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What Is Salsa Lizano From Costa Rica

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Salsa Lizano is the quintessential Costa Rican condiment- you can find it on every table, in every restaurant, and at every grocery store. The flavor is savory and rich with no spice. That’s right- it’s NOT a hot sauce!

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. You can’t make Costa Rican gallo pinto without it either.

It’s a product uniquely Costa Rican- and Costa Rican cuisine wouldn’t be the same without it. Here’s everything you need to know about Salsa Lizano from Costa Rica.

Related post: 30+ Foods To Try In Costa Rica

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Birth of Lizano

In order to understand how Lizano salsa came to be, you first have to understand a bit about Costa Rican cuisine and traditions. Today, when you visit a local restaurant (or soda) for lunch, there is generally a set of condiments in the middle of the table- salt, tabasco, Lizano and an encurtido.

Enurtido is a homemade vinaigrette of local vegetables fermented and served in a plastic tub with a small spoon. It is usually put over a whole casado (traditional Costa Rican lunch), or more often slathered liberally over white rice. No two encurtidos are the same- each cook has his or her own special flavor.

Salsa Lizano was born of this encurtido tradition- don Próspero Jiménez, owner of a small cantina in the province of Alajuela, decided to make a unique sauce to have on the table. He started serving it in his restaurant and ticos loved it.

They asked to take some home, and the rest, as they say, is history. Don Prospero started officially bottling and selling his sauce under the Lizano company name- and the legend was born. He started the brand officicailly in 1920, and celebrated the 100th birthday last year.

After about 40 years, the brand was sold to Best Foods. Today, Salsa Lizano is owned by Unilever, and has a line of Tabasco sauce, mayonnaise, refried black beans and Lizano light.

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.

What does it taste like?

So the salsa is a really unique flavor. It’s not spicy at all. It’s a little bit sweet and definitely savory. It’s got a similar flavor to Worcestershire sauce but is not nearly as smoky. It’s made of many vegetables (cilantro, carrot, tomato, onion, cauliflower, red pepper, cucumber, garlic, paprika, tumeric, and black pepper. Everything is blended up into a smooth consistency that is slightly green in color.

Lizano is often also called “salsa inglesa” or English sauce, as it does have a very similar flavor, color and consistency to Worcestershire sauce.

The sauce is an ingredient in most all popular Costa Rican recipes- it’s the “secret sauce” that makes Costa Rican food taste unique. Many people also have a bottle on hand in their homes or on the tables at restaurants for slathering on top of food or dipping.

Related post: 20+ Best Places For Your Next Costa Rica Vacation

Where To Buy

In Costa Rica you can buy Salsa Lizano literally anywhere. I’ve seen it at grocery stores, pulperías, mini supermarkets, in liquor stores, souvenir shops and in the airport.

Outside of Costa Rica, however, it can get a bit trickier. I’ve seen Salsa Lizano in the most random places, (like our local hardware store) but we couldn’t get it consistently until recently.

We are getting it consistently now because I opened a Costa Rican specialty food store– and we stock Lizano! Now you have Salsa Lizano near you at all times!

How To Store

Salsa Lizano is shelf stable until opened. I recommend that you refrigerate after opening, although many ticos don’t because they don’t want to pour cold sauce on hot food.

The bottle doesn’t say either way- but it does say to shake well before pouring. I say if you aren’t going to put it in the fridge then you should make sure it passes the smell test before consumption.

Homemade Salsa Lizano

So many people ask for a Salsa Lizano recipe- and I have to say that I’ve been chasing a good one for years now. I haven’t found anything. If you know of one that I can share, please let me know! Otherwise- I’l stay on the hunt.

Popular Costa Rican Recipes That Use Salsa Lizano

Let’s talk about how to use Salsa Lizano. You can use it as an ingredient in your favorite dishes to give a unique flavor, or you can put it on top of other foods.

Salsa Lizano as an Ingredient

Salsa Lizano as an Accompaniment

Note- I have found non-Costa Ricans get super obssesed with Salsa Lizano and end up putting it on everything- burritos, grilled steaks, on their Mexican tacos…. the sky is the limit!

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About the Author

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Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here.

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