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How to Make Pico de Gallo (Fresh Salsa!)

How to Make Pico de Gallo – You’ll LOVE this fresh, easy salsa recipe. It’s perfect on just about anything. Don’t miss all our favorite ways to enjoy it below! (Paleo, Vegan, Whole30, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Overhead view of a bowl of authentic pico de gallo with chips

We’ve been living in different parts of Arizona for almost 9 years, and while the summers can be BRUTAL (I’m looking at you, July/August/monsoon season!), one of the best perks is access to some really incredible Southwest, Tex-Mex, and authentic Mexican cuisines.

We literally have dozens of places to get a good taco within a short drive, the farmer’s market has lots of different fresh and small-batch salsas each week, and our grocery stores even have locally-made options to choose from, from fresh tortillas to salsas, tamales, and more.

I love it.

While I won’t ever claim to be the queen of authentic anything, I have learned to make a few things pretty well over the years, and one of those is a good pico de gallo.

This yummy fresh salsa is good on basically everything. Don’t believe me? I’ve got almost 20 ideas to choose from just in this post!

Here’s all that you need to get started…

Overhead view of a platter of ingredients for pico de gallo
Overhead view of a bowl of pico de gallo ingredients ready to be mixed

WHAT GOES INTO PICO DE GALLO?

Part of the beauty of pico de gallo is how simple the ingredients are. You’re looking at a handful of fresh ingredients that combine for some seriously amazing flavor.

  • FRESH TOMATOES. The better the tomatoes, the better your pico de gallo. You can use vine tomatoes, baby tomatoes, plum tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes…whatever looks the best! (Try these tips for how to dice tomato!)
  • WHITE ONION. Most pico de gallo recipes use white onion. I love the pretty contrast of colors, and the lime juice we’re going to add helps tone down the sharp raw onion taste. I also use a little less than most people do.
  • CILANTRO. Now comes a big flavor booster–fresh cilantro! It’s classic and absolutely necessary for authentic pico de gallo. It’s gorgeous and brightens up the whole recipe!
  • JALAPEÑO. Jalapeño adds a little (or a lot–your choice!) kick to our pico de gallo. I always recommend starting small when working with jalapeños, since you never quite know what you’re getting heat-wise. You can always add more if you get a mild jalapeño, but you can’t really take it out once it’s gotten all of its heat everywhere. (Read the FAQ below for some tips about prepping and working with jalapeños!)
  • SALT. Necessary! Salt will tie all the flavors together, but it will also help all the veggies to soften a bit, which takes this from a tomato/onion salad to pico de gallo salsa.
  • LIME JUICE. Last, but not least, is fresh lime juice. The acidity is great for taking some of the bite out of the raw onion and helps distribute the flavors more evenly. Plus, it just tastes GREAT.
Pico de Gallo from One Lovely Life
Pico de Gallo from One Lovely Life

WHAT DO YOU PUT PICO DE GALLO ON? (SERVING IDEAS)

Now that you have a bowl of gorgeous fresh salsa on hand, the big question is how are you going to serve it?! The possibilities are truly just about endless, but here are just a few ideas to get you started…

  • IN A BOWL AS A DIP FOR CHIPS. Tortilla chips + pico de gallo are a classic combo!
  • ON ALL THE TACOS. Breakfast tacos are a revelation, but there’s also these veggie tacos, chicken tacos, beef tacos… the options are endless!
  • SPOONED ONTO TACO SALADS OR BURRITO BOWLS. Combine grilled chicken or beef carnitas, guacamole, plenty of lettuce, and some rice and beans, then spoon a generous scoop of pico de gallo on top! (Or go veggie with these vegan burrito bowls!)
  • WITH TORTILLAS, BEANS & EGGS FOR HUEVOS RANCHEROS. Traditional huevos rancheros uses cooked ranchero sauce, but pico de gallo also works!
  • IN FAJITAS. Whether you go with these veggie fajitas, or chicken or beef fajitas, pico + fajitas = love.
  • STIRRED INTO QUINOA FOR AN EASY SIDE DISH. I love this pico de gallo quinoa! It’s an easy, delicious side or start of a meal prep lunch.
  • OVER GRILLED CHICKEN. Take this bruschetta chicken in a Tex-Mex direction by topping it with pico de gallo instead!
  • ON TOSTADAS! Swap pico de gallo in for the mango salsa on these yummy tostadas or come up with your own combinations!
  • WITH QUESADILLAS. Loaded veggie quesadillas, classic cheese quesadillas, chicken quesadillas, whatever!
  • SCOOPED ONTO BLACK BEAN POLENTA BOWLS. These black bean polenta bowls have been in our regular dinner rotation for the last few months. They’re super fast and easy!
  • WITH BURRITOS! Pico de gallo is a great accompaniment to Sweet Potato Black Bean Burritos, Ranchero Breakfast Burritos, and basically any other burrito combo you can think of.

