Used as salsa or garnish, this homemade pico de gallo recipe is easy to whip up on a whim and perfect for adding a dash of Mexican flavor to any dish or dip!

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A bowl full of fresh pico de gallo.

About Homemade Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is one of the most popular “salsas”, and for good reason. Whether you’re adding a little kick to a favorite meal or serving it as a dip with chips, this is the type of garnish that’s always handy to have in your fridge.

Pico de gallo has so many uses and can easily be made as spicy or as mild as you’d like.

What does pico de gallo mean?

It’s easy to think of “pico de gallo” as a proper name like “tacos” or “mayonnaise”, but pico de gallo does have a real Spanish translation: it means “rooster’s beak.” This is thought to be a reference to how people originally ate this salsa, which was by pinching pieces of it between their pointer finger and thumb. The idea is that grabbing the salsa this way gave the hand the look of a beak.

What is pico de gallo?

Pico de gallo, which is also called salsa fresca or salsa cruda, is a medium-to-spicy mix of Roma tomatoes, onion, cilantro, hot peppers (such as jalapeno or serranos), lime juice, and salt. It’s typically used as a garnish but can also be served as a salsa.

Pico de gallo salsa.

How is pico de gallo different than salsa?

In short, salsa is a type of of sauce of condiment, and pico de gallo is a type of salsa.

But there are specific differences between the red sauce most are familiar with when we say “salsa” (imagine what’s served for dipping chips) and pico de gallo.

For one, traditional red salsa has a thinner consistency (some might say watery) because it’s been cooked, causing the tomatoes to break down. Pico de gallo uses fresh, whole ingredients and no heat; you only toss everything together and serve. And for two, pico de gallo has a wider variety of flavors (jalapeno, cilantro, etc) than traditional red salsa, which typically sticks to tomato, onion, garlic, and seasonings.

How do you pronounce pico de gallo?

Many times you’ll see pico de gallo called “tomato salsa,” probably to avoid any mishaps in calling this salsa by its proper name – but that doesn’t have to be you. The next time you see this salsa, use think of this handy pronunciation key:

PEE-koh dey GUY-yo

Can you freeze pico de gallo?

Because of the fresh vegetables in pico de gallo, I can’t recommend freezing this salsa.

You can still freeze this salsa if you really want to, and the recipe may taste the same in the end, but the texture of the vegetables will change significantly from being frozen and thawed. If you really want to enjoy this salsa, I recommend eating it before it goes bad on the fridge.

How long will homemade pico de gallo last?

Depending on the freshness of the ingredients used, pico de gallo should remain good in the refrigerator for up to one week.

How long can you leave out a salsa?

Whenever you leave out a “serve yourself” dish, you should always keep track of how long it sits at room temperature.

For most foods, the general rule of thumb is that a perishable item should not be in the “danger zone” for more than two hours. And by “danger zone”, this is usually at or just above room temperature. In most cases, you’ll be serving pico de gallo straight from the refrigerator, so this extra chilliness should give you another 30 minutes beyond the two-hour window, depending on the temperature of the room.

As the party goes on, you can return the salsa to the refrigerator once you get past the two-hour mark. If there’s still more pico de gallo to enjoy, let it chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before bringing it back out again.

Notes & tips for pico de galo

  • Whenever you are preparing jalapenos, be sure that you are wearing food safety gloves while handling them and avoid any contact with your eyes while you work. Also, you have a crucial choice to make: to include the jalapeno seeds or remove them. The seeds are where this pepper gets its trademark fire, so only include them if you want the extra kick. For a full tutorial on cutting jalapeno peppers, check this out: How to Cut a Jalapeno Pepper the Right Way.
Chopped fresh tomatoes, onion, and peppers seasoned with lime juice and salt.

More tasty sauces

How to make pico de gallo

This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.

Step 1 – In a large bowl, toss in the Roma tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt, then grab a spatula and thoroughly (but gently!) mix all of the ingredients together.

Step 2 – Let the salsa marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Step 3 – Serve and enjoy!

Recipe Details

Homemade Pico de Gallo! Used as salsa or garnish, this homemade pico de gallo recipe is easy to whip up on a whim and perfect for adding a dash of Mexican flavor to any dish or dip! |
5 from 1 vote

Pico de Gallo

15 minutes prep + 20 minutes Marinating Time
25 kcal
Yields: 8 servings
Used as salsa or garnish, this homemade pico de gallo recipe is easy to whip up on a whim and perfect for adding a dash of Mexican flavor to any dish or dip!


  • 10 medium Roma tomatoes, chopped, seeds removed
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh minced cilantro
  • 1 medium jalapeno, chopped, seeds removed
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste


  • In a large bowl add tomato, white onion, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, and sea salt. Use a spatula to gently mix all ingredients together.
    10 medium Roma tomatoes, 1 cup chopped white onion, 1/2 cup fresh minced cilantro, 1 medium jalapeno, 1/4 cup lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Cover bowl and let pico de gallo marinate in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes or ideally 2 hours.
  • Serve pico de gallo immediately as a garnish or salsa.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 25kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 736IU | Vitamin C: 17mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

I do my best to provide nutrition information, but please keep in mind that I’m not a certified nutritionist. Any nutritional information discussed or disclosed in this post should only be seen as my best amateur estimates of the correct values.

Author: Chrisy