Spicy Pico de Gallo (salsa fresca) is a fresh salsa with fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro and jalapeño pepper for added heat. With just a handful of ingredients, this easy recipe tastes as good as salsa from your favorite Mexican restaurant! Serve with tortilla chips, use it to top your favorite foods or eat it with a spoon -- it's that good!
It's Cinco de Mayo, which means it's almost summer, and that means it's time for garden-fresh recipes, like this easy pico de gallo. We don't have a huge garden, but we do have a whole row of pots filled with herbs, tomatoes and peppers.
Pico de gallo is sometimes called salsa fresca or salsa cruda and literally translates to "rooster's beak" in Spanish. It is a great way to use up fresh tomatoes, and a great recipe for using up fresh produce, so we tend to eat a lot of it during the summer months.
Making pico is so easy. As an Arizona native, I adore Mexican food, and I have been making homemade salsa for years, and this chunky salsa is definitely a favorite! It's really all about freshness, and nothing is cooked.
I like to serve pico with tortilla chips as an easy appetizer along with red salsa and then we'll use the rest of the raw sauce over tacos, instead of the usual diced tomatoes. I'm such big tomato fan that I even like to use pico over salads!
There are just a few simple ingredients in this homemade pico de gallo recipe. If you don't have a garden, they should be easy to find in a grocery store or farmers market.
- Roma tomatoes -- seeded and drained. Look for ripe tomatoes, but not soft.
- Red onion -- peeled. Use white onion if you can't find red. Either is fine in classic pico de gallo.
- Jalapeno pepper -- remove membrane and seeds or leave seeds in for extra heat.
- Fresh cilantro -- adds even more fresh flavor
- Fresh lime juice -- helps preserves freshness and adds flavor
- Sea salt and pepper -- to taste. Can use kosher salt
How to Make Authentic Pico de Gallo
Basically, you just chop up fresh tomatoes, a red onion, cilantro and your choice of peppers. You can chop the ingredients by hand or use a food processor or blender.
If you do use a blender, make sure not to chop the ingredients too fine. You want a fine dice, not mush!
When the raw ingredients are chopped, add them all to a large bowl.
Then, you add fresh lime juice and a little sea salt and pepper to taste. And that's it! This is one of the easiest recipes you can make!
How to Store
Either place the pico in an airtight container or cover the serving bowl with plastic wrap. Keep the salsa refrigerated until you are ready to serve.
I recommend letting the pico chill for a couple of hours so that the flavors blend. Then, serve this fresh salsa at room temperature. This is the key to the BEST pico de gallo!
For more heat, use Serrano peppers. For less heat, use Anaheim peppers or mild jalapeno peppers. You can use any tomato. I have used grape tomatoes and cherry tomatoes from the garden with delicious results!
You can adjust the amount of sea salt to suit your personal preference, and you may also want to cut back on the onions if you aren't a fan. Cilantro is essential for authentic flavor, but if you want pico de gallo without cilantro, use fresh parsley, instead.
You can even throw in a small diced avocado if you like!
Raw salsa is one of those recipes that is so easy to customize, so there's really no exact amounts that you have to follow - totally my kind of recipe! You can easily make more pico by simply increasing the ingredients, so this is an awesome appetizer recipe for entertaining.
The secret to the best-tasting classic pico de gallo is to use fresh ingredients -- the freshest ingredients possible. Ripe tomatoes, but not mush tomatoes, taste best!
Be sure to remove seeds and juice from the tomatoes to prevent the salsa from getting soggy as it sits.
If you use a food processor, don't chop the pieces too small. You want finely diced or minced produce.
Be sure to let the salsa sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving for best flavor. It's even better the next day!
What to Serve with Pico de Gallo?
Our favorite way to enjoy this salsa fresca is with tortilla chips right out of the bowl. But it's perfect as a topping or seasoning for so many different Mexican recipes, like
- Homemade Queso
- Baked Ground Beef Tacos
- Instant Pot Chicken Enchiladas
- Salsa Verde Chicken Bake
- Beef and Black Bean Burritos
- Instant Pot Carnitas
- Pulled Pork Nachos
The lime juice acts as a natural preservative, and it will be fine for several days in the refrigerator. Although you can freeze pico, it will lose flavor and the raw onions will be mushy when thawed.
Be sure you are using fresh, ripe ingredients and allowing the flavors to blend before serving. Don't skip the salt -- it brings out the tomato flavor!
Spicy Pico de Gallo
- 4 ripe roma tomatoes seeded and finely diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely diced
- ½ red onion diced
- Juice from 1 small lime
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro roughly chopped
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the tomatoes, pepper, onion and cilantro, and add to a bowl
- Pour the lime juice over the top, and mix well
- Season with salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix everything together, and refrigerate until ready to serve. It tastes better the longer it sits!
Nutrition information is estimated. Please do your own calculation to fit special diets.
I hope you enjoy this easy pico de gallo recipe as much as we do! If you do try this fresh salsa recipe, please leave a star rating and/or comment.
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This an updated version of a recipe originally published in 2015 and updated in 2023.