Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico de Gallo)

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.

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


  • 2 to 3 medium sized fresh tomatoes (1 to 1 1/2 pounds), 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 dried oregano (crumble in your fingers before adding), more to taste
  • Pinch ground cumin, more to taste


1 Prep the ingredients: Roughly chop the tomatoes, chiles, and onions. Be very careful while handling the chile peppers. Use disposable gloves, or 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 Make the salsa: Place all of the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade. Pulse only a few times, just enough to finely dice the ingredients and not enough to purée. If you don't have a food processor, you can finely dice by hand.

3 Adjust seasonings: 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 it's not hot enough, carefully add a few of the seeds from the chilies, or add a little more ground cumin.

Let the salsa sit for an hour (room temperature or chilled) for the flavors to combine.

4 Serve: Serve with chips, tortillas, tacos, burritos, tostadas, quesadillas, pinto or black beans. The salsa will keep refrigerated for up to 5 days.

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  • Mary M

    Thank you and your staff for the wonderful recipes and good eats. I’ve been a fan for sometime now! You never disappoint with your skill and knowledge. Made this tonight with my delicious tomato’s from my NJ home garden!

  • BILL G


  • Meg

    I made this recipe tonight. My husband kept saying, “what a treat this is”. It’s a winner.


  • Carson Skjerdal

    Awesome Dish, definitely will make again. I cut the onions back to a 1/4 since I am not a big onion guy. I also cut the heat back in half in case I needed to add more. I could have done 2 peppers but my gf is glad I did only one. Also I do not recommend taste testing the pepper after cutting ha ha. AI additionally followed a great video by Gordon Ramsey on getting the seeds from a pepper easily. Paired this with home made corn tortilla chips. Yum Yum


  • Emma

    On August 27th, 2018, I followed the recipe. Wow! Wow! I’ll never eat salsa in a restaurant…ever!!! This recipe is delicious and your advice to add tomato and to check how hot the chili is were very instructive. My daughter loved it as well. We did enjoy salsa chips last night during with our meal. Thank you!


  • Vicki

    So easy to customize to your taste-made it as recipe is written and it was the BOMB


  • Michelle

    I loved this recipe! My mother bought me a tomato plant because she said my garden of Sunflowers needed some veggies. Anyways what the squirrels didn’t take left me with about seven tomatoes. I’m not big on raw tomato but I love Salsa. I omitted the jalapeno because I can’t do spicy. Now all jarred Salsa tastes like ketchup to me. Thanks alot! ( lol )


  • Patti

    Add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the pico De Gallo. It helps to keep the salsa longer.

  • Connie Davis

    I love Pico, and this is an excellent choice. For family we frequently use green bell peppers instead of Serrano or hot peppers. The kids and non heat lovers enjoy it. I do not think it keeps well. It is a fresh salsa…

  • 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.

    • Emma

      Thank you for the advice! Would you recommend salsa to be made as needed and not refrigerated? Thanks

  • 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.

  • Arlena

    I made the salsa and it was really good, so I made it again. I was just wondering, has anyone ever made it with garlic?.


    • Ethel Lucido

      Yes, I always put finely chopped garlic (about 6 cloves) in my salsa or you can use garlic powder.

    • Fred

      Yes, I think this recipe should have included garlic

  • Donna Savel

    I made this salsa this morning, and was very surprised at the “1/2 cup cilantro”. It was way too much for the recipe and the salsa no longer looks like salsa. Is this an error on the recipe?

  • Marie Gefre

    Can you freeze this salsa in a freezer bag or a tupperware container?

  • jgo

    I’m curious about the oregano. Did you find Mexican oregano or just use “regular” (Mediterranean) oregano? They are quite different and some people swear by one over the other…

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi JGO, when I have Mexican oregano I will use it in salsas or other Mexican dishes. But when I’m out, I’ll just use regular oregano. Both work fine.

  • Mike Conway

    I have can a lot of salsa living in MN we have to if we want the “good stuff”. I add fresh lime juice and salt when I open a jar after canning. A Sprinkle of chopped cilantro helps also to bring back the “fresh” taste. Canning can flatten the taste of even the best salsa.

  • The trop

    Hi there! Great recipe you have on this website, just wondering, is this the spicy version of salsa, or is it just the regular salsa taste? I saw you listed some spicy things on the ingredients list. Plz reply ASAP as me and my family are planning to make salsa with plain Doritos!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi there back! The salsa is only as spicy as the chiles that you add. Individual chiles vary in their heat levels, so taste the chiles before adding them to the salsa, and then only add as much as you want for the level of spiciness you want.

