Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Beans and Rice)

We had such a good time in Costa Rica and one of the best parts was the food. We would stop in small cafes (sodas) and order traditional meals. This was usually a meat, a salad, and this rice dish, gallo pinto. Each soda was different, and their gallo pinto preparation varied a lot. This recipe is close, but it’s still not exactly how I remember it tasting.

Time to prep: 20 minutes

Time to done: 30 minutes


  • 2 tablespoons light-tasting oil (vegetable, mild olive, canola)
  • 1 red bell pepper , chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 cups cooked black beans , in 3/4 cup reserved cooking liquid (or can low sodium black beans)
  • 1/4 cup Salsa Lizano
  • 3 cups cooked rice , preferably, day-old and refrigerated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sauté chopped bell pepper and onions until peppers are soft and onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.

Add black beans, reserved cooking liquid, and Salsa Lizano, stirring to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened and little bit of the liquid is evaporated. Gently stir in cooked rice and cook until heated through and most of the liquid is absorbed, but not dry, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro. Season to taste with additional Salsa Lizano (we added about a tablespoon extra).

Add serving of rice to glass bowl and compact, then place on plate upside. Tap to release the rice.

Original recipe: