Gallo Pinto is a quick, healthy, and authentic black beans and rice dish that is made with Lizano salsa and is traditionally found in Costa Rica. This easy recipe can be ready in under 30 minutes for a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian meal the whole family will enjoy!
Gallo Pinto – The BEST Dish of Costa Rica
Costa Rica is one of the most refreshing beach vacations you can take.
The people are out-of-this-world friendly, the beaches are tranquil, and the food is lick-your-plate-worthy.
Exhibit A: Gallo Pinto – the traditional dish of Costa Rica.
What is seriously such a simple dish of black beans and rice comes alive when it is tossed in a slightly sweet, but kinda spicy hot sauce, called Lizano, along with a few other spices.
Quick & Easy
While some cultural dishes can seem a bit too complex to whip up for a cooking newbie, this easy gallo pinto recipe is a great place to start.
You cannot really mess it up and it comes together in under 30 minutes when you’re in a time-crunch on busy weeknights!
What is Gallo Pinto?
Gallo Pinto is an authentic Costa Rican dish that is served across the country and consists of cooked rice, beans, a few seasonings, and Lizano salsa, or sauce.
In Spanish gallo pinto means “spotted rooster” and represents the speckled appearance the beans give the rice.
Pinto beans were originally used to make this dish, however, black beans are now often found the ingredient of choice.
The ingredients needed to make an authentic gallo pinto are relatively easy to find and consist of the following:
- Cooked Rice – Day-old rice is best as it does not have quite as much moisture as freshly cooked. Brown or white rice can be used, but white is the traditional ingredient.
- Beans (Canned) – While pinto beans were commonly used, black beans have become the new staple and are what we are using in this recipe.
- Lizano Sauce – The star of the show when it comes to where this dish gets it flavor.
- Onion – A sweet onion is used in this recipe, but a red or white onion can also be used.
- Red Bell Pepper – You can also use a green bell pepper, but the red does give the dish a subtle sweetness and a brilliant color.
- Cumin, Paprika, Cayenne Pepper – More spices that help boost the flavor profile.
- Cilantro – Totally optional but brings a bite of freshness.
Where to Buy Lizano Sauce?
When we went on our last vacation to Costa Rica my sister-in-law requested we pick up a bottle of Lizano Sauce for her. I thought it would be rather difficult to locate this unfamiliar hot sauce, but boy was I wrong!
Not only was it in EVERY single grocery store, or market, across the country, but I found out it is also available online through Amazon!
Being that my luggage was already extremely close to the 50-pound maximum, I brought back an authentic Costa Rican bottle for my sis’ and then bought a 3-pack of it through Amazon to be delivered when I got home.
So needless to say, you do NOT need to take a trip to Costa Rica to purchase Lizano Salsa, or sauce. However, if you want a good place to vacation, it might be JUST the extra push you need to get down there!
How to Make
Cooking this authentic gallo pinto is a quick and easy lunch or dinner recipe to prepare. Simply follow the steps outlined below to get your perfect dish!
Sauté diced onion and bell pepper in a large skillet with olive oil for 5-7 minutes or until veggies are tender.
Add crushed garlic and continue sautéing for 1 minute.
Whisk together seasoning ingredients in a small bowl and add to the skillet with the cooked rice.
Pour Lizano sauce over ingredients and stir well.
Cook for 5-10 minutes covered over low heat, or until rice absorbs the sauce.
- Serve with finely chopped cilantro and enjoy!
Serving, Storing, and Reheating
Storing: Gallo pinto stores well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. It also freeze well if placed in a freezer-safe container for up to 4-6 months.
Reheating: You can either reheat in the microwave or add it back to a skillet with a bit of oil. Reheat over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly, or until heated through.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to cook the rice a day ahead of time?
No, you do not need to cook the rice a day ahead of time. To get the best texture I would recommend cooking and at least letting it cool to room temperature before adding it to the skillet.
Can I use a different type of bean?
Absolutely! The original recipe was made with pinto beans. You can try pinto, red, or even kidney beans and see what you think!
What If I cannot find Lizano sauce?
As mentioned previously, Lizano sauce gives this authentic dish a large majority of the traditional flavor we all know and love. However, if you are unable to order it on Amazon, you can always follow this recipe to make homemade Lizano sauce.
More Rice Recipes:
Gallo Pinto Recipe | Costa Rican Beans and Rice
Gallo Pinto is a quick, healthy, and authentic black beans and rice dish that is made with Lizano salsa and is traditionally found in Costa Rica.
- 3 cups cooked rice brown or white*
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper finely diced
- 1 sweet onion finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic crushed
- ⅓ cup Lizano salsa
- ½ tsp. cumin
- ¼ tsp. paprika
- ⅛ tsp. cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp. salt to taste
- 15- oz. can black beans drained
In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil, bell peppers, and onion. Sauté for 5-7 minutes or until veggies are tender.
Add crushed garlic and continue sautéing for 1 minute.
Whisk together cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and salt in a small bowl.
Add rice, beans, and seasoning ingredients to the skillet. Stir to combine.
Pour Lizano salsa over rice and stir well. Cover and cook for 5-10 minutes over low heat, or until rice absorbs the sauce.
Serve gallo pinto with cilantro and additional Lizano salsa, if desired, and enjoy!
- Three cups cooked rice is roughly 1 cup uncooked rice. Day old rice is preferable.
- Estimated time does not take into account the time it takes to cook the rice.