Gallo Pinto

This vegetarian dinner is soooo satisfying. It’s rice and beans with tons of flavor, inspired by a Costa Rican dish sometimes served with a fried egg on top. Please put the fried egg on top. It’s the best part!

This vegetarian dinner is soooo satisfying. It's a rice and bean mixture with tons of flavor. It's inspired by a Nicaraguan and Costa Rican dish that is sometimes served with a fried egg on top. Please put the fried egg on top. It's the best part!

I really like doing a vegetarian dinner once a week. It’s healthy and economical too. However, I seem to be a real protein-craver so if I’m going to do vegetarian I need to make sure that there is a lot of protein in the dish. Gallo Pinto is perfect that way.

Gallo Pinto is a Nicaraguan and Costa Rican dish made mostly of rice and beans. The name means “spotted rooster” because of the speckled look of the dish. While the name is charming enough to make me want to cook this all the time, it’s the satisfying proteins that bring me back again and again. You see, the dish has a good helping of beans in it and it’s also often served with a fried egg on top. I find that having two protein sources really helps make a vegetarian meal more filling to me.

Gallo Pinto is usually made using a traditional sauce called Salsa Lizano (read about that here). I didn’t get any in time so I went with some chili powder instead. Not authentic by any means but I’m hoping the bit of smokiness and pepper flavors do something similar. If you’re planning ahead to make this, you can get Salsa Lizano online here.

To make this version of Gallo Pinto you sauté an onion with some bell pepper and shredded carrot in a medium sauce pan (like this size) until soft. Add in quite a bit of garlic and some chili powder and cook for a few seconds. Then you add rice, salt and water and cook it until the rice is soft. When it’s ready, topple in your cooked beans. I use whatever canned beans I have. In the picture, it’s chick peas (because that’s what I had that day) but black or red beans are more traditional.

Let that sit with the lid on for a few minutes while you fry some eggs. I go with sunny side up and definitely runny because the warm yolk mixed with the rice and beans is the best part. But do whatever style eggs you like best.

That’s it. Easy, right? I’m betting you’re going to love this recipe. Let me know what you think, or how you changed it, below in the comments. Have a great day!

Christine :)


Gallo Pinto

  • Author: Christine Pittman
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings


This vegetarian dinner is soooo satisfying. It’s rice and beans with tons of flavor, inspired by a Costa Rican dish sometimes served with a fried egg on top. Please put the fried egg on top. It’s the best part!


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cups long grain white rice
  • salt
  • 3 and 1/2 cups water
  • 114 ounce cans of beans (I use chick peas but black or red beans are traditional), drained
  • 46 eggs


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan that has a lid warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the carrots, onion and bell pepper. Cook stirring occasionally for a few minutes until everything is nice and soft.
  3. Add the garlic and the chili powder and stir and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Stir in the rice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the water.
  5. Increase heat to high and let it come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer it for 16-20 minutes until the rice is tender.
  6. Stir in the chickpeas. Remove the sauce pan from the heat and replace the lid so that everything stays warm.
  7. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Crack in the eggs. Cook to desired doneness (sunny side up and still runny is how I do it here).
  8. While the eggs are cooking, taste the rice mixture and add more salt if needed.
  9. Serve rice topped with fried eggs.

Photos are by Leigh Olson. Article and recipe by Christine Pittman.

Disclosure: This post contains an Amazon affiliate link meaning that if you click it and buy something I will receive a small commission. This is at no additional charge to you. All opinions are my own.
This post originally appeared in January, 2013 and was revised and republished in September, 2017.

14 responses to “Gallo Pinto”

  1. AratBrat says:

    I made this dish for dinner last night even though I know it’s typically a breakfast item. It sounded so good, and we don’t typically cook things for breakfast. All 4 of us thought it was too dry but that it had a lot of potential. We all dumped a bunch of salsa into our bowls and were then happy with it. Though I did read much of the post before making it, I missed that the dish usually is made with Salsa Lizano. That’s definitely the missing piece here. Going to try it again after my Salsa Lizano bottle arrives.

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Thanks for the feedback. The rice part is typically as dry as plain rice to me but I find that the beans and the egg yolk make it nice and moist. The salsa will help as well though for sure!

  2. Jan Mowbray says:

    I really enjoy Gallo Pinto but prefer it with black beans. I also prefer to cook my rice with homemade chicken stock rather than plain water. We often have Gallo Pinto as a side dish for dinner. This dish works well as leftovers. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Jan, You’re welcome! I make it with black beans sometimes too. My kids love chick peas though so I use those in a lot of things. Good idea about the chicken stock!

  3. Sean Doyle says:

    As a vegetarian going on almost 25 years, I cut meat out as young teenager when I was introduced to Hinduism, and all I can say is thanks to the internet and folks like you, my meals are always interesting and exciting, keep up the good work and I wish you best on your meatless meals, just make sure you keep posting the recipes for me to try.

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Sean, So happy you like this one. It’s a definite favorite around here! Thanks for letting me know.

  4. […] to satisfying his meat hunger is to include at least two protein sources per meal. That’s why gallo pinto, a Nicaraguan dish that has beans and rice topped with a fried egg, is one of his favorites for meatless […]

  5. Katerina says:

    It’s been a year now that my husband and I have changed our eating habits firstly to control our weight but now as way to stay healthy! I love the meat-potato combination and I don’t think I will ever get it over with. It is like a drug or something, I always crave it, but my knowledge and logic prevail now and I keep it on the safe side. Your Gallo Pinto looks absolutely perfect!

  6. What an inventive breakfast! Love all the texture.

  7. I grew up in a meat and potatoes family as well. I am not a vegetarian but my husband and I eat a mostly plant based diet now. (we are vegetable farmers) I think it takes time, but you are doing really well. Your recipes sound fantastic. I find that I don’t miss meat very much anymore. There are so many delicious and comforting meatless meals out there!

  8. Suzanne says:

    I always have to make a consious effort to include vegetables in my diet. Growing up, we would just defrost a box of frozen vegetables, and they never tasted that great. So I feel like I’m overcoming a vegetable handicap.

  9. