Pico de Gallo is that chunky, liquid-less salsa you’ll find in most Mexican taco stands and restaurants, especially in Baja, Mexico. Baja is where I solidified my love for Pico de Gallo and discovered how satisfying it is with salty chips and an ice cold Mexican beer.
A fresh, straight-forward Pico de Gallo will enhance – not compete – with other flavors which is why I like to use it to top most of my Mexican dishes. It’s also quick, uses common ingredients and there’s no need to dirty up my food processor like I do with my other salsa recipes.
Pico de Gallo Meaning & Pronunciation
Pico means ‘beak and ‘gallo’ is Spanish for ‘rooster,’ thus Pico de Gallo means rooster’s beak. There are only theories for this name with the exact origin is unknown. Phonetically it is pronounced , pronounced peek-o-day-GY-o.
Pico de Gallo vs Salsa
Pico de Gallo is basically a salsa that uses fresh, raw, chopped ingredients. Traditional salsa often uses ingredients that have been cooked and it’s typically blended into more of a sauce. They’re both delicious but they have different textures. There are countless versions of salsa but Pico de Gallo uses the same basic ingredients almost everywhere.
Pico de Gallo Ingredients
Pico de gallo is considered a salsa Fresca, which simply means it is made with fresh ingredients.
- Tomatoes: I prefer a Roma tomato which is a type of plum. Roma tomatoes add a tangy but balanced flavor.
- White onions: These onions have a strong, sharp and not very sweet flavor. Red onions are another good choice for this recipe and yellow onions can be used in a pinch but will produce a sweeter flavor.
- Cilantro: Cilantro adds a fresh tangy citrus flavor to the Pico. Use the leaves, not the stems.
- Garlic: The savory flavor of garlic is just right for pico.
- Fresh lime juice: Use fresh squeezed lime juice to draw out the flavor and avoid the bottled lime juice, if possible.
- Coarse salt & freshly ground black pepper: The salt will enhance the flavor while the pepper will add a slight peppery taste.
- Jalapeños (optional): Jalapeños add just the right amount of heat. Remove the ribs and seeds prior to adding.
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and recipe instructions.)
How to Make Pico de Gallo
- Chop up fresh tomatoes, white onion, and cilantro; Mince fresh garlic and jalapeño
- Add freshly squeezed lime juice and gently stir it all together.
- Season with salt and pepper, then refrigerate for a few hours so all of the flavors come together.
Homemade Pico de Gallo Variations
- Mix-in mango, avocado, bell pepper, peaches or cucumber
- Substitute the tomato with mango, peaches, watermelon, strawberries or sweet corn
- Jalapeños can be substituted with Serrano or Hatch chiles
- Depending on how spicy you like it, forego the peppers or reduce
- Sprinkle crumbled Cotija cheese on top
- Substitute white onion with red onion
Uses for Pico de Gallo
Scooping it up with some salty tortilla chips is a fantastic way to enjoy it! Here are some more ways to use it, too:
- As a topping for tacos, nachos, quesadilla, tostada, taquitos or any other Mexican dish
- Stir some into cottage cheese for a savory snack (trust me on this one)
- Add it to a baked potato along with a Mexican-blend shredded cheese
- Put some on top of mac and cheese with some avocado (Panera used to have this on their menu – it’s delicious)
- Add on top of a grilled steak, chicken or seafood
- Mix it into mashed avocado for a quick guacamole Pico de Gallo
- Stir it into rice for an easy side dish
- Mix with salad
- As a topping on hummus
- Add to grilled or roasted vegetables
- Substitute a slice of tomato with Pico in a hamburger
- Use any leftover Pico de Gallo as a topping for your eggs, frittata or omelet in the morning
- Make it a seafood Pico de Gallo by adding shrimp, prawns, crab, white fish or a combination. There is also this imitation crab ceviche recipe.
How to Store
Pico De Gallo is best if served the same day it is made but can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The lime juice in the mix helps preserve the ingredients.
Let it sit on the counter for at least 30 minutes before serving and use a slotted spoon to avoid the tomato juice at the bottom.
- 5 plum tomatoes or 3 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup white onion, diced
- 1/2 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1–2 garlic cloves, minced
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Mix all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to meld (optional but recommended).
- Serve with salty tortilla chips or use as a topping for tacos, burritos, or your favorite Mexican dish.
- Use ripe tomatoes for best results.
- Chop the ingredients finely.
- Cilantro can be reduced or left out, as desired
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 72Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 334mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 2gSugar: 11gProtein: 2g
This data was provided and calculated by Nutritionix.