International Recipes and Cooking Around the World

Gallo Pinto

Boy eating gallo pinto

(Costa Rican, Nicaraguan red beans and rice)

Image Creative Commons by Lee Cohen

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.


  • 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.
  • Stir in some chopped cilantro.
  • Add a few dashes of bottled pepper sauce or Worcerstershire sauce for added flavor.


Gosh! It's been so long since I've had this dish. I'm deinitely going to try to make it.I miss all of my salvadorean traditions and dishes.

Hey! I'm an African-American woman and my boyfriend is Nica. I think I'm killing him with my food.It seems that his body's ability to tolerate fried chicken, grits, gravy, and ridiculous amounts of butter is zero to none. Not to mention his newfound addiction to Kool-Aid. I think it's safest to reaquaint him with the cuisine of his culture.(At the very least in small doses.)Please help! If I can't re-regulate his system I'm afraid his potty time is going to start interfering with other, more... urgent, appetites.

ummm dont kill him you should lay off awile

my boy friend is from elsalvador the food and culture is the same red beans and rice purpusas they eat this shreaded cabage with white wine vinager and shredded carrots and onion its good you can also google his country and cook him a good chicken dinner from his country it will help plantanes to eat them with creme so good.

try making this....its easy typical nica. food

its called repocheta (re-po-che-tah)

theres diff types but my favorite is this...

corn tortillas
shreaded chicken breast
refried beans
hard white blocked cheese (queso blanco)

corn tortilla: use a skillet that u can put alot of oil in it and fry the tortillas till there crispy but not too brown.

chicken should be sheaded or you can cook it in a skillet with tomatoes and salt for a better taste then shred skinny

u can buy refried beans already in a can

cabbage just cut it into not cook it use it hard and cold

crumble the cheese into little balls

cut avacodes and sprinkle on top.
stack them in that order just like a pizza. and its eaten like a pizza.

also i love eastin this with a plaintain and cut into 1/2 in slices and fry in skillet with canola oil until a little brown.

also gallo pinto...thats red kidney beans and white rice mixed together typical nicaraguan dish:) enjoy

Amazon now has available a Nicaraguan cookbook in English.
They claim it may be the only one available anywhere.

the common red beans in nicaraguan cuisine are in fact not kidney beans but small red beans. Goya and a variety of generic food companies make a small red bean so this is available even in rural america where there may not be a large latino population. I would never use kidney beans for my gallo pinto only small red beans and black beans- the el salvadorian and cuban variety. And the addition of coconut oil vs regualr vegetable oil reminds me of carribean cuisine and is a tasty variation to the dish. buen provecho!

Gallo pinto without cilantro is not gallo pinto.