This easy Pico de Gallo recipe is a naturally vegan, healthy Mexican condiment you’ll love! Serve it alongside your favorite Mexican meal for a delicious appetizer or side.
Today we’re whipping up one of my all-time favorite snacks: pico de gallo! This recipe creates a delicious bowl of salsa fresco that’s packed with just as many nutrient-rich ingredients as it does taste. It’s bursting with zest and provides a blend of tomato, onion, and lime flavor.
The best part about pico de gallo, in my humble opinion, is the fact that it can be paired with anything and everything. It works with tacos, fajitas, enchiladas, burritos, nachos… if you can name it, I can top it with pico! You can also pair it with your favorite tortilla chips for a healthy snack or use it as a topping for salads!
Its versatility makes this dish the perfect side for pretty much any Mexican meal. Serve it up for a filling option that’s suitable for all.
Here’s what you’ll need
We’re keeping it classic with our pico ingredient list. You’ll need a handful of chopped veggies and a few pinches of spice for a delicious, refreshing bowl of veggie goodness! Oh, and don’t forget the lime juice!
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes make up the base of pico de gallo, and for good reason! They’re juicy, refreshing, and full of flavor.
- Onion: White onion adds a bite to this recipe that tastes delicious.
- Cilantro: For a bit of extra flavor, fresh cilantro will do the trick! Cilantro haters can leave it out (though I would strongly suggest including it if possible).
- Jalapeño: Add a kick to your pico with a bit of diced jalapeño. Remove the rib and seeds for less heat.
- Lime Juice: Lime juice adds an undeniable zest to pico that can’t be beaten!
- Salt: Finally, we’ll add a dash of salt for taste.
- Optional: If you’d like, add a clove of minced garlic and/or ¼ tsp of cumin for some extra flavoring.
How to make homemade pico de gallo
Pico de gallo (i.e. salsa fresco) is one of the simplest recipes that you can make. It only calls for two steps, requiring nothing more than chopping and mixing a few different vegetables. Add a selection of spices and a dash of lime juice, and you’re golden!
- Prep the veggies: First, chop and prepare all of the fresh ingredients.
- Stir the ingredients: Second, combine all of the ingredients into a medium bowl. For best results, let the ingredients sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before digging in.
Why wait? Giving the veggies 30 minutes to sit allows a bit of time for the flavors to mix together. As this happens, acids and proteins break down and blend, creating more intense, savory flavors. If you’ve ever noticed something “tastes better the second day,” this is why! You may consider making this recipe an entire day in advance to capitalize on the flavor it has to offer.
Pico de gallo vs salsa
It’s the ago old question: what is really the difference between salsa and pico de gallo? Despite the stark contrast between the two, many people order them interchangeably, expecting the same result.
The two dishes are made of pretty similar (if not identical) ingredients, yes. However, they’re totally different.
To start, salsa and pico de gallo have widely different textures. Pico contains whole, chunky ingredients, whereas salsa usually contains a more blended, pureed consistency and is usually a bit watery. Additionally, salsa is frequently made of cooked ingredients (i.e. sautéed tomatoes), but pico is fresh and raw.
It’s important to note that pico is often referred to as “salsa fresco.” So, next time you order chips with a side of salsa fresco, you can expect a pico-style dip!
Tips for making the perfect pico
Choosing your tomatoes: I recommend using Roma tomatoes because they have less juice and a thicker tomato flesh. However, any ripe tomato will do!
Adding extra veggies: If choosing to add extra ingredients, green bell peppers make a great addition!
Cooking the ingredients: I like to eat my pico with raw ingredients, but some people like to cook them to achieve a more intense, smoky flavor. Cooking your ingredients will make your dish more salsa-like.
Storage: Store extra salsa fresco in a sealed, airtight container for up to 3 days. Be sure to keep it refrigerated to prevent spoilage.
Freezing: I do not recommend freezing pico, as tomatoes tend to have a gritty consistency once thawed.
In your food processor: Don’t have time to cut everything by hand? You can make pico de gallo in your food processor! Simply add all the ingredients to your food processor and blitz briefly until roughly chopped.
How to Serve
When it comes time to enjoy your homemade pico de gallo, you can do so as a snack or appetizer! If serving alongside main courses, however, here are some delicious meals you may want to choose from.
- Crispy Avocado Tacos
- Enchilada Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
- Vegan Burritos with Taco Meat and Queso
- Tempeh Tacos with Avocado Kiwi Salsa
- Mexican Sheet Pan Supper
- 3 cups diced fresh tomatoes* 4 to 5 medium tomatoes
- 1 cup finely diced white onion 1 medium onion
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
- ½ to 1 finely diced jalapeno seeds and ribs removed
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- ¼ tsp salt
- Optional flavors: 1 clove minced garlic, ¼ tsp cumin
- Prep: Chop and prepare all ingredients.
- Stir: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. For best results, let sit in the fridge for 30 minutes before digging in.
Tips & Tricks
- *Which tomatoes are best? Roma are great because they have less juice and more tomato flesh (though any ripe tomato will do!)
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Serve with tortilla chips, on tacos, or in salads.