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14 June 2019

The ultimate Mexican salsa, this easy Pico de Gallo recipe, or ‘Rooster’s Beak’ Salsa, is made with fresh tomato, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice.

When it comes to Mexican salsas, it doesn’t get any more traditional or authentic than Pico de Gallo. Pico de Gallo is a staple for Cinco de Mayo, and it’s popularity easily found it’s way up through Mexico and into the hearts of Americans long ago.

It’s the uber salsa, the ultimate party salsa, the perfect mouthwatering bite you can take, especially on a chip. I’m always disappointed when they’re not serving pico de gallo at my local Mexican restaurant. Bring out the pico, please!

Luckily for us, we have this super easy pico de gallo recipe, so we can make it at home ourselves. Before we get into the recipe, let’s get some of the questions out of the way first.

Vibrant, colorful Pico de Gallo with chips

What is Pico de Gallo?

Pico de Gallo is a popular Mexican salsa made from a mixture of finely chopped tomatoes, jalapeno or other peppers, onion, garlic, cilantro and lime juice. It is an unprocessed salsa, left chunky from the chopped ingredients. It is also a fresh salsa, or salsa fresca (also salsa cruda), meaning the ingredients are uncooked.

Even though it is classified as a salsa, there are some differences between it and your typical salsa.

Vibrant, colorful Pico de Gallo in a bowl

The Salsa-Pico de Gallo Difference

The difference between salsa and pico de gallo is in the consistency. Most typical salsas are blended to a thin, sauce-like consistency, where traditional pico de gallo is unprocessed, making it chunkier in texture. They usually include many of the same ingredients and seasonings, but offer different eating experiences.

Why is it called “Pico de Gallo”?

The name “pico de gallo” translates from Spanish to “beak of the rooster”, or “rooster’s beak”. The name is said to have derived from the colors of the salsa, which resemble that of a rooster, though there are other historical speculations to the name, including the shape of the peppers used to make it resembling a rooster’s beak, or the rooster-like way of eating it by pecking at the salsa with your fingers.

Let’s talk about how we make a fresh, homemade pico de gallo. Much like guacamole, there are different ways to make it, but this one is fairly simple and just plain tasty. You can eat it right away after making it, but it gets better the longer you let it linger for the flavors to mingle.

Pico de Gallo in a bowl with chips

Ingredients Needed to Make Traditional Pico de Gallo

  • 1 pound vine ripened fresh tomatoes (roma tomatoes or plum tomatoes are great here)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers (or use serranos or habaneros, or a combination)
  • 1 small white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 packed cup cilantro cleaned and stemmed
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to Make Pico de Gallo – the Recipe Method

 

First, finely dice the tomatoes and place them into a large mixing bowl.

Next, stem the jalapeno peppers and finely chop them. Add them to the bowl. Finely chopped ingredients are key to the final texture.

Mince the onion, garlic and cilantro. Into the bowl they go.

Add lime juice, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.

Pico de Gallo ingredients in a bowl, ready to be mixed

Mix well.

Pico de Gallo ingredients, mixing with a spoon

Cover and let the flavor mingle for a good hour or so, though you can serve it right away if you’re in a hurry. It is best if you cover it and leave it overnight for the ingredients to mingle. It gets even better the next day.

Pico de Gallo ingredients, mixed

BOOM! DONE! I love-love-love a quick and easy salsa recipe. Serve it up with tortilla chips. Tortilla chips are essential.

Nothing better than homemade pico de gallo, right, my friends! It’s the best recipe ever. Bold claim, I know! It’s that good.

Recipe Variations

About the Chili Peppers

This recipe uses fresh jalapeno peppers, though in Mexico, cooks often like to use serrano peppers and sometimes habanero peppers for spicier versions. 

I have made a version with ghost peppers for parties in my neighborhood, and even though it’s crazy spicy, people love it! I have some crazy chilihead friends, don’t I? If you’re a true spicy food lover, go for it. Just note that it’s not traditional.

