Pico de Gallo


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Pico de gallo is an authentic Mexican chunky salsa recipe that’s super simple to make at home with a handful of fresh ingredients (and homemade tastes a million times better than any store-bought versions). 

Pico de gallo in a bowl

I believe that pico de gallo is always an essential part of any Mexican meal. You can serve it as a fresh appetizer with tortilla chips or top it on all the tacos, fajitas, and other Mexican dishes your heart desires. 

Pico de gallo, along with guacamole, are delicious nibbles that get your taste buds ready for the main course. And after numerous trips to Mexico (the perk of living in Southern California), I’d like to think I’m an expert on fresh salsa recipes. So, let me tell you how to make the best pico de gallo! 

What is Pico De Gallo?

I’m a big fan of all sorts of salsa recipes, from puréed restaurant-style salsa to fruity mango salsa. But nothing quite beats the classic pico de gallo — a staple in Mexican cuisine!

It’s a chunkier salsa made from tomatoes, onion, cilantro, a spicy chile like jalapeño or serrano peppers, lime juice, and salt. That’s it! And fun fact — its name 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!

What’s the Difference Between Salsa and Pico De Gallo?

Pico de gallo is a salsa, but what sets it apart from other salsas is two things.

  • Salsa usually has a much more liquid consistency. Pico de gallo is chunky with far less liquid.
  • When referring to salsas broadly, they can consist of cooked ingredients (or flame-broiled). Pico de gallo is never cooked and should always be made with raw ingredients.
Ingredients for pico de gallo on a table

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: It’s best to stick with 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. Although, sweet yellow onions or red onions would be fine too. It just won’t be the classic version.
  • Cilantro: The more the merrier! But one bundle is all you really need.
  • Serrano Pepper: Ideally, you want to use a serrano pepper instead of a jalapeño pepper. I’ll talk more about this in the next section below!
  • Lime & Salt: The essentials to tie all the flavors together! And if you find that it needs more salt or lime juice, do as you please.

Find the printable recipe with measurements below.

Should I Use Jalapeños or Serrano Peppers?

If you go to Mexico and order pico de gallo, 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.

Those restaurants know that some tourists can’t take the heat, so they turn down the spice with jalapeños (how thoughtful!). But traditionally, in Mexico, 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.

Helpful tip: 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.

Mixing pico de gallo ingredients in a bowl

How To Make Pico De Gallo

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: While pico de gallo is chunkier than regular salsa, hand-chopping everything very finely ensures that you can get all the flavors on one chip! A food processor might expedite the process, but you won’t have as great of a texture. 

Close up of pico de gallo

Storage and Make-Ahead Tips

If you’re serving this at a party, feel free to make it a few hours beforehand. That way, all the natural juices from the tomatoes, onion, lime, and pepper will marinate together providing a more robust flavor. Stir the ingredient a few times before serving.

Any leftovers will keep for about 3 days in the fridge. Just note that the salsa will soften and water down a bit as it sits.

What to Serve with Pico De Gallo

You can serve pico de gallo with virtually any Mexican dish. But here are a few of my favorites. Oh, and don’t forget to wash it down with a mango margarita or classic margarita (*wink*).

Once you make this pico de gallo recipe a few times, you’ll know it by heart! Let me know what you, your friends, and your family think of it in the comment box below.

Pico de gallo with tortilla chips

Pico de Gallo Recipe (Easy & Authentic)

5 from 51 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Total: 15 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Author: Lisa Bryan


Pico de gallo is an authentic Mexican chunky salsa recipe that’s super simple to make at home with a handful of fresh ingredients! Watch the video below to see how it comes together!



  • 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


  • Add the tomatoes, onion, cilantro, pepper, lime, and salt to a bowl. Stir everything together.
    Mixing pico de gallo in a bowl
  • 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 fresh pico de gallo

Lisa’s Tips

  • This recipes 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). 