  • Larry Wilks

    Just for the record, tomatillos are different than tomatoes. They grow on a different kind of bush and have a husk around them. They look like green tomatoes when taken out of the husk. For years we went to Mexico every year and fell in love with the salsa verde made with tomatillos, roasted jalapenos, onions and a little lime juice. Que bueno!

  • Liam

    Pensé la salsa era bueno pero que necesitaba menos cebolla y más chiles. Mi salsa es tan buena como la salsa en La Toltecha. Me gustó la salsa con patatas fritas de bolsa con lima. La receta era fácil hacer y solamente tomar diez minuto.

  • Sandy S

    For those of us who think this is tempting to eat with a spoon, I am thinking of adding either black beans or chick peas and maybe some kernels of grilled corn cut from the cob, to make it legal to serve oneself a larger portion! Personally, I love the cumin, cilantro and lime combination, but hey! go for the flavors that make you happy. Don’t get me wrong, the recipe is a great salsa!!! Oh My Yes! And, will be made as such, as well.

    A local restaurant makes a very simple salsa with cucumbers, tomatoes and then I am not sure what. Perhaps vinegar and onions? It is quite refreshing when served with hotter dishes and might be nice to have available at parties for people who can’t take the heat. Anyone have such a recipe?

  • Jim Edwards

    If you end up getting the chiles on your hands, it helps to rinse them in vinegar before washing them. I’ve done that and was able to touch my nose right away. Might want to avoid the eyes for a while anyway.

    • Rudy Koch

      Hey Jim, thanks for the tip. I have been using Black Powder Free Nitrile Gloves when working with peppers, I got a box of 100 for around $10 shipped. This reminds me I am ready for another batch before the local tomatoes get scarce.

  • Rudy Koch

    Thanks Elise, I didn’t use the serano pepper because the store did not have any and I added a couple heaping tsp of chopped garlic. Very good and I will be making again tomorrow, I could eat this out of a bowl with no chips it is so good.

  • Kevin

    I worked in a Mexican restaurant for a number of years and they would put the ingredients in layers in a big tray, and then they would pour about two shots of Jose Cuervo over the pico di gallo and cover it for a couple days before mixing it all up.

    • KS

      What a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amanda

    I made this recipe about a week ago because I have a surplus of tomatoes and the boyfriend and I loved it! I just wanted to let people know that I ended up using early girl tomatoes and they went great in this recipe because they’re a little more fruity than other tomatoes I’ve eaten.


  • Scott Allan

    Elise, as I’ve said many times, your recipes rock.

    I just made this pico recipe, and it turned out PERFECT… until I added the cumin. You might wanna warn n00bs like me that cumin MUST be used SPARINGLY… perhaps in a few hours the other ingredients will tame the cumin, but I fear I may have ruined it. Doh!

    Other than that, perfect, fresh, and pretty authentic recipe.

    Everyone who is suggesting these variations (including cooking the ingredients, searing the tomato, etc)… those are all great, but as Elise said, there are THOUSANDS of salsa recipes out there (my time in AZ taught me that). This is just one specific one. Let her have her recipe. :)


    • WhisperinPints

      Tweaks on recipes are what makes cooking COOKING. We cook to satisfy our own palates. Therefor, suggestions contribute to the volume of information (in this case, Elise’s recipe) available for readers to accomplish a goal of creating a dish that is satisfying to their palate, like adding a pinch of sugar. ;) Thank you for the suggestion.

  • Lora

    This is a great recipe! My husband and I love Pico on just about everything…heck, I eat it by the spoonful! One thing I do that is not in your recipe, is plenty of very finely minced fresh garlic. We both love garlic, so I’m certain there are plenty of people that do not – I think it gives a nice depth of flavor to the pico. I do agree that Roma tomatoes are the best for “fresh” salsas.


  • Hillery

    Tasty, easy to follow recipe. The best part is, it teaches you the basic components of salsa, so modifications are endless. We added roasted garlic and bell pepper. I will say- maybe too much cilantro, but I was eyeballing it, and it may have been my fault. Point is, cilantro can be overdone, so watch those measuring cups!


  • cayce

    I made this for dinner tonight – Out Of Control! I added more cilantro than I should have and used very ripe campari tomatoes. I let it sit in the fridge for 2 hours before slathering it on our carne asada and it was perfect. I would recommend going just a little crazy with the salt… overall, very, very good recipe! cheers!


