Pico de Gallo Salsa

From Carlsbad Cravings, one of my favorite recipe sites. Chef Jen, the author of Carlsbad Cravings, shares INCREDIBLE recipes. I've never come across anything on her site that didn't sound delicious, and I've never followed one of her recipes that didn't turn out absolutely delicious. And she lives in Carlsbad, one of my favorite places on Earth. I used to run along the Pacific Coast Highway in Carlsbad when I lived there - beautiful memories.


  • 6 Roma tomatoes diced with fleshy seeds removed see notes, approx. (2 ½ cups)
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced (approx. 1 cup)
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves minced
  • 1-2 jalapenos or serrano peppers seeded, deveined
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (add lime zest for tangier)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
  • Pepper to taste


Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. When ready to serve, taste and add additional lime juice, salt and pepper if desired. If refrigerated beforehand, let sit 15 minutes at room temperature so it doesn’t taste flat.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Pick ripe yet firm tomatoes. Choose deeply colored, firm with-with-a-little-give, ripe tomatoes for maximum flavor because this recipe centers around the tomatoes. We want ripe but not overripe so they get mushy and fall apart. Also, make sure they smell like a tomato – if they don’t smell then they will taste like cardboard.
  2. Remove tomato seeds. We are going to quarter our Roma tomatoes then scoop out the seeds and watery flesh because it doesn’t add flavor – only liquid – to our Pico de Gallo. Scooping out the seeds also helps the salsa store much better without becoming overly soggy or watery.
  3. Devein jalapenos. The ribs and seeds carry the most heat in peppers, so we are going to remove them but you can always add in some seeds later (as previously discussed). To devein your jalapeno(s), cut the stem off then cut the jalapeño in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon or pairing knife. If there is still white rib remaining in some places, then slice it out. Take care to dice the jalapenos finely so the heat is evenly distributed throughout the Pico de Gallo. Never touch your eyes when dealing with peppers!
  4. How to measure cilantro. Add the whole leaves without the stems to a measuring cup, before they are chopped. Loosely pack them in.
  5. Use freshly squeezed lime juice. If you want more tangy flavor then use the zest as well. The lime brings out the freshness of all the ingredients.
  6. Salt! Tomatoes need salt to enhance their natural flavor so don’t skip or your Pico de Gallo will taste bland.
  7. Play with amounts. My Pico de Gallo recipe is a guideline but the quantity of each ingredient is really up to you. Love cilantro – add more! Don’t love raw onions – add less! But don’t skip the cilantro - it is essential in Pico de Gallo.
  8. Let sit. After you combine the Pico de Gallo ingredients in a bowl, let them sit at room temperate in order for the flavors to meld together. If you taste it right away, I guarantee you will be disappointed. The salt draws out the flavor from the tomatoes, which we desperately want in this recipe. Sitting also tones down the raw onion as it mingles with the lime. Give your Pico de Gallo at least 30 minutes for the magic to happen
  9. Adjust seasonings. I don’t suggest tasting and adjusting the seasonings until after the Pico de Gallo sits because only after the waiting period will you taste the true balance of flavors. After it sits, taste and adjust and add additional lime or salt, pepper and/or jalapeno seeds. If it’s missing something, it’s probably salt.
  10. Spice it up. If you want the Pico de Gallo to be spicier then add some of the reserved jalapeno seeds or a pinch of cayenne.
  11. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. If you serve Pico de Gallo really cold it will taste flat. If it has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.