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Homemade Pico de Gallo Recipe

I am a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.


What Is Pico De Gallo?

Pico de gallo, also called salsa fresco, hails from Mexico. Traditionally, the ingredients represent the colors of the Mexican flag: red tomatoes, white onions, and green serrano peppers (and cilantro).

Typically, pico is used as a starter dish and is often served with chips. It can also be used as a topping for multiple main dishes. I tend to eat pico on many different occasions. Whether I'm having a snack, making a Mexican dish at home, or hosting a party, pico is one of my immediate go-to recipes. Homemade pico will keep in the refrigerator for about a week.

Cook Time

Prep timeReady inYields

20 min

20 min

1 quart of pico


  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 5 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • As needed kosher salt
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  1. Fill a bowl with cold water and place your cilantro in there. Odds are that it will have sand on the leaves, stems, and everywhere. Let it soak in the water and give it a good shake every now and again.
  2. While the cilantro is washing, grab your tomatoes. Roma tomatoes don't need a lot of work to process because they do not have a core you need to take out. Dice them to approximately 1/4 an inch in thickness and place them in a bowl.
  3. Peel the onion and dice it to around the same size as the tomato pieces. There are multiple ways to do this, so use whichever method is most comfortable for you. Place the onion in the bowl with the tomatoes when you are done.
  4. Cut the jalapenos in half length wise (like a hot dog). Now you have an option. If you want the pico spicy, leave the seeds in. If you want it less spicy take the seeds and the white out. Whatever you choose, dice and add to your bowl.
  5. Start straining your cilantro and draining the water off now while you take care of the limes. All you need to do is roll them on a hard surface until they are soft to the touch and then cut them in half.
  6. Once your cilantro isn't sopping wet, go ahead and chop that up. You can have it as large pieces or small, whatever your preference is. Once you've got that done, add it to the bowl and mix everything together.
  7. Squeeze the limes in, season with kosher salt to your taste preference, and viola! Pico de gallo. Just add some tortilla chips and you're ready to eat!

How to Enhance This Recipe

Here is a little description about my preferences because I know there might be some confusion with the recipe I provided and the initial description at the beginning of the article.

I prefer to use roma tomatoes because they have a higher flesh-to-seed ratio (yes, that's the technical phrase). Basically all that means is that roma tomatoes have fewer seeds compared to other tomatoes. While traditionally you are supposed to use white onions (be they vidalia, Spanish, or sweet), I use red onions. They just add more flavor to the dish, relative to the others, and a tad more sharpness.

For peppers, I specified serrano in the beginning, but as jalapenos are easier to come by, I use those a lot more. If you can find serrano peppers, use them.

Lastly, I use Kosher salt for seasoning. It doesn't really make that big of a difference flavor-wise, but since Kosher and iodized have different sizes and weights, recipes that call for 1/4 tablespoon of Kosher salt actually turns out to be 2/5 tablespoons of iodized—and it turns into a giant conversion mess.

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© 2018 Vito Finazzo

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