Appetizer Tex-Mex

Pico de gallo

Pico de gallo DSC6177

“Pico de gallo, you oughta give it a try-o
Even if you’re from Ohio, it’ll get you by-o.
Don’t get it in your eye-o unless you want to cry-o
So come on, don’t be shy-o, eat some pico de Gallo!”
From “Pico de Gallo” by Trout Fishing in America.

You know how it is when you get a song stuck in your head and it just won’t quit? The past few days I’ve been singing “Pico de Gallo” by Trout Fishing in America and no matter what I do, the silly song won’t leave me alone.

It’s not a complete mystery, however, why I’ve been humming this tune. It’s August, which should be officially deemed national salsa month. Everything you need to make salsa is fresh and in abundance. Cilantro, tomatillos, tomatoes, garlic, onions, jalapenos, habaneros, serranos, corn, peaches or whatever else your stomach desires. (And perhaps this is why the Austin Chronicle has its annual hot sauce festival in what is also the hottest month of the year.) If you go to the farmer’s market, you will be struck by the bounty. It’s beautiful. And you will also feel the urge to take advantage of it because this is the peak—soon we’ll only have apples, pears and squashes.

Pico de Gallo | Homesick Texan

I think I’ve probably made a different type of salsa every night this week, but the one I always like to always keep on hand during late summer is pico de Gallo (pronounced pee-ko duh guy-yo). Most of my other salsa recipes can still taste fine with canned tomatoes or tomatillos, but it’s a challenge to make this unless the ingredients are fresh, ripe and in season. It just won’t taste the same—it’s a salsa fresca.

Pico de gallo in Spanish means rooster’s beak, and there are a several schools of thoughts about why it’s so named. Some say it’s because the bite of the peppers are like a bite. Perhaps, but this salsa isn’t known for its fire as much as, say, a salsa made with habaneros would be. Others say it’s called pico de gallo because you pinch your thumb and forefinger like a beak to eat it. To this I say poppycock! (No pun intended.) I have never pinched my fingers to eat this nor has anyone I’ve ever known. The one that seems most logical is that the Spanish verb picar means to chop, which is what you do with this salsa to create its chunky texture.

There’s nothing quite like the flavor and color of a sun-ripened tomato; its sweet meatiness is the star of pico de gallo—the other ingredients are just supporting players. This is why you’ll find pico de gallos that have jicama, or pico de gallos that have avocados or pico de gallos that have black beans, but they will all have tomatoes—it’s what makes the dish!

Pico de Gallo | Homesick Texan

Pico de gallo is a versatile condiment. You can use it on top of anything—chips, fish tacos, scrambled eggs—but I often eat it as a simple summer salad, too. Because I want the tomatoes to dominate my pico, I finely mince my peppers, onions, and garlic so they aren’t fighting for attention in my mouth. And while it may be a bit untraditional, I add a smidge of olive oil to bring all the flavors together.

The bounty we find in August doesn’t last forever—so don’t be shy-o, eat some pico de Gallo!

Pico de gallo DSC6177
5 from 2 votes

Pico de Gallo

Course Appetizer
Cuisine Tex-Mex
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Servings 4
Author Lisa Fain


  • 5 ripe plum tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. Stir together the tomatoes, garlic, onion, cilantro, jalapeño, lime juice, oil, salt, and cumin. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Let it rest for half an hour so the flavors can come together, then serve.

  2. Will last 1 day in the refrigerator, though it may get extra juicy. You can drain some of the juice if you like.

Recipe Notes

If tomatoes are not ripe and in season, 2 cups chopped grape or cherry tomatoes are a good substitute. Red onion is terrific with this, as well .

  1. Anonymous

    In Brownsville, Texas there is usually a goodly amount of black pepper thrown in the pico de gallo — and the pepper of choice is always serrano.

  2. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    At my local farmstand today, I picked up some beautiful tomatoes and a variety of hot and mild peppers. And now I know what I’ll be making with them!

  3. Farmer Jen

    Delicious! Whenever I have fresh summer tomatoes I make salsa/pico de gallo. I rarely have jalapenos unless I grow them myself, but cayenne works well too. I think I will go to the kitchen and make some right now. Thanks for the inspiration!( I left Austin, Texas after graduating from UT in 1981. I really miss it and the food sometimes.)

