Looking for a delicious and healthy appetizer or topping? Look no further than homemade pico de gallo! This easy-to-follow recipe is perfect as a dip for chips (or veggies), or a topping for nachos or your favorite burger. Plus, in the summer, it’s a great way to use up all of those tomatoes from your garden.
Have you ever had pico de gallo (pronounced pi-ko duh ga-yow)?
It’s a Mexican dish (similar to salsa) that is made with tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, and cilantro.
And it’s one of my favorite dips ever!
Not only does it taste delicious, but it also:
- is easy to make,
- doesn’t require any cooking,
- can be made ahead of time (it actually tastes better!) and
- can be used on its own or as a topping for other dishes.
That’s the perfect party appetizer if you ask me.
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Here is your shopping list:
- fresh fruit and vegetables – 8 large Roma tomatoes, 1 small white or red onion, 1 green pepper, 1 jalapeno pepper, 1 lime.
- herbs and spices – 1 clove fresh garlic, 1 bunch fresh Cilantro (the dried version doesn’t really work for this recipe), 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- seasoning – 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Roma tomatoes work best since they have a lot of flesh and less liquid than most other tomatoes. However, if you don’t have Roma tomatoes, you can use any other ripe red tomato. For large ones, you’ll only need about 4 of them.
- Leave out the green pepper if you don’t have it on hand.
- If you don’t like spicy food, you can use a half or a quarter of the jalapeno pepper. Or omit it altogether. (But the resulting dish will have less flavor.)
- There isn’t a good substitution for fresh Cilantro. If you really don’t like it, you can try using basil instead. It will make a flavorful dip, but I don’t think you can call it pico de gallo.
How to make pico de gallo
This makes enough for a medium-sized bowl of salsa. It’s hard to say exactly how many people that serves since it depends on what you are using it for.
Most of the effort of making this dish is in the preparation.
You want all of the ingredients to be finely chopped so they are easy to scoop and the flavors can blend together.
Start by dicing the tomatoes.
Peel the onion and chop half of it. (You can save the other half for something else.) I like to use the food processor for this. It doesn’t work as well for softer vegetables like tomatoes. But it makes quick work of onions!
Then remove the core from the green pepper along with all of the seeds. Chop it as well.
Do the same with the jalapeno pepper. If you don’t want your salsa to be too hot, make sure to remove all of the jalapeno seeds. They are usually pretty spicy!
Remove the leaves from the cilantro and chop them finely (or use herb scissors to cut them). How much you need is pretty much up to you. If you don’t want too strong of a flavor, use about 2 Tablespoons of chopped Cilantro. If you love it, use the whole bunch.
Juice the lime.
Mince the garlic. (Using a garlic press is the easiest way to do this).
Put it all together
The last step is to put it all together.
Add all of your chopped vegetables along with lime juice and minced garlic to a medium-sized bowl.
Then add 1 teaspoon dried oregano and ½ teaspoon salt.
Give it a quick taste and add a little more salt if desired.
Let it sit
This recipe tastes best if it is allowed to sit for a while so that the flavors can blend.
Ideally, you should cover the bowl and put it in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
But if you’re in a hurry, let it sit on the countertop for 30 minutes before serving.
How to serve it
Pico de gallo can be served on its own as a dip with chips or vegetables (like celery).
Or use it as a topping for dishes such as:
In other words, you can use it pretty much anywhere you would normally use salsa.
How to store it
Pico de gallo can be stored in an airtight container or mason jar in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days.
I don’t recommend freezing it since the vegetables will be mushy after it thaws and it just doesn’t have the same texture.
Frequently asked questions
Since the two dishes use the same ingredients, the main difference is in the consistency. The ingredients in salsa are blended or smashed and mixed with more liquid. While pico de gallo is crisper, since the ingredients are chopped and have much less liquid added.
Roma tomatoes work best for this recipe because they have a lot of flesh and less liquid than other tomatoes.
Pico de gallo is made entirely of fresh vegetables and herbs so its calorie count is very low. The whole bowl (much more than most people would eat) is less than 200 calories.
If stored in the refrigerator, homemade pico de gallo will last 3 or 4 days.
Technically, yes. It is safe to freeze it and it will still taste fine. But the vegetables will be mushy after you thaw it so it won’t have the same crisp texture.
Yes, it is meant to be. However, you can control the amount of heat by using less (or no) chile pepper and making sure to remove all of the seeds (which tend to be very spicy).
Other dips you might like
Easy Homemade Pico De Gallo
- medium-sized bowl
- food processor (optional)
- herb scissors (optional)
- 4 large tomatoes , finely diced
- 1 green pepper , cored and diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper , cored and finely chopped
- ½ small white or red onion , finely chopped
- 2 Tablespoons to ½ cup finely chopped fresh Cilantro , depending on how strong you want the flavor to be
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl.
- Stir with a spoon until well mixed.
- Taste and add more salt if desired.
- Cover and let sit for at least 30 minutes or overnight (in the refrigerator)
- All vegetables should be finely chopped to make them easy to scoop with a chip and allow the flavors to blend better.
- Make sure to remove all of the Jalapeno pepper seeds if you don’t want your pico de gallo to be too spicy.
- The dip will have more flavor if you allow it to sit in the refrigerator for a few hours (or overnight) before serving.