Red Beans and Rice (Gallo Pinto)

Serves     6

  • 2 to 3 tbsp. oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • *2 cups cooked small red beans, drained, liquid reserved
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups cooked white rice (can be prepared one day ahead of time)

* Note regarding the beans—3/4 cup of dried small red beans will yield about 2 cups cooked. If you are using canned beans, 1 can of beans drained will yield about 1 ½ cups beans.


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. 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.

Add the cooked rice and stir into the beans and heat through. Adjust seasoning and add a little more bean liquid if necessary. Serve hot.


  • Use black beans or kidney beans instead of red beans.
  • Stir in some chopped cilantro.
  • Add a few dashes of bottled pepper sauce or Worcestershire sauce for added flavor.

Reprinted with permission from:

Photo credit: Lablascovegmenu from Flickr, Used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic.


Notes and Instructions

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. It is often served with eggs for breakfast.