Pico de Gallo

Published May 3, 2019. Updated August 21, 2019

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Homemade Pico de Gallo! This healthy Mexican topping and dip is deliciously bright and flavorful, super easy to make and it doesn’t require any special kitchen equipment. It’s just one of those back pocket recipes you’ll turn to time and time again.

Overhead image of homemade pico de gallo in a white serving bowl with a side of tortilla chips.

What is Pico de Gallo?

Pico de gallo (also known as salsa fresca) is a Mexican condiment made up of fresh ingredients such as tomatoes, onions, cilantro, spicy peppers, and lime. It’s similar to salsa but with a bolder taste, chunkier texture and it’s not quite so wet (and any excess moisture is easy to drain off since it’s chunky). It’s commonly served with tortilla chips for dipping or used as a topping for things like tacos and nachos.

It’s nothing complicated, just a handful of ingredients paired together to make such a satisfying and addictive topping!

Fun fact, did you know “pico de gallo” translates to “roosters beak” in English? There’s speculation as to why, some say it’s the shape of the pepper used, others think it’s the texture which looks similar to bird feed, and some say it’s because people used to eat it by pinching between the thumb and forefinger (source) – the world may never know.

Pico de gallo in a mason jar.

Ingredients in Pico de Gallo

All you need for pico de gallo is 6 basic ingredients + salt:

  • Roma tomatoes – this type of tomato has a light sweetness, less pulp and a firmer texture so it works best here.
  • Yellow onion – red onions work great here too. I like to rinse to remove some of the harsh flavor.
  • Cilantro – this has a lot of cilantro, it gives it that traditional, memorable flavor.
  • Jalapeno – this adds a little kick, if you want it spicer try it with a serrano pepper instead.
  • Garlic – this isn’t a typical ingredient in authentic pico de gallo but I love a hint of it added for background flavor.
  • Lime – as always stick with fresh lime for best flavor.
  • Salt – this will really bring out the flavors and keep it from tasting flat.
  • Tip: You can also add in a chopped avocado for extra flavor!

Pico de gallo ingredients: tomatoes, lime, yellow onion, jalapeno, garlic, salt and cilantro.

How to Make Pico de Gallo

This Mexican dip and topping is so easy to make! All you need to do is dice everything up then toss it together in a bowl with the lime and salt.

Finely chopped tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno pepper and garlic on a cutting board with a knife in the background and a juicer.

How Far in Advance Can I Make It?

Pico should stay fresh for about 4 – 5 days in the refrigerator. Don’t keep at room temperature more than 2 hours.

Showing how to make pico de gallo, mixing chopped tomato, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, garlic, lime and salt in a mixing bowl.

Can I Freeze It or Can It?

No to freezing, and no to canning if you ask my opinion. Most of what makes pico so good is that fresh flavor and the texture wouldn’t be the same if either frozen or canned. But you will see with a quick internet search there are methods for canning it (which require more lime) if you insist.

Can I Use a Food Processor?

While I do prefer the hand chopped texture, in a rush you can use a food processor. Roughly chop ingredients first, then add to food processor and chop in quick bursts to a chunky texture, don’t puree!

How to Make it Mild?

Just omit the pepper if you want to make it mild. It shouldn’t be too spicy with them though because the seeds are removed.

Bowl full of fresh pico de gallo.

How About Making It Spicer?

Make it spicer by leaving the seeds of the jalapeno or adding an extra jalapeno. Or use a spicier pepper like serrano, or even get crazy with a habanero pepper.

Tips for the Best Pico de Gallo:

  • Use a freshly sharpened knife if possible, it makes chopping through the tomato skin a breeze and prep work faster. I love my knife sharpener!
  • Chop ingredients very small for best texture.
  • Rinse the onion to remove extra harsh bite so it doesn’t over power.
  • Use the best quality ingredients you can find. Under-ripe and over-ripe tomatoes can ruin it. Tomatoes should have a nice red color and shouldn’t be hard or too soft and squishy.

Pico de gallo over nachos along with melted cheddar, black beans, diced avocado and sour cream.

Ways to Use Pico de Gallo:

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Pico de Gallo

This healthy Mexican condiment is deliciously bright and flavorful, super easy to make and it doesn't require any special kitchen equipment. It uses minimal ingredients and it's just one of those back pocket recipes you'll turn to time and time again. Use as a chip dip or add as a topping to your favorite Mexican dishes.
Servings: 8
Prep10 minutes
Ready in: 10 minutes


  • 1 lb roma tomatoes, diced small (about 6 medium)
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion*
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeno**, seeded and minced (2 Tbsp)
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced (3/4 tsp)
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • Salt, to taste


  • Add tomatoes, onion, cilantro, jalapeno, garlic, lime juice to a mixing bowl and toss while seasoning with salt to taste.
  • Serve right away or store in refrigerator up to 4 days. Use a slotted spoon to serve if you don't want the excess moisture.


  • *I like to chop onion then place in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cool water to remove harsh bite, then drain well. Red onion can be substituted for yellow onion.
  • **For a spicer option try it with a serrano pepper.
  • Try it with a diced avocado for extra flavor!
Nutrition Facts
Pico de Gallo
Amount Per Serving
Calories 18
% Daily Value*
Sodium 3mg0%
Potassium 168mg5%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 2g2%
Vitamin A 560IU11%
Vitamin C 14.8mg18%
Calcium 9mg1%
Iron 0.2mg1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.
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