Homemade pico de gallo is the best! Chopped fresh tomatoes, chile peppers, red onion, cilantro, and lime are meant to be consumed fresh—it's called salsa fresca, for a reason.
Photography Credit:Elise Bauer
What is one sign of a good taqueria? The salsa, of course!
Or I should use the plural and say “salsas?” 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.
VIDEO! How to Make Pico de Gallo
How to Make and Store Salsa Fresca
This homemade salsa recipe is easy to make. You just need chopped up fresh tomatoes, chiles, onions, cilantro, some lime juice, and seasonings.
Note that because this particular salsa recipe 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, the salsa should last about 5 days or so.
Best Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo
Fresh tomato salsa is ideally made with firm, fleshy tomatoes. You can of course make the salsa with any kind of tomato, but the firm ones like Romas or hothouse tomatoes will hold up the best.
How to Pick and Handle Hot Peppers
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.
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.) Rub your hands with a little olive oil before handling (to protect your skin), and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after handling and avoid touching your eyes for several hours.
If you like a salsa with less heat, remove the seeds from the peppers. But you can always set aside some of the seeds—if the salsa isn’t hot enough, you can add a few for more heat.
How to Serve Salsa Fresca
Use this homemade salsa fresca as a dip for tortilla chips or serve it with tostadas, tacos, burritos, quesadillas, pinto or black beans.
LOVE A GOOD SALSA? HERE ARE 5 MORE TO TRY
- Canned Tomato Salsa
- Tomatillo Salsa Verde
- Pineapple Salsa with Jicama
- Corn Salsa
- Confetti Cucumber Salsa
Updated July 7, 2020 : We added a new video to this post to help you make the best salsa ever. Enjoy!
Fresh Tomato Salsa (Pico de Gallo) Recipe
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. You'll be able to gauge the heat of the pepper and will be better able to judge how much you need.
- 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 careful while handling the chile peppers. Use a plastic baggie or disposable gloves to handle them, 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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