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Homemade Pico de Gallo

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Make this homemade pico de gallo using a handful of fresh ingredients and just 15 minutes of prep time. This classic recipe is perfect to serve with crispy tortilla chips or use it as the perfect topping for all your favorite Mexican recipes!

bowl of homemade pico de gallo with a tortilla chip stuck into it.

Homemade Pico De Gallo Recipe

Homemade pico de gallo, otherwise known as salsa fresca, is a staple appetizer in Mexican restaurants but so easy to make at home!

Although it’s slightly different than traditional homemade salsa, it often replaces it in all kinds of dishes like burrito bowls, taco recipes, quesadillas, carne asada, nachos, and more. Basically you can use it on all your favorite Mexican dishes.

This homemade version is made with a handful of raw ingredients like tomatoes, onions, cilantro, garlic, lime, and jalapenos for a kick!

It’s the perfect way to elevate taco Tuesday, celebrate Cinco de Mayo, or present an easy appetizer complete with homemade tortilla chips for everyone to enjoy.

What is Pico de Gallo?

Classic pico de gallo is considered a condiment or a dip made up of simple fresh ingredients to bring out maximum flavor with no cooking involved. It can be eaten on its own with a spoon (believe me, I’ve done it) or used to elevate a recipe as a topping or a side.

Composed mainly of tomatoes, onions, hot peppers, and lime juice, it can be tweaked to suit a variety of tastes.

Why you’ll love Homemade Pico de Gallo

Simple ingredients – The zesty lime, juicy tomatoes, and fresh garlic come together in a flavor explosion.

Easy to make – I look for excuses to make this stuff often so it’s a good thing it doesn’t take much time or effort at all. Yet, the results are spectacular.

Customize it to your liking – Make it your favorite way. Mild, medium, hot, use red onions over white, omit the garlic, or even add in chunks of pineapple or mango.

overhead shot of a bowl of pico de gallo salsa.

Equipment you’ll need

Ingredients

Below is a list of the ingredients you’ll need to gather to make this recipe. Scroll all the way down for the full recipe card.

  • Diced Tomatoes – I recommend using Roma tomatoes for this. They’re bright red but not quite as juicy so they won’t add too much liquid to the pico.
  • Diced Onions – White onions add just the right amount of pungent flavor to balance the tartness and zest, however you can use red onions if you would rather. Both are great.
  • Jalapenos – Diced jalapenos peppers add a kick. How spicy it is depends on how much of the seeds you leave behind. For a mild taste, remove all the seeds.
  • Cilantro – Love it or hate it, fresh cilantro is a must! It adds a delicious herbaceous element. If you’ve the the “it tastes like soap” gene, feel free to replace it with parsley.
  • Garlic – Minced garlic cloves can be replaced with garlic powder if necessary. You can also completely omit it.
  • Lime Juice – Fresh lime juice is the way to go! Skip the bottled stuff, use the juice from a small lime.
  • Salt & Pepper – To taste.
overhead shot of labeled ingredients to make pico de gallo.

How to make this easy Pico De Gallo recipe

  1. Step One: Combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, minced garlic, and lime juice in a mixing bowl. Stir together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Use gloves to cut hot peppers, especially when dealing with the seeds. Otherwise, don’t touch your face until you’ve washed your hands.
  2. Step Two: Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1-2 hours until the flavors marry.
  3. Step Three: Stir once more and serve as desired. My favorite way is chips and dip style and then keep the leftovers to add in my Mexican recipes!
collage of 3 photos showing the process of making homemade pico de gallo.

Ways to use Pico De Gallo

You’ll never run out of reasons to pile on the homemade pico de gallo!

Use it overtop small batch chicken enchiladasMexican pizzasalsa verde chicken enchiladaseasy sour cream chicken enchiladas, and zucchini taco boats.

You can also use it as a topping on a bowl of crockpot chicken tortilla soup, on some honey lime chicken tacos, on the side of cilantro lime rice, or in an air fryer quesadilla.