  4. Ari (Baking and Books)

    Well who knew there was a song about pico de gallo? I must find it on Youtube.

  5. willowcaroline

    Ahh yes… made some just yesterday with tomatoes from my garden. I used some heirloom tomatoes..Mr. Stripey and some lovely ones that are bright yellow.. so my pico de gallo was quite colorful.. and today it is quite gone! Good thing there are lots more tomatoes.

  6. Pico is the only kind my dad will eat anymore. I have no idea why.
    Me, I have no preference. Good salsa is just that good salsa. Although, I do have to say Tacodeli has really good salsa.
    And of course so do I!

  7. mmmm yummmmooo I love it if it is made in the right proportions i have had some that had way tooo much peppers for the amount of tomato’s . yuck!! thanks for sharing your recipe !!

  8. I add a pinch of cumin to my pico de gallo – it’s especially good on grilled fish.

  9. [eatingclub] vancouver || js

    This reminds me: we haven’t made pico de gallo this summer yet. Time to do so and stat!

  10. Hi there! Maybe the whole finger pinching thing is from holding the hot chip with the pico de gallo on it? As for salsas I’m currently making – I made mango salsa for the first time this summer. I served it on shredded jerk pork tacos. Yum! Keep the great posts coming! I love, love, love this site.

  11. Just a Plane Ride Away

    I was at the market yesterday, saw the most beautiful tomatoes and thought–PICO! And of course, I had to pick up some avocados for guacamole as well. Tonight we’re having Tex-Mex in England. You can take the girl out of Texas, etc. BTW, we eat leftover pico (I make extra on purpose) in scrambled eggs. Mmmm.

    PS Yay Trout Fishing in America 🙂

  12. deceiverofmen

    One thing I hate pico de gallo on: the inside of burritos.

    weird, huh?

    I’ve always added olive oil to mine too! glad to see i’m not the only one. I also make it tomato heavy, but that’s mostly because i’m not much of an onion fan. The best thing is when it gets too juicy, you can put in a blender and have regular salsa (and maybe put it in a pan and heat it), that’s when i put it in burritos.

  13. Oh, have mercy! This looks soooo good and my tomatoes are not red yet!! I love pico de gallo and will eat it on everything you listed and more. And, when it is all gone, I love to get a slice of bread and soak up all the juices at the bottom of the bowl. Oh man, I really want some of this!

  14. I need something to dip! I love the abundance of produce right now too. I never knew there was actually a song about pico!

  15. I am making watermelon salsa! Yum! I am loving this though, it sounds gorgeous for those sumemr tomatoes and I love the colour.

  16. tripletmom

    That is how I make mine also. I have been getting tons of homegrown tomatoes lately. I make a salsa with the same ingredients as pico, but I grill the tomatoes and jalapenos over hot coals. I usually add salt, pepper, cumin, sugar and my secret ingredient (Knorr Caldo de Tomate). I put a little in almost everything Tex-Mex that I make.


  17. Awwwwwww, pico

    Whether on a tamale, atop a breakfast taco,
    or chilled and used as a dip with some chips and a cerveza….now THAT’s Texas.

  18. Holy crap! Trout Fishing in America! I saw them at a music festival years and years and years ago, and they were awesome, and then I promptly forgot about them. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

    As for pico de gallo, I’ll pass, at least on the traditional version – but replace the cilantro with just about anything else, and I’m there. I can’t get enough of the great summer tomatoes at the market either!

  19. I’ve developed a serious addiction to salsa with roasted serranos. It has a smokey taste, but the fresh tomatoes are front and center too.

  20. Lisa Fain

    Anon–That sounds hot!

    Sara–Mmm, I’ve never made mango salsa, but I love mangos sprinkled with chile poweder.

    Lydia–Yep, if you have a ton of tomatoes and peppers this does the trick.

    Farmer Jen–Austin is one of those places that never leaves you.

    Ari–I bet they’re on there somewhere.

    WillowCaroline–I bet that was colorful! I’ll have to make some pico next time with heirlooms. I love the name Mr. Stripey!

    Jerry–I’m with you, any salsa is good salsa.

    Darlene–Balance is the key to a delicious pico.

    Burk–Brilliant! I add that to my other salsas so I’ll have to try it with my pico as well.

    Eating club Vancouver–Late summer is the time for pico de gallo!

