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

Homemade 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.

Best Pico de Gallo Salsa

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 It

Not only is this salsa 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 salsa:

Use high-quality tomatoes. A ripe, red tomato is best. 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 when it’s been made a day in advance.

Serve with homemade tortilla chips. Making your own tortilla chips is easy and they taste so good! Here’s our recipe for tortilla chips to help you.

Serving Suggestions

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.

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

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

Watch Us Make the Recipe

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


    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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45 comments… Leave a Comment
  • SI February 14, 2018, 5:29 pm


    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:47 pm

      We are so happy you enjoyed it! Thank you for the review.

  • Paul February 2, 2018, 3:20 pm

    Try using equal parts of white vinegar and fresh lime juice!!!

    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:48 pm

      Hi Paul, thanks for the suggestion. I have used apple cider vinegar when I was out of limes.

  • Linda Kearbey December 27, 2017, 7:31 pm


    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:48 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the pico de gallo. Thank you for your outstanding review.

  • Linda Kearbey December 27, 2017, 7:30 pm

    Very good video. Thanks.

    • Joanne May 17, 2019, 1:49 pm

      Hi Linda, Thank you for the compliment. I’m so glad the video was helpful.

  • Maggie December 21, 2017, 1:01 am

    Can I use parsley instead of cilantro as my son says it tastes like soap and I find the taste is too strong! It gives me heartburn.

    • Joanne December 30, 2017, 6:14 pm

      Yes, absolutely. The salsa will taste different, but it would still be excellent.

  • doris November 7, 2017, 2:14 pm

    I don’t have lime or lemon can I leave that out? Thank you, Doris

    • Joanne November 7, 2017, 3:46 pm

      Hi Doris, You can leave the lime out.

  • Missy Sullivan September 28, 2017, 3:19 pm

    Should I remove the seeds from the tomato?

    • Joanne September 28, 2017, 6:19 pm

      Hi Missy, It is completely up to you! We usually leave them in.

  • russell whiting September 23, 2017, 8:48 am

    I have lots of tomatoes for this recipe can pico be frozen to enjoy in the middle of winter

    • Donna Sharer November 19, 2017, 2:07 pm

      I would not recommend freezing.

  • Kathy September 11, 2017, 5:32 pm

    Love this recipe. So easy to make. My son said “never buy store made pico again”. Thank you!!

  • J. Hastings August 20, 2017, 8:20 pm

    This is a fantastic recipe, Glad to add it to my collection.

  • Sherice Johnson August 3, 2017, 8:33 pm

    I made the recipe for mom my, I added a few extra ingredients. Mom doesn’t like jalapeño so I used green pepper instead, along with parsley, garlic and green onions she loved it. It was pretty tasty. Thanks for the tips

  • candy August 2, 2016, 5:35 pm

    My recipe calls for vingar instead of lime juice

  • Judy Easley July 11, 2015, 6:02 pm

    I have no lime juice today, could I sub lemon

    • Joanne August 10, 2015, 1:58 pm

      Yes, lemon juice will be fine.

  • Jamie | My Baking Addiction June 25, 2010, 2:52 pm

    You have a fabulous blog! This pico will be the perfect finishing touch to tomorrow night’s tacos! Thanks!

    • inspiredtaste June 28, 2010, 8:03 am

      Thanks Jamie, that means a lot coming from you 🙂

  • sarah @ syrupandhoney June 25, 2010, 11:17 am

    I’m getting really antsy about tomatoes! I think a day or two and we’ll have at least a couple ripe enough to pick. This recipe is a great way to celebrate the ingredient – simple and full of flavor.

    • inspiredtaste June 25, 2010, 11:24 am

      Sarah, oh my gosh, we know … my mother is growing her own tomatoes this year and they are so close!


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