Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

Mexican salsa recipe made with chopped fresh tomatoes, jalapeno or serano chiles, red onion, cilantro, and lime. Also called Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

What is one sign of a good taqueria? The salsa, of course! Or I should use the plural and say “salsa-s”. Any decent Mexican dining establishment north of the border, whether a taco truck or full on restaurant will offer a variety of salsas to its patrons—tomatillo salsa verde, red chili salsa, and my favorite, a fresh tomato salsa otherwise knows as Pico de Gallo or Salsa Fresca.

It’s easy to make, you just need chopped up fresh tomatoes, chiles, onions, cilantro, some lime juice, and seasonings. Use it as a dip for tortilla chips or serve it with tostadas, tacos, or my favorite, alongside steak and pinto beans.

Because this particular salsa is made with fresh ingredients, it will last as long as you would expect cut fresh tomatoes to last. It’s best eaten right after you make it, chilled it should last about 5 days or so.

Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico de Gallo) Recipe

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  • Prep time: 6 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 3 to 4 cups of salsa

When using fresh chile peppers always taste first before adding! Some peppers are hotter than others and you really can't tell unless you taste them. Just take a very small taste. You'll be able to gauge the heat of the pepper and will be better able to judge how much you need.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (from 1 lb to 1 1/2 lb), stems removed
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 2 serrano chiles or 1 jalapeño chile (stems, ribs, seeds removed), less or more to taste
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Pinch of dried oregano (crumble in your fingers before adding), more to taste
  • Pinch of ground cumin, more to taste

Method

1 Start by roughly chopping the tomatoes, chiles, and onions. Be very careful while handling the chile peppers. If you can, avoid touching the cut peppers with your hands. (I often use disposable gloves or hold the peppers with a plastic sandwich bag.) Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours. Set aside some of the seeds from the peppers. If the salsa isn't hot enough, you can add a few for more heat.

2 Place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse only a few times, just enough to finely dice the ingredients, not enough to purée. If you don't have a food processor, you can finely dice by hand.

3 Place in a serving bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste. If the chilies make the salsa too hot, add some more chopped tomato. If not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add a little more ground cumin.

Let sit for an hour for the flavors to combine.

Serve with chips, tortillas, tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, pinto or black beans.

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Fresh Tomato Salsa

Showing 4 of 73 Comments

  • Tracey Minton

    I just made this for the first time super good really good

  • Bebe

    For many years I had in-laws from Mexico – great cooks – and also a live-in housekeeper from there. The latter also cooked for us. Salsa fresca aka pico de gallo is intended to be just that. Fresh. It is not intended to be hot. The chiles add a little pop, but are not supposed to prevail. Think of it as a piquant fresh vegetable chutney.

    My previous Comment disappeared, but I mentioned that cut tomatoes lose a lot when refrigerated even overnight. I am firmly in Lakotalady’s camp. Make what you need.

    My Mexican cooks, relatives and employees alike, preferred Roma (plum) tomatoes as they are very meaty and have fewer seeds.

  • Priya Shiva

    excellent tomato salsa recipe!

  • Penni Mckay

    how long can you keep salsa for

  • Malika A. Black

    I just made this salsa to go with my Mexican Dip. Very easy and full of flavors.
    I used white onion instead of red onion.
    I also grilled the peppers and tomatoes right on the stove fire, just to burn their skins, I like the taste that way.

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