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Learn how to make this authentic Pico de Gallo recipe (also called Mexican Salsa Fresca) that 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 eat on its own as a salad.

dish of salsa fresca with cilantro and lime

I can always be in the mood for Mexican food. I love richly spiced moles, slow-cooked fall-apart-tender meats like oxtail, roasts, and short ribs, and 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 (or Fresh Salsa in English), is a chopped salad from Mexican cuisine. It only takes about 10 minutes to make and it has a short list of easy-to-find ingredients.

Mexican Salsa Fresca 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!

overhead view of bowl of authentic mexican pico de gallo

Pico de Gallo vs Salsa

You might be wondering what is the difference between Pico de Gallo and salsa.

Pico de Gallo (lovingly known as just “pico” for short), is a type of raw salsa that uses raw ingredients, such as tomatoes. You can find similar raw salsas in the refrigerated part of the produce section at many regular grocery stores.

On the other hand, the tomato-based salsas that you get sealed in glass jars are cooked salsas, or they use canned tomatoes as a base, which are cooked during the canning process.

Authentic Pico de Gallo Recipe Ingredients and Substitutions

pico de gallo ingredients

Ingredients Explained

In this section I explain the ingredients and give substitution ideas where applicable. For the full recipe (including the ingredient amounts), see the recipe card below.

This is 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 find! 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 jalapeños instead. Take note that serrano is typically quite a bit more spicy than jalapeño 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

  1. Chop all ingredients.
  2. Mix them up.
  3. Serve!
how to make pico de gallo

Storage

Store this in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Note that after a while, the texture changes; the tomatoes get a bit mushy and the cilantro can wilt. However, the flavor is still delicious!

What Can I Use Pico de Gallo For?

top view of dish of pico de gallo recipe

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Pico de Gallo Recipe (Mexican Salsa Fresca)

Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time0 minutes
Yields: 4 servings
Learn how to make this authentic Pico de Gallo recipe (also called Mexican Salsa Fresca) that 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 eat on its own as a salad.

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Ingredients
 

  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes quartered
  • 1/2 medium-sized yellow or white onion diced small
  • 1 serrano pepper minced (more or less to taste)
  • 1 large clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions
 

  • Stir together all ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Serve, or store covered in the fridge for up to 2 days.

Notes

  • Net Carbs: 4g per serving
  • Substitute for Serrano Peppers: If you can’t find serrano chili peppers, you can use jalapeño instead. Note that serranos are quite a bit hotter than jalapeños, so adjust accordingly.
  • Storage: Store this in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two days. Note that after a while, the texture changes; the tomatoes get a bit mushy and the cilantro can wilt. However, the flavor is still delicious!

Nutrition

Calories: 23kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 155mg | Potassium: 203mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 513IU | Vitamin C: 22mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Condiments, Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: Authentic Pico de Gallo, Easy Pico de Gallo, Fresh Salsa, Fresh Salsa Recipe, How to Make Pico de Gallo, Mexican Fresh Salsa, Mexican Salsa Fresca, Pico de Gallo, Pico de Gallo Ingredients, Pico de Gallo Recipe, Salsa Cruda, Salsa Fresca, Salsa Fresca Recipe

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This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on May 25, 2018 and updated on May 14, 2020.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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