…AND BASICALLY ANYTHING ELSE. Seriously. Nachos. Scrambled eggs. Grilled chicken. Roasted veggies. Wrap sandwiches. You name it!

Overhead view of a bowl of authentic pico de gallo
Front view of a bowl of authentic pico de gallo

FAQ + TIPS & TRICKS FOR GREAT PICO DE GALLO:

DICE OR MINCE EVERYTHING CORRECTLY. While pico de gallo is chunkier than smooth restaurant-style salsa, you still want everything fairly uniformly chopped. I like a fine dice for my tomatoes and onions (about 1/4-1/2″ at the most). Jalapeños should be very finely minced so no one gets any large pieces in their mouth.

TRY THIS! Some pico de gallo recipes use a little pinch of cumin. It can be a yummy way to change up the flavor! You can also swap out the jalapeños for serrano peppers for a change of pace.

HOW LONG WILL PICO DE GALLO STAY FRESH IN THE REFRIGERATOR? This fresh salsa will start to break down once it’s been made, but it’ll easily keep at least 2-3 days in the fridge. It’ll be more liquid as time passes, so keep that in mind if you want to make it in advance.

CAN I USE CANNED TOMATOES FOR PICO DE GALLO? No–sorry! Fresh tomatoes are pretty critical if you want authentic pico de gallo.

TIPS FOR WORKING WITH JALAPEÑOS. The oils in jalapeños are where the heat is stored. The oils are most concentrated in the seeds and ribs of the jalapeño, so if you want to help cut down on the heat, I suggest using a sharp knife to help you remove the ribs and seeds before mincing the jalapeño. In addition, if you can, using kitchen gloves (or even a plastic bag) to protect your hands when touching jalapeños can help protect your hands. Regardless, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly with soap (dish soap will actually help you remove oils well!) after working with any hot peppers.

Overhead view of a bowl of authentic pico de gallo with chips

HELPFUL FOR THIS PICO DE GALLO RECIPE: 

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Overhead view of a bowl of authentic pico de gallo with chips

Pico de Gallo (Fresh Salsa!)


  • Author: One Lovely Life
  • Total Time: About 15 minutes
  • Yield: About 2 cups 1x

Description

This gorgeous fresh salsa recipe is good on basically EVERYTHING. Try eating it with tortilla chips, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, burrito bowls, taco salads, and more! 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes (cut 1/4″-1/2″ dice)
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion (cut 1/4″-1/2″ dice)
  • 1/41/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1/22 Tbsp. finely minced jalapeño (start small and add more to taste)
  • 1/41/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice (or more, to taste)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, combine diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro, 1/2 Tbsp. jalapeño, 1/4 tsp. salt, and lime juice.
  2. Gently stir the mixture to combine.
  3. Taste and add additional cilantro, jalapeño, salt, or lime juice, to taste
  4. Cover and store in the refrigerator. (Pico de Gallo will keep at least 2-3 days in the refrigerator)
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Category: Appetizer, Dip
  • Method: No-Cook
  • Cuisine: Tex-Mex

Keywords: pico de gallo, pico de gallo recipe, fresh salsa recipe, salsa, salsa fresca

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