Pico de Gallo with Avocado?

Yes! You can also make pico de gallo with avocado. Again, it’s not necessarily a traditional way to make it, but avocado is such a nice addition to the recipe. It just goes so perfectly with all of the ingredients, adding both texture and flavor. So, if you want to include avocado in your recipe, dice it up! Go for it!

Other Ingredient Options

Chopped red onion is also a popular addition, another staple for Mexican food.

Pico de Gallo in a bowl, ready to eat

Recipe Tips and Tricks

Try using a food processor for the mincing and chopping. It can save you time and will keep all of the ingredients consistent. Just don’t overprocess them, as they can become squishy and too much like a sauce. You want the end product to be firm.

Keep pico de gallo on hand as a simple salsa that you can serve with chips, but we like it for tossing onto dishes, like the classic Huevos Rancheros, which I just made this morning, or spooned onto recipes like Carne Asada.

That’s it,  my friends! I hope you enjoy it! Go throw a party just so you can make some of these. It will help you win friends and influence people.

Try Some of My Other Popular Salsa Recipes

Also see my post on How to Make Salsa, with lots of tips and tricks for different types of salsa recipes.

Pico de Gallo in a bowl

Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.

5 from 4 votes
Pico de Gallo Recipe
Fresh Pico de Gallo Recipe
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
 

The ultimate Mexican salsa, this easy Pico de Gallo recipe, or 'Rooster's Beak' Salsa, is made with fresh tomato, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice.

Course: Salsa
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: jalapenos, Mexican, recipe, salsa
Servings: 4
Calories: 41 kcal
Author: Mike Hultquist
Ingredients
  • 1 pound vine ripened tomatoes
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 small white onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 packed cup cilantro cleaned and stemmed - 1/2 to 1 cup packed, to your preference
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Dice the tomatoes and place them into a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stem the jalapeno peppers and finely mince them. Add them to the bowl.
  3. Mince the onion, garlic and cilantro. Into the bowl they go.
  4. Add lime juice, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Cover and let the flavor mingle for a good hour or so, though you can serve it right away if you're in a hurry.

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

Makes 3-4 cups.

Heat Factor: Mild-Medium. You'll get a bit of a kick from the jalapenos, depending on their variable heat value. You can really spice it up by incorporating serrano peppers or even spicier habanero peppers.

Nutrition Facts
Fresh Pico de Gallo Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 41
% Daily Value*
Sodium 10mg0%
Potassium 373mg11%
Carbohydrates 9g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 4g4%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin A 1290IU26%
Vitamin C 29.9mg36%
Calcium 29mg3%
Iron 0.8mg4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

This recipe was updated to include new photos, video, and information. It was originally published on 11/30/2014.

 

 

Fresh Pico de Gallo Recipe - The ultimate Mexican salsa, this Pico de Gallo recipe, or \'Rooster\'s Beak\' Salsa, is made with fresh tomato, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice. #MexicanFood #Salsa

8 comments

  1. 5 stars
    It is a great recipe. Simple, fresh, delicious. Thanks for sharing this.
    Mango and serranos would definately add some extra zing, but the basic recipe is excellenté! I also like using crips red onions and some scallions with the cilantro.
    ~ Kort

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Kort! I love your additions. Nice way to zest it up!

  2. Paul Stromquist

    5 stars
    I normally make mine just like this, minus the cumin. For whatever reason, never thought to add it. Will have to the next time…and serranos .

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Thanks, Paul! It’s optional for sure. See if you like it. GREAT with serranos! I love it.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      Yes! I LOVE that addition! What a wonderful variation on pico de gallo. Thanks!

  3. 5 stars
    You can’t go wrong with the classic pico de gallo. This one is the bomb. Love it. Added in some extra jalapeno. Just because. Love that extra kick.

    1. Michael Hultquist - Chili Pepper Madness

      I agree, Damien! I like extra jalapeno, too.

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