Gallo Pinto is a delicious rice and beans mixture that’s so beloved in Costa Rica, it’s considered the country’s national dish. It’s regularly served for breakfast with eggs, but can be enjoyed any time of day, and is a great make ahead meal.

Cooking International recipes is a fun way to “travel” right from your home kitchen. Try my Chilaquiles, Spanish Paella, or Pad Thai.

Gallo pinto served on a plate with some scrambled eggs and a tortilla on the side.

I fell in love with Gallo Pinto during a trip to Costa Rica with my husband. It is packed full of flavor and just the best way to start your day. I’ve made it dozens of times since our trip, and have even chatted with TBFS followers from Costa Rica to make sure I do the recipe justice.

I like to make a big batch because it reheats well for a quick and easy breakfast or meal on busy days. We also love to make it into a burrito with leftover shredded meat, scrambled eggs, cheese and hot sauce folded into a tortilla.

Pura Vida!

What is Gallo Pinto?

Gallo Pinto is Spanish for “spotted rooster” and gets its name because of the speckled look of the rice. It’s the national dish of Costa Rica and is usually served for breakfast, but can be enjoyed any time of day. It consists of rice, beans, diced vegetables, and salsa lizano.

Ingredients:

  • Vegetables: Red Bell Pepper, Onion, Celery, and Fresh Cilantro.
  • Butter and Vegetable Oil
  • Black Beans
  • Cooked Rice: Leftover cold rice works best. If you don’t any, cook 1 cup dry rice (should make about 3 cups cooked), and once it’s cooked, pour it out onto a baking tray and refrigerate or freeze it until cool. Then proceed with recipe as instructed.
  • Salsa Lizano: Purchase from Amazon, an International Foods Market, or try this homemade version.
  • Seasonings: Garlic, Chicken Bouillon and Cumin.

How to make Gallo Pinto:

Sauté Vegetables: Heat pan and oil over medium heat. Once hot, add butter, bell pepper, onion and celery and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.

Bell pepper, celery and onion sautéing in a pan.

Combine: Add salsa lizano, drained black beans, ¼ cup bean broth from the can, chicken bouillon and cumin. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, until most of liquid evaporates.

A pan with sautéed veggies, black beans,  chicken bullion, and cumin, to make gallo pinto.

Add Rice: Gently fold in rice. Cook on low for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally–don’t “stir” it. I use a spatula to scoop and flip it, allowing it to fry on all sides, on low heat. It should have a similar texture to fried rice (should not be mushy).

Cold leftover rice added to a skillet with black beans and sautéed veggies.

Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Add cilantro and toss in to combine.

Costa Rican Gallo Pinto cooking in a large skillet.

Serve with a warm tortilla on the side, fried or scrambled eggs, or fried plantains.

Make Ahead and Freezing Instructions:

To Make Ahead: Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, add a sprinkle of water on top and cook on the stove, or cover with a paper towel and microwave until warmed through.

To Freeze: Place in a freezer safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw completely in refrigerator before reheating.

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Recipe

Gallo pinto served on a plate with some scrambled eggs and a tortilla on the side.
Prep 5 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 25 mins

Ingredients
 
 

  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 red bell pepper , finely diced
  • 1 yellow onion , finely diced
  • 2 ribs celery , finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 15 oz cans black beans
  • 2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 cups cold leftover cooked white rice
  • 1/3 cup salsa lizano
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Drain black beans, but reserve the bean broth from the can, and set aside.
  • Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add oil. Once hot, add butter, bell pepper, onion and celery and sauté for 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute.
  • Add salsa lizano, black beans, ¼ cup bean broth from the can, chicken bouillon and cumin. Simmer for 5-8 minutes, until most of liquid evaporates.
  • Add rice and gently fold in to combine. Cook on low for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally–don’t “stir” it. I use a spatula to scoop and flip it, allowing it to fry on all sides, on low heat. It should have a similar texture to fried rice (should not be mushy).
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Add cilantro and toss in to combine.
  • Serve with a warm tortilla on the side, fried or scrambled eggs, or fried plantains.

Notes

Rice: If you don’t have leftover cold rice, cook 1 cup dry rice (should make about 3 cups cooked), and once it’s cooked, pour it out onto a baking tray and refrigerate or freeze it until cool. Then proceed with recipe as instructed.
To Make Ahead: Store in the fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, add a sprinkle of water on top and cook on the stove, or cover with a paper towel and microwave until warmed through.
To Freeze: Place in a freezer safe bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Let thaw completely in refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Calories: 311kcalCarbohydrates: 58gProtein: 11gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 8mgSodium: 501mgPotassium: 537mgFiber: 10gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 1104IUVitamin C: 44mgCalcium: 70mgIron: 3mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

  1. Gallo Pinto does not mean “spotted roster.”
    Gallo comes from the Hebrew word Galho that means portion of food.
    Many Costaricans are of Sephardi Jew background.
    Obviously Gallo Pinto does not contain chicken.

  2. So good! My husband is Tico, and we love to have this for Sunday morning breakfast, and sometimes dinner during the week! We always bring back bottles of Lizano Salsa when we go to Costa Rica, it’s hard to find in Canada!

  3. My dad’s from Costa Rica and I’ve always loved my aunt’s Gallo Pinto. I’m excited to make this for my dad!