International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Gallo Pinto

Central American gallo pinto with eggs

(Costa Rican, Nicaraguan red beans and rice)

Image Creative Commons by regan76

Average: 3.8 (59 votes)

If there is one meal that everyone in Nicaragua and Costa Rica eats, it's gallo pinto. This hearty, healthy and filling dish is your basic rice and beans. The beans in this case are red, and the color of the beans on the rice gives gallo pinto, or "painted rooster," its name. Costa Ricans especially are fond of serving gallo pinto with scrambled eggs for breakfast.

4 to 6 servings


  • Oil -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Onion, finely chopped -- 1
  • Bell pepper, finely chopped -- 1
  • Garlic, minced -- 2 or 3 cloves
  • Cooked red (kidney) beans, drained, liquid reserved -- 2 cups
  • Salt and pepper -- to taste
  • Hot cooked rice -- 3 cups


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high flame. Add the onions, bell pepper and garlic and sauté for about 2 or 3 minutes, or until cooked through.
  2. Stir in the drained beans, some of their reserved liquid, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to simmer until heated through.
  3. Add the rice and stir into the beans and heat through. Adjust seasoning and add a little more bean liquid if necessary. Serve hot.

Gallo Pinto Variations

  • Casamiento (Salvadoran black beans and rice): Use black beans instead of red beans.
  • Nicaraguans on the Caribbean coast use coconut oil instead of regular vegetable oil, and they usually eliminate the bell pepper.
  • Stir in some chopped cilantro.
  • Add a few dashes of bottled pepper sauce or Worcerstershire sauce for added flavor.

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