Salsas are very popular in Texas. Many Tex-Mex restaurants in Austin serve three or four different salsas. Pico de gallo is a fresh and flavorful salsa that is easy to make and is perfect with tortilla chips or as a topping on your favorite Tex-Mex dishes.
Pico de gallo is a popular chunky salsa made with tomatoes, onions, jalapeño or serrano peppers, cilantro, garlic and fresh lime juice. While many traditional pico de gallo recipes do not include garlic, this version does. The garlic adds subtle complexity to the flavor.
Jalapeño peppers are traditionally used in pico de gallo, however this Tex-Mex version uses serrano peppers which have a more intense flavor and are 3 - 4 times hotter. Remove the seeds and ribs to reduce the heat a bit.
Pico de Gallo vs. Salsa
Most Tex-Mex salsas are blended and smooth. Pico de gallo is a chunky salsa. Both have their place and are often used together. For example, Crispy Tacos Made With Leftover Brisket uses both Fire-Roasted Salsa Roja and chunky pico de gallo.
Pico de gallo is made from a few fresh ingredients in about 5 minutes.
- Roma tomatoes
- White onions
- Serrano peppers
- Fresh lime juice
- Kosher salt
See the recipe card for quantities.
A serrano pepper is smaller than a jalapeño pepper and is hotter. It also has a more intense flavor.
The heat (from capsaicin) comes from the seeds and the ribs. This recipe calls for removing the seeds and ribs. If you want your salsa really hot, leave them in.
Remove the seeds and soft center from the roma tomatoes. The white core is just not very appealing in pico de gallo.
Dice the onion and the tomatoes into small pieces, about ¼" or smaller.
The salt will cause the tomatoes to sweat and cause some water to form in the bowl. This is expected and it's actually pretty good when eating the salsa with fresh tortilla chips.
Pico de gallo is easy to adjust for to your taste. Try mixing it up a bit.
- Jalapeño Peppers - Use jalapeño peppers instead of serrano peppers for a milder taste and less heat.
- Make it Hotter - Add another serrano pepper with the seeds and ribs left in.
- Red Onion - White onion has a milder taste, red onion has a stronger taste and adds some color.
Let it Rest
Pico de gallo is like most salsas that are actually better the next day because the flavors have time to blend and balance each other out. If you just can't wait a full day, then make it in the morning and let it rest in the refrigerator in a covered container for at least 2 hours.
How Long does Pico de Gallo Last in the Fridge?
Fresh pico de gallo will last about 5 days in the refrigerator if stored in an airtight container. Glass containers with a tight lid work best. Plastic single-use containers, like a deli would use, also work well.
Can You Freeze Pico de Gallo?
Yes, you can freeze pico de gallo, but it will not be anything like fresh salsa. Water expands when it freezes. The water in the peppers and tomatoes will expand and cause the cells to rupture changing the texture of the salsa. After it thaws, the pico de gallo will be soft, more like cooked salsa, and the cilantro will have turned dark in color. It's just not the same. Make a new batch of fresh. It's worth it!
Wear gloves! Capsaicin, the ingredient in peppers that makes them hot, is easily absorbed into your fingertips and is very hard to wash away. Rub your eyes just one time and you will wish you wore gloves.
Looking for other recipes like this? Try these:
Recipes Using Pico de Gallo
These are my favorite dishes to serve with fresh pico do gallo:
Pico de Gallo Recipe
Pico de Gallo
- 1 tablespoon olive oil extra virgin
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 lime juiced
- 4 Roma tomatoes seeded and diced into ¼" cubes
- ½ cup white onion chopped fine
- 2 jalapeño peppers stemmed, seeded, diced and split
- ¼ cup cilantro fresh and chopped
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
- In a medium bowl, mix the oil, garlic, lime juice and one half of the diced jalapeño peppers. Let it stand for 15 minutes to for the flavors blend.
- Add the diced tomatoes, onion, cilantro and salt. Mix well and taste. Add additional salt and diced peppers to suit your taste.