    Just a Plane Ride Away–I eat mine in scrambled eggs, too! And aren’t TFIA a fun band? I always thought they were Texans but it turns out they’re from Arkansas.

    DeceiverofMen–Cool! I’m glad I’m not the only one who puts olive oil in my pico. And great tip–on the rare occasion there’s any left over and it’s gotten too juicy, you can just throw it in the blender.

    Paula–The juice can be the best part–I bet that’s where a lot of the vitamins are.

    Meeta–It’s a cute little song–I think it was originally written for children.

    Helen–That’s another thing I’ve never made–but I love watermelon with cotija cheese and chile powder. How do you make your salsa?

    Tripletmom–I’ll have to look for Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate–is it a tomato soup powder?

    Mike–I love it on breakfast tacos, there’s something about pico that really goes well with eggs.

    Joanna–Aren’t they a fun band?

    Lisa–Mmmm, I love roasted serranos as well.

  21. I like to make mine while my Spanish rice is cooking and then put some into a serving of it. I love how the tomatoes taste somehow brighter when they have been heated just a little bit, but they haven’t lost any texture. I make mine with just a little more onion, though, because I really like crunch in salsa.

    I just enjoy your blog so much!

  22. I love it with steak.

  23. Pico is one of my favorite foods in the WORLD. I’ve been googling recipes to try at home, but I’m pushing them all aside to try yours! Much thanks!

  24. tripletmom

    Yes, it is a powdered tomato bouillon with chicken flavor. I used to be able to find it only in cubes, but now I can get it in large jars. It is in the soup section or sometimes in the ethnic section. It is in most stores in Alabama, but definitely in the Latin/Mexican markets.


  25. stefanie

    Try pico de gallo or any other salsa fresca on a slice of buttered toast made from good artisan bread. Sounds disloyal to tortilla chips but it might be my favorite bowl-to-mouth carrier. My tomatoes are only starting to ripen and I can’t wait.

  26. Jennessa

    Trout Fishing in America rocks. I love that song, even though I don’t care much for actual Pico… I know, shame on me!

  27. Your recipe looks almost exactly like mine. I’m waiting on a few more ripe tomatoes from my garden before I make my pico this weekend!
    I discovered your blog quite by accident, but I am so feeling your posts – I am a native Texan who has been living in Virginia for 12 years, and what I am most homesick for is the FOOD (that, and ice cold cans of Big Red!)

  28. sandra/tx

    So true. Nothing’s quite as good as fresh pico de gallo. I love your blog.

  29. I love pico de gallo. But I add tomatillos in mine. I love its versatility. They sell an heirloom pico de gallo at the San Francisco farmers market which is really good. But nothing like homemade and all that chopping to make it taste extra goof.

  30. Anonymous

    TFIA are originally from TX, moved to Arkansas to get away from the big city in Houston. Keith is my cousin

  31. PsychoChris

    Ok. I have to admit, I have been lurking here for a while.

    You inspire me to cook.

    I am in San Antonio, so I can have Taco Cabana, decent barbecue, etc…pretty much anytime.

    But dang it, this pico de gallo posting was the last straw!!!


    your pictures are always amazing…

  32. I looooooove a good pico de gallo with lots of cilantro. Sometimes it’s even more enjoyable than salsa! But I do love the idea that you can blend it to make a nice fresh salsa too. Ohhhh so missing these Texas flavors…*drool*

  33. Now I have the song in my head too! I love TFIA and they have only come up to Seattle once in the past several years, where I introduced more people to their wonderful music.
    Being so far north we have only begun to see ripe tomatoes, and our own plants are still a couple of weeks out. Now I may just sit and watch them ripen so I can catch them at the very first moment! Pico Here I Come!!

  34. The Yummy Mummy Cooks Gourmet

    Okay, here’s a stupid question – Can I use Pico in my Huevos Rancheros?

    And you and your blog are beautiful as always…

  35. Double the blessing

    I can’t wait to try this recipe. We were at a “mexican” restarurant in St. John’s Canada last night and I heard another customer ask “What is picko dee gall lo” obviously he had no idea how to say it either. I just chuckled.

  36. Beautiful pictures and recipe! Can’t wait to try it out!


  37. This is pretty much exactly how my mother taught me to make pico de gallo, and it’s something I do whenever the ingredients are up to standard. I’m of English/Australian origin but I lived in Texas with my parents for a number of years when I was knee-high to a 50-gallon drum barbecue, and I’ve been left with a lifelong obsession with the food I remember from that time, from slow-smoked brisket to the fried catfish my dad’s friends would make at company cookouts in New Braunfels.

