Costa Rica

How To Make Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

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Recipe: Costa Rican Gallo Pinto

While visiting Costa Rica, you will undoubtedly encounter the traditional dish of Gallo Pinto (GUY-o-PEEN-toe), which is a combination of beans and rice. The name gallo pinto means ‘spotted rooster’ in English. To foreigners, this name might sound peculiar as the dish contains no rooster, but upon preparing, you will discover that the rice takes on the color of the beans, resulting in a multi-colored or speckled appearance. Although commonly eaten for breakfast, gallo pinto is consumed and served throughout the entire day. For breakfast, gallo pinto is typically paired with fried eggs fruit, and Costa Rican cheese. For lunch or dinner, it is eaten with a side dish of meat, fried plantains, and a salad.

With a variety of different flavors and spices one can include, many locals have their own method of preparing gallo pinto; most rely on their sight, taste, and touch to determine when it’s just right. The secret ingredient in Costa Rican gallo pinto is the Salsa Lizano*, which is a sweet and tangy sauce used to flavor almost every meal in the country. Salsa Lizano is to Costa Rica, what Ketchup is to the United States; your meals are just not the same without it. To get you started on your own pinto fest, here is a simple and easy-to-follow recipe for this infamous Costa Rican dish.

*If you are outside of the country, you can order Salsa Lizano, on
Lizano Salsa

Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 22 minutes


• 2 cups of cooked black beans (or red beans)
• 2 cups cooked cold white rice (often best cooked the day before)
• ½ onion, finely chopped
• 1 red or green bell pepper, diced
• 2 garlic cloves, chopped
• 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
• ½ cup cilantro, chopped
• 4 tablespoons of Salsa Lizano (or 4 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce)
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ½ teaspoon black pepper


1. Set large skillet over medium heat and add oil. Add onion, and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally for 6-8 minutes or until onion is translucent and vegetables are nearly tender. Add the garlic to cook for 1 minute.
2. Add in the pre-cooked beans and Salsa Lizano (or Worcestershire sauce). Stir, and let cook for about 2 minutes. Add bean liquid or water if the combination begins to dry.
3. Add the pre-cooked rice (dish tastes better with day old rice). Season mixture with salt and pepper. Cook until most of the liquid is absorbed but mixture is still moist (about 10 minutes)
4. Stir in chopped cilantro, remove from heat and enjoy!

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