This Fresh and Quick Pico De Gallo recipe is perfect to use up garden tomatoes! It’s made in about 15 minutes for quick eating and enjoyment!
My husband’s favorite way to use up fresh garden tomatoes is fresh and quick Pico de Gallo! Every year, he likes to make a dedicated pico de gallo section in our garden. So, he has lots of practice eating it. 😉
In fact, during the summer, he would always ask his mom to make this for him. When I asked him how she makes it, he replied, “She just cuts stuff up and puts it together.” My reply, “…” (with a blank face).
So with those “helpful” instructions, I turned to Google. I found a recipe from Cookie and Kate that had a near perfect ratio of ingredients. I tried it for my hubby, and he liked it. So, I slightly adapted it to use on my blog. But be sure to check out Kate’s recipe too since she includes many helpful tips in her post!
What’s the Difference Between Pico de Gallo and Red Salsa?
Even though salsa and pico use a lot of the same ingredients, they are different because they are prepared differently.
Usually, pico de gallo is made with raw, chunkier-diced ingredients. The thicker texture is very nice on tacos, nachos, or other dishes.
Salsa is often made with roasted or stewed tomatoes, and the ingredients are blended together in a blender, food processor, or a mortar and pestle. Salsa’s texture is usually much finer and almost purée-like.
So, even though they are made differently, they are very similar. And they are both delicious on tortilla chips.
Fresh and Quick Pico de Gallo Ingredients
For the best tasting Pico de Gallos use fresh ingredients. The fresher all your ingredients the better. I’ve made this recipe many times, and I’ve tried to make substitutes with canned or pantry items. I’m telling you, it won’t be the same unless you use the fresh stuff.
One of the biggest tips I learned from Kate, is to use red ripe tomatoes. When I’ve made pico de gallo in the past, I never understood why it sometimes didn’t turn out as well. I realized it’s because I was using under-ripe tomatoes!
So, if your tomatoes are pink (or even green or yellow), leave them on your counter for a few days. When they have dark red skins, you are ready to make pico de gallo!
Additional Fresh Ingredients
Next, you’ll need onion. For this recipe, I prefer to use white or yellow onion. But you could also use red onion if you like. Just don’t be tempted to use onion flakes or onion powder. Put on your tear-proof goggles, and cut up the real thing.
After that comes the lime juice. In a pinch I’ve used the bottled-lime juice, but the flavor is never as good when I do that. So, if you can, use fresh limes for the pico de gallo. It adds a lot of acidity and complexity that is best when it’s fresh.
When I pick out limes, I like to hold them in my hand and choose the one that’s heaviest. It’s more likely to have lots of juice.
Jalapenos are always a gamble when it comes to the level of heat they contain. The heat in Jalapenos is mostly found in the seeds and ribs; so, be sure to remove them if you are sensitive to spicy foods.
Fresh and Quick Pico de Gallo Equipment
If I can give you one piece of advice for this recipe, it’s this: use a non-reactive bowl! Examples of bowls made with non-reactive material include stainless steel, ceramic, and glass. You should use these kinds of bowls and pans whenever cooking acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon juice, and vinegar.
The dangers of using bowls made from reactive metals (aluminum, cast iron, and copper), are that the metal can alter the color and flavor of the dish. Or in other words, your pico could end up tasting like metal if you don’t use a non-reactive bowl.
My all time favorite bowls for meal prep is this set of Pyrex Bowls! They do not stain or absorb food flavors from the food! Plus, they are easy to keep clean. And, they nest together for compact storage. If you take good care of them, they will last for years.
Finally, I recommend a good Chef’s Knife and Cutting Board. Just make sure your knife is sharp. So many kitchen accidents have happened from dull knives. Even if there are no accidents, cutting tomatoes with a dull knife is the worst.
Fresh and Quick Pico de Gallo Prep Tips
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you know I hate raw onions. Long story short, they make me gag. Whether you love or hate raw onions, I have some tips for you to make them taste better.
Onion and Jalapeno Tips
First, be sure to chop the onions very finely. The smaller the pieces of onion, the less chance you’ll bite into one that’s way too potent. You’ll also want to chop the jalapeno as small as you can. That’s another ingredient you don’t want a big bite of. If you are sensitive to spicy foods, you can remove the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno.
Second, marinate the onion and jalapeno in the lime juice an salt while you chop the tomatoes. This will help to slightly soften the onions. It also helps to reduce any acridness in the onions. It also helps kick start flavoring the onions and jalapeno.
TIP: To get the most juice out of each lime, microwave the whole lime for about 20 seconds. Rolling the limes on the counter beneath your hands will also help release even more juice.
For the best flavor, remove the juice and seeds from your tomatoes. Normally, I like to keep the seeds and juice because that’s where a lot of the tomato flavor comes from. However, I find if I don’t remove most of it, the pico de gallo can end up too watery. And this ends up diluting the flavor of the pico de gallo.
To quickly remove the seeds and juice, cut off about 1/4″ from the end of your tomato. (I cut off the end with the core.) Then, with the tomato cut side down, gently squeeze the tomato over a bowl or the sink. This should remove most of the seeds and juice. Don’t worry if the skin of your tomato breaks as you squeeze out the liquid. You’ll be dicing the tomato anyway, so it won’t affect the appearance of the dish.
Be sure to clean all your ingredients with water very well before you cut them! If you do not clean the outsides of the ingredients, any bacteria or dirt may end up in your salsa. Reduce this risk by washing your tomatoes, jalapenos, limes, and cilantro well!
After you’ve assembled it, taste the pico de gallo for seasoning. If it tastes bland, add more salt or cilantro to taste. For us, we tend to add about another teaspoon or so of salt.
Finally, let your pico rest for 15 minutes before serving. This will allow all the flavors to meld and come together. The salt will also help bring out the flavors of all the ingredients too.
Fresh and Quick Pico De Gallo Serving Suggestions
This easy pico de gallo is my husband’s favorite snack to eat when he watches sporting events at home. We love eating it on its own with tortilla chips.
Additionally, you can also use this pico de gallo to garnish your favorite Mexican Dishes.
I think it’d be especially delicious on these recipes:
- One Pan Chicken Burrito Bowls
- Copycat Taco Time Crisp Bean Burritos
- Salsa Verde Chicken Flautas or Taquitos
- Copycat Cafe Rio Chicken
Be sure to let me know below what your favorite way to eat pico de gallo is!
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Fresh and Quick Pico De Gallo
- 1 cup Onion (White or Yellow, about 1 small)
- 1 small Jalapeno* (Fresh)
- 1/4 cup Lime Juice (Fresh, about 2 small limes)
- 1 tsp Fine Sea Salt (Plus more to taste)
- 1 1/2 lbs Red Tomatoes (Ripe, about 4-5 large)
- 1/2 cup Cilantro (Fresh, about 1/2 bunch)
- Using a cutting board and sharp knife, finely dice the onion and jalapeno*.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the onion, jalapeno, lime juice, and salt. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes.
- Slice a 1/4" from the end of each tomato. With the tomato cut-side down, squeeze the seeds and juice from the tomato into a bowl or over the sink. Dice the tomato into small pieces (I cut them into about the size of a fingernail).
- Chop the cilantro into small pieces (about the same size as the tomato or smaller).
- Add the diced tomatoes and cilantro to the mixing bowl. Stir everything together, and taste for seasoning. If it tastes bland, add more salt to taste.
- Let your pico de gallo rest for 15 minutes before serving. Or refrigerate overnight. Serve with tortilla chips or use to garnish your favorite dish.