Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Beans and Rice)

Costa Rican Beans and Rice - Gallo Pinto

The Spruce / Marian Blazes

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 25 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
835 Calories
9g Fat
158g Carbs
32g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 835
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 12%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 110mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 158g 57%
Dietary Fiber 23g 83%
Protein 32g
Calcium 287mg 22%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Gallo pinto means "spotted rooster" because apparently the combination of black or red beans and rice resemble a certain type of chicken with speckled black and white feathers. This dish is popular all over Latin America in various forms- such as in Nicaragua, where it is also called gallo pinto, and in Colombia, where a similar dish is known as calentado. Peruvian tacu tacu is a similar refried rice and beans dish that is typically paired with a thin strip of fried steak and a fried egg.

It's basically an excellent way to use up leftover rice and beans, and it's often served for breakfast with a fried egg (basically leftovers, reheated) or fried plantains on the side. In Costa Rica, this dish is seasoned with a special sauce called salsa lizano. If you can't find a bottle of salsa lizano at your local Latin grocery, most people find that Worcestershire sauce plus a bit of cumin make for a reasonable substitute.

One popular and attractive method for serving gallo pinto is to pack it into a lightly-oiled bowl (in order to mold it into a dome shape), and then invert it onto the plate. 


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (finely diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (chopped)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper (finely diced)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons Salsa Lizano (or substitute Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 cups cooked beans (black or dark red with cooking liquid)
  • 2 cups cooked white rice
  • Dash salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro (chopped for garnish)

Steps to Make It

  1. Place the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  

  2. Add the chopped onion, the garlic, the red pepper, and the chopped cilantro. Cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft and fragrant.  

  3. Add the cumin and salsa lizano (or Worcestershire sauce) and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes. 

  4. Add the beans and their liquid, and cook for 1 minute.  

  5. Add the rice and stir until rice is well mixed with the beans and there are no clumps of rice.  

  6. Cover skillet, lower heat, and let mixture simmer for 1 to 2 minutes, until rice is heated through. 

  7. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding more salsa lizano or Worcestershire sauce to taste. 

  8. Garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.