What is Gallo Pinto? Costa Rica’s Staple Food

Gallo Pinto Costa Rica’s Staple Food

This is the most traditional Costa Rica dish there is!

It is mainly served for breakfast, but if you enter any Costa Rica house or local eatery at any given moment, there will always be Gallo Pinto ready to be served! Gallo Pinto is a really complete food

You can also find it in pretty much every menu of the small, local eateries called Sodas. The best part of it is that it is extremely easy to prepare. It’s one of the most famous dishes of the Costa Rica cuisine 

Plus, it is healthy, filling, it goes with almost everything and everyone can eat it: kids, adults, vegetarians, and vegans. So make sure to have some while visiting Costa Rica.

What is Gallo Pinto?

Gallo pinto can be literally translated into spotted rooster. You will find it all over Central America under the name of Rice and Beans. No one knows who came up with it but Nicaraguans and Costa Rican both claim they did.

All we know is that is must-have appeared around the time of the conquest, when Europeans introduced Asian rice to the region. Because beans are native of the region. So it is considered a mestizo dish.

It goes under many names all over Latin America, but the most common ones are Gallo Pinto, rice and beans, and casado.

Gallo Pinto, Costa Rica's Staple FoodBy Lablascovegmenu | Flickr

Gallo Pinto Recipe


3 cups of white cooked rice, just with some salt, but some add fried onion and garlic too (day old for the true Tico way)
2 cups cooked black beans (day old for the true Tico way)
2 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, finely chopped (cilantro)
2 tablespoons of oil
Salt to taste


  • Frying pan
  • Mixing spoon
  • Nice plate to serve it

How to make Gallo Pinto?

1. Saute onion and bell pepper in oil on medium heat until the onion starts to look a little see-through.

2. Add beans and cook two minutes longer, just until it boils. Try not to reduce the water too much because that will help season and color the rice.

3. Add rice and mix, cook three minutes more.

Serve it up! 

To make it even more flavorful, you can add some chopped coriander and mix well as you serve each plate.

Costa Ricans love having it with sour cream or cheese. It is also common to serve ripe fried plantains with it. And if you want to give it a bit of a Guatemalan taste you can eat it with freshly made corn tortillas and for a drink make sure you try a fresco, a typical Costa Rican Drink.

Experiment with it! 

There are cases where you will find this dish with some additional ingredients that make it even tastier. Some may include a kind of meat and additional veggies.

What would you add to it to make it your own? If you liked the gallo pinto, then you’ll love olla de carne, a meat stew that’s absolutely delicious, try it!

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Foodies Delight - Gallo Pinto Recipe - Costa Rica's Staple Food

Last Updated on May 15, 2023

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