Pico de Gallo

By Mark G. McLaughlin

By Mark G. McLaughlin

Pico de Gallo is a staple at many Memorial Day BBQs – or any BBQ or picnic for that matter. It is both cool and tart and is perfect either as a light dip for chips or as a condiment to cool down a really spicy barbecue chicken, pork or beef.

It is quick, simple and inexpensive to make. It is also a mouth-watering side that both brightens up any meal and is a good way to “Keep the State on Your Plate” as we say at Cultivate California.

All ingredients can be found in the green grocer's section of almost any grocery store. The fresher, of course, the better.


  • 6 firm tomatoes (Romas work especially well)
  • 1 good-sized sweet onion (Vidalias are perfect)
  • 4 scallions (eg: green onions)
  • 1 pepper (red, green, yellow, orange – any will do)
  • Bunch or package of Cilantro
  • 2 fresh limes (or a small bottle of lime juice in a pinch)

Optional Additional Ingredients:

Some people like their Pico de Gallo to be hot and spicy as well as cool, tart and crisp. For those who want a little more “pico” in their dish, add some or all of the following:

  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 or more other chiles
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • salt & ground pepper (to taste)
  • a few splashes of hot sauce (to taste)


Whether you stick with the basic pico de gallo or want to spice it up with the optional ingredients, the following apply:

  1. Clean and wash all vegetables
  2. Remove the seeds from any peppers
  3. Finely chop (or better yet, dice) all vegetables
  4. Finely chop/dice the cilantro (and garlic if that is to be added)
  5. Combine all vegetables in a large bowl
  6. Add the juice of one or two limes (or two or three tablespoons of lime juice)
  7. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
  8. Cover and chill for at least half an hour (to allow the citrus juice to do its work)

Serving Pico de Gallo

Pico de Gallo is a dish best served chilled – as it will quickly revert to room temperature anyway, especially on a warm afternoon, like that of a Memorial Day BBQ. It can be served in a large bowl where everyone can spoon some out onto their plates, or in smaller, individual serving size condiment bowls that guests can use to dip chips or raw vegetables into or spoon out on top of spicy dishes to cool them.

What does Pico de Gallo go best with?

Pico de Gallo is a dip or a condiment. It is perfect with any kind of BBQ meat, and with chips. It is also a welcome side to any Mexican or Tex-Mex main dish or combo plate, or with any shrimp or fish you would normally serve in a ceviche.


California farmers produce fresh, high-quality fruits, nuts, vegetables, proteins and fibers right in our own backyard. It takes water to grow the food we love and farming and ranching are pivotal to the health and stability of our state. 

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