Trying your hand at some fresh homemade salsa and confused about how to choose the best onions for salsa and Pico de Gallo?
Here’s a little guide to helping you pick just the right kind of onions (and tomatoes) to perfect your versatile condiment.
The base of any good salsa or Pico de Gallo lies in two ingredients- tomatoes and onions.
The pungent flavor and chunky bits of chopped onions are the perfect teammate to the juicy tomato and the fresh cilantro.
Onions essentially add some much needed kick of flavor to the salsa, and regardless of whether you’re using white onions or yellow onions, they make an important part of this Mexican favorite.
How to Choose the Best Onion For Salsa and Pico de Gallo
You’ll need to start off with fresh onion and tomatoes for your fresh salsa recipe.
If you’re confused about which kind to use in specific, here’s a bit of help for you.
White onions truly stand out in terms of flavor, and are the best choice when it comes to making a fresh salsa or Pico de Gallo.
Most Mexican salsa recipes use white raw onions, and while they might be more pungent than yellow onions, they have the perfect crunch factor that works for both- salsas and Pico de Gallo.
Also Read: Corn Pico de Gallo
You’ll find white onions being widely used in Mexican cuisine and Mexican dishes, simply because they have a more balanced flavor, and are able to hold their shape well even when they are finely chopped.
In fact, white onions are the best choice for a spicy salsa Roja too.
Can I Use Red Onions or Yellow Onions?
You sure can! If you like to use sweet onions, you can use Vidalia or Walla Walla onions.
If you want to add a pop of color to your favorite salsa recipe, purple or red onions could be a great choice too.
They are much more subtle tasting as opposed to white onions, but if that’s what you really prefer, you could totally use them too.
What Kind of Tomatoes Should I Use?
Any good homemade salsa recipe calls for the use of fresh tomatoes as opposed to canned tomatoes.
The idea behind this is that the use of fresh ingredients just adds a different layer of flavor and deliciousness to the dish- that’s exactly why it is called salsa fresca or salsa cruda which essentially translates to salsa made using fresh ingredients.
That said, the kind of tomatoes you use to make the salsa can actually have a huge impact on the end flavors too.
Plum tomatoes or Roma tomatoes are super juicy, and are perfect when you’re trying to replicate a restaurant-style salsa.
Some traditional Mexican salsa recipes call for the use of these tomatoes.
Also Read: Cabbage Pico de Gallo Recipe
If you love a good homemade Pico de Gallo that you’d usually find at your favorite Mexican restaurant, a harder variety of tomato like beefsteak tomatoes can be a great choice.
They’re much easier to dice and chop up and you’ll end up with a super delicious homemade salsa that has the perfect balance of flavors and textures.
You can, also of course, use heirloom tomatoes to bring in some variation to your fresh tomato salsa.
These aren’t a typical choice, but they can work in a pinch if you don’t have other kinds available and you still want to make a salsa with fresh tomatoes.
And of course, you can also simply roast the tomato of your choice and use the roasted tomato as the base for your delicious salsa.
Salsa vs Pico de Gallo - What’s the Difference?
The simplest difference between salsa and Pico de Gallo is that you would typically make salsa with canned tomatoes, while a homemade Pico de Gallo recipe would need you to use fresh tomatoes.
Now that you’ve understood how to choose the best onion for salsa and Pico de Gallo, keep in mind that it is less about the type of onion or tomato you’re using, but more about choosing to use the right combination of ingredients, and choosing fresher ingredients.
Also keep in mind that both salsa and Pico de Gallo taste best when you make them fresh.
You could probably store them in the refrigerator and make them last another day, but going beyond that or attempting to freeze them and store them for later isn’t recommended.
I actually put together an entire post about freezing Pico de Gallo explaining the ins and outs of freezing your favorite fresh condiment.