    Your blog has been an absolutely amazing resource for recapturing some of the flavours I remember from me very early childhood, so thanks very much. Just made a batch of your biscuits and they are, as ever, fantastic.

  38. Happy to be me

    Love your blog. I’m live in Mn. now, but lived in texas for 20 years and miss the food the most.

  39. Melanie Lauren

    I just found your blog when I googled “kolaches in west, texas” 🙂 I love it! Texas and food are 2 of my very favorite subjects! You have a new reader 🙂

  40. Lisa Fain

    Celeste–I’ll have to do that next time I make Spanish rice. And tomatoes do taste brighter when they’re warm–I keep mine in the window for just this reason.

    Cynthia–It’s great with steak, isn’t it?

    Eonyc–You’re very welcome. I hope you enjoy it.

    Tripletmom–Thanks! I’ll keep my eye out for it!

    Stefanie–It’s like Mexican bruschetta!

    Jennessa–No shame in that, plus it leaves more for the rest of us!

    Kim–Welcome! I agree completely–it’s the food (along with my family) that I miss the most.

    Sandra/TX–Thank you! And you’re right, nothing beats fresh pico.

    Abby–I love its versatility, too. I’ll have to add tomatillos in mine next time.

    Anon–Keith is your cousin? Cool ! And thanks for the clarification!

    PsychoChris–Thank you so much! Glad to meet you!

    Olivia–The more cilantro, the better!

    Jerilyn–They are a great band, aren’t they? Good for you for spreading the love!

    Yummy Mummy–Sure–it’s not traditional but it still tastes good!

    Double the blessing–Ha! I almost didn’t include the pronunciation guide, but a friend asked me, “How do you say that?” so I figured not everyone knows how to say it.


    Rob–Texas food really gets a hold of you, now doesn’t it? And I’m glad you enjoyed the biscuits!

    Happy to be Me–I also miss the food the most. Welcome!

  41. Lisa Fain

    Melanie–Welcome! I hope you enjoy the kolaches and anything else you decide to make.

  42. Annie K. Nodes

    This post made me feel all cool and tingly! I made some from your recipe just this Sunday. Love pico de gallo, and I’m not shy-o about putting it on pretty much everything.

  43. Oh yes, in my opinion you can never have too much cilantro, and I just don’t find enough in the food here. I wish there were more Mexicans in NYC so they could bring the good stuff in. (My Mexican friend says Puerto Rican flavors are not the same.)

  44. Jono Tosch

    I really like your deductive thinking, how you prove that tomatoes, of course, are the star player in pico, and how you “chop down” all the theories of the origin of the name to arrive at the most likely theory. And, of course, I love the exuberant emphasis on “make your pico now, kiddies, for pico season is now!” You know, related, I posted a blog recently about the delight of “summer chili.” Some many people hear the word chili, and they think winter, but oh no, just as with pico, many of the star chili players are in season right now. Fresh chilies, sweet and hot, onions, garlic, corn if you so desire. The other bits? The shin bone and the dried beans? Of course not. Those things are available all year, but fresh ingredients are not. Well, I don’t “dis” a winter chili with dried spices, I’m just saying that an August chili is something special, too. Check it out:

  45. Allen Garvin

    You need an additional lyric for this year: ‘If it’s tainted with salmonella you might die-o’.

    It’s been an annoying summer for salsa… first tomatoes disappeared from grocery stores, even varieties that weren’t implicated… then all the jalapenos and serranos went away for a couple weeks. I made some pico a couple weeks ago with some ‘hot holland green chiles’ I found at Central Market, which turned out to be a decent substitute.

    One thing I personally like to do is substitute basil for cilantro… I do like cilantro, but I’m a super-huge fan of basil. It’s not traditional, but it’s very yummy. I use a lot more onion as well.

  46. Cowtown Pattie

    Only thing I don’t put it on is dessert, but hey, chocolate cake with a smidge of jalapeno is fine…

  47. wow. that was good. I JUST made this with some jersey tomatoes that my mom brought with her last weekend (to florida)
    I left out the cilantro, ’cause we’re not much for it.
    never tasted such good salsa. thanks for the recipe.

