How To Make Pico de Gallo


Pico de gallo is not salsa. It looks like mostly the same ingredients, and it is. But the proportions are completely different. This is not a sauce — salsa is just the Spanish word for sauce, after all — it’s more like a salad. A fresh, zesty, simple salad that is great on its own, and makes lots of other dishes even better.


4-6 plum (or Roma) tomatoes
large bunch of cilantro
2 fresh jalapeños
½ large or one small white or yellow onion (not shown)
juice of ½ lime


Using good, firm tomatoes is really important for pico de gallo. Good texture adds a ton to the finished dish. Use a very sharp knife and be careful not to crush them. See my earlier knife skills video for an example.

Here’s the (half) onion I forgot to put in the ingredients picture above. It was already peeled, so I just had to cut it in half.

With each half, cut vertical slices all the way across, then across in the other direction.

With just the tomato and onion in it, I realized the bowl I selected wasn’t going to be nearly big enough.

So the next ingredients will go into a bigger bowl. As I showed in the knife skills pictures for jalapeños, you can remove the pulp and seeds to limit the heat. I left it in, and it wasn’t too hot for my wife. It could have been much hotter, actually, and I’d have liked it.

Juice the lime into the bowl with the jalapeño.

Chop the cilantro roughly. If you’re more obsessive than I am, you can remove the leaves from the stems first. I just held the stems and chopped until I got within a half-inch of my and. Then turn the knife the other direction and go through once more. You don’t want it minced really small, just two or three cuts per leaf.

Add the onion and tomato to the cilantro, jalapeño and lime, and mix.

Unlike salsa, the cilantro is an equal partner to the tomatoes. But at this point I had more cilantro than anything else. So I added another tomato and a bit more onion. A little salt, and one more stir.

It’s good right now on chips.

Don’t try to make huge batches of this and store it. The cilantro will get soggy. You want to eat it while it still looks like this.

And that’s it.

I’m sticking south of the border tomorrow with a version of my favorite Mexican dish that I finally got right.

Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo


  • 4-6 plum (or Roma) tomatoes
  • large bunch of cilantro
  • 2 fresh jalapeños
  • ½ large or one small white or yellow onion
  • juice of ½ lime


Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and dice the firm flesh that's left. Dice the onion and make sure all the pieces are separated. Mince the jalapeños very fine. Remove the seeds and pulp for a milder flavor; leave them in for more heat. Chop the cilantro roughly. You don't want full leaves in there, but not much smaller.

Combine everything in a large bowl, juice the lime into it, add salt and toss. Check the flavor and add salt, cilantro or lime as needed. This should not be mostly tomato, like salsa is. Cilantro and lime should be prominent.


  1. Linda Goossen says:

    Oh my goodness! This looks good enough to eat for breakfast!

  2. I really wish I liked cilantro . . . but no, just can’t do it.

  3. Good stuff, my mom used to make it every time we had Mexican themed dinners.

  4. Looks great! You don’t need to be too careful with the cilantro (coriander to us in the UK) stems since a lot of flavour is in them. The texture of them adds a bit of crunch too…

    • Actually Ryan, coriander is the seed of the cilantro, it’s a separate taste.

      • Actually Beth, you are right. Cilantro is the word commonly used for the LEAVES of the coriander plant and the seed is also called coriander as a spice. In other countries, believe it or not, sometimes they refer to the same exact thing with a different word! For example, I challenge you to find cilantro in any herb shop in France. Actually, they call the same herb “Coriandre”, the same lovely leafy stuff. It may have something to do with the herb being REALLY OLD in its cultivation, being discovered in Pre-Pottery Neolithic B level of the Nahal Hemel Cave in Israel, and being referred to in greek texts. So maybe we should all be calling it κορίανδρο, but that’s just Greek to me 😉

      • Sure, Herb … as soon as you tell me how to pronounce it.

  5. Linda, the leftovers went really well with scrambled eggs.

    Kristin, maybe if you covered up the flavor of the cilantro with some sourdough?

    Bob, stay tuned …

    Ryan, right on both counts. But more importantly I’ve decided that it’s just not worth my time to get every last bit of leaf. It cost a freaking dollar for the whole bunch. I’m going to spend a half-hour picking out stems? I don’t think so.

  6. recipes2share says:

    I love the combo of cilantro (coriander to this side of the Atlantic!) and chili pepper, really fresh flavours. This is very similar to a ‘fridge salad’ I make as a great standby!

  7. *Houston-bred gringa blinks*
    ?Que? No tomatillos?

  8. Susan, I'm sorry, you seem to have confused me for someone who doesn't live in Cleveland, and can actually find tomatillos.

    If you've never lived in the Midwest, you really don't understand what it's like trying to get any kind of authentic ethnic food. Except Eastern European, we've got plenty of that around here.

    They actually put all the canned tomato products in the "Italian" aisle, because of course it's for spaghetti sauce. Yes, plain crushed tomatoes count as "international" foods in Cleveland.

  9. thanks for the recipe! im going to make this tomorrow!

  10. I like to eat Pico De Gallo by itself its so good I can’t get enought

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