  • Bernadette

    My son makes a salsa likes this and it is very good, the only problem I have with it, is it gets very very juicy. How do you get away from that juicyness? Do you just drain it or is this the way it is supposed to be? I have had simular salsas and they didn’t seem to be that juicy. THANKS.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Bernadette, For this type of salsa, sometimes the sturdy hot-house tomatoes hold up the best. Garden tomatoes tend to be much juicier. You can use Roma tomatoes, cut them in half and squeeze out the juices before chopping to use.

  • amanda

    i love this salsa! made it a million times, slightly different here and there. i think my favorite is with a bit of honey and fresh oregano. its always good though! for people looking for a preserved version, the only luck ive ever had with a fresh salsa that lasts is fermented salsa. sally fallon has a recipe in nourishing traditions, but if you just google it either are a few recipes. its just fantastic and has a really neat effervescent bite. i do tend to make it in small batches though, fresh and on demand like elise recommends. awesome with scallops and shrimp. i could just eat it with a spoon. thanks again, always love what you do, elise!

  • kim

    WoW I could kiss you! I have been searching for a salsa recipe like this for days and finally found you recipe! THANK YOU!

    ~KIM (no reply needed was just so excited i had to tell you!)

  • Lakotalady

    I, for the life of me cannot understand why some folks want to freeze or can fresca salsa…..
    The ingredients are avilable pretty much year around in most areas of the USA. What can I say, I live in Arizona!
    But if they aren’t, omit the tomatoes and prepare all the rest.
    After this, measure out how much per batch and Freeze or can all but the tomatoes. When needed, go buy your tomatoes that you need to finish the batch. Let it rest for a couple of hours before your meal…enjoy!

  • drakekl

    Could I use all cherry tomatoes in this? I have loads of them from the garden, and am looking for ways to use them. Thanks.

    Sure! ~Elise

  • Ana

    Thank you for telling people to be careful when handling the chilis: they can really burn like CRAZY if you have sensitive skin, so use fork to hold them in place when cutting them, or wear rubber gloves!

    Thanks for posting this recipe, Elise! I LOVE pico de gallo.

  • maritza

    For those of you who dont like the strong taste of onions, you can cut the onions and make a lime and salt juice and soak the onions in this for at least 30 minutes. The onions will become sweet.

    • Bebe

      California here. We almost always have sweet onions from either Texas or Hawaii. The ones that some (not I) eat like apples. Red onions – particularly the smaller, flatter ones – can be almost as mild. The larger ones, not so much.

      I have found that soaking slices of strong onion in plain water – several changes – for a few minutes takes out a lot of the bite. They can be patted dry, used as-is for burgers or chopped for recipes like this one.

      • Angel

        Texas here! Excellent suggestion Maritza and BeBe! Tried this for the first time ever tonight and I must say, I’ve never been so excited to know that I made a delicious dish (with chips or spoon) to enjoy on game-days or just because! Thanks to all for their contributions too.. :)

  • Heidi

    Another lovely recipe, thank you! The tomatoes are finally starting to look good at the Farmer’s Markets now (in Southern California) and I threw in some cherry toms that needed to be used up, and it turned out well. I think this will be a staple in our house as our own tomatoes and chiles finally start to produce!

    For those wanting to preserve fresh salsa beyond a meal or two, you could always try lacto-fermented salsas. Just Google for recipes.

  • greg

    I like to roast my peppers before cutting them up. I let one side get blackened on the grill then I cut them up and it makes a nice additional flavor.

    Great idea! We like to grill our chile peppers for salsas too. ~Elise

  • Joyce Hanna

    Hi, Elise,
    I have all kinds of tummy problems, and am banned from spicy foods, but had a hankering for something Mexican anyway. I just used sweet peppers, and although purists would howl (isn’t “hot” the purpose?) – it was better than doing without. I used up tomatoes from the garden that were over ripe, and opened a bag of tortilla chips – yum. Not enough left over to worry about refrigerating… Thanks.

  • Scott Allan

    Oh, scratch that; the peppers won out over the cumin. Hooray!

    And someone mentioned “too tomatoey” of a taste… I just tried it and though brilliantly wonderful, the tomatoes were winning. I added a pinch of sugar, and that helped tone down the acidity of the tomatoes. :)

  • ad

    How many servings?

    It’s a condiment. Depends on how much you add to what you are eating. ~Elise

  • Grace

    How long would the salsa remain fresh if stored in the refrigerator? I’m the only who eats this in my house and I don’t want it to go to waste within a day or so of making it.

