Sometimes I get SO excited when homegrown tomatoes are in season that I accidentally on purpose make an unrealistic amount of Pico de Gallo. As in can’t possibly be eaten by a household of two without getting a little creative beyond the obvious chips and pico snacking.
If you’re like me and often find yourself facing what to do with leftover Pico de Gallo, you’re gonna wanna save these suggestions for later. Fortunately, there are a lot of tasty options for leftover Pico de Gallo!
Let’s knock some of the more obvious uses out of the way first. If you have a lot of pico that needs to be used up, plan on making Mexican-leaning meals that Pico de Gallo will complement, like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas. And nachos. You can also mix Pico de Gallo into guacamole to give it new life.
A Note on Reusing Pico de Gallo
Pico de Gallo is notorious for increasing in liquid as it sits. If your leftover pico is starting to pool up in liquid, you’ll want to strain it before using it in most applications. You can reuse the liquid in some cases, like in soups. If you don’t want to waste the leftover pico liquid, but need to strain it, try adding it to a Bloody Mary cocktail or freeze it for use later.
Add freshness to grilled goods
A generous spoonful or two of Pico de Gallo is the perfect accompaniment to grilled foods. It brings a bright acidity that pairs well with smoky, grilled goods. Try it on top of grilled chicken or seafood. Top a grilled burger with pico for a Tex-Mex-style burger. Definitely try it on top of grilled vegetables like asparagus and potatoes.
Soup is always the answer
All routes lead to tortilla soup with leftover Mexican food, amIright!? Simply saute the Pico de Gallo, then blend it into your tortilla soup. But you could also treat leftover Pico de Gallo like a sofrito base for many different kinds of soups and stews and chili.
Relatedly, you could also quickly cook leftover Pico de Gallo in a little oil to make a sofrito - then freeze it in small batches. When you need to give a soup some oomph! and quickly, just reach into your freezer for some ready-made sofrito.
Pasta la Pico, Baby
Pico de Gallo makes a fantastic pasta “sauce.” Simply toss the cooked pasta in leftover pico and a little bit of olive oil and serve. Or use it to kick up jarred marinara sauces.
Pico also makes the perfect addition to cold summer pasta salads, especially if it’s leaning Tex-Mex anyways. Try adding it to this Tex-Mex Pasta Salad.
Rice, Rice Baby
Plain rice gets an instant boost when you mix in Pico de Gallo. Like in this Pico de Gallo Rice Bowl.
Why not make a quick ceviche? If you’re worried about using raw seafood, simply toss in some pre-cooked, like in this Shrimp Pico de Gallo Ceviche.
If you need a quick garnish, reach for that leftover pico. It’s fantastic when used atop hummus.
You could also treat it like bruschetta and add it to crispy little pieces of garlic toast.
Using it as a salad topper is another fantastic way to go. Sprinkle on some tortilla strips and make it a Tex-Mex salad.
If your scrambled eggs need a kick, reach for that leftover pico. Or why not make breakfast tacos?
Pico pairs beautifully with sweet potato. Serve it on top of baked sweet potatoes or with sweet potato fries.
Mix It In
Pico is so good in dip! Even something simple, like when you take a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch seasoning and add it to sour cream. Take it to the next level and add some pico to the mix. You won’t be disappointed.
Give ho-hum tuna or chicken salad an instant freshness boost when you mix it in.
Give your mac and cheese some brightness when you mix in leftover pico.
To be completely honest here, Pico de Gallo is best eaten within 24 hours. That is when it’s at its peak freshness. The peppers and onions are still crisp, there isn’t too much liquid pooling, and the flavors are bright and sharp. This is when you want to enjoy it with chips so it shines on its own, or feature it in ceviche.
After 48 hours I tend to lose interest in eating leftover Pico de Gallo with chips because the acidity starts noticeably weakening the crispness of the veggies present. And the overall flavor begins to degrade and mellow out.
Ideally, you’ll want to try to consume within one week. At the one-week point, leftover pico is suited best for dishes where it will be cooked off, like in soup.
The best way to avoid watery Pico De Gallo is to salt and drain the tomatoes before introducing them to the other ingredients. I explain how to do this in this recipe for Spicy Pico de Gallo.
Try pairing Pico de Gallo with the following delicious dishes:
- Instant Pot Spanish Rice
- Restaurant Style Refried Beans
- Air Fryer Nachos
- Doritos Walking Tacos
- Crispy Air Fryer Tacos
- Grilled Chicken Quesadillas
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In what creative ways do you use up leftover pico de gallo? Comment below!