Make your own authentic Spicy Pico de Gallo using simple, fresh ingredients like ripe tomatoes, onions, cilantro, salt, and fresh lime juice. It's the perfect low-calorie condiment that adds a punch of flavor to just about any Mexican meal. It’s quick and easy to learn how to make and you can make it really spicy or no spice at all.
What is pico de gallo?
Pico de gallo is a fresh raw salsa from Mexico, also known as salsa fresca translating, fresh salsa or salsa cruda, raw salsa. It's traditionally made from chopped fresh tomatoes, onion, jalapeños or serranos, cilantro, salt, and lime juice.
Is it spicy?
It can be really spicy or not spicy at all. It all depends of the type of peppers added to the recipe.
What is the difference between salsa and pico?
Pico de gallo is more relish in texture. It is made of crisp, raw ingredients such as onion, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper Salsa can be made with either cooked or raw ingredients and has a thinner sauce-like consistency.
How to serve
Pico De Gallo is perfect in vegan tacos, bean burritos, tossed into Mexican Chop Salad, spooned over grilled vegetables, as a salsa with chips. One of my favorite ways to eat it is over-fried potatoes and eggs. Basically, it’s a perfect condiment for an array of foods!
Why not throw a Mexican Party and serve your Pico de Gallo? Try these Easy Mexican Party Theme Ideas and Recipes, your friends and family will be raving how clever you are for throwing such a great party!
- Fresh tomatoes, vine-ripened if possible, are a must. Be sure and choose your tomatoes well. Look for slightly firm ripe tomatoes that are deep in color. Pick up your tomatoes and smell them. It should have a sweet earthy smell. Usually, red tomatoes are more acidic and flavorful, but adding a yellow tomato to your Pico De Gallo would make it look festive.
- Sweet onions are my favorite for Pico De Gallo since you are eating them raw. A sweeter onion helps balance the jalapeno’s heat.
- Fresh lime juice is the base seasoning that keeps it all fresh and tangy. So don’t skimp and use that green squeeze bottle of juice! Pick a fresh ripe lime, cut it in half and squeeze the juice right into your pico de gallo.
- Cilantro is the zest to the flavor of this sauce. Be sure and use freshly chopped, not dried out of a jar. After washing mine, I like to grab the whole bundle in one hand and cut the leaves off with scissors.
- Jalapenos are the heat to fresh Pico De Gallo, and you can add a little or a lot. I like taking the seeds out of my jalapeno to cool it down some. That way, I can add more. If I am serving someone that likes a lot of heat, I add some crushed red peppers to their bowl.
- Salt and sugar are used to draw out the flavor of the tomatoes and raw onions. You only need a pinch of each. Let your Pico De Gallo rest for 20 minutes or so after adding these. This will enhance your flavor, sort of the secret ingredients to good taste.
Pico de Gallo has a few basic ingredients; however, you can easily do some substitutions or add-ins to make a more unique and flavorful condiment.
How to make it spicier
You can have a pinch of heat or flame torching heat. If you like a little heat, use the recipe as is, being sure to remove the membrane and seeds from the fresh jalapeno.
If you like a lot of heat then use a hotter pepper. Pepper Jo has a great chart on pepper's heat index.
- Jalapenos = 2,500 - 5,000 SHU
- Serrano = 5,000 - 15,000 SHU
- Habaneros = 100,000 - 350,000 SHU
- Ghost peppers = 855,000 - 1,463,000 SHU
- Carolina Reaper = 2,000,000 - 2,200,000 SHU
You could substitute the salt for my Homemade Mexican Seasoning Mix. It will give it a little extra punch of flavor.
Try using Canned Cowboy Candy instead of fresh jalapenos for a sweet heat added to your pico.
Mix-ins to change the flavor
This recipe is a basic mix of pico. You can also get creative and try some of these mixins.
- 1/2 cup diced fresh mangos
- 1/2 cup diced green tomato or tomatillo
- 1/2 cup diced peaches
- 1/2 cup red, yellow, and orange bell peppers chopped small
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
How to store leftovers
Store any leftovers in a glass jar secured with a well-sealed lid. Keep refrigerated. Use within 3 or 4 days.
Spicy Pico De Gallo
- 1 1/2 cups tomatoes diced fresh tomatoes cored and seeded
- 1/3 cup red onion finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno seeds and ribs removed then minced
- 1/3 cup cilantro fresh, chopped
- lime juice freshly squeezed
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers optional
- Place all ingredients into a bowl except crushed red peppers. Stir well and place in refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving.
- Top with crushed red peppers, if you dare.