Pico de Gallo

A Mexican Classic

Pico de gallo is a raw salsa known as a salsa fresca, or “fresh salsa,” in Spanish. It is a delicious combination of plum (Roma) tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, serrano chile and a splash of lime juice.

It one of the best-loved Mexican dishes that you will find it on every Mexican table. Did you know that pico de gallo translates as “rooster’s beak?”

Authentic Pico de Gallo in White Ceramic Bowl

How to Make and Serve

Serve this authentic pico de gallo recipe with carne asada, chicken, fish tacos, beef tacos, molletes, and of course chips. You get bonus points if you make your own tortilla chips. Use it as a topping for just about anything. Don’t limit yourself to using it for Mexican food.

Pico de Gallo Salsa on Copper Serving Tray

Choose Ripe Plum Tomatoes

You want to choose really ripe red plum tomatoes. The riper the better. The flavor is built around the tomatoes and enhanced by the other ingredients.

Unripe tomatoes will make your pico taste like cardboard. Only use slicing tomatoes, like beefsteak tomatoes, if plum tomatoes are not available.


  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 white onion (optional red onion)
  • 12 cilantro sprigs
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1 Mexican lime (see notes)
  • Sea salt to taste (1/2 to 1 tsp.)
Ingredients to Make Authentic Pico de Gallo


Cut the tops off the tomatoes then slice in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp and discard.

Seeded Plum Tomatoes on Yellow Plate

With a paring knife, remove the tops of the chiles and then slice in half lengthwise. Use the tip of the paring knife to cut out the seeds and veins.

Seeded Serrano Chile Peppers on Yellow Plate

Remove the cilantro leaves from the stems and discard the stems.

Cilantro with Stems Removed on Yellow Plate

Chop the tomato into 1/4″ inch pieces. Finely chop the onion, cilantro, and serrano chile.

Chopped Ingredients to Make Pico de Gallo on Yellow Plate

Put the chopped ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add the salt and lime juice.

Seasoning Pico de Gallo
Preparing Pico de Gallo in Stainless Mixing Bowl

Stir until ingredients are mixed evenly.

Pico de Gallo in Mixing Bowl


Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature. If you serve it really cold it tastes flat. The subtle flavor of the ingredients doesn’t shine through. If you are not convinced, do a taste test. Eat a batch that is ice cold and then eat batch that is at room temperature. You will see the difference. I guarantee it. Pico de gallo is best when eaten fresh.

Bowl of Pico de Gallo Dip

Great for parties – It is one of the best party dishes, quick to prepare, tasty, and loved by everyone. Serve it at your Cinco de Mayo party. You can make it year-round but it is especially delicious during summer when tomatoes are at their peak.

A Healthy Option

Mexican food has a reputation for being heavy and greasy, unjustly deserved in my opinion. This dish is the complete opposite. All vegetables, low calories, and no fat. Totally guilt-free.

Eat with reckless abandon. It is vegetarian and vegan to boot. Kids will eat it too because it is “salsa”, not yucky vegetables and it works just as well with fussy adults who don’t like vegetables.

Pico de Gallo Salsa
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3.64 from 11 votes

Pico de Gallo Recipe

This easy to make homemade pico de gallo recipe is a delicious combination of Roma (plum) tomatoes, white onion, cilantro, serrano chile and a splash of lime juice that you will find on every Mexican table. A great vegetarian and vegan option.
Course Salsa
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword dip, Mexican recipe, salsa
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 38kcal
Author Douglas Cullen


  • Kitchen knife
  • Cutting board
  • Medium-sized serving bowl


  • 4 plum tomatoes
  • 1 white onion
  • 12 cilantro sprigs
  • 2 serrano chiles
  • 1 Mexican lime see notes
  • Sea salt to taste 1/2 to 1 tsp.


  • Seed the tomatoes.
  • Seed the serrano chiles.
  • Remove the cilantro leaves and discard the stems.
  • Chop the tomatoes into 1/4" pieces.
  • Finely chop the onion.
  • Finey chop the onion, cilantro, and serrano chile.
  • Add all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  • Add sea salt to taste.
  • Sprinkle with the juice of one lime.
  • Gently mix until the ingredients are evenly dispersed.
  • Serve immediately.


Preparation Notes
  • Pico de gallo is best eaten fresh but will keep for one day in the refrigerator.
  • Presentation counts. It such a simple dish, so make sure that the ingredients are chopped evenly.
  • The juice of one lime brightens the flavor of the pico de gallo. If you add too much lime it overpowers the flavor of the other ingredients. You want to maintain a nice balance between the flavors of all of the ingredients.
  • Choose the Mexican lime, also called the Key lime when making pico de gallo. It is the traditional lime for making Mexican food. Standard lime doesn’t add the same bright flavor. Purdue University has some in-depth information on the Mexican Lime which is quite interesting if you want to geek out on limes.
  • You can substitute jalapeño chiles for the serranos. The taste will be similar but the salsa won’t be as hot.
  • Many recipes call for red onion but white onion is traditional.


Serving: 1/2 cup | Calories: 38kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 1g | Sodium: 297mg | Sugar: 5g

Utensils Needed

  • Kitchen knife
  • Cutting board
  • Medium-sized serving bowl

More Salsa Recipes

13 comments… add one
  • kevin

    How Odd. I lived in Phoenix AZ for a year and ate Mexican food because it was the most economical. I bought food from taberna grills to ferias to taco trucks to food sold from the tailgate of a pickup; and I never found out I was allergic to cilantro until I moved to Minnesota! Why? Because the Mexicans never used cilantro in the food they sold.
    I think cilantro is put into mexican foods to punish gringos that don’t know better.

    • Doc

      Your are funny – dude. I have eaten both Tex-Mex and authentic Mexican food, both in North and South America most of the dishes had cilantro in the dish.

    • Lisa Langston

      Hello.. I Live In Southeast Texas And EVERY Mexican And Mexican Restaurant That I Know Of Uses Cilantro In Their Food.. Cilantro IS A Staple In Their Kitchens..

  • HW

    Fermented pico de gallo is “da bomb”.

  • Great post! pico de gallo
    Useful information worthy of thanks ,

  • looks and sounds delicious! pico de gallo

  • Connie Yarema

    I was invited to a birthday party. As a good jesture, I made PICO DE GALLO and brought it to the party. Guess what? All went well. Thank you for the recipe.

  • Angel

    Wish you would not recommend wasting tomato pulp. Instead of saying ‘discard’, please suggest use in other recipes. We can all use less food wastage.

    • low and slow

      Most of the tomatoes flavor lies in the pulp,throwing it out makes no sense and is wasteful.All credibility lost,too bad.

      • Mike

        The comments should be for the recipe itself which is delicious. The recipe didn’t say to wash the veggies, use a clean bowl, or clean up when completed either. I personally don’t need to be told everything. As an adult, if you want to keep something someone says to discard,,,keep it! I would not want the seeds in my pico and I’m sure not taking the time to remove them from the pulp.

  • This is so easy to make. I can’t keep it in the house when I make it! We eat it as a dip or over steak or chicken.

  • Nice post!

  • lorena olga buniel

    Useful info

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