Pico de Gallo

104 Comments

This post may contain affiliate links. See my disclosure policy.

Jump to RecipeJump to Video

Pico de gallo is an authentic Mexican chunky salsa that should always be served fresh. It’s a cinch to make at home with just a handful of simple ingredients – tomatoes, onion, cilantro, serrano (or jalapeño) pepper, lime juice, and salt. Serve it as the ultimate party dip with tortilla chips or top it on tacos, fajitas, and more! 

Pico de gallo in a bowl with chips.
Photo: Gayle McLeod

What’s The Difference Between Pico De Gallo and Salsa

I’d like to think I’m an expert on fresh salsa recipes with how many times I’ve traveled to Mexico — the perks of living in Southern California. And while I love red salsa and salsa verde, nothing quite beats this classic pico de gallo recipe. Here’s the difference between pico de gallo and blended salsas:

  • Pico de gallo is a chunky bite. Restaurant-style salsa has a much more liquid consistency, which makes it great for drizzling. But this chunky salsa lends a textured bite that highlights each unique, vibrant ingredient. 
  • Pico de gallo is never cooked and always fresh. When referring to salsas broadly, they often consist of cooked or flame-broiled ingredients. Pico de gallo is never cooked and always made with raw, farmers-market fresh ingredients.

And fun fact — the name pico de gallo translates to “the beak of the rooster” in Spanish. There are a lot of opinions on the meaning behind the name, but no one really knows for sure. One name everyone does agree on though is salsa fresca (fresh sauce). Quite fitting!

Pico de gallo ingredients.

Pico De Gallo Ingredients

Since you’re relying on the natural flavors of all the ingredients, make sure to use the freshest ingredients possible for this salsa recipe.

  • Tomatoes: I recommend Roma tomatoes for the best flavor and texture. Just make sure to scoop out the seeds.
  • Onion: You’ll need white onions for this salsa. However, sweet yellow onions or red onions would be fine too. It just won’t be the classic version.
  • Cilantro: A fresh bundle of cilantro imparts that unmistakable Mexican flavor. 
  • Serrano Pepper: Ideally, you’ll want to use a serrano pepper instead of a jalapeño pepper. But I’ll talk more about this in the sections below.
  • Lime Juice & Salt: These essentials tie all the flavors together! And if you find that it needs more salt or lime juice, make sure to adjust accordingly.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Mixing pico de gallo in a bowl.

How To Make Pico De Gallo

  • Chop and mix. Once you’ve chopped all the ingredients, add them to a bowl and stir everything together. If you can wait 15 minutes before serving to let all the flavors meld, that’s even better. But if you can’t wait to dig in, I completely understand! 
  • Helpful tip: Hand-chopping everything very finely ensures that you can get all the flavors on one chip! And while a food processor might expedite the process, you may end up with a more pulverized texture, so I do believe hand chopping is best.

Should I Use Jalapenos or Serrano Peppers?

If you’re ordering pico de gallo in Mexico, in most cases, you’ll have salsa with serrano pepper. Unless you are at a touristy restaurant where they may swap the serrano for a jalapeño pepper. Those restaurants know that some tourists can’t take the heat, so they turn down the spice with jalapeños (how thoughtful!). 

But traditionally, serrano peppers are the way to go so that’s what I’m using in my pico de gallo recipe. But feel free to use the chile pepper you’re most comfortable with.

Heat level: If you’ve never had a serrano pepper before, to put it into a spice context, the serrano pepper is 8,000 – 22,000 Scoville heat units (SHU) and jalapeños are only 2,500 – 8,000 SHU. The hotter the pepper, the higher units on the Scoville scale.

A close-up of pico de gallo.

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

  • For making ahead: Feel free to make it a few hours ahead. That way, all the natural juices from the tomatoes, onion, lime juice, and pepper will marinate together providing a more robust flavor. Then, stir the salsa a few times before serving.
  • For storing leftovers: This will stay good in the fridge for about 3 days. Just note that the salsa will soften and water down a bit as it sits.

What To Serve Pico De Gallo With

A bowl of pico de gallo salsa.

More Mexican Salsas and Dips

I can’t wait for you to make this pico de gallo recipe! If you do, I’d love to hear how it turns out in the comment box below. Your review will help other readers in the community as well.

A bowl of pico de gallo and chips.

Pico de Gallo Recipe (Easy & Authentic)

5 from 58 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan

Description

Pico de gallo is an easy, authentic Mexican salsa that should always be served fresh. Serve as a party dip, or top it on tacos, fajitas, and more! Watch the video below to see how I make this in my kitchen!

Video

Equipment

Ingredients 
 

  • 4 Roma tomatoes, deseeded and diced
  • cup white onion, finely diced
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 serrano pepper or jalapeño, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Instructions 

  • Stir it all together. Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, pepper, lime, and salt to a bowl. Stir everything together.
    Pico de gallo ingredients in a bowl.
  • Serve. If you can wait 15 minutes to let all the flavors meld, that's best. But if you can't wait to dig in, I completely understand. Serve with tortilla chips and enjoy!
    A bowl of pico de gallo and tortilla chips.

Lisa’s Tips

  • For making ahead: Feel free to make it a few hours ahead. That way, all the natural juices from the tomatoes, onion, lime juice, and pepper will marinate together providing a more robust flavor. Then, stir the salsa a few times before serving.
  • For storing leftovers: This will stay good in the fridge for about 3 days. Just note that the salsa will soften and water down a bit as it sits.
  • Serving Size: This recipe makes 3 cups of pico de gallo.
  • Serve it up with corn tortilla chips or my favorite Siete brand cassava tortilla chips (they’re gluten-free, grain-free, and corn-free). 

Nutrition

Calories: 19kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 0.1g | Saturated Fat: 0.02g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.05g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 198mg | Potassium: 145mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 450IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 13mg | Iron: 0.2mg
Course: Snack
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: How to Make Pico de Gallo, Mexican Salsa, Pico De Gallo, Pico de Gallo Recipe, Salsa Recipe
Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

Recipe originally published May 2019, but updated to include new information and photos for your benefit!

You May Also Like

About the author

Lisa Bryan

Lisa is a bestselling cookbook author, recipe developer, and YouTuber (with over 2.5 million subscribers) living in sunny Southern California. She started Downshiftology in 2014, and is passionate about making healthy food with fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients.

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on the site. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




104 Comments

  1. I’ve made this several times, it’s my go to for sure. The only thing I change is red onions for the white or sometimes I mix both.5 stars