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 and April 2020, but updated to include new information. 

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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.

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Recipe Rating


  1. I’ve tried this recipe but added a little oregano, finely shredded cabbage, and a spice called Tajin with lime. This is good to add to your homemade guacamole too.

  2. This is a delicious salsa. Next time, I will try to find a serrano pepper. The salsa is very good with a jalapeno pepper but not enough heat for us.5 stars

  3. This pico is delicious! So fresh. 
    This will be my go to recipe from now on 
    Thank you 5 stars

  4. This recipe is exactly how my friend in Mexico makes it, but she doesn’t add the salt until just before serving as it will draw out the liquid and make it more watery.5 stars

  5. what changes would you make to this recipe if you wanted to turn it into salsa? would you mash it? Or pulse it in a food processor?

    1. I use canned tomatoes for my salsa. Along with fresh garlic. Fresh cilantro. Red onion. Jalapeno’s cumin, paprika, lime juice, a pinch of salt, pepper. Pulse in food processer. Keep it chunky. Do not puree.

  6. Is it safe to leave the salsa uncovered for 15 minutes? How long can I keep the salsa refrigerated? Is it possible to use this recipe as a canning recipe?5 stars

    1. Yes, you can use red onion if you’d like. You can add avocado as well, just note that the avocado will quickly brown.

  7. STOP HERE! Excellent!! This is exactly how it should be made.Thank you for the recipe❤️5 stars

  8. I tripled the recipe for a large group gathering last night. I couldn’t get serrano peppers so I used jalapeno instead and left the seeds in for kick. Lots of chopping, but it all paid off. Folks loved the flavor blends and the sneaky kick in the back of the throat. Afterwards, while we were cleaning up there was a couple large spoonfuls left. I was planning to take some home until I saw one of the guests with a huge sad face; I changed my mind and let her have it. Will definitely make again and hopefully the serranos are in stock!5 stars

  9. I love this recipe!  It’s so nice to have a perfect recipe for a staple like this. I make tacos and burritos so often I should be embarrassed and this pico de gallo saves me so much prep time and effort. After the flavors have mingled the taste is truly sublime. Thank you!5 stars

  10. Lisa, all of your recipes are so delicious and your videos are fun to watch and easy to follow thank you so much.5 stars

  11. Always love such simple and delicious recipes! This looks so good! I am going to make this now. Thanks for sharing!5 stars

  12. You nailed it again! Love your guac recipe but this is my new fav. Made it yesterday along with the guac at my mini super bowl party. I do bbq competitions and I just might start entering these two in the ancillary category(with your permission)! I love the simplicity of it. Great job!5 stars

  13. Awesome. I love such simple yet delicious and healthy recipes. I have bookmarked your page. Thanks for sharing awesome recipes.5 stars

  14. I just finished making your pick recipe. Didn’t have time tomatoes , so used tomatoes on the vine. Scooped seeds, hope its not too juicy. I have it chi!ling. Can’t wait to try!5 stars

  15. This recipe for pico de gallo is some of the freshest, most well-balanced pico de gallo I have ever had. I have nothing but praise!! Four out of four Downshiftology recipes for Cinco de Mayo — successes!!5 stars

  16. I made it recently and ate it by the spoonfuls. The proportions in this recipe are so perfect. The onions add a delightful crunch without overpowering the salsa. Waiting for 15 mins is difficult but worth it!5 stars

  17. Yuuum! All that flavours! It’s really hard to wait these 15 minutes, you suggested! Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  18. I made this for the first time for Cinco de Mayo and it turned out amazing! I made probably the biggest bowl ever, and it is gone after only two days. Seriously, no more store bought for me. This is legit.5 stars

    1. Hi Margo- Wonderful! Now you can always have freshly made pico de gallo at home instead :)

      1. Made this! It’s so good on its own, but I put it on my tostadas I’ve made for lunches, too, which I shared on Instagram. I should make pico de gallo more often, since I almost always have the ingredients on hand. ❤️

