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In 15 minutes or less, you could be relaxing with a bowl of homemade salsa fresca, some tortilla chips, and an ice-cold cerveza. Pico de gallo is made with colorful ingredients like vine-ripened tomatoes, spicy green chiles, fresh white onion, and tangy lime juice. It tastes so much better than store-bought!
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Salsa fresca has to be one of the most versatile creations out there. It makes the best appetizer, taco topper, or side dish to an entrée or breakfast burrito. Is there anything this dip can’t do?!
Seriously, we’d love to know.
What is salsa fresca?
Also known as pico de gallo, salsa bandera, or salsa cruda, this dish is our most consumed appetizer (next to guacamole).
Traditionally, a pico de gallo recipe is made from a mix of chopped tomatoes, white onion, green chiles (usually serrano or jalapeño), lime, cilantro, and salt — all foods that top our favorites list.
It’s such a simple recipe, but so dang good. That’s what we’re all about here at Broke Bank Vegan!
Although things are a bit fuzzy, pico de gallo is thought to have originated with the Aztecs.
There are many theories on where the name came from. The most common is derived from the way it used to be eaten — with the index finger and thumb.
This method of eating formed the shape of a beak, and pico de gallo translates to rooster’s beak in English. Pretty genius, right?
Try serving this homemade salsa fresca on tamales, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, or with tortilla chips as an appetizer.
Pico de gallo is naturally vegan, gluten-free, and oil-free (yay!). We hope you enjoy this super easy and refreshing dip. Let’s get chopping!
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: this juicy fruit that seems like a vegetable is what gives salsa fresca a slight sweetness to balance out all the spice.
Health: not only do tomatoes taste amazing, but these babies are packed with potassium, which is really good for your heart! So much health.
Taste: while the tomatoes add sweetness, diced onion gives this salsa a punch! It’s best to use white onions, but if you only have red or yellow, don’t cry about it (see what we did there). Use whatever you have on hand!
Health: onions are an awesome source of the compound called quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant. Onions for the win!
Taste: what would a pico de gallo be without lime? Bland! This ingredient adds a zesty and tangy flavor that makes you pucker up a touch. It puts the “fresca” in salsa fresca if you know what we mean.
Health: we recommend consuming citrus if you want to lead a long and limber life. It contains high amounts of vitamin C, which has been shown to help reduce the side effects of both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Taste: cilantro is one of those herbs you either really love, or really hate. We think cilantro has notes of sweet citrus and pepper that perfectly elevate this salsa fresca.
Fun fact: if you’re one of those unfortunate souls who think cilantro tastes like soap, it’s likely a genetic issue. The more you know, right?
If you have questions about this pico de gallo recipe, don’t forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: start by slicing the tomatoes and removing the inner seed portion (if you prefer a runnier salsa, you can definitely omit this part). Then, dice what’s left of the tomatoes and throw them in a mixing bowl.
Step 2: after the tomatoes are in your bowl, you’ll need to finely dice the onion. We prefer extra small chunks, but you can cut them to your preference. Add the onion, minced garlic, and cilantro to the same bowl as the tomatoes.
Step 3: to de-seed your jalapeño, cut it in half lengthwise. Take a small spoon and scrape out the seeds. Then, finely mince the pepper and add it to the same mixing bowl.
Step 4: lastly, squeeze in some fresh lime juice, and sea salt to taste. You can serve this salsa fresca with homemade tortilla chips for a tasty snack or appetizer!
Fridge: this pico de gallo will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge, but we recommend consuming it right away for optimal freshness.
This recipe is not freezer-friendly.
💭 Tips & variations
We’d like to share some tips and variations we learned while experimenting with this pico de gallo recipe:
- Grow your own vegetables. Try your hand at growing vegetables like onions or chile peppers for a fun challenge.
- Fresh tomatoes taste best. Find Roma tomatoes at your local farmer’s market to ensure the freshest produce.
- De-seed the tomatoes. Make sure you take out all the seeds unless you want a watery salsa.
- Add more spice. Try adding in habanero or serrano chiles if you prefer a spicier salsa fresca.
- Make your own tortilla chips. If you’re looking for a delicious appetizer, try making your own tortilla chips to serve this pico de gallo with.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more Mexican-inspired salsa recipes, check out these options:
- Salsa roja for a 6-ingredient salsa with bold and authentic tastes.
- Salsa verde if you want an easy sauce that’s full of spicy, tangy, and zesty flavors.
- Chamoy for a sweet, tangy, spicy, and salty sauce to eat with fruit, drinks, and more.
- Mexican crema for a rich, creamy, and tangy sauce to balance out spicy Mexican flavors.
- Roasted chili corn salsa for a fresh, chunky, and flavorful salsa just like they serve at Chipotle.
- Pineapple pico de gallo to switch things up with a bright, fruity take on salsa fresca.
Yes, you can make this pico de gallo in a food processor if you prefer. Just make sure you pulse everything to prevent over chopping the veggies.
Yes, you can absolutely use other tomatoes. We find the Roma variety is readily available and affordable, but you can use whichever variety you prefer.
If you don’t like cilantro or don’t have access to any, you can omit it completely. We also think fresh oregano, basil, or green onions would make a good replacement.
🍴 Tasting notes
This recipe is so easy to throw together, it makes the perfect appetizer for any occasion! We know you’re going to love the combination of flavors. They’re:
If you try this salsa fresca recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Homemade Salsa Fresca
- Chef knife
- 4 Roma tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped ($0.72)
- ½ medium white onion, finely chopped ($0.12)
- 1 clove garlic, minced ($0.04)
- 2 tbsp finely minced cilantro ($0.07)
- 1 large jalapeño, de-seeded and minced ($0.25)
- 2 tbsp lime juice ($0.18)
- Sea salt to taste ($0.01)
To Serve optional
- Tortilla chips
- To begin, slice the tomatoes and remove the inner seed portion (if you prefer a runnier salsa, omit this part). Then, dice what's left of the tomatoes and add them to a mixing bowl.
- Next, finely dice the white onion and mince the garlic and cilantro. Cut the jalapeño in half lengthwise. With a small spoon, scrape out the seeds and finely mince the pepper. Add everything to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes.
- Juice the lime into the mixing bowl, and add sea salt to taste. Stir to combine, then taste and adjust seasonings to your preferences. Add chiles for more spice, lime for more tang, or garlic for more zestiness.
- Serve this salsa fresca with some homemade tortilla chips for a tasty snack or appetizer. Happy eating!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.