How to make: Gallo Pinto


Gallo pinto is the national dish of Costa Rica, a dish composed of rice and beans and is commonly served at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Even though Gallo Pinto is served very frequently, it often comes with different sides and toppings, for example , for breakfast it usually comes with avocado and a fried egg.  For lunch it is put on corn tortillas and topped with sour cream and tomatoes and for dinner it is frequently served as side dish to chicken or fish. Gallo Pinto literally translates to “spotted rooster” in Spanish.

In order to make the best tasting Gallo Pinto according to my ‘tico’ teacher here in San Jose, the rice needs to be made at least a day in advance so that it is dry and can absorb all the spices of the dish. The day before making gallo pinto, make the rice in a rice cooker or crock pot by combining 2 cups of water,  1 ½ cups of rice, 1 bouillon cube and ½ tablespoon sugar.


  • 4 15oz canned, low sodium black beans
  • 1 yellow Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 1 red sweet pepper
  • 2 cups (350 ml) white rice
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 2 Tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon lizano salsa
  • 2 bouillon cubes (Chicken, Beef, or vegetable)
  • 8-10 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaf) fresh or frozen
Start by mincing the vegetables for gallo pinto
Add the vegetable oil to a large saucepan and heat to medium heat. Chop onion and sweet pepper very fine and add to pan. Sauté for 2 minutes over medium high flame
Crack open 1 can of black beans and add the contents to the saucepan. Drain the other 3 cans, rinse the beans and then add to the sauce pan. The liquid from one can is enough to season the dish and will keep it from drying out.
ImageAdd the Worcestershire sauce, bouillon cube, ketchup, salt and lizano sauce(needed in Costa Rica) to the beans, cooking for a few minutes until slightly thickened.
ImageAdd the rice slowly to the bean mixture, stirring well to make sure the rice is well coated. Depending on preference, you can add more or less rice.
ImageSeason with cilantro just before serving
ImageGallo Pinto enjoyed on a corn tortilla with tomatoes



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