The difference between Pico de Gallo and salsa is not known to many people because most of the time those who live in the United States do not cook them quite correctly so they might sometimes confuse the terms. They are cooking Pico de Gallo and they think they are making salsa.

In this article, we are going to tell you everything you need to know about salsa and Pico de Gallo and we are going to teach you how to prepare them correctly and how to associate them with different types of dishes. You will never have to ask anybody what the difference between the two is because the answer is very simple.


What are the ingredients used to make Pico de Gallo and salsa?

It is very important to know what the ingredients of each dish are because this way you will be able to understand where the confusion comes from. Pico de Gallo and salsa are similar in some ways and one of them is the fact that almost the same ingredients are used to make both dishes.

The only problem is that there are more types of salsa and here we have given the ingredients that are most common for all types. In our section about salsa, we will give you more information on the ways to cook it and on the types of salsa you can make. So here are the ingredients used for Pico de Gallo and salsa.


Pico de Gallo

  • Red tomatoes 
  • Jalapenos
  • White onions
  • Lime
  • Cilantro
  • Cumin 
  • Salt



  • Tomatoes
  • Green peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Garlic 
  • Cilantro
  • Lemon juice
  • Red peppers 
  • Dill 


The main difference between the two

As we have said before, the ingredients used are very similar. However, the main difference is in the way you cook them. Well, sort of, because salsa is cooked and Pico de Gallo is not. This is the main difference. Pico de Gallo is more like a salad because all of the ingredients used are fresh, nothing is deteriorated due to high-temperature exposure in terms of nutrients.

When you make salsa, on the other hand, you have to cook all the ingredients in order to make a classic dish. This is why the textures and the taste are very different and this is why you will not be able to confuse them anymore and it will seem silly that other people do so.


  1. Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo is actually a type of salsa that in many regions is called ‘salsa fresca’, which means fresh salsa, or ‘salsa cruda’, which means raw salsa. This type of salsa is often encountered in Mexico, but it is used in many different regions of the world as a salad even though it does not have the same name. It is true that the spices used might differ.

A funny thing about Pico de Gallo is that the ingredients have colors similar to the national flag, this is why in many regions people call it ‘flag salsa’. It is often used in combination with tacos.


  • How do you prepare Pico de Gallo?

It is very easy to prepare this dish and it will take you about ten minutes, the most. First of all, you have to wash the ingredients thoroughly. After you have done that, you have to chop the onions in very small pieces. Remember, this is essential because, otherwise, the dish will not have the texture that you need.

The tomatoes and the jalapenos also have to be chopped in very small pieces, even though some people prefer to leave them a little bit bigger. If you want to serve this dish as a salad, bigger pieces are just fine, but if you want to add it to tacos, you should aim for a smoother texture.

After that, cut the cilantro, add the salt and cumin and mix thoroughly. Squeeze the juice out of a lime and add it to the mixture. This way you will have a perfectly made Pico de Gallo that will add freshness to your meal.


  • What are the benefits in terms of nutrients?

In general, half a cup of pico de gallo has only 12 calories and it contains only 3 grams of carbs and no fat. This is why it is a very healthy choice especially for people who want to lose weight while still enjoying a great taste. It can change the taste of many dishes and it is a great choice for crunchy bites.

Raw vegetables are a very healthy addition to your diet and come with a lot of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. In the case of tomatoes, they are 95 percent made of water, so, besides being nutritious, they will also help you hydrate. Tomatoes are an important source of vitamin K1, vitamin B9, also known as folate, potassium, beta-carotene, and lycopene.

However, lycopene levels are increased when tomatoes are cooked. Three-quarters of fresh tomatoes add between 1-8 mg of lycopene to your diet.

Jalapenos are also very nutritious and studies have shown that they help fight cancer. They also have a lot of vitamins and antioxidants. Onions are very healthy vegetables that have a lot of vitamin C and, when consumed raw, they also have the capacity of protecting you against the common cold and are full of antioxidants as well.


  1. Salsa

Salsa means sauce and people in the Latin speaking countries see it as a cooking sauce that is reduced. Around the world, however, salsa is viewed more as a dipping sauce. In the western world, the most common type of salsa is ‘salsa roja’, which literally means red sauce. Salsa is usually used for tacos as well and as a condiment in Mexico.


  • How do you prepare the salsa?

As we have said before, salsa has to be cooked in order to be called salsa and not Pico de Gallo. Some people cook all the ingredients except the tomatoes, but the original recipe is made using cooked tomatoes. 

A good practice is to stir fry all the ingredients and to add the chopped tomatoes at the end and let them boil until they become creamy. After that, you can blend the mixture in order for it to have the sauce texture. If you want you can blend everything in advance, but it will not taste the same. This is pretty much everything you need to do in order to make great salsa.


  • What are the benefits in terms of nutrients?

If when we talked about Pico de Gallo we have said that its main asset is that it is raw and raw vegetables are very healthy and full of nutrients, you should know that women might benefit a lot more from salsa than from Pico de Gallo when it comes to the fact that the tomatoes are cooked.

We have talked about the lycopene content in tomatoes and we have said that three-quarters of a cup of raw tomatoes add between 1 and 8 milligrams of lycopene to your diet. Well, you will be surprised to hear that the same cooked quantity will come with an addition of 6 milligrams. So cooked tomatoes have between 10 and 14 milligrams of lycopene.

Lycopene is great for the skin and in western countries, most of the lycopene present in our diets comes from tomatoes, especially cooked tomatoes. So, you see, even though salsa is cooked, it also comes with great benefits for your health.



Most people forget how healthy it is to have a great number of vegetables in their diet. However, it is not necessary to consume them as they are. Pico de Gallo and salsa are great ways to eat veggies and still not feel like we are becoming vegetarians. 

In this article, we have explored the differences between these 2 dishes and, to sum up, these are their main differences:

  • Pico de Gallo is raw while salsa is cooked.
  • Pico de Gallo has more vitamins than salsa does because some of them are destroyed while cooking.
  • Salsa has a lot more lycopene than Pico de Gallo because of the fact that cooking increases the amount of this nutrient in tomatoes.
  • Salsa has a lot more liquid, this is why it is preferred by some people for tacos. However, if you chop the ingredients in Pico de Gallo into very small pieces, you can get a similar effect.

If you have never tried any of these dishes before, you should definitely give them a try and combine them with the same other ingredients of a meal, like with tacos, for example, to see which one of them you like best.

If you like both of them, which we are sure that you are going to, you can alternate between them. Introducing them on a regular basis into your diet will come with a lot of benefits to your health and to your mood as well because people are usually happy after they eat a great meal.