Gallo Pinto Breakfast

Imagine waking up to the sounds of Costa Rican rainforests and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee. As you step onto the balcony of your charming Arenal lodge, you’re greeted with a plate piled high with vibrantly colored Gallo Pinto – a dish that’s more than just breakfast, it’s a cultural experience on a plate.

Photo of Gallo Pinto beans and rice
A Gallo Pinto breakfast is usually served with eggs, fried cheese and a Portuguese style sausage.

My recent trip to Arenal, Costa Rica, started with this very experience at Hotel Mountain Paradise, and I knew I had to bring this taste of sunshine back home. So, with a few tips from the hotel’s chefs and a dash of my own culinary curiosity, I’m here to guide you on your Gallo Pinto adventure!

This recipe isn’t just about replicating a dish; it’s about embracing the heart of Costa Rican cuisine. Gallo Pinto, literally translated to “painted rooster,” combines black beans and rice, creating a symphony of textures and flavors that’s both simple and satisfying. It’s a dish that holds a special place in Costa Rican hearts, enjoyed by families for generations. And the best part? It’s incredibly versatile! You can customize it with your favorite spices, serve it alongside various breakfast delights, and make it your own culinary signature.

Gallo Pinto Breakfast Recipe 1

The Story of Gallo Pinto

Gallo Pinto’s origins remain a delicious mystery, with some tracing it back to African slaves who brought their knowledge of black beans and rice to the region. Others believe it emerged from the ingenuity of Costa Rican peasants, using readily available ingredients to create a hearty and nutritious meal. Whatever its origin, Gallo Pinto has become a staple in Costa Rican breakfast culture, enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. Each region has its own variation, with some adding coconut milk, chorizo, or even plantains for a unique twist.

The Gallo Pinto Breakfast

A traditional Gallo Pinto breakfast is usually served with eggs, fried cheese, Portuguese style sausage, Patacones and plenty of Salsa Lizano, the country’s signature hot sauce. It’s absolutely amazing served with a hot cup of Costa Rican coffee!

Gallo Pinto breakfast with eggs, beans and plantains.
This Costa Rican beans and rice from Hotel Mountain Paradise in La Fortuna is served with scrambled eggs and fried plantains.

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Gallo Pinto Breakfast Recipe 1

Gallo Pinto from Costa Rica

Recipe by Jason Hill –
Today we are making Gallo Pinto, a medley of cooked white rice, black beans, and Salsa Lizano, the country’s signature hot sauce. You’ll find this served at most Costa Rican restaurants for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Serve with eggs, fried cheese and a Portuguese style sausage.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Breakfast
Cuisine Caribbean, Costa Rican
Servings 4


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 cups canned black beans with liquid
  • 1/4 cup Salsa Lizano plus more for topping
  • 3 cups cooked white rice
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Gallo Pinto Breakfast Additions:

  • Scrambled Eggs
  • Portuguese Sausage Links
  • Halloumi or Queso Blanco cheese
  • Corn tortillas
  • Fried plantains


  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a skillet. Saute 1 small chopped onion with 1 chopped bell pepper until softened. Add 2 cloves minced garlic and saute another minute.
  • Add 2 cups cooked canned black beans with their liquid, and 1/4 cup Salsa Lizano, and 3 cups of cooked white rice. Stir about 3-5 minutes until most liquid is absorbed, but rice is still moist.
  • Stir in 1/4 cup chopped cilantro. Season to taste with extra Salsa Lizano!
  • Serve the Gallo pinto with scrambled eggs, 2 links Portuguese sausage, a wedge of fried white cheese such as queso blanco or halloumi, 1 warmed corn tortilla and 2-3 fried plantains. Pura Vida!
  • Note: Salsa Lizano is essential to this dish. It’s available on Amazon or at your local Latin markets, such as Vallarta.
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Keyword black beans, breakfast, eggs, rice
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

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