How to Make the Best Pico de Gallo

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Your taco Tuesday dinner (or really any meal) isn't complete without some pico de gallo. Learn how to make the best pico de gallo recipe here.

In the hierarchy of dips, pico de gallo definitely tops the list. It’s super fresh, packed with flavor and always seems to leave you with the feeling of “just one more scoop.” The best part is, you can throw together the best pico de gallo you’ve ever had with ingredients that are probably already in your kitchen.

Keep reading to get our best pico de gallo recipe, plus some helpful tips from our Test Kitchen pros.

While you’re at it, throw together a full meal with these authentic Mexican recipes.

Before You Start: How to Pick a Ripe Tomato

The base of our best pico de gallo recipe is fresh plum tomatoes, so you’ll want to make sure you use the best ones you can find. Here’s what to look for:

  • Skin: The tomato’s skin should be a deep red hue and be without any blemishes or cuts. Also, double-check that the tomato’s top isn’t beginning to mold.
  • Firmness: Give the tomato a gentle squeeze. A ripe tomato should be firm, but not hard, and have a little give when you squeeze it. Make sure there aren’t any soft spots or bruising when choosing a tomato.

Test Kitchen Tip: We went with plum tomatoes because their firmness helps pico’s texture hold up and they aren’t too juicy. Plus, they’re easy to find year-round!

How to Make the Best Pico de Gallo Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1-2 jalapeno peppers
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Yield: 8 servings

Tools:

Step 1: Prep the Tomatoes

First, half your plum tomatoes, core them and scoop out most of the pulp. This will prevent your pico de gallo from getting too liquidy later on. Then, chop your tomatoes as evenly as you can and add them to a medium-sized bowl.

Test Kitchen Tip: When it comes to the size of your chop, go as fine or chunky as you’d like. Just keep in mind how large your chips are and how much pico you’d like to fit on them. By the way, here are some tips for cooking with fresh tomatoes.

Step 2: Chop the Other Ingredients

Next, chop the onion, jalapeno and cilantro (including the stems, they have lots of flavor!) so they’re about the same size as the tomato pieces and add them to the bowl.

You can adjust the spiciness of your pico with the amount of jalapeno seeds included. The more jalapeno seeds you add, the spicier the pico de gallo will be. Or, you can skip the spiciness altogether and use a poblano or green bell pepper.

Test Kitchen Tip: When it comes to cilantro, you either love it or you hate it. If you’re in the it-tastes-like-soap camp, decrease or cut the cilantro so it’s to your taste. We wouldn’t recommend substituting in parsley, though. It could make your pico bitter and will change the overall taste.

Step 3: Season the Pico

Once all your main ingredients are in the bowl, it’s time to dress them up. Do so by adding the lime juice, minced garlic and a healthy sprinkling of salt. Then, give the pico a good toss so all the ingredients are combined.

Test Kitchen Tip: With this recipe, fresh lime juice is a must. It will result in a brighter and fresher tasting pico than one made with bottled lime juice, which can sour.

Step 4: Let it Rest

Cover the pico de gallo with a lid or reusable food wrap and refrigerate it for at least an hour. This will mellow out the raw onion and garlic and give the flavors time to meld. Plus, it’ll give you some time to throw dinner together.

Step 5: Enjoy!

After it’s rested in the fridge, give your pico de gallo another stir, grab some chips and dig in! This is the best brand of tortilla chips, according to our blind taste test.

Test Kitchen Tip: Have an avocado or two? Mash the avocado and stir in some of the pico de gallo for some quick guacamole.

Nutrition Facts:
1/4 cup: 14 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 40mg sodium, 3g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

How to Make This Pico de Gallo Recipe Your Own

While pico de gallo is a pretty standard recipe, there are a few ways to make it your own. Check out some of our favorites:

  • Change the tomato: If you have a bumper crop of heirloom tomatoes or just bought a bunch of big beef tomatoes, use them in this pico instead. Just know that the texture may change. Here are some common types of tomato and how to best use them.
  • Change the pepper: Don’t limit yourself to jalapenos! Use any pepper from anaheim or serrano to habanero or even a ghost pepper. Take a look at this ranking of popular peppers, from sweet to spicy, to find which would be best for you.

How to Store Pico de Gallo

If you manage to have any leftovers, you can store pico de gallo in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Can You Freeze Pico de Gallo?

We wouldn’t recommend it. Freezing will drastically change the tomatoes’ texture and leave you with a mushy pico. Check out these other foods you shouldn’t store in the freezer.

Now that you know how to make fresh pico de gallo, learn how to make the best guacamole recipe ever.

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Caroline Stanko
As an Associate Digital Editor, Caroline writes and edits all things food-related and helps produce videos for Taste of Home. When she’s not at her desk, you can probably find Caroline cooking up a feast, planning her next trip abroad or daydreaming about her golden retriever, Mac.