Pico de Gallo (Mexican Salsa Fresca) takes just 10 minutes to make and transforms a few ordinary ingredients into a bright-flavored fresh salsa that you can pair with everything from tacos to tortilla chips, or just eat with a spoon.
I can always be in the mood for Mexican food. I love the richly spiced moles, slow-cooked fall-apart-tender meats like oxtail, roasts, and short ribs, and the fresh cheese. Mexican cuisine is a harmony between spicy flavors to excite and creamy textures to cool the palate. And let’s not forget the fresh, bright flavor of things like tomato-based salsa that’s aromatic with cilantro to wake everything up!
What Is Pico de Gallo?
Pico de Gallo, also known as Salsa Fresco or Salsa Cruda, is a chopped salad from Mexican cuisine. It only takes about 10 minutes to make, has a short list of easy-to-find ingredients, and can be used to top things like tacos, salad bowls, and even fried eggs. Personally, I find it delicious enough to eat on its own!
Ingredients in Pico de Gallo
It’s a fairly short list, and each ingredient is important for that perfect balance of flavor:
Tomatoes: Sometimes you can get away with less flavorful tomatoes (for example, if they’re being roasted), but here you’re looking for the best tomatoes you can get! I like to include the tomato seeds and juice in this recipe because the salt draws the liquid out of the tomatoes and it basically acts as the salad dressing here. I prefer using cherry tomatoes because they’re easy to cut, pretty juicy, and usually super sweet with deep tomato flavor. You can use any tomato with great flavor though (go for local tomatoes if they’re in season).
Onion: Packs a nice savory punch!
Serrano Chili Pepper: This adds the heat. If you can’t find serranos, you can substitute jalapenos instead. Take note that serrano is typically quite a bit more spicy than jalapeno and adjust accordingly to suit your taste preference. To reduce the heat, remove the ribs and seeds before mincing the chili pepper.
Garlic: Also adds a bit of heat, but in a different way; plus, it adds depth of flavor.
Cilantro: Provides a fresh, bright, slightly grassy flavor! You can go easy if you like, but I like mine a little heavy on the cilantro.
Lime Juice: This acts like the salad dressing! The acidity from lime juice helps balance the tomato’s sweetness and chili’s heat.
Salt: Like most things, this fresh salad needs salt! The salt here not only adds seasoning, but also pulls out the liquid from the tomato to create a sort-of dressing for our salad (which I find refreshing enough to drink on its own…really!).
How to Make Pico de Gallo
All the ingredients are chopped and mixed, and then this fresh salsa is ready to serve!
How Long Pico de Gallo Can be Stored
Stored in an airtight container in the fridge, pico de gallo can be kept in the fridge for up to two days. Note that after a while, the tomatoes get a bit mushy and the cilantro can wilt.
What To Use Pico de Gallo For:
- Serve this fresh salsa with tortilla chips for dipping
- Eat it as a side salad along with grilled steak or chicken and corn on the cob
- Include it as part of a taco bar, chili bar, or baked potato bar
- Top fried or scrambled eggs with pico de gallo and a little crumbled queso fresco (Mexican fresh white crumbling cheese)
- Serve it as a topping for enchiladas (like my low-carb chicken enchiladas, green chicken enchiladas, or Tex-Mex inspired stuffed poblano peppers)
- For more ideas, check out this post on Terra’s Kitchen
- 1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ½ medium-sized yellow or white onion, diced small
- 1 serrano pepper, minced (more or less to taste; see Note)
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- ½ to ¾ cup fresh chopped cilantro
- 1½ tablespoons fresh lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Stir together all ingredients in a large bowl.
- Serve, or store covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.