Costa Rican Rice and Beans

Costa Rican cuisine is simple. Chefs shun spices. Rice and beans form the staple. That’s why when asked how the famous Costa Rica recipe gallo pinto is made, a Tico would probably look at you like you’re a little loco. It is not unlike asking a Brit how to make a cup of tea. Just your luck then that you found this article when you did. Here you will find a step by step guide as well as a Costa Rica recipe for making real Costa Rica gallo pinto.

Gallo Pinto (Beans and Rice)

For this Costa Rica recipe, you need the following:

** 1 lb. black beans. Although dried is alright, try to get the freshest beans you can find. If you use dried beans, submerge them in a bowl of water and let soak overnight.
** 8-10 sprigs cilantro (coriander leaf). Either fresh or frozen is okay, so long as they’re not dried.
** 1 small onion
** ½ small red or yellow sweet pepper
** 3 cups chicken broth. Plain water would do as well.
** 2 cups white rice
** ½ teaspoon salt
** 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
** 1-3 tablespoon oil


  1. First, drain the beans and add fresh water to an inch above the top of the beans. Salt then cover the pan, reducing the heat to very low simmer. It should take an approximate 3 hours before beans are soft.
  2. While the beans are in the fire, get to work chopping cilantro, onion, and sweet pepper. Chop to very fine.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan placed over medium high flame. Wait until pan is hot before adding dry rice to sauté for two minutes. Then, add half of the chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro. Sauté for another two minutes. Afterwards, add water or chicken broth and bring to boil before covering and reducing the heat. Let simmer for 20-35 minutes or until rice is tender.
  4. After beans and rice are cooked, refrigerate or freeze them. Remember to keep some of the “black water” with the beans to give the rice its color and some of its flavor.
  5. Now, for the real Costa Rica recipe of gallo pinto, sauté everything together again – rice, beans, reserved chopped onion, sweet pepper and cilantro. Take it off the pan, sprinkle with some fresh chopped cilantro, and your gallo pinto is ready to serve.


  • You can make small batches of gallo pinto with your frozen or refrigerated rice and beans. Just take small portions from each and sauté them together the way it’s done above.

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