Mexican Pico de Gallo, aka Salsa Fresca, is easy to make and can be used in so many ways, from topping chicken or fish, adding to tacos, salads, and more, or just serving with chips! We even eat it at breakfast!
Even better, there is no cooking involved in making pico de gallo so it’s especially good during the summer when it’s too hot to cook much! You just chop up the tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, garlic, and cilantro, toss it with a little lime juice and a bit of salt, and you’re good to go!
Pico de Gallo vs. Salsa – What’s the Difference?
Salsa (like my favorite Easy Mexican Restaurant-Style Salsa) is typically more pureed and spicier than pico de gallo, which is typically much chunkier and more mild. Pico de Gallo is actually a type of salsa (sometimes called salsa fresca), but it’s always fresh and never cooked, unlike some other salsas. And while canned tomatoes can be used in other salsas, you never want to use them for pico de gallo.
Preparing Pico de Gallo
I would not recommend using your food processor to prepare pico de gallo. It chops too quickly and even just a few pulses can be too much for the vegetables, which should retain their shape and structure when diced. Just pull out your favorite cutting board and knife and start chopping up those tomatoes, onions, jalapeno, and cilantro by hand! It takes less than five minutes to make a batch of pico so really it’s not like it’s a huge time suck to do the chopping that is required for fresh pico de gallo.
Pico de gallo is also better made a few hours in advance of when you want to use it so that it has time for all of the flavors to combine in the fridge. That extra time sitting in the fridge gives a chance for the lime juice in the pico to do it’s work and combine all of the flavors so every bite tastes like, well, pico, and not as much like the individual components the pico de gallo is made of. But honestly, if you don’t have the time to make it in advance, it’s still going to taste delicious and super fresh at the table so if you forget to refrigerate for a few hours, don’t sweat it.
Ways to use Pico de Gallo
Pico de gallo is such a fantastic accompaniment to so many dishes! Here are just a few ways that we like to use it:
- Just for dipping chips, like any other salsa – it’s more mild and chunky so it’s more “scoopable” and great for kids
- Topping grilled or roasted chicken or fish
- Over scrambled eggs at breakfast (so good, you guys, and one of my favorite Whole30 breakfasts, especially with a little avocado too)
- Served with tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas, fajitas, chimichangas, salads, etc. (basically pico is perfect with any Mexican food you can think of)
- Just served almost as a side salad with Mexican rice, etc. (Clara, who is six, says pico is her “favorite salad ever” and will eat bowlfuls of it)
- Added to mashed up guacamole with a little extra salt for a super fast and easy guacamole
Pico de gallo is also vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and paleo, so it’s a safe bet that it fits with whatever diet you or anyone who might be visiting adheres to.
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