It’s not as “saucy” as traditional salsa, but by all means, replace it wherever and whenever possible!

Tips & Substitutions

  • There will be liquid that pools at the bottom of the salsa, the longer it sits. To combat this you can remove the seeds (core) from the tomatoes and just use the flesh.
  • Or you can serve it with a slotted spoon.
  • If you don’t have roma tomatoes, grape tomatoes or cherry tomatoes can be used. Really any ripe tomatoes, just know you’ll have some taste fluctuations.
  • Be sure to chop and dice everything to an even size so you get a bit of everything in every scoop.
  • Choose jalapenos with smoother skin if you want it more mild. Jalapenos with more wrinkles have more kick to them.
  • Want even more spice? Swap out the jalapenos for serrano peppers instead.
  • Throw in some diced fruit like mango, pineapple, corn, peach, or avocado. You can use them with the tomato or instead of.
  • Red bell peppers or cucumbers would be a nice crunchy addition.

How to store leftovers

This salsa is best eaten the same day it is made but you can keep any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

How long will it last in the fridge?

Fresh pico de gallo will stay fresh for up to 3 days. The tomatoes will soften the longer it sits and the onions will start to become translucent.

traditional pico de gallo in a bowl.

FAQs

What does pico de gallo mean?

The literal translation in Spanish means “rooster’s beak.”

No one knows why it is called that but when looking into it, I’ve come across two possibilities.

The first is that it could be a representation of the colors of the beak of the rooster.

The second is that pico de gallo is meant to be picked at with your fingers, little piece by little piece, just like a rooster would do with its beak.

If you’ve heard another theory, I’d love to hear it!

What is the difference between fresh salsa and pico de gallo?

Pico isn’t meant to be saucy or with plenty of liquid. They do use similar ingredients, however when making salsa people tend to use roasted or otherwise cooked tomatoes. The consistency is also runnier and more pureed. Pico is also chunkier.

Is homemade pico de gallo healthy?

Sure it is! Fresh tomatoes, onions, and garlic provide us with plenty of vitamins and antioxidants, lime juice gives us vitamin C, and just the fact that it’s homemade and we can control the amount of salt makes it delicious and healthy.

Need more Mexican inspired dip recipes? Try these:

Slow Cooker Queso Blanco

Easy Taco Dip Recipe

Rotel Dip with Ground Beef

Click here for my entire collection of dip recipes for chips, veggies, and crackers.

closeup of pico de gallo in a bowl.

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bowl of homemade pico de gallo with a tortilla chip stuck into it.

Homemade Pico de Gallo

Melissa Williams | Persnickety Plates
Make this homemade pico de gallo using a handful of fresh ingredients and just 15 minutes of prep time. This classic recipe is perfect to serve with crispy tortilla chips or use it as the perfect topping for all your favorite Mexican recipes!
4.75 from 4 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Chill Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mexican
Servings 4 cups
Calories 49 kcal

Ingredients
 

  • 4 large tomatoes diced, I recommend roma
  • ½ medium white onion diced
  • 3 medium jalapenos seeded and diced (keep seeds intact if you want it spicy)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro about 1 bunch
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 small lime juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • In a medium mixing bowl, add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapenos, minced garlic, and lime juice. Stir together.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste and mix together until evenly distributed.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours for the flavors to come together.
  • Serve with tortilla chips and in your favorite meals.

Notes

For more spice, use serrano peppers instead of jalapenos.
Garlic powder can be used in place of fresh garlic if that’s all you have.
Best enjoyed the same day but can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 49kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 2gFat: 0.5gSaturated Fat: 0.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 0.1gSodium: 11mgPotassium: 511mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 1773IUVitamin C: 44mgCalcium: 32mgIron: 1mg

Nutritional information is an estimate and provided to you as a courtesy. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  1. Stacey says

    Could you freeze this to use at a later date?

    • Melissa Williams says

      I have never frozen it, but Google says it’ll work 😉

  2. Hollie Mize says

    5 stars
    Delicious!!!!!!!!

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