  48. Made it tonight. The only thing I did different was that I concasse’d the tomatoes. Turned out great. Thanks!

  49. Sophia from Kitchen Caravan

    You are so right- the main player is the ripe tomato! I cannot understand how people buy salsa with preservatives, when it is so good fresh!

  50. This isn’t quite a salsa, but it’s great on enchiladas (or anything else cheesy, meaty, and made with tortillas!)

    Simple Yummy Tomatillo Sauce

    Saute 1 chopped onion in some oil with 2 minced cloves garlic until translucent. Chop and add 1 rehydrated and chopped chile of your liking and 2 cups tomatillos. I like fresh tomatillos that have been simply boiled in a little water until they fall apart, but you can use canned as well, drained. Cook into a mush (simmer), blend if necessary.

  51. Flapjacks

    That looks really nice.

  52. Claudine

    This recipe is going to be so good with the surplus of Black Prince tomatoes I’m currently dealing with. Thanks!

  53. girl i had sooo much pico de gallo in mexico two weeks ago, i don’t know what to say! and now i find myself going to chipotle just to get some of theirs (well really their guac since im too lazy to make my own this week)!

    nice pics!
    PS: go Dems!

  54. Anonymous

    My personal tip… for pico de gallo that lasts for a week in the fridge and does not get soupy, save the salt and lime juice for when you are prepared to eat it. I make a huge batch every weekend – a large mixing bowl. If you add salt and lime juice right away, the salt will pull the moisture right out of the tomatoes and you will have instant pico soup. The lime juice is also better if you add it right before eating.

  55. captious

    Two questions: how is one clove of garlic equal to one Tablespoon? Even a really huge clove would only be 1.5 tsp. I think. Is that a typo? And why do you say you need 2 limes to get 2 Tbs. of lime juice? Most limes I buy have 2 – 4 Tablespoons of lime juice. Is the number of limes a typo as well?

  56. Lisa Fain

    Captious–thank you for your observations.

  57. captious

    Thanks for the corrections. Now I can make the recipe 🙂

  58. captious

    Sorry, one more question. What is the olive oil for? Is it just for flavor or does it have some other purpose?

  59. Lisa Fain

    Captious–Flavor, texture. Feel free to omit if you prefer.

  60. Anonymous

    This recipe looks amazing, but my mom likes it simple, so when I make it, it's strictly diced tomatoes, jalepeno, and onion, with lime juice and salt. With some chips and a Dos Equis? yum!


  61. I just discovered your site yesterday and already have planned on making every recipe I've read! I have to say though, you won a special place in my heart by starting this post off with a poem by Richard Brautigan! I'll be sure to not get it in my eye-o when I make this tomorr-ow!

    Thanks for all the great recipes!

  62. The Camerons

    I was craving your pico de gallo and Ninfas green salsa today! Mmmm mmm good! Thanks for your foodie blog!

  63. Oh my gosh this is all sounding soooo good. I love tamales in the morning for breakfast whidth any salsa. I miss my hometown…McAllen…El Pato. 🙁

  64. cave canum

    The most versatile of salsas. Never start a TEX-MEX cooking session with out it. Chop an Avocado and add salsa and you have Guac. Add some white fish, shrimp or scallops and you've get Cerviche. Add black beans and corn and some cumin and you have a salad.

  65. dreamsdestin

    THERE'S the recipe I'm looking for! Years ago in Houston (ahh, the good old days) married to an El Chico GM, we had a recipe that I have since lost and long missed. This is it. Thanks!

  66. Irishaggie

    Making some tonight for our tacos. Homesick Texan in Portland, OR!

  67. Hillary Gant

    5 stars
    Great on corn chips, tacos, tostados, etc. This is my go-to recipe for Pico! I try to use plum (Roma) tomatoes because they’re firm. If they’re not available, I’ll use whatever kind of tomatoes I can find. I drain the chopped tomatoes about 20-minutes before adding to the mixture so the pico isn’t so watery (if you care). Also, I sometimes substitute red for the yellow onion, lemon for the lime, and omit the jalapeños for the “no spice” people.

    • Lisa Fain

      Hillary–That’s a good tip to drain as they do get watery. And one thing I also love about pico is how adaptable it is to whatever you have on hand! So glad you enjoy this recipe!

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