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This authentic pico de gallo recipe was shared by the owner of a restaurant in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. This traditional condiment is packed with vibrant flavors and colors. To serve it as an appetizer, pair it with crunchy tortilla chips. Or use it as a flavorful topping for Mexican recipes.
🍅 Why This Recipe’s a Keeper
- Freshness and Flavor: Pico de gallo is made with fresh, raw ingredients like tomatoes, onions, cilantro and peppers. It’s crisp vibrant flavor is very appealing.
- Easy to Make: In just 5 minutes. The simplicity of this recipe is another great reason it’s a keeper. Chopping and mixing the ingredients is super simple and easy to do. It requires minimal kitchen skills. It can be made by both experienced and novice cooks.
- Quick to Prepare: Pico de gallo is a quick recipe to prepare. It’s a convenient choice for those will busy schedules, or for a last-minute gathering. With its vibrant colors, it adds an attractive look and flavor to any dish.
- Customizable: This basic recipe can be easily customized to suit your taste buds. Whether you like it spicier, milder, or with additional ingredients like diced avocado or a pinch of garlic, this recipe can be adjusted to your liking.
- Versatility: Pico de gallo is incredibly versatile and can be used to top various dishes. It’s a fantastic topping for tacos, grilled meats, and fish. It’s a simple yet delicious appetizer when paired with crunchy, restaurant-style tortilla chips.
- A Real Crowd-Pleaser: The flavor and texture appeals to a wide range of eaters. It’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser at parties and gatherings.
🍅 DID YOU KNOW: Pico de gallo is very healthy. Tomatoes and peppers are known for strengthening the immune system and preventing colds.
- Tomatoes: In Mexico we use Roma tomatoes for pico de gallo. They’re firm, plump, and less watery/juicy than other varieties. For this recipe, color is very important. Select ripe, bright-red tomatoes. If Roma tomatoes are out of season, use grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes.
- White Onion: In Mexico, white onions are the prevalent choice for this recipe. Their pungent taste provides that traditional flavor you expect from pico de gallo. In the Mexican town where I live half the year, white onions and purple onions are the types most readily available. It would be rare to find a yellow onion at any market.
- Fresh Cilantro: A traditional ingredient for pico de gallo. It has a refreshing, tangy, citrus-y flavor. But if you don’t care for the taste (interestingly, some have olfactory receptor genes that perceive the taste to be that of soap), use fresh Italian parsley instead.
- Jalapeño and/or Serrano Chile: You can use either jalapeño or serrano peppers, or a combination of both, depending on your preference for heat. Jalapeños will contribute moderate to mild heat. Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeños.
- Lime Juice: In Mexico we use Mexican limes (same as key limes). Small and round with a smooth skin, they’re about the size of a golf ball. In the U.S. you can find them at Mexican markets. Most limes available in the U.S. are Persian limes which have a flavor slightly more bracing and tart than Mexican limes. But use whatever type of limes are available.
- Sea Salt: This is an important flavor enhancer. In Mexico we’re all about limes and salt! Mexico has the largest sea salt factory in the world. Tourists often take bags of salt home as souvenirs. I prefer using flaky salt for this recipe, as I can crumble it between my fingers and more easily control the quantity being added to the recipe.
🧑🏼🍳 Expert Tips: Proper Handling of Chiles
This section is important for basic knowledge about chiles and how to handle them properly. They have oils that can irritate the skin and burn our tender eyes. It’s not a pleasant experience. It feels like you’re on fire! Here’s what you need to know.
- How to tell if a chile is hot: Jalapeños that are red from ripening and have a lot of striations on the skin are much hotter than jalapeños that are just plain green. But the only surefire way to know the actual fire power of a chile is to taste a bit of the flesh.
- Most of a chile’s heat resides in the seeds and veins. Not in the flesh.
- When handling chiles, always wear disposable food gloves. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Dispose of the gloves properly.
- How to stop the burn on your skin: Scrub with dish soap to remove the oils. Use an old toothbrush to scrub under your fingernails.
- How to stop the burn in your mouth: Drink milk or eat yogurt. The dairy fats will help break down the oils and provide some temporary relief.
📖 Recipe Steps
Expert Tip: Assemble this recipe by hand, with a knife and cutting board. Do not use a food processor. It will make the ingredients limp, and start extracting liquid from the tomatoes and onion. This is not desirable.
- Dice tomatoes, onion, cilantro leaves (no stems). Slice limes in half, remove seeds and juice them. Mince the jalapeño or serrano chile.
- Except for the peppers and salt – add all ingredients to a bowl: tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and lime juice. Toss to combine.
- Add salt to taste. Add jalapeño or serrano, just a bit at a time, until desired level of heat is reached. Let pico de gallo rest 10 to 15 minutes to give the flavors a chance to meld together. Refrigerate until serving.
🔪 Recipe Tip: To help prevent the mixture from getting soggy, remove the tomato seeds. Slice tomatoes in half. With a spoon, remove the center seeds and membranes. Discard them. Dice the flesh of the tomatoes.
🥣 How to use leftover pico de gallo: Use leftovers to make guacamole. Just smash the avocados, then fold in the pico de gallo. It’s a delicious way to avoid food waste while making another Mexican speciality. A win/win!
👩🏻🍳 Recipe FAQ
These are the most commonly asked questions when making authentic pico de gallo, and the most helpful answers for recipe success.
