What’s a tangy, fresh dip that goes super well with chips? You guessed it – salsa!
No more buying bottled salsa, my friends. Today, I’m showing you exactly how to make authentic pico de gallo. It isn’t exactly salsa, though it is just one step shy. The only difference is that salsa is a puréed form of the same ingredients, whereas pico de gallo (or salsa fresca) keeps its vegetables in solid form.
In Mexican restaurants and fast food joints, pico de gallo is found in fish tacos and meat burritos, acting as a sweet and spicy relish. Plus, it’s the perfect dip for tortilla chips.
My husband tends to overdo his sauces and I always tell him to take it easy because of the calories!!! But there’s none of that with this pico de gallo. Since it’s full of vegetables, it’s high in fiber and low in calories.
So, drop everything you’re doing – it’s time to make salsa fresca!
- Tomatoes – The traditional pico de gallo uses Roma tomatoes which are just ripe and not mushy. The sweetness you get from Roma tomatoes will make this salsa so pleasant to eat.
- White onion – Get one small white onion (or as much as you would like). Onions have this slightly sweet yet punchy scent which makes them a key ingredient of pico de gallo.
- Garlic cloves – Be sure to mince the garlic cloves. This helps make the scent of garlic subtle enough to be noticed.
- Jalapeño – Remove the seeds and chop the jalapeño finely. Fresh jalapeño is slightly hotter than pickled jalapeño, but the latter brings a nice sweetness and tartness. Of course, you can use less of it (or none at all) if spice is not your thing.
- Lime juice – Squeeze your own lime juice! Resist the urge to use bottled lime juice for this recipe. It makes all the difference as we want a really fresh and zesty salsa.
- Fresh cilantro – Finish off with that herby scent from cilantro. Not a fan of cilantro? Feel free to skip it!
- Sea salt – Sprinkle to taste.
Homemade pico de gallo has changed my life forever. I’ve kissed goodbye to store-bought salsa and I have never looked back since learning this recipe. All it takes is 10 minutes.
Step One: In a medium bowl, combine the onion, garlic, jalapeño, lime juice, and salt. Let it marinate while you chop the tomatoes and cilantro.
- Pro Tip: If onions make you teary-eyed, halve the onion and soak it in a bowl of water for 10 minutes before chopping. This trick works every. single. time. Try it and let me know if it worked for you!
- Pro Tip: Put on a pair of gloves when handling the jalapeño. Once, I accidentally rubbed my eyes with my bare hands after chopping jalapeños. It’s not something I want to relive!
Step Two: Core and dice your tomatoes. Dry them with a paper towel and add them to the bowl along with the cilantro.
- Pro Tip: Drain any excess juice in a colander. Then, use a few sheets of paper towel to pat the chopped tomatoes dry.
Step Three: Toss gently but thoroughly. Chill the pico de gallo in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until ready to serve. This downtime gives the vegetables a chance to marinate even more.
Step Four: Before serving, sprinkle with salt once more (if desired). Give the vegetables another gentle toss to reincorporate the lime juice.
The next time you’re cooking up a Mexican feast, you know what to do!
Tips & Variations
Roma tomato alternatives:
Roma tomatoes can be replaced with regular tomatoes. I just like roma tomatoes because they have fewer seeds and are more firm to the bite. Cherry tomatoes are a suitable replacement as well, but just know that you’ll need a lot more!
And should you use canned tomatoes as an alternative to roma tomatoes? Well, canned tomatoes are less fresh, resulting in a less nuanced pico de gallo. However, if that is your only available option, why not? Something is better than nothing!
Spice it up with even hotter peppers:
Need more heat in your salsa fresca? Instead of jalapeño, use serrano pepper or, if you dare, habanero. These are jalapeño’s spicier cousins, and they’re at least five times hotter! So, chop very finely so you don’t bite into a big chunk of pepper that’ll overpower everything else!
Pico de gallo keeps well in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Store it in an airtight container, and keep these tips in mind:
- Remove the tomato seeds – I’d usually keep the tomato seeds intact when making this recipe. However, if you’re making this in a large batch to be stored, I would remove the seeds just to prevent any sogginess over time.
- Season again before serving – Pico de gallo will gradually mellow down in flavor, so it’s best to season with salt and squeeze some more lime juice before serving.
Now that you know how to make the easiest pico de gallo, you can pair it with these tasty recipes:
Pico De Gallo Recipe
- 4 large roma tomatoes chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped white onion about 1 small onion
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper seeded and finely minced (decrease or omit if sensitive to spice)
- ¼ cup lime juice freshly squeezed
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt or more to taste
- ½ cup fresh cilantro finely chopped (about 1 bunch)
- In a medium bowl, combine the chopped onion, garlic, jalapeño, lime juice and salt. Let it marinate while you chop the tomatoes and cilantro.
- Core and dice your tomatoes. Drain any excess juice in a colander then pat chopped tomatoes dry on a couple pieces of paper towel. Once dry add into your bowl along with the cilantro and stir to combine.
- Chill in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until ready to use.
- Serve with chips, for dipping.