    Actually, it’s never as good once you refrigerate it because tomatoes lose their flavor when exposed to the cold temps of the fridge. But if you do refrigerate it, it should last as long as you would expect any chopped up tomatoes to last, just a few days at best. ~Elise

  • Becky

    sorry…thought the names of the ‘poster’ was on top of the post….was posted by someone else…have since talked to a person that does freeze the fresh salsa and eats it all winter…she thinks the taste is fine…but she also puts a touch of lemon juice in it…

  • Diane Meyers

    Years ago I had a recipe for salsa that called for bottled mexican cactus, my husband loved it. He got the recipe while living in Mexico. I have lost that recipe, have you ever heard of using cactus?

    Look for recipes calling for “nopalitos”. They are cactus paddles that are used in salsas and salads in Mexican cooking. ~Elise

  • Cat

    I have never made fresh salsa that wasn’t canned so I am going to give this a whirl. I do have a question about the cilantro. Is it possible to substitute parlsey for it? Or can I just use less or even just leave it out? I really dislike the taste of it (to me it tastes like soap). Or would I not taste it noticeable in this recipe? Thank you.

    Do not substitute parsley. Just leave out the cilantro. ~Elise

  • cindy

    I made this tonite to go along with carne asada. I didn’t have all ingredients, and tend to “wing it”. I actually used cherry tomatoes (it is what I had on hand), regular old onion, and didn’t have any chili peppers. Turned out great. Didn’t miss the peppers at all:0) Only problem? My family wanted more!

  • Dean

    I love Pico De Gallo. I have made it ever since my ex fiance taught me how, I have used Many tomatoes over the years and have settled on a Roma tomato. To me it has enough meat on it to make the dicing almost perfect with each tomato. It is sturdy, and has a decent flavor in my opinion. I have made it for my GF several times in the last three years, it is a personal favorite of hers when she is pregnant and it’s good for her. I never measure out, but always keep in mind that the right amount of cilantro is important. What I really want to know, is how do I package this for storage more than just 2-3 days. I have family and friends who request me to make this a lot and I hate I cannot send it out to them when I make it.

    Hi Dean, it’s made with cut up fresh ingredients, which only last as long as you would expect, just a few days. If you make cooked salsa and can it, it will last longer. You might be able to buy some preservatives to add to it to make it last longer, but then, what’s the point? Might as well buy the store-bought version with the preservatives already in it. ~Elise

  • Turbo

    I’m from San Diego and I really miss Baja-Mexican since I’m in the mid-west now. All they have out here is (Tex-mid west-Mexican) which I can’t stand. I was hoping that I could get some help on creating a (Weast Coast) “Roberto’s Taco Shop” clone; like carnitas and carne asada with the pico. Don’t get me wrong… some tex-mex can be tasty… but the Baja mex rules.

    Baja Mex= more festive reds and greens *no chili’s***

    Tex Mex = “down and brown” plenty of chilie peppers.

    Any help with this…. I will be your humble servent !!! :-)

  • Jamie

    I lived with my ex-boyfriend and his family for almost a year in Phoenix (they’re Mexican), and they made pico de gallo very differently. We never really measured anything, either, just as long as there are equal parts of each ingredient.

    1 avocado, diced
    1 tomato, diced
    1 onion, diced
    1 cucumber, diced
    chopped fresh cilantro
    fresh squeezed lime juice
    garlic (optional)

    Just mix the ingredients together and refrigerate to let the flavors mix.

    • Petunia53

      That sounds so easy and delicious, especially with avocados and cucumbers! Thanks!

  • sabrina

    Is there any way to preserve salsa without cooking it? And does anyone know the shelf life of either process–cooking or fresh? My husband has a recipe some people want him to make for them to store for future use. We don’t want that cooked flavor or consistency though. We want that fresh taste preserved but some of it will be in storage for 3-4 months. What do you think our options are?

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Sabrina, a fresh tomato salsa is made with fresh ingredients. So it’s sort of like asking, how can I preserve a fresh tomato without cooking it? You can freeze it, but it won’t taste as good as fresh.

  • Jeanette

    I have been making this canned salsa for years. It makes around 8 pints and once sealed in a hot water bath, keeps almost forever. I use the snap lids for canning, I find them easier to use and I never worry about the seal.

    I use my homegrown tomatoes and make sure they are nice and ripe before I use them. I would suggest a Roma tomato if you have to buy the tomatoes but make sure they are nice and red and ripe.

