This classic Pico de Gallo recipe comes together in minutes and is so fresh and healthy. It’s the perfect boost of flavor topped on so many dishes!
Three-day holiday weekends are always the best excuse to make all your favorite recipes…and tripling them. Then pretend like you want to share, but you really just want to hoard them all for yourself.
Like Pico de Gallo. I might have eaten my weight in it on Labor Day. But the best part? It’s so low-calorie and healthy, I didn’t feel an ounce of guilt!
What is Pico de Gallo?
Pico de Gallo is a fresh, zesty, and chunky type of dip and topping that is made from white onion, tomatoes, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and salt. It’s so simple and yet gives such an incredible boost of flavor to any Mexican dish, scrambled eggs, rice, grilled vegetables…really almost anything! It’s basically the best condiment ever.
Translated to English Pico de Gallo means “rooster’s beak.” Nobody is quite sure where the name originated from, but some say the bright red, green, and white colors from the ingredients resemble that of a rooster. It’s also commonly referred to as salsa fresca (fresh salsa), and my hispanic friends call it salsa bandera (flag sauce) because it’s red, white, and green like the Mexican flag.
what is the difference between pico de gallo and salsa?
Pico de Gallo is part of the salsa family, right along side traditional red salsa and salsa verde. However, red salsa and salsa verde usually use roasted tomatoes and are almost always blended like a sauce, whereas Pico de Gallo is always served diced and raw. It’s less wet.
Tips for the best pico de gallo
Because this salsa only has a few simple ingredients, you want each ingredient to shine, so use the freshest available!
- Tomatoes – use Roma tomatoes that are ripe, but firm, and have a beautiful deep red color. This will deliver the best flavor. Core and remove the seeds before dicing, to eliminate any excess liquid. This also helps the salsa keep longer without breaking down and becoming mushy.
- Onion – I use sweet onions in almost all of my cooking, but Pico de Gallo is one of the exceptions. You want white onion for this salsa. It has a sharper flavor and balances out the other ingredients.
- Jalapeño – use jalapeño peppers. Remove the ribs and seeds, then dice the jalapeños finely so the flavor is evenly distributed throughout the salsa, making every bite delicious.
- Cilantro – you want the leaves, not the stems. Loosely pack them into your measuring cup, before you chop them up.
- Lime juice – use freshly squeezed lime juice. It draws out the freshness of the other ingredients.
- Salt – don’t fear the salt! It’s a great ingredient and needed in this salsa will be bland.
- Get a uniform dice – sometimes I dice up my tomatoes and onions tiny, like the jalapeño, so you can maximum flavor in every bite. But other times I’m lazy and do a bigger dice. Either way, I always dice the onions and tomatoes the same size.
- Let your onion, jalapeño, lime, and salt sit together in the bowl and marinate while you dice up your tomatoes and cilantro. This gives your Pico flavors time to meld for the best flavor.
- Keep the essential 6 ingredients. While I wouldn’t eliminate any of the six ingredients, the amounts can definitely be adjusted to suit your taste. Don’t adjust the seasonings until after your Pico has had a chance to sit though, so you can taste the true flavors.
- Serve at room temperature. Pico de Gallo tastes the best fairly soon after it’s made and at room temperature. If you won’t be eating it right away, you can refrigerate it, covered, for up to 3 days. Let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes before serving. And also use a slotted spoon to avoid the tomato juice that releases on the bottom of the bowl.
Uses for Pico de Gallo
- Use it in Guacamole and serve with tortilla chips
- Spoon it on tacos, tostadas, or in burritos and quesadillas
- Mixed it into rice, scrambled eggs, or grilled vegetables
- Top a baked potato, turkey burger, grilled steak, grilled chicken, or fish tacos with it
- Tossed with shrimp or sprinkled on top of a salad
The possibilities are practically endless!
Pico de Gallo is such a quick and easy dip or topping to make at home, adding wonderful flavor to so many dishes, with very little added calories. Make up a batch and put it on all the things!
How To Make this Pico de Gallo recipe
Pico de Gallo
- 1 small white onion , finely diced (1 cup)
- 1 large jalapeño pepper , ribs and seeds removed, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt , plus more to taste
- 5 medium ripe, but firm Roma tomatoes , seeds removed, finely diced (2 1/2 cups)
- 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves , finely chopped
- Place the onion, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt in a medium bowl. (For best flavor, let sit while you dice up your tomatoes and cilantro.)
- Add the tomatoes and cilantro to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Let mixture sit for 15 minutes, then taste and adjust with more salt and/or lime juice, if needed.
- Serve as a dip with tortilla chips, or as a condiment on all the things! (See suggestions in article)
- For best results, read tips in the article.
- Pico de Gallo tastes the best fairly soon after it’s made and at room temperature. If you won’t be eating it right away, you can refrigerate it, covered, for up to 3 days. Let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes before serving. And also use a slotted spoon to avoid the tomato juice that releases on the bottom of the bowl.