Does pico de gallo (the type of salsa) literally translate as "rooster's beak"? If so, where did it get that name, and how does that describe the salsa?

  • I'm actually confused cause the Hispanic man who taught me pico de gallo said it meant pick of the garden??? I never questioned it cause it made sense!!!
    – user5406
    Aug 7, 2014 at 20:56
  • Who ate with their thumb and forefinger? We all did ! We took a tortilla from a big stack and tore off a piece and pinched from a bowl of meat, cheese, beans, etc. Pico de gallo was hard to get any real amount of with one stab, so, a quick stab, stab, stab was needed. That's just simply the 'way it was done'. 50 years later I take a tortilla and hold it with one hand and spoon the whatever in it. Why Momma cut the vegs in such tiny pieces was not apparent until later - (yuck). Ed.auldmon
    – user6809
    Oct 21, 2014 at 2:17

4 Answers 4


Wikipedia has two possible explanations:

  • (...) it is so called because originally it was eaten with the thumb and forefinger, and retrieving and eating the condiment resembled the actions of a pecking rooster
  • (...) the name could be a simple allusion to the bird feed-like minced texture and appearance of the sauce

So it seems that the origin of the name is not very clear.


Fighting Cocks are calmed by their handlers by placing the rooster's head in the mouth. Darkness causes birds to immediately begin the sleep cycle. It was explained to me (by a great Restaurant ower in Acuna, Mex.)that often as soon as the handler put the bird's head in his mouth he would often be pecked on the tongue. The spices in the salsa gives the same feeling, hence "pico de gallo" is the beak of a fighting rooster biting your tongue! Much better explanation..

  • 1
    Me interesa que la salsa vietnamita también se llama "rooster sauce". Jun 25, 2013 at 21:18

A "minced-texture" concoction would also explain why "pico de gallo" is used by some in Northern Mexico not as a name for salsa but as a name for a chilled side dish of finely chopped jicama, orange juice and plain Tapatio-style sauce.


I'm from Northern Mexico and "pico de gallo" translates to pico (pecked) de gallo (from a rooster) so in the culinary industry it is a relish but in Mexico it is a tradition (it's something that a rooster pecked).

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