This Costa Rican Gallo Pinto (Rice and Beans) is made using only pantry staples and then is topped with a satisfying fried egg.
I was in Costa Rica lately and I was amazed and delighted to discover this dish, Gallo Pinto, that is served just about any time of day. It was definitely a staple at every breakfast, which is why I have taken to serving it topped with a fried egg.
It’s an incredibly flavorful dish given that it is made of such humble ingredients. For our current purposes, the series on Pantry Dinners that we’re doing, it’s a great choice since it gets all those flavors from the pantry.
What Is Gallo Pinto?
Gallo Pinto is a Costa Rican dish of rice and beans that translates to ‘spotted rooster’. It’s delicious at any time of day, but is very popular for breakfast where it can make good use of leftover rice and beans from the previous day. It’s great like eggs, like I show in this recipe, but you can also serve with tortillas and plantains.
For this Pantry Foods version, we’re using canned beans but if you’d like to start with dry beans check out this guide to cooking beans in the Instant Pot. It’s a time saver for sure, and cuts the cooking time down from hours, to about the same amount of time it’ll take your rice to cook. Black beans or red beans are the most popular choice, but my family really likes chickpeas.
What Is Salsa Lizano?
There’s garlic powder, onion powder, and salt to season this dish, of course. But there’s also a unique ingredient that Costa Ricans love called Salsa Lizano.
Salsa Lizano is a tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy sauce that is used as a condiment on all kinds of things. If you have a local Latin American grocery, you will likely be able to find it there. If you don’t have Salsa Lizano in your pantry (I didn’t have it either, don’t worry!) you can whip up your own tangy, sweet, and slightly spicy sauce to use instead.
The substitute that I use for Salsa Lizano is to mix together 2 teaspoons of honey, 2 teaspoons of ketchup, 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce, and 1 teaspoon of hot sauce. It doesn’t really taste the same but it does have that blend of sweet-tang-heat that you’re looking for and it tastes great in this dish.
How To Make Gallo Pinto
To make this pantry version of Gallo Pinto you toast some rice lightly in some olive oil (you can saute some veggies like onions and carrots first, if you have them – see info in the recipe below). Then add in the garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and water. Stir that all together and then bring it to a simmer. Once it’s simmering, cover it with a lid and drop the heat way down. Cook it covered until the rice is tender. That takes about 16-20 minutes.
Fluff the rice with a fork and then stir in some beans. The traditional bean of choice is really black beans, but I also saw red beans. My family’s favorite legume is the chickpea so I typically go with that. Along with the beans, also add in that Salsa Lizano, or the substitute you made.
At this point, your Gallo Pinto is done and is ready to serve. BUT, if you want to make it even more amazing, I urge you to fry up some eggs (I really like them basted like this) and serve those on top. You could also top with sour cream and sliced avocado.
- Olive oil
- Optional vegetables*
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. onion powder
- 3 and ½ cups water
- 1 (14 oz.) cans of beans (I use chickpeas, but black or red beans are traditional), drained
- 2 Tbsp. Salsa Lizano**
- 6 eggs (optional)
- In a medium-sized saucepan that has a lid, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add any optional vegetables and saute until softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the rice and toast lightly in the oil for a minute. Stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Add the water and stir.
- Increase heat to high and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until rice is tender, 16-20 minutes.
- Stir in the beans and the Salsa Lizano. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and replace the lid so that everything stays warm.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Crack in the eggs. Cook to desired doneness (sunny side up and still runny is how I do it here).
- While the eggs are cooking, taste the rice mixture and add more salt if needed.
- Serve rice topped with fried eggs.
*If you have any of these vegetables, use them in step #1: 1 small onion (chopped), 2 carrots (shredded), 1 bell pepper (chopped), 2 cloves garlic (minced), 2 ribs celery (chopped). If you are using onion, then omit the onion powder from the recipe. If you are using garlic, then omit the garlic powder from the recipe.
**If you don’t have Salsa Lizano mix together 2 teaspoons of honey, 2 teaspoons ketchup, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce and use that in its place.
This post originally appeared in March 2020 and was revised and republished in July 2022.