    12 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped, drained
    5 medium onions coarsely chopped
    4 medium green peppers coarsely chopped
    1 cup chopped cilantro
    9 cloves garlic, minced
    16 – 20 jalapeno peppers, without seeds and finely diced
    4 skinny hot peppers with seeds, finely diced
    juice of 2 limes
    20 oz tomato paste
    3-4 tsp cumin
    1 tsp coriander
    3 tsp salt
    1 ½ cups vinegar

    Put in a large dutch oven or soup pot. Bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer. Stir regularily until thickened. Fill jars. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

    NOTE: For a spicier salsa, use some of the seeds of the hot peppers. If you want less spice, cut down on the number of hot peppers used.

  • Beth

    I just ran across your recipe for the fresh salsa. It’s quite similar to what I made recently for Pico de Gallo. It was my first attempt at pico de gallo but I must say it turned out well. I received instructions from a Mexican friend who would be attending the Mexican theme party that we were having. Excellent! The only difference in what I did was that I put everything through a food processor, for a finer blend. I used both Roma and regular red tomatoes, making for a red, white and green salsa.
    I like your idea for using it on steak or with beans, etc. I will be making this more often and using it on more than tacos or enchiladas!

  • carrie

    Salsa is delicious frozen, texture is different, but tastes more like fresh than canned.

  • Kath

    Could salsa be frozen? I’ve got a ton of my garden ripe all at once and I’m trying not to lose anything.

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Kath, some people freeze salsa like this and have no problems with it. I for one do not like what freezing does to fresh tomatoes so I personally would not freeze it.

  • Rachel

    Do you think that I could can this salsa? I know it will not be fresh this way but I am looking for a great salsa receipe!

    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Rachel, to can salsa you need to cook it first. Since this is a fresh salsa recipe, it won’t work for canning. But you can make a salsa with cooked ingredients and can that! I have instructions for a favorite canned salsa recipe here:

      • Russ

        Just a side note on peeling the hot chilies. I use a lot of green chilies throughout the year. Instead of gloves, rub all of your hands with oil before peeling & dicing. then wash oil & hot chili juice off when done. It really does work.

        • Elise Bauer

          That works too! I once made the mistake of scrubbing my hands too much before working with chiles. The scrubbing and soap washed away all of my skin’s protective oils and the result was a painful chemical burn from the chiles. Rubbing your hands first with oil would help give you a protective layer.

  • saima Hasin

    To make this salsa more tasty you can first flame grill the tomatoes and then peel off the skins. Blend the tomatoes with coriander leaf and onion slices. Blend with salt and green chilly. Try it , I know you’ll love it.

  • kendra ardon

    Hi, I like your pico de gallo! Here’s another simple salas that my grandma taught me. 4 reg.ripe tomatoes and 3 jalepenos. Boil both until tender. Then put tomatoes, jalepenos, 1 clove of garlic and a small piece of onion and salt to taste into a blender. Don’t want to blend it too long You want the salsa to be chunky. This is great with tortilla chips, tacos and quesadillas.

  • Robin

    When we made this in my house we take the chopped onion and mix it with lime (and also lemon in our house) juice and put them in the microwave for about 30 seconds. We then let it cool while we chop everything else. For some reason this takes the raw bite out of the onions but leaves them crunchy!

    When we make guacamole we just mix about half a cup of this salsa with an avacado and the juice of half another lemmon or lime and some sea salt!

  • mo


    Where my husband is from(huejucar, Jalisco) there pico de gallo is fruit cubed and with chile and lime. So yeah, it is totally a regional thing.

    Thanks for the recipe,

  • dgrant

    This is all fine and dandy… but what kind of tomatoes should I use? This is the biggest problem for me. When I use fresh tomatoes it tastes awful (well not awful, but too tomato-ey), not like the “pico de galo” I’ve had in Mexico, or even in certain restaurants in Vancouver.

    You know those sturdy, hot-house tomatoes that you get in the grocery store? The ones that are as far from homegrown or heirloom as you could be? Hate to say it but I think they make the best tomatoes for this salsa. They hold their shape, and they’re not too “tomato-y” in taste. ~Elise

    • Donna

      You know, if you cut up tomatoes and let them drain in a colander, the extra juice will be removed, and you won’t have such a tomato-y taste. Roma tomatoes are probably the best to use since they don’t have a lot of juice. We grow our own tomatoes, so I just drain them after I’ve chopped them. You can also can this recipe by sealing the jars and water bathing them for about 15-20 minutes. Really nice to have on hand.

  • Roland

    Nice recipe! Sometimes I cut up a peach to add to salsa when serving with salmon.

    According to Diana Kennedy, peaches are sometimes cut up and added to this salsa in some parts of Mexico. ~Elise