, but you can use apple cider vinegar if that’s all you have. Give everything a stir and let the salsa sit for a few minutes (more on that below).

My Tips For Making The Best Salsa

Let’s quickly walk through my best tips for making the absolute best bowl of pico de gallo:

Use high-quality tomatoes. A ripe, red tomato is best for pico de gallo. It should be aromatic and smell like a tomato. I know that seems like a silly sentence, but far too often I see tomatoes sold in the store that just don’t smell like anything! In the summer months, when tomatoes are abundant, look for vine ripened or heirloom tomatoes. In winter, when good quality tomatoes are tougher to find, plum tomatoes or cherry tomatoes are the better choice.

Don’t skimp on the onions and cilantro. We add a good amount of onion and cilantro to our salsa. You should be able to see them and taste them — especially the cilantro.

Use fresh lime juice. There’s no room for the bottled stuff here. Pico de gallo should taste fresh, a heavy squeeze of fresh lime juice helps with that. As I mentioned above, apple cider vinegar does work as a substitute if you don’t have limes.

Let the salsa sit a few minutes before serving. Salt draws out flavor from the tomatoes and tones down raw onion. By letting the salsa sit for 10 to 20 minutes before serving, it will taste better. On the same note, since this is a fresh salsa, don’t let it sit too long. In his book, “Authentic Mexican,” Rick Bayless says that a fresh salsa like pico de gallo is at it’s best for an hour or two, after which you loose a bit of crunch and the flavor of the onion can start to take over the salsa. He’s absolutely right, but I must admit that I’ve still been very happy with pico de gallo made a day in advance.

How to Serve Pico de Gallo

For me, I’m happy to spoon a generous amount of pico de gallo on just about anything, but the fresh salsa is perfect with tortilla chips, spooned onto tacos, eggs, chili, over enchiladas, and more.

Homemade Pico de Gallo Recipe // You'll love this easy pico de gallo recipe! With just 6 simple ingredients you'll have fresh, zesty, delicious tomato salsa in no time.

More Easy Salsa Recipes

Recipe updated, originally posted June 2010. Since posting this in 2010, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne

Homemade Pico de Gallo (Fresh Tomato Salsa)

  • PREP
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Pico de Gallo is a fresh tomato salsa popular in Mexico. Use ripe tomatoes for this. Not all tomatoes are created equal. When choosing tomatoes, look for tomatoes that are deeply colored and firm, with a little give. If they don’t smell like anything, skip them. They should smell like a tomato — sweet and woody.

Makes 8 servings or about 3 cups

You Will Need

1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)

1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, finely diced (seeds and membranes removed for a milder salsa)

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Juice of 1 lime

Salt to taste

Directions

    Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, diced peppers and lime juice to a bowl. Generously season with salt — start with 1/2 teaspoon and go from there. Set the salsa aside for 15 to 20 minutes.

    After this time, stir the salsa — making sure to distribute the juices left at the bottom of the bowl. Taste and adjust with more salt.

    Store up to 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Nutrition Facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1/4 cup / Calories 33 / Protein 1 g / Carbohydrate 8 g / Dietary Fiber 2 g / Total Sugars 4 g / Total Fat 0 g / Saturated Fat 0 g / Cholesterol 0 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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40 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Kathy March 3, 2019, 4:33 pm

    Love your recipes. Your very informative with simple step by step instructions that everyone can understand. You and your husband are such a cute couple, inviting people in to your kitchen for your delicious recipes is a nice touch. Bravo

    Reply
    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:44 pm

      Thank you, Kathy. You are very kind.

      Reply
  • Kandi December 23, 2018, 10:33 am

    Wonderful flavor!

    Reply
    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:46 pm

      We are thrilled you enjoyed the salsa recipe, Kandi. This is one of my favorites!

      Reply
  • HevyG November 18, 2018, 7:07 pm

    Do you use the entire tomato?

    Reply
    • Joanne March 10, 2019, 7:03 pm

      It’s really up to you. I usually use the whole tomato (seeds and all) unless I have a particularly seedy tomato.

      Reply
  • Kathy June 24, 2018, 2:35 pm

    This is the absolute best pico I ever made. The whole family devours it.

    Reply
    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:46 pm

      Oh wow, Kathy! This is so wonderful to read 🙂 Thank you for coming back and sharing.

      Reply
  • Wanda June 15, 2018, 11:59 am

    I saw your advice on selecting the best tomato…do you have any advice on the kind of tomato that would taste best? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Joanne March 13, 2019, 1:42 pm

      Hi Wanda, Any ripe tomato will work, here!

      Reply
  • Jodi hair April 18, 2018, 8:42 pm

    How can I adapt your recipe to serve a party of 50 people. Thanks, Jodi

    Reply
    • Joanne May 2, 2018, 2:27 pm

      Hi Jodi, I’d multiply the recipe by 4 or 5 — in our experience, not everyone eats exactly one serving of dips/salsas when at a party with so many people (especially if there are other dishes available).

      Reply
  • Mo March 30, 2018, 6:50 pm

    I thought half a cup is too much cilantro (and I LOVE cilantro!). Next time I think I’ll cut it in half and add more if needed. I also added some fresh chopped garlic, so yummy!

    Reply
    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:47 pm

      Garlic is a great idea, Mo. I’d use a small clove though, as garlic can quickly take over in the flavor department.

      Reply

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