This best pico de gallo recipe is always a home run! Just 6 ingredients, it’s the ideal dip for tortilla chips and topping for fish or tacos.
Got tomatoes? Let’s make pico de gallo! There’s something so carefree about munching on pico and chips. Maybe it’s Alex and I spent much of a trip to Mexico on the beach shoveling loads of fresh pico into our mouths while watching the waves. Whatever the case, if you’ve got ripe tomatoes, pico is the perfect place to use them. Use it as a salsa with tortilla chips, use it on top of grilled fish, or of course, throw it into a taco. Here are all the secrets to how to make this classic Mexican sauce.
What does pico de gallo mean?
Pico de gallo translates to “beak of the rooster” in Spanish. It’s a type of salsa made with fresh tomatoes. Where does the name come from? It might refer to the bird feed-like texture, but no one seems to know the true origin! Pico de gallo recipe usually has tomatoes, onion, peppers, cilantro, and fresh squeezed lime juice. It’s always always made with raw tomatoes, and is typically quite chunky.
Pico de gallo vs salsa
What’s the difference between pico de gallo and salsa? Well, salsa typically has a runnier, smoother texture; pico is usually chunkier and hand chopped. Salsa can also be made with cooked tomatoes, though a salsa fresca is made with raw tomatoes. Salsa fresca is very similar to pico de gallo, but the texture is usually more pureed.
Ingredients for pico de gallo
This recipe is so easy, you could probably rattle off all the ingredients if you had to guess them! Here are the main players in pico de gallo, which you simply chop finely and mix together in a bowl:
- Ripe tomatoes: any red variety will do
- White onion
- Jalapeño pepper
- Lime juice
Use the best quality, ripe tomatoes here!
It might go without saying, but the quality of homemade pico de gallo is 100% dependent on the quality of your tomatoes! Don’t skimp here. Find the ripest, juiciest tomatoes you can find.
- Farmers market or garden are ideal! Bonus points if they are from the farmers market or you grew them yourself.
- Carefully choose your grocery store tomatoes. If you’re at the grocery buying tomatoes, make sure it’s tomato season or you find a brand that has really great greenhouse grown tomatoes. Greenhouse tomatoes can be pretty decent year round.
- If you’re not sure, give it a little taste when you cut into it. If it doesn’t taste good — stop and don’t make this recipe!
Demystifying how to core and chop the tomatoes
The most time consuming part of making homemade pico de gallo is chopping those tomatoes. Important: you’ll want to core and remove the seeds of the tomato before chopping them. Not only does this make it easier to chop, it also makes the texture of the pico not too watery and seedy. here are the basic steps:
- Cut tomato wedges. Using a large serrated knife, cut the tomato in half. Then cut it again to make quarters.
- Dice the tomato: Cut out the core and seeds from each wedge by sliding underneath them with the knife. Cut the remaining tomato flesh into strips, then turn the strips and cut crosswise into a dice.
Because it’s easier to show rather than tell, we made you a video! Here’s a little primer on how to chop tomatoes for this pico de gallo:
How to use pico de gallo (let us count the ways!)
What are some ways to use this best pico de gallo recipe? We’re glad you asked. Here are some of the ways we love to use pico:
- Use it as a dip for chips, like our homemade tortilla chips. (And add a margarita.)
- Top your tacos, like these jackfruit tacos.
- Throw it on a burrito bowl, like this burrito bowl with cauliflower rice.
- Spoon it over a quesadilla with sour cream, like this loaded veggie quesadilla.
- Garnish it over baked salmon.
- Spoon it over grilled avocados.
- Use as a colorful confetti topping for Mexican sweet potatoes.
- Add it to nachos, like grillable loaded nachos or vegan nachos. (Or tater tot nachos.)
What’s your favorite way to use it?
This pico de gallo recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.Print
This best pico de gallo recipe is always a home run! Just 6 ingredients, it’s the ideal dip for tortilla chips and topping for fish or tacos
- 1 1/2 pounds ripe red tomatoes (about 4 medium), enough for 2 cups finely diced
- 1/2 cup minced white onion (about 1/4 large onion)
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, seeds removed (depending on your spice tolerance)*
- 1/4 cup packed finely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- Dice the tomatoes, removing the core and seeds. See this video for how to do it! It will take a while for this part, but hang in there!
- Finely chop the onion. Remove the seeds from the jalapeño peppers and finely chop them. Finely chop the cilantro.
- Mix the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño peppers, cilantro, cumin, lime juice, and kosher salt in a bowl. Serve immediately. You can store a few days refrigerated as well. The pico de gallo will accumulate water as it sits; drain as necessary.
*Using 1 seeded jalapeño pepper comes out very mild. If you’d like more spice, add the second pepper and you can add some of the seeds as well to come to your desired spice level.
- Category: Condiment
- Method: Raw
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: Pico de Gallo, Pico de Gallo Recipe, Salsa Recipe, Best Pico de Gallo
Looking for Mexican recipes?
Here are some more Mexican-style recipes that are better eaten with pico:
- Tacos: Shrimp Tacos with Cilantro Sauce, Grilled Shrimp Tacos, Loaded Quinoa Tacos
- Margaritas: Skinny Margarita, Watermelon Margarita, Frozen Margarita, Cadillac Margarita, or Jalapeno Margarita. Or try Micheladas!
- Corn: Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
- Salads: Cucumber Tomato Avocado Salad, Mexican Coleslaw
- Dips: Easy Refried Bean Dip, Peach Salsa, Guacamole, Best Salsa
- Enchiladas: Vegetarian Quinoa Enchiladas, Best Vegan Enchiladas
Last updated: May 2020
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.