Traditional Costa Rican Gallo Pinto Recipe

Costa Rican gallo pinto- the national dish and arguably the most memorable part of any Costa Rican vacation. Recreate the traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe at home for the perfect breakfast or vegetarian side for any meal!

This Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe is traditionally served at breakfast alongside eggs, coffee and tortillas. We combine black beans and white rice with red bell pepper, cilantro, onion and Salsa Lizano. Perfectly pura vida!

Related post: Big List Of Delicious Recipes Served With White Rice

About This Recipe

Gallo Pinto is literally translated as “spotted rooster” and it’s a combination of traditional black beans and white rice. Sometimes we use red beans, but it’s generally made with black. Just consider this Costa Rican rice and beans.

A traditional Costa Rican breakfast starts off with a plate of fresh fruit. Next- freshly made gallo pinto served alongside eggs (fried or scrambled), white cheese (queso fresco),  sour cream (natilla), fried sweet plantains, (maybe a little avocado,) freshly made corn tortillas and of course coffee. Oh and extra Salsa Lizano!

Related post:  What Is Salsa Lizano From Costa Rica

Lovingly called “pinto” for short, you can also find this dish on lunch and dinner menus alongside freshly braised meat. Sometimes we substitute gallo pinto for rice and beans in a Costa Rican casado.

Basically, if you visit Costa Rica and don’t see gallo pinto- you might want to check if you went to the right country.

The exact origin of Gallo Pinto is a great debate- because Nicaraguans also claim gallo pinto as their national dish. And being neighbors who don’t exactly get along and both claim gallo pinto as their national dish?

Not a good idea to question to ask “where did gallo pinto originate?” unless you want to start a huge debate. In case you were wondering- I’m team gallo pinto = Costa Rica.

Related posts:

Costa Rican gallo pinto- the national dish and arguably the most memorable part of any Costa Rican vacation. Recreate the traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe at home for the perfect breakfast or vegetarian side for any meal!

Gallo Pinto Recipe – Costa Rica

Yield- 4 servings

Gallo Pinto Ingredients 

  • 2 cups cooked white rice
    2 cups cooked black or red beans
    1/4 cup bean broth or water
    1/4 cup yellow onion finely chopped
    1/4 cup red pepper finely chopped
    1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
    1 tbsp Salsa Lizano
    1 tsp sea salt
    2 tsp vegetable oil

How To Make Gallo Pinto

(These instructions assume you have already done the first two steps- cook the rice and beans ahead of time.)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, pepper, cilantro and salt. Lightly cook until the onion is translucent. You have just made sofrito!

Add the beans with broth and toss with the spices and oil. Add the Salsa Lizano.

Add the cooked rice to the skillet and toss until well combined with the beans and spices. Heat thoroughly and serve- preferably with fried eggs, warm corn tortillas and a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee!

Notes

Once I tried to add garlic to our gallo pinto and my Costa Rican husband was scandalized- scandalized. Don’t do that. It gives you bad breath in the morning, apparently.

Costa Rican gallo pinto- the national dish and arguably the most memorable part of any Costa Rican vacation. Recreate the traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe at home for the perfect breakfast or vegetarian side for any meal!

Substitutions

You can substitute canned black beans for the fresh. Just cut the amount of salt in half unless using low sodium beans.

We often substitute red beans or red kidney beans for the black- you can do freshly cooked or canned.

Some people say you can just substitute Worcestershire sauce for the Salsa Lizano. I think it’s totally different, but if you can’t get Lizano in time, go on and give it a try.

Variations

Note that if you travel to the Caribbean side of Costa Rica you can expect to find the Costa Rican dish called “Rice and Beans.” It’s not the same as pinto because it’s made with coconut milk instead of Salsa Lizano. It’s delish!

Serving Suggestions

We serve this with fresh white cheese slices (Costa Rican cheese isn’t available in most of the US, but you can use a Mexican queso fresco and it will be very similar.

We eat this with fresh corn tortillas, natilla (sour cream), freshly fried sweet rice plantains and a fried egg. 

I love to eat gallo pinto with our favorite shredded beef in red sauce. 

Other popular traditional Costa Rican recipes:

Costa Rican gallo pinto- the national dish and arguably the most memorable part of any Costa Rican vacation. Recreate the traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe at home for the perfect breakfast or vegetarian side for any meal! #costarica #gallopinto #latinfood #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #comidatipica #vegetarian #vegan #vegeterianrecipes #veganrecipes

FAQ

Can I make gallo pinto ahead of time? – Yes. You can then heat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

How long does this keep? – You can keep gallo pinto for up to a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Is gallo pinto healthy? – I think it’s pretty healthy. Some studies have said that rice eand beans together are the perfect food. It’s not high fat, high sodium or 

Printable Recipe

Yield: 4 servings

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto Recipe

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto Recipe

This Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe is traditionally served at breakfast alongside eggs, coffee and tortillas. We combine black beans and white rice with red bell pepper, cilantro, onion and Salsa Lizano. Perfectly pura vida.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • 2 cups cooked black or red beans
  • 1/4 cup bean broth or water
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1 tbsp Salsa Lizano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. (These instructions assume you have already done the first two steps- cook the rice and beans ahead of time.)
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, pepper, cilantro and salt. Lightly cook until the onion is translucent. You have just made sofrito!
  3. Add the beans with broth and toss with the spices and oil. Add the Salsa Lizano.
  4. Add the cooked rice to the skillet and toss until well combined with the beans and spices. Heat thoroughly and serve- preferably with fried eggs, warm corn tortillas and a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee!

Notes

Once I tried to add garlic to our gallo pinto and my Costa Rican husband was scandalized- scandalized. Don't do that. It gives you bad breath in the morning, apparently.

Recommended Products

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

4

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 281Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 2mgSodium: 704mgCarbohydrates: 49gFiber: 7gSugar: 3gProtein: 13g
Please double-check with your favorite nutrition calculator.

Don’t forget to Pin it!

Costa Rican gallo pinto- the national dish and arguably the most memorable part of any Costa Rican vacation. Recreate the traditional Costa Rican gallo pinto recipe at home for the perfect breakfast or vegetarian side for any meal! #costarica #gallopinto #latinfood #breakfast #breakfastrecipes #comidatipica #vegetarian #vegan #vegeterianrecipes #veganrecipes

You Might Also Like

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

6 Comments

  • Reply
    William Gothard
    March 9, 2020 at 12:02 pm

    I am so sorry your husband was scandalized by the addition of garlic. My reference for Gallo Pinto is a Costa Rican book, “Comidas y Bebidas Tipicas de Guancaste,” by Guillermo Garcia Murillo. Traditional ingredients include butter and garlic (and lots of it, 4 chopped cloves to be exact). Perhaps Ticos outside of Guancaste Province prefer their Gallo Pinto without garlic, but I prefer the garlic.

    • Reply
      Christa
      March 10, 2020 at 9:14 am

      Hi William! Yes- might be a Guanacaste thing, and might be a Murillo thing. I have eaten a lot of pinto throughout the country in the last 20 years, and I would say most of it is sans garlic. But- the great thing about pinto is you can make it how you like it! I’m with you- I like a little garlic unless it’s for breakfast. Thank you for commenting! ~Christa

  • Reply
    Eliese
    March 25, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    This was sooooo goooood!!! I traveled to Costa Rica to visit friends in high school and loved eating gallo pinto! My dad still puts Lizano on everything to this day! Perfect recipe. Couldn’t get queso blanco (nor could I really go to the store due to covid19), so I used Swiss cheese and it actually worked great! My whole family devoured this and it made my heart happy! Got to remember old memories and make new ones ? thank you! And ¡PURA VIDA!

    • Reply
      Christa
      March 26, 2020 at 11:03 am

      You made my day! My dad still puts Lizano on everything too- it’s so funny. Yeah queso blanco is tough- sometimes I use queso fresco and it’s sort of similar, but not the same. I wonder if I could make queso fresco at home? That’s a thought for after the crazoness dies down.
      Your comment made my day- thank you so much! Pura vida! XO ~Christa

  • Reply
    Erin
    April 2, 2020 at 5:43 pm

    Quick question. do you tend to cook your beans and rice the day before? I’m a fellow lover of Costa Rica and lived there as a student. My host mom usually does the beans and rice the day before. I didn’t know if you maybe did something else that also worked for you!

    • Reply
      Christa
      April 2, 2020 at 7:17 pm

      Hi Erin! So I usually cook a big batch of beans that hang around for a few days. They turn into gallo pinto, the casado beans and usually at the tail end a bean dip or the filling for bean empanadas or bean and cheese empanadas. For the rice- there’s usually some hanging around from the day before dependig on how much everyone eats. I think the gallo pinto tastes better with day old rice and beans, but- not everyone here in the US eats rice and beans as much as we do in CR! So then people tend to make them before making the pinto. The point of pinto though, is to use the leftovers for breakfast. Anyway- I pobably made that too long of an answer but I just loved you question so much! Pura Vida! ~Christa

shares