        I only recently came across your YT channel, and you bet I subscribed! 💕5 stars

      2. Thanks so much for subscribing, Kae! I’m happy you’re loving my recipes and videos and yes, homemade pico de gallo is the best. So easy and so much flavor. I top it on virtually everything! ;) x

  19. I’ve been watching your youtube videos for months and finally decided to check out your website, love the layout and all the printable recipes!! This is so helpful for someone who is just starting to learn about cooking :)5 stars

  20. I love this stuff. Haven’t made it for a long time and you’ve just inspired me to make it again. Gonna try your recipe this time!5 stars

  21. Chopping and cutting ingredients right now. I cannot wait to try! Your salsa recipe sounds amazingly delicious.5 stars

  22. Hi what is Cilantro and if I cant get it what could I use as a replacement. Thanks in advance.


    1. Hi Margaret – Cilantro is a type of herb! It should be available in all markets, but if you don’t come across any, you can also use parsley :)

  23. This is our latest obsession!
    Actually love that it’s so traditional and minimal, makes the individual flavours of the veggies extra delicious.5 stars

    1. Hi Mallory – it’s a good obsession to have! ;) You really can’t beat a simple, healthy salsa recipe like this. Enjoy!

  24. Hi Lisa. I have being following for a while and I also have problems with gluten :-( so, I am always looking for something gluten free and healthy. “Pico de Gallo” is not exclusive of Mexico. It is a Latin thing. You will find this in many other countries of Central and South America. Just like “Chimichurri”. I am Brazilian and we have “Vinagrete”. Same ingredients: cubed tomatoes, chopped parsley or cilantro, diced onion, white vinegar and S&P. I always had it with barbecue. Get it? ;-)5 stars

    1. Hi Shoshanna – I’m happy you discovered Downshiftology! And thank you for the information and tips :)

  25. I think this recipe might have converted me from a cilantro-hater to a cilantro-lover. Really love this Pico de Gallo and make it pretty much every week during the summer months.5 stars

    1. My husband makes one almost the same except he adds some balsamic vinegar at the end is so delicious.

  26. Absolutely delicious! My husband and I broiled some cod with fresh dill and sage and we’re going to use a little of the salsa and save the rest for our breakfast but ended up eating the whole batch. It was that good. Thank you for all your delicious wholesome recipes.5 stars

    1. Wonderful! I’m so happy you loved the pico de gallo Carol! And I’m sure it was delicious paired with that cod. Yum!

  27. I love salsa, but I recently became allergic to onions. Just wondering if anybody had any ideas to replace with? My first thoughts was to use celery.

    1. You could use the white parts of green onions. But if you’re allergic to the whole allium onion family and are looking for more of a crunch in your salsa, celery, or cucumber could work.

  28. I tried this recipe today and I made it with no salt added because my husband has high blood pressure …….. It has so much natural flavor that he didn’t miss the salt at all …………5 stars

    1. Yes, you can definitely adapt the salt to your liking. I’m glad you both loved the recipe Judy! :)

    1. Yes, it will keep for several days in the fridge in a sealed container. Just give it a stir before serving.

    1. It really is! You can’t go wrong with a good quality pico de gallo. :) Hope you enjoy the recipe Lizzie!

  29. With Cinco de Mayo being just around the corner, it is a great recipe to have. I like the spicy kick that you’ve added, too – can’t wait to try.5 stars

    1. Agreed! I love making Pico de Gallo fresh especially for parties. Thanks, Kelly! :)

  30. There is nothing like fresh pico de gallo. I could eat it all day!. This is ideal for Cinco de Mayo and any fiesta celebration.5 stars

    1. I agree completely! I could just scoop it up with a spoon. ;) Hope you enjoy the recipe Ali!

  31. I love this chunky mexican salsa, so colorful and looks delish. Perfect for summer picnics.5 stars