Salsa Fresca: A Fresh Dive Into Its Vibrant History and Ingredients

Did you know that one of the beloved condiments in both Mexican and Tex Mex cuisine traces its origins all the way back to the ancient Aztecs?

It’s salsa fresca. You may also know this lovely salsa as “pico de gallo”.

Bursting with fresh lively flavors, salsa fresca combines simple ingredients to create a lively, vibrant flavor that has captivated taste buds since antiquity.

Yes, salsa fresca has journeyed from ancient gardens to our modern tables.

The word “salsa” simply means sauce in Spanish with “fresca” meaning fresh.

And fresh it is, indeed.

No need to fire up the stove or oven when making this salsa.

This dish is all about the knife skills.


Salsa Fresca’s Simple Ingredients


Tomatoes are native to South America and were cultivated by the Aztecs and Incas as early as 700 AD.

The indigenous people of Mexico revered the tomato and have used it in their cooking for centuries.

The Spanish introduced the tomato to the rest of the world following their conquest of the Americas.



Onions add a crisp texture and a sharp bite to the salsa that complements the sweetness of the tomato.


Jalapeño or Serrano

The jalapeño is the chili most often used in Tex Mex salsa fresca.

With traditional Mexican cuisine, the serrano is most often used in areas where spicier food is more common.

Whichever chili you decide to use, you can always reduce the heat by removing the chili’s pith.


Lime Zest and Juice

Introduced to Mexico by Spanish and Portuguese traders, limes quickly became an Important crop.

Lime juice brightens the flavor of the salsa fresca with its crisp, bright acidity.

The aromatic oils that give lime its flavor are concentrated in the skin. For this reason I always grate a bit of zest into my salsa fresca.



With its distinctive, lively taste, cilantro traces its origins back to the Mediterranean and Middle East regions. It was brought to the New World in the 16th century by the Portuguese and Spaniards.

I’m so thankful.

If you’re one of the unlucky few where cilantro tastes like soap, my condolences.

Whether you use this salsa on tacos, with grilled meats or simply as a dip with chips, you’re going to love it.

Salsa fresca is easy to make and its history is a testament to the power of using simple, fresh ingredients to create vibrant flavor in every bite.

Make it today.

Ready for Tex Mex?

Homemade Tacos Recipe

Use my recipe to make your own Homemade Flour Tortillas.



Salsa Fresca

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This simple salsa fresca with lime and cilantro is refreshing and easy to make. Serve it on tacos, grilled meats, or as a dip with chips.

  • Author: Chef Sandra Lewis
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 cups 1x


Units Scale
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, about 12 oz
  • 1/4 cup onion, small dice
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded, small dice
  • zest from 1 lime
  • 12 teaspoons (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped
  • kosher salt


  1. In a mediume bowl, stir together the tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, and lime zest.
  2. Squeeze 1-2 teaspoons lime juice into the mixture.
  3. Stir to combine.
  4. Taste and season with kosher salt as desired.


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