Which Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo? [Prep + Substitutes]

Tomatoes are one of the main ingredients of authentic pico de gallo, if not the star of the show. But what are the best choices for this dish? According to experts, fresh plum tomatoes, and …

different types of tomato

Tomatoes are one of the main ingredients of authentic pico de gallo, if not the star of the show. But what are the best choices for this dish?

According to experts, fresh plum tomatoes, and specifically Roma tomatoes, are excellent for pico de gallo because they are meatier, denser, have fewer seeds, and will yield a less watery output. Cherry tomatoes are also a good choice.

But what about using green tomatoes, tomato substitutes, or no tomatoes at all? Find out to know if these are probable.

What Are the Best Types of Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo? 

To Mexicans, pico de gallo is a sauce. To non-Mexicans, it can be considered a salad. This is because it is made with fresh ingredients, chopped and diced, and seasoned with salt and fresh lime juice, which makes it resemble a salad.

pico de gallo in a bowl

Pico de gallo can be both a fresh sauce and a salad which makes it versatile. Some people even replace tomatoes, which is technically a fruit, with other fruits (source: El Pollo Norteño). 

If this is the case, red tomatoes, in general, would make for a great sauce, dip, or salad. However, there are several types that are considered to be suitable for pico de gallo.

Ripe plum tomatoes are considered an excellent choice for pico de gallo. They are denser and meatier, plus they contain fewer seeds and less water content compared to other tomato varieties (source: The Pioneer Woman). A plus indeed.

According to a blog, tomatoes should be red, not pink. Roma tomatoes, a type of plum tomato, are also a great call because they are not that watery. But if you don’t have Roma tomatoes, you can always use anything you have as long as they’re red, ripe, and of great quality (source: Cookie and Kate).  

Many pico de gallo fans and makers alike agree that Roma tomatoes are great because they are firmer.

Another good choice is cherry tomato which will be discussed below. 

Can You Use Cherry or Grape Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo?

cherry tomatoes on a wooden table

With the absence of Roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes are a good option especially during winter (when tomatoes are hard to find) because they taste good throughout the year (source: Cookie and Kate).  

They are significantly smaller, which, depending on you, could be a good thing or a bad thing when it comes to chopping. Cherry tomatoes are sweet and delicious which is great when you like your pico de gallo sweeter (source: The Pioneer Woman).

Can You Use Green Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo? 

Green tomatoes like Aunt Ruby’s German cherry tomato, green zebra tomato, and Cherokee green tomato are uncommon to be used in pico de gallo. This is because the best type of tomato for pico de gallo is red and ripe.

Moreover, unripe green tomatoes might not do the trick. This is because they can still be crunchy and not well-suited for pico de gallo. They might even make the pico taste like cardboard (source: Mexican Food Journal). 

Can You Make Pico de Gallo Without Tomatoes?

The pico de gallo’s fresh flavor profile is constructed around fresh tomatoes, while the other basic ingredients complement and enhance this flavor (source: Mexican Food Journal). If one were to remove tomatoes, what would become of the dish?

However, if one were to replace the tomatoes, a pico de gallo could still work, as shown by the many recipes substituting tomatoes for mangoes, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, and even pineapple.

Tomatoes are acidic as well as sweet. These fruits mentioned above also bear the same qualities which make them good candidates.

Do You Have to Skin or de-Seed Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo?

It’s not necessary to remove the seeds of the ripe tomatoes. However, many people like to have the tomatoes seedless because the seeds contribute to moisture, thus making the pico de gallo watery and soggy which is not a good trait. 

Another reason why people prefer Roma tomatoes apart from their flavor and beautiful red complexion is because they are easier to de-seed (source: Kitchen Seer). 

a can of whole peeled tomatoes

Can You Use Canned or Roasted Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo?

Canned or roasted tomatoes technically defeat the purpose of pico de gallo because this Mexican dish requires the freshest ingredients. 

But if you really like to have tomatoes in your pico de gallo and don’t have fresh ones lying around, you may use roasted or canned tomatoes. Just note that the sauce (or salad) will now resemble and taste like salsa, if not it is considered as salsa.

What’s the Best Way to Cut or Chop Tomatoes for Pico de Gallo?

This will depend on the tools you have available as well as your extra time. A food processor will save you a lot of prep time in the kitchen compared to chopping the tomatoes yourself.

You can also use a blender, but you have to pulse it and not leave it to process on its own, otherwise, you’ll end up with fresh tomato sauce.

At the end of the day, it will always be what you prefer and what is available to you, so don’t stress out. But we hope this article helps serves as a complete guide!