Nobody knows who invented "pico de gallo," nor where it got its weird name [literally "rooster's beak" in English]. However, most chefs agree on which tomato should go in this heavenly Hispanic dip.
If you're new to making pico de gallo, then you've got to check out the research we've done on the best tomato for this recipe.
Most chefs prefer using fresh Roma tomatoes in pico de gallo. Unlike other tomato varieties, Romas are easy to de-seed and have a relatively low moisture content. These features make it less likely you'll mix a mushy pico de gallo.
There are various pico de gallo recipes online, but most follow a few general techniques. For more details on making a delicious bowl of pico de gallo, you've got to check out the tips below.
What Tomatoes Go In Pico de Gallo?
Moisture content is critical when picking a tomato for pico de gallo. Authentic pico de gallo should never be watery; therefore, you should use tomatoes that don't have a ton of moisture.
Roma tomatoes remain the most popular choice in pico de gallo recipes. These plum tomatoes have a higher flesh-to-juice ratio. This will give you the chunky texture and "bite" that differentiates pico de gallo from a soupier salsa dip.
It's also easier to de-seed Roma tomatoes versus other varieties. Getting rid of the seeds and membranes will significantly cut down on your pico de gallo's sogginess.
Although Roma tomatoes are always preferred, you could experiment with other cultivars. For instance, many recipes use cherry tomatoes, vine-ripened tomatoes, and even beefsteak tomatoes.
While these tomatoes may be easier to find at different times of the year, they're more difficult to de-seed. If you opt not to de-seed your tomatoes, it will increase the odds of a watery texture.
To learn more about why Roma tomatoes are the preferred choice, check out this pico de gallo recipe:
Do You De-Seed Tomatoes For Pico de Gallo?
You don't need to de-seed tomatoes for pico de gallo, but most people prefer to keep the seeds out. Getting rid of a tomato's seeds will cut down on your pico de gallo's soggy texture.
As mentioned above, Roma tomatoes are preferred because they're easy to de-seed with a knife. Please watch this video to see just how simple it is to de-seed Roma tomatoes:
De-seeding larger tomatoes like beefsteaks is a little more challenging, but it's not impossible. Check out this video for tips on how to de-seed other tomato varieties:
By the way, you could read our post on the "Best Knife For Cutting Tomatoes" for more pro chef tips.
How Do You Cut Tomatoes For Pico de Gallo?
After de-seeding your tomatoes, you should slice and dice them. Tomatoes in pico de gallo should be slightly chunky, so don't worry about cutting them too fine.
For a visual explanation on how to chop tomatoes for pico de gallo, watch this video:
By the way, you could learn expert chopping techniques in our guide, "How To Properly Dice A Tomato."
Can You Make Pico de Gallo In A Food Processor?
Pico purists will claim you must use a knife to chop your tomatoes, serrano peppers, and onion. However, there are many food processors with convenient dicing features.
While it's trickier to control moisture content and consistency when using a food processor, you will save some serious time in the kitchen. Just be sure not to use your food processor for too long to avoid making your pico too mushy.
Please watch this video to see how to use a food processor to make pico de gallo.
How Do You Keep Pico de Gallo From Getting Watery?
The easiest way to keep pico de gallo from getting watery is to remove the seeds from your tomatoes. You should also start with a tomato cultivar that already has a low moisture content.
Roma tomatoes are ideal for pico de gallo because they don't have a ton of moisture. Also, you could easily de-seed Roma tomatoes with a knife.
Does Salt Get Rid Of Moisture In Pico de Gallo?
All pico de gallo recipes include a pinch of salt for flavor, but this ingredient could also help dry out your tomatoes. Many people toss their diced tomatoes in salt before mixing them with the other ingredients.
It's best to put your chopped tomatoes in a colander before coating your tomatoes with a pinch of salt. Let your tomatoes sit for at least 15 minutes to let the salt seep into the tomatoes.
Although this trick isn't "standard" for making pico de gallo, it may prove helpful if you're using a non-Roma tomato.
To learn more about the science of salting tomatoes, check out this video:
How Long Does Fresh Pico de Gallo Last In The Fridge?
If you didn't finish all your pico de gallo in one session, you could preserve it in the fridge. Generally, fresh pico de gallo will last about one week when stored properly in the refrigerator.
By "stored properly," we mean in an airtight container. These sealable containers decrease oxygen exposure, which always helps foods stay fresh for longer.
Remember that refrigerated pico de gallo will lose its firm texture. With each day that passes, it's likely your leftover pico won't be as crisp as on the day you made it.
Also, please be sure to inspect your pico de gallo for discoloration or mold before eating it. You should also smell your leftover pico for any rancid aromas. These are all warning signs your pico de gallo is no longer safe to eat.
If you want to learn more about food storage, be sure to check out our post, "Do Glass Containers Keep Food Fresh Longer?"
Can You Freeze Fresh Pico de Gallo?
You can freeze fresh pico de gallo, but most people don't recommend it. Even though these ingredients will still be edible from the freezer, they won't have that same crisp texture.
The freshness of your ingredients plays a significant role in pico's "personality." In fact, some people call pico de gallo "salsa fresca" in reference to these raw ingredients.
When you de-thaw frozen pico de gallo, it won't have the "crunch" that you get in a freshly-prepared bowl. Instead, it's likely your thawed pico de gallo will taste watery.
Still, if you plan to mix this frozen pico de gallo in a creamy sauce—or you don't mind the texture—it's safe to freeze pico de gallo. As with most other frozen foods, pico de gallo will last indefinitely in the freezer.
Just be sure to use a freezer-safe airtight container for optimal preservation.
For What Do You Use Pico de Gallo?
Pico de gallo is more than just a tasty dip for chips. Sure, it's most common to serve pico de gallo with tortilla chips, but there are dozens of other ways you could enjoy this topping.
For instance, it's common to serve pico de gallo alongside dishes like tacos, quesadillas, or tostadas. Pico de gallo is also fantastic in many non-Hispanic recipes like grilled salmon, chicken, or scrambled eggs.
It's also easy to make guacamole by mixing pico de gallo into smashed avocados. You could even remove the seed of an avocado and fill the center with pico de gallo.
Here are just a few other creative ways you could put pico de gallo to good use:
- Add it on top of homemade hummus.
- Mix pico de gallo into a quinoa, rice, or chickpea salad.
- Mix into a Whataburger-inspired pico de gallo burger.
- Sprinkle pico on top of mac and cheese.
- Put pico on top of black bean soup or chicken soup.
- Mix pico with pasta and extra virgin olive oil.
FYI: You could learn a tasty way to make loaded french fries with pico de gallo in our "How To Season French Fries" post.
Oh yeah, in case you were wondering, here's a recipe guide for Whataburger's pico de gallo burger:
For Perfect Pico de Gallo, Choose The Right Tomato!
If you want pico perfection, you've got to use Roma tomatoes. These tomatoes have a naturally low moisture content, which translates to a crisp, non-watery pico de gallo.
Of course, you could experiment with other tomatoes, but there's a reason most people always gravitate towards Romas.
By the way, you could learn more about the defining features of various tomatoes in our post "How Big Is A Tomato?"