This easy homemade Pico de Gallo recipe (aka salsa bandera or chopped tomato salad) is super simple to make and packed with vibrant, fresh veggies like tomatoes, onions, and spicy green peppers.

This salsa tastes best if you use fresh ingredients during their peak season, summer and fall. If you are lucky enough to have your own garden and can grow these fresh ingredients, then even better. It’s the perfect appetizer, dip, or topping for most occasions, especially when you’re feeding a crowd!

Freshly chopped Pico de Gallo salsa in a silver bowl with a red, white, and green Mexican flag underneath    

What is Pico de Gallo?

Did you know that Pico de gallo literally translates to “rooster’s beak,” I always thought that was so funny and never understood why it is called that.

This salsa is also called “salsa bandera” (aka flag) because it has the three colors of the Mexican flag — green, white, and red — making this salsa perfect for Mexican Independence Day or to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

This chunky raw chopped tomato salsa is also called salsa fresca (fresh), salsa picada (chopped), salsa cruda (raw), and salsa Mexicana. 

Key Ingredients

You only need a couple of garden-fresh veggies and pantry staples to make this super simple salsa at home, including:

  • a jalapeño pepper (stemmed and chopped)
  • a serrano pepper (also stemmed and chopped)
  • three Roma tomatoes (or vine-ripened tomatoes; chopped)
  • a small white onion (chopped)
  • salt
  • fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • cilantro (chopped)
  • and the optional tomato sauce (if you like your salsa saucy).

Pico de Gallo Ingredients like Roma and cherry tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, serrano peppers, a sliced lime, a white onion, and fresh cilantro arranged against a grey background

How To Make This Salsa

This easy pico de gallo recipe could not be simpler to make! Start by chopping all your veggies as roughly or finely as you like, but try to keep them uniform in shape.

Finely chopped tomato salad ingredients in separate bowls on a grey background, including tomatoes, green peppers, and white onion, as well as lime wedges and fresh cilantro

Place the chopped veggies and cilantro in a large mixing bowl, and sprinkle generously with salt.

Add lime juice and tomato sauce, if using. Mix well, taste test, and add additional salt if necessary. (But keep in mind the flavor will become enhanced as the pico de gallo marinates.)

Chopped salsa bandera ingredients arranged in a large silver serving bowl with two handles

Serve this delicious homemade salsa bandera as a topping on an entree of your choice or with tortilla chips. And, most of all, enjoy!

A prepared easy Pico de Gallo recipe served in a large silver bowl with tortilla chips and remaining chopped tomato salad ingredients placed around it 

How To Serve

The longer this chunky, raw salsa sits, the longer the veggies are able to marinate and tastes even better. You can’t go wrong serving this salsa with a basket of tortilla chips, a topping for meat like fish, shrimp, chicken, or steak (especially when those meats are grilled), or as a classic topping on any of these dishes: 

However you serve it, it’s sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

Tips and Variations

  • Do you enjoy fruity salsas? Then change up this homemade pico de gallo by adding strawberries
  • For a mild onion flavor, rinse and strain the onion. If you like a stronger onion flavor, you can use red onion in place of the white onion. 
  • The longer the salsa sits, the more the tomatoes release their juices and make the salsa slightly watery. I don’t mind that, but my mom adds a bit of tomato sauce to help thicken the salsa without losing its tomato flavor or overpowering the other ingredients. You could also drain some of the juice before serving, if desired.
  • In place of the tomato sauce, you could add a spicy sauce.
  • If you like your salsa extra spicy, consider adding in a habanero. If you like homemade pico de gallo milder, you can remove seeds and veins from chile peppers. Also, feel free to omit the serrano. Learn all about the heat of different chile peppers.

Storage Instructions

Store this easy pico de gallo in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy at room temperature or cold until it’s gone! And do not freeze, as the veggies will fall apart and turn to mush in the thawing process.

More Salsa Recipes To Try

If you enjoyed this homemade pico de gallo, then you’ll love these other easy salsa recipes!

Are there any special ingredients you like to add in your homemade Pico de Gallo Salsa? Let me know in the comments below! And if you post pics of your tasty creations to Instagram, don’t forget to tag me (@muybuenocooking)!

Close-up view of this simple pico de gallo, aka salsa bandera or chopped tomato salad, in a silver bowl to be served as an appetizer with tortilla chips

Pico de Gallo / Salsa Fresca / Salsa Bandera / Salsa Picada / Salsa Cruda / Chopped Tomato Salsa

5 (2 ratings)
This iconic fresh tomato salsa is also called salsa bandera (flag) because it has the three colors of the Mexican flag: green, white, and red making this salsa perfect for Mexican Independence Day.

Ingredients

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper, stemmed and chopped
  • 3 small Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce, optional

Instructions 

  • Put chopped jalapeño, serrano, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt.
  • Add lime juice and tomato sauce, if using. Mix well and taste and add additional salt if necessary.
  • Serve as a topping on fish, chicken, grilled steak, or with a basket of tortilla chips.

Notes

  • If you like your salsa extra spicy, consider adding in a habanero.
  • If you like homemade pico de gallo milder, you can remove seeds and veins from chile peppers. Also, feel free to omit the serrano. Learn all about the heat of different chile peppers.
  • For a mild onion flavor, rinse and strain the onion.
  • If you like a stronger onion flavor, you can use red onion in place of the white onion. 
  • The longer the salsa sits, the more the tomatoes release their juices and make the salsa slightly watery. I don’t mind that, but my mom adds a bit of tomato sauce to help thicken the salsa without losing its tomato flavor or overpowering the other ingredients. You could also drain some of the juice before serving, if desired.
  • In place of the tomato sauce, you could add a spicy sauce.
  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Do not freeze, as the veggies will fall apart and turn to mush in the thawing process.
Calories: 33kcal, Carbohydrates: 7g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 377mg, Potassium: 309mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 887IU, Vitamin C: 21mg, Calcium: 16mg, Iron: 1mg

Photography by Jenna Sparks
Originally published in September 2015. This recipe is also published in the Muy Bueno cookbook.