Pico de gallo is a simple “salsa Mexicana” or Mexican sauce. It comes together with just a few raw ingredients readily available at any supermarket. When making this dish at home, you’re in control of the heat. For a spicy flavor in every bite, add lots of finely-diced jalapeños to the mix. It’s how we Mexicans love it – we really like that fiery heat.
The literal Spanish translation of pico de gallo: “beak of rooster.” But this condiment has nothing to do with chickens or roosters. This chunky mixture was originally eaten by hand between the thumb and forefinger, with the hand looking like a rooster’s beak pecking.
Pico de gallo is a type of salsa. It has a chunky texture. Each ingredient is clearly visible in every bite. In general, salsas have a thinner consistency with a lot of liquid. They’re often pureed with individual ingredients not visible in the blend. Pico de gallo is often chosen for garnishing Mexican dishes because it’s less liquid-y than other salsas. It delivers beautiful colors and textures while still delivering the same bold flavors as pureed salsas.
It depends on the quantity of fresh chiles included in the mixture. When making pico de gallo at home, you control the level of heat according to your taste buds. If you’re unsure about the level of spiciness you want, start with a small amount of diced chiles – then adjust the amount based on taste.
For authentic pico de gallo, you can use either jalapeño or serrano peppers, depending on your preference for heat. Some people use a combination of both for a balanced flavor profile. Jalapeños have moderate to mild heat. Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeños.
The seasoning for this dish is very basic: sea salt. But you can add your own twist with a pinch of ground black pepper, or a light sprinkling of chili powder, Tajin or dried oregano.
Use a variety of heirloom tomatoes in various colors. To add additional citrus flavor, add lime zest to the mix. For a slightly sweet pico de gallo, add 1 cup minced pineapple.
Tomatoes are 95% water. We recommend using Roma tomatoes (also known as Italian tomatoes). They have a meaty firm texture with less liquid than other tomato varieties. If you’re not using Roma tomatoes, it’s highly probable your pico de gallo will be watery. What you can do: after dicing the tomatoes, transfer them to a colander over the kitchen sink. Shake out as much liquid as you can.
When out of the fridge for serving, it’ll stay fresh for up to 2 hours. When stored in an air-tight container and refrigerated, it’ll stay fresh up to 2 days. However, after the first day the flavor and texture will change. The tomatoes release water and become soft and limp.
No. It is not recommended. As tomatoes freeze, they’ll expand and start releasing water. They’ll become soggy and limp. The texture will be ruined. This dish is easy-to-make with inexpensive ingredients. I strongly suggest to only enjoy it fresh. There’s no Mexican I know who would even think of freezing it.
🍽 Recipes to Pair with Pico de Gallo
The best way to serve pico de gallo is with crispy tortilla chips, tacos, grilled meats, or as a topping for Mexican dishes. Enjoy it on Game Day or Taco Tuesday. Add it to your Cinco de Mayo menu. Here are some of our favorite recipes for pairing with pico de gallo.
- Steak Fajitas
- Chicken Tostadas
- Crunchy Ground Beef Tacos
- Chicken Taquitos
- Crispy Pork Carnitas
- Carne Asada Fries
Rate This Recipe ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Discerning recipe testers say this is the BEST pico de gallo recipe. And it’s no wonder why. At a famous restaurant in Mexico it’s assembled tableside daily. I took note of the exact ingredients and quantities. Now you can enjoy this authentic condiment at home.
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Assemble this authentic pico de gallo recipe in just 5 minutes! It’s colorful, festive, and packed with flavor. Enjoy it as a garnish for Mexican dishes, or serve it as an appetizer – pair it with crunchy tortilla chips.
- 1 1/2 pounds Roma tomatoes
- 1/2 cup white onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (leaves, no stems), minced
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (from 2 Key limes), freshly-squeezed
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced jalapeño and/or serrano chile (no seeds, no stem)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
Recipe Prep: Slice Roma tomatoes in half. With a spoon, remove the center seeds and membranes. Discard them. Dice the flesh of the tomatoes. You should have 2 cups of diced tomatoes. If the tomatoes are overly juicy, toss them into a colander. Shake to remove excess liquid.
- Add diced tomatoes, diced onion, and minced cilantro to a small bowl. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top. Gently toss to combine. Add salt to taste.
- Add diced chiles, a little at a time, tasting after each addition until the desired level of spiciness is achieved.
- Let pico de gallo rest 10 to 15 minutes to give the flavors a chance to meld together. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until serving.
Why we use Roma tomatoes: Roma tomatoes are firmer, meatier and less watery than other tomato varieties. Select bright-red tomatoes.
How long does pico de gallo last? When out of the fridge for serving, it’ll stay fresh for up to 2 hours. When stored in an air-tight container and refrigerated, it’ll stay fresh up to 2 days. However, after the first day the flavor and texture changes. The tomatoes start releasing water and become soft and limp.
Recipe Variations: Use a variety of heirloom tomatoes in various colors. For additional citrus flavor, add lime zest to the mix. For a slightly sweet pico de gallo, add 1 cup minced pineapple.
- Prep Time: 5 Minutes
- Cook Time: 0 Minutes
- Category: Appetizers
- Method: No-Cook
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: Pico de Gallo, Homemade Pico de Gallo, Best Pico de Gallo Recipe, Easy Pico de Gallo, Authentic Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo 👉🏻 Join the Conversation
What’s your favorite way to enjoy this recipe? As a salsa garnish for Mexican food, or as an appetizer served with chips? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.