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Pico De Gallo with Cabbage

A humble, flavorful, fresh, vibrant pico de gallo, made extra-crunchy thanks to the genius addition of shredded cabbage.


Pico De Gallo with Cabbage on a bowl with tortilla chips on a plater with a linen

Pico De Gallo + Cabbage FTW

Today, I want to share a recipe for perhaps the most classic of Mexican condiments: humble, flavorful, fresh, vibrant pico de gallo—in this case, made extra-crunchy thanks to the addition of shredded cabbage. Simple as it sounds, there is a trick to it, and once perfected you'll be wondering why you were ever crazy or lazy enough to use store-bought.

I discovered the secret to the most amazing homemade pico de gallo a few years back, and I’m excited to be sharing it with you all today. I sent a text to my good friend Steve, who first introduced me to this lovely, cabbage-adorned version of salsa fresca, asking if we could please have and share the recipe, and here’s his response, verbatim: “Hey Holly! It’s a pretty poorly-kept secret! Onion- diced, tomatoes - diced, cilantro- torn, cabbage - shredded, jalapeños - diced, lime - squeezed, salt- shaken. How much of each? It’s the Mexican Flag Ratio: equal parts red, white, and green.”

A bowl of salt, limes, cilantro and tomatoes styled on a cutting board

What is Pico De Gallo?

Pico de gallo is a fresh salsa (sometimes also referred to as salsa fresca or salsa mexicana) made of chopped tomatoes, onions, chilies and a little salt. Even if you didn’t know it was called “pico de gallo”, you’ve probably eaten it before on a taco or with chips at a Mexican restaurant.

What sets pico de gallo apart from other Mexican salsas (the word “salsa” just means “sauce”) is its freshness. None of the pico de gallo ingredients are cooked, which makes it perfect for a super hot day when the tomatoes are so juicy-ripe and it’s too hot to even think about turning on the stove. Just whip up a batch of this pico, open a bag of chips, mix up a marg and call it a day.

What Does Pico De Gallo Mean in English?

Translated from Spanish, “pico de gallo” literally means “rooster beak”. As far as we can discern, no one is quite sure why this fresh salsa is called ‘rooster beak’, but there you have it. Some people in internet land claim that it has something to do with eating it with your hands (picking up the chunks of fresh tomato and onion between your forefinger and thumb, apparently like a rooster’s beak) but wouldn’t you rather eat pico with chips? Or on a taco? It just doesn’t hold up. Anyway. Pico de gallo means rooster beak. Although here at TMP it means delicious fresh salsa.

tomatoes, cabbage, onion and cilantro in a bowl

How to Make Pico De Gallo:

We just love the extra crunch that fresh, raw cabbage brings to this classic pico de gallo—not only does it temper the sharp flavors of the chilies and onions, but it makes this condiment so versatile. Have we mentioned that fresh pico de gallo is really really easy to make? Here’s how to make it:

  1. Start with really great produce. Since this is a fresh salsa, nothing will be cooked, so there’s no masking bad produce. If your tomatoes are unripe, your pico will be bland. Clean everything thoroughly, too—especially the cilantro, which can sometimes be a little sandy.
  2. Chop everything. Chopping is the only work that this recipe requires of you, so give it your all! Put on a great podcast, or some music you love, and take some time to carefully dice those tomatoes, shred the cabbage, and seed your jalapenos.
  3. Combine all of your carefully chopped onions, tomatoes, jalapeños, cabbage and cilantro in a bowl. Squeeze fresh lime juice over all of it, sprinkle with salt and toss together.
  4. Serve! Gobble your pico up with chips, on top of tacos, in a burrito, over grilled fish—the sky’s the limit!
Pico De Gallo with Cabbage in a bowl

What to Do With Leftover Pico De Gallo:

What is this “leftover” pico de gallo you speak of? On the off chance that you don’t gobble up every last bite, leftover pico is easy to use up. It will change over time—it is really meant to be enjoyed fresh—but your pico de gallo with cabbage will last easily a day or two in the fridge. Use it to:

  • Dress up some simple tacos.
  • As a way to add some veggies to your kids cheese quesadilla!
  • Spoon it over a piece of fresh white fish wrapped in foil and grill until the fish is tender and cooked for an easy, healthy dinner.
  • Eat with chips, just like you did the first time!
Pico De Gallo with Cabbage in a bowl
Bowl of Pico De Gallo with Cabbage on a plate with corn tortilla chips and blue linen

Tools You’ll Need:

What To Serve With Pico De Gallo:

Spicy, refreshing pico de gallo is the perfect easy appetizer or accompaniment to so many of our favorite Mexican-inspired dishes. We love it with:

Hand dipping chip into Pico De Gallo with Cabbage

So, Did You Pico?

If you made our (well, Steve’s) pico de gallo with cabbage recipe, we really want to know about it! Snap a photo of your finished pico and maybe even a video of the beautiful people you feed it to. Tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Happy eating!

Pico De Gallo with Cabbage

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  20 min
  • Cook Time:  0 min
  • Calories: 50


  • 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups white onion, diced
  • 2 cups green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded, minced
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped, firmly packed (about 2 bunches)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp sea salt


  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Serve with chips for scooping or on top of your favorite tacos!

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories50
  • Protein2 g
  • Carbohydrates11 g
  • Total Fat0 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium799 mg
  • Total Sugars6 g

Pico De Gallo with Cabbage

Questions & Reviews

Join the discussion below.

  • Vanessa Reid

    Can this be made with red onion?

    We prefer white onion but red will probably be fine. Hope you enjoy!

  • Joyce Ellingson

    Can this be canned? How long processing time?

    We do not recommend canning this. Cabbage discolors and grows stronger in flavor when canned.

  • Melissa Blake

    Can you make it without jalapeños or what can be replaced? We don’t like spicy foods.

    You can absolutely leave them out! Hope you enjoy Melissa!

  • Jenn

    This is so delicious! I make this almost every time I make any Mexican food!

    That's great Jenn, so glad you like it!