If you’ve ever been to Costa Rica, then you have seen the Salsa Lizano bottles everywhere. They are on every restaurant table, in every souvenir store, every house, and every grocery store. It’s a product uniquely Costa Rican- and Costa Rican cuisine wouldn’t be the same without it.
Salsa Lizano In Costa Rican Food
Whenever I talk about Salsa Lizano, I first like to talk a bit about Costa Rican food in general- as there are so many misconceptions.
The main staple of Costa Rican cuisine is rice, beans, spices (onion, garlic, red pepper and cilantro), coffee, cane sugar, milk and eggs. These products are all national and price controlled by the government to ensure equal access to food for everyone. Super cool, right? (If you are wondering more about the Costa Rican food staples, check out this infographic– in Spanish- by the Costa Rican government explaining more.)
The main dishes of Costa Rica include rice, beans and meat, and are generally flavored with Salsa Lizano either at the time of cooking, or the Lizano is poured on top of the food, like any other salsa or like salt and pepper. A typical gallo pinto breakfast is seasoned with Salsa Lizano before serving, and many picadillos have Lizano as a flavoring.
Costa Rican food is not spicy- and I can’t say that enough. When we first moved here my husband’s Secret Santa at work gave him a jalapeño themed gift basket- complete with a Mexican sombrero. Don’t be that person- many Costa Ricans consider black pepper spicy, and while there is a typical “chile” on some tables (called chilera)- but it is mostly vinegar, and not that spicy in terms of international ethnic cuisine.
Ok- so why we came. What the heck is Salsa Lizano anyway? Salsa Lizano is a flavorful sauce, brown in color, smooth and fairly thin (a bit like Worcestershire sauce in texture and thickness) that is made from vegetables and spices. It is made in Costa Rica by the Lizano Company (now owned by Unilever), and they which makes several other Costa Rican national products such as mayonaise, tomato sauce and black bean dip. While there are knockoff Salsa Lizanos available, you will find Costa Ricans both faithful to the original brand, and very proud of their Salsa Lizano.
Recipes That Use Lizano
There are several Costa Rican dishes that use Salsa Lizano in their preparation. The most famous of course is the Costa Rican Gallo Pinto recipe, and expect to see ticos adding Lizano to their eggs alongside the pinto. I love the green bean and carrots hash recipe– which is not the same without the Salsa Lizano. And of course typical Costa Rican chicken and rice and shrimp and rice recipes use Salsa Lizano. As does one of my all time FAVORITES- beef in red sauce. Even the black bean dip isn’t the same without Salsa Lizano! And I almost forgot about the black bean soup with hard boiled egg.
The one national dish that does not use Lizano is the Vegetable Beef Soup– but my hubby even sneaks some in on the side when he thinks I’m not looking. Ha. (Which reminds me of a Costa Rican cooking tip- do NOT add Salsa Lizano to your black beans during preparation. The beans will go bad faster- so Salsa Lizano is best added to black beans upon serving or at the table.)
Where To Find Salsa Lizano
So the next important question- where the heck can I buy this magical Salsa Lizano? Good question. For many years, we were hauling it back in gallon containers (yes, you can buy it by the gallon in Costa Rica!) and parsing it out year round until we could bring more back. Those days are long gone, as we can find Lizano in all kinds of places.
We find Salsa Lizano in many hispanic grocery stores in the salsa aisle. We also, weirdly, find it at local hardware stores- like Ace Hardware. In fact, my mom had the awesome Hola Lola special packaging I saw on Instagram before I did- they had it at Jax in Fort Collins. SO WEIRD. I mostly buy Lizano on Amazon. I can get it here next day on Amazon Prime (affiliate link) from a verified seller in any size that I want! Just make sure that you store the Salsa Lizano in the fridge because I do think it goes bad.
And that’s everything I know about Salsa Lizano! Have you tried it? Do you love it? What do you use it on? Can’t wait to hear!