Simple and Classic Pico De Gallo

The salsa that keeps you coming back for more. I’m always fascinated how so few ingredients can make something so totally addictive. Pico de Gallo is simple to make with very few ingredients but all of them combined make this salsa truly irresistible.

Pico De Gallo plated

What is pico de gallo?

It’s also known as salsa fresca or salsa cruda, and is a type of salsa commonly used in Mexican cuisine. It’s a fresh, uncooked mixture of chopped tomatoes and onions, cilantro, fresh chiles, lime juice, and salt. That is pretty much it. Some variations also include garlic and cumin but those are optional ingredients. It’s different from stewed or roasted tomato and chili salsas. They both have their place in my heart but this one is perfect especially in the summer when the tomatoes are at their best and ripest and most flavourful.

Pico De Gallo raw ingredients

What kind of chili’s do I use in pico de gallo?

The chili’s add a really nice kick to the salsa which is part of its charm. Serranos or jalapeños work really well but when we use to live in the Caribbean I would use a sliver of a scotch bonnet sliced in to add that kick and flavour to the ‘sauce’. So you can choose the type of chili you would like to add to it and of course how much. Let’s talk about that ‘sauce’. The sauce is actually the juices that form from all the ingredients sitting and hanging around together for a few minutes before serving. The kickstart to them forming is the addition of the salt and the lime of course adds to the liquid in the bowl. The salt draws the liquids out of the tomatoes creating all those juices that mingle with the other flavours in the salsa. As this happens the tomatoes soften and you get an amazing textured fresh salsa. Like a party in your mouth!

Pico De Gallo prepared ingredients

Can I make pico de gallo ahead of time?

The longer its sits the more liquid will form and the softer to tomatoes will get. Keep that in mind if you want to make it way in advance. Feel free to drain off some of the liquids before serving. Having it sit in the fridge covered for an hour will help build the flavours. If I am making this a day a head I will just prep the ingredients by having everything chopped. I store each of them in separate containers in the fridge and then closer to the time I’m serving I will combine them and season with salt and lime juice. If you are wondering about the ketchup, it is optional, but I think it’s the perfect way to balance the acidity of the tomatoes and also add a little body to the salsa. It’s another thing I picked up living in Trinidad - ketchup gets added to a lot of sauces there.

Pico De Gallo in a bowl

It’s super quick to whip up and it uses very basic ingredients. It’s the perfect pair with crispy salty tortilla chips. It gets gobbled up fast and people always ask about the recipe. So here it is! Hope you like it!

Pico De Gallo and tortillas


Makes approximately 3 cups


  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes with seeds removed (4 large ones or 6-8 small to medium ones)
  • 1 small red or white onion chopped very finely
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 2-3 Serrano peppers seeds removed and chopped finely or one small jalapeño pepper seeds removed and chopped finely
  • ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lime juice plus more according to taste
  • 2 tsp salt

Alternate add ins

  • 1 tbsp of tomato ketchup
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • ½ tsp cumin


  • In a large bowl toss all the ingredients together until well incorporated, put into a dipping bowl and serve immediately with chips or serve as a side or sauce for tacos.

Recipe Note

Soak onions in ice water before mixing them in with the tomatoes to take away some of the bite that raw onions can have.

Pico De Gallo ready to serve