Photo by Santiago Gomez de la Fuente

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice & Beans)

Cuisine: Costa Rican
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
This Costa Rican version of rice and beans goes great with everything!

Almost every Latin American country has its version of rice and beans, and in Costa Rica it's called gallo pinto. The curious name, which literally translates as "spotted hen," comes from its speckled black and white color. A countrywide household staple, this recipe incorporates fresh ginger and spices, which to me, gives it a beautiful complexity reminiscent of dishes from India. Enjoy making it!

Tico vs. Nico

If you travel through Central America, you'll soon learn that both Costa Rica and Nicaragua proudly claim to be the birthplace of gallo pinto. While it's a national dish in both countries, there is one major difference between the two versions that's pretty easy to spot. Costa Rican gallo pinto is made with black beans, while the Nico recipe uses black beans. Ticos also use salsa Lizano in their recipe. Since that can be hard to come by, you can use Worcestershire sauce instead.


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  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat, add onion and cook until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic, cook for 5 more minutes until onion is a caramel color.
  3. Add your beans and rice, spices, ginger and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over medium heat until all ingredients are mixing well, for approximately 5 minutes.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with chopped cilantro, adding tomatoes over everything.
  5. Enjoy!
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