Taste Costa Rica's national dish

Wed, 05/30/2018 - 10:00 - 

Because love goes through the stomach, in this blog post we explain how to make Costa Rica’s national dish, called Gallo Pinto. This literally means “spotted rooster” although it is all about rice and beans and not about a rooster at all. You can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It is surprisingly delicious and gives you the right amount of energy to get through a hot day full of fun.

Be aware: this is not a dish to make when you are in a hurry. It takes patience but the good news is that you can refrigerate or freeze the already cooked rice and beans.

Which ingredients do you need?


  • 1 lb (450 gr.) black beans. Fresh are best but most likely you’ll find them dried at the supermarket. Canned beans are also ok.
  • 8-10 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaf) fresh or frozen, not dried!
  • 1 small or medium onion
  • a sweet pepper
  • 3 cups (700 ml) water
  • 2 cups (350 ml) white rice
  • ½ teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1 Tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
  • 1-3 Tablespoon oil to fry the Gallo Pinto
  • if you like, you can add chicken broth to the water

All set? Then let’s get started!


  • If the beans are dried, cover them with water and soak overnight.  If they are “fresh” (still dried, but only from laying out in the sun like they do in Costa Rica), just rinse them off.
  • Drain the beans and add fresh water to an inch (2.5-cm) above the top of the beans and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to a very low simmer until the beans are soft. Count about 3 hours. Yes, this dish is made with patience and love!
  • Add salt.
  • Chop the cilantro, sweet pepper and the onion very fine.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a large pan and sauté the dry rice for 2 minutes over a medium high flame. Then add half of the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro and sauté another 2 minutes. Add water or chicken broth, bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer until rice is tender ( another 20-35 minutes, depending on the kind of rice you use).
  • Once the rice and beans are cooked you can refrigerate or freeze them. Make up small batches of Gallo Pinto.
  • Keep a significant amount of the “black water” with the beans (½-1 cup, 120-240 ml). This is what gives the rice its color and some of its flavor. Sauté the rice, beans, reserved chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro together in vegetable oil for a few minutes. Sprinkle with a little fresh chopped cilantro just before serving.
  • Serve with eggs, tortilla, cheese and enjoy! 


There are many possible combinations, which vary according to region and taste: Caribbean Style with coconut oil, with fish, a fresh salad or with chicken, even with sweet plantain or sausages… but ALWAYS with rice and beans!

Not in the mood to cook?  Go to https://www.yugentours.com/en/costa-rica and soon you will be enjoying a Gallo Pinto of your choice in a magnificent, authentic setting.


Do you have any questions or suggestions? Leave a message in the box below.