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Traditional Gallo Pinto Recipe

Traditional Gallo Pinto Recipe

Gallo Pinto is a traditional breakfast dish of both Costa Rica and Nicaragua made up of black beans and rice with a primary seasoning of Lizano sauce (popularly known as Salsa Lizano).

Gallo pinto means “spotted rooster” in Spanish which originates from the speckled appearance that results from cooking white rice with black beans. 

Worcestershire sauce can be used as an alternative to Lizano sauce if you cannot find it, however, Lizano sauce is the preferred choice. Pinto beans were originally used but in more recent times black beans have have come to be the preferred choice by most people.

Gallo pinto can be eaten at any time of the day but is usually served as part of breakfast alongside eggs, tortilla, fried plantains, and natilla (Costa Rican sour cream). There are two main variations of this recipe depending on the area in Costa Rica where it is prepared.

In Valle Central, Gallo pinto is moister and prepared with black beans while in Guanacaste, Gallo pinto is fattier and prepared with red beans. In Nicaragua, Gallo pinto is made with red beans.

Origin & Cultural Significance 

The origin of Gallo Pinto is uncertain because both Costa Ricans and Nicaraguans claim it as their own. Nicaraguans claim that the recipe was brought to Nicaragua by Afro-Latin Americans during the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Costa Ricans on the other hand believe that the Gallo pinto recipe originated from the San Jose neighborhood of San Sabastian in 1930.

Legend has it that a small farm owner fattened up a spotted rooster for a dinner party. Unfortunately, the rooster was not adequate for the party, so a Latino Jamaican kitchen staff came up with a means to feed everyone by mixing rice and black beans. And that was the birth of ‘Gallo pinto’ as that was what the guests called the mixture.

Gallo Pinto

Traditional Gallo Pinto Recipe

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes


  • Salsa Lizano - ¼ cup
  • Chopped, fresh cilantro - ¼ cup
  • Red bell pepper, diced - 1
  • Medium yellow onion, finely diced - 1
  • Olive oil - 2 tbsp
  • Garlic, minced - 2 cloves
  • Cooked black beans - 2 cups
  • Cooked rice (prepared a day before) - 3 cups


  1. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  2. Add diced bell pepper and onions and sauté for about 6minutes. 
  3. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  4. Add black beans and a teaspoon of oil to the pan.
  5. Add Lizano sauce and salt to taste and allow simmering for 5minutes.
  6. Add the cooked rice and stir well for the ingredients to mix properly. 
  7. Allow cooking for 5minutes.
  8. Stir in chopped cilantro.
  9. Add salt and Lizano sauce as needed.
  10. Serve with eggs, tortilla, fried plantains, and natilla for a sumptuous breakfast.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 177Total Fat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 61mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 5gSugar: 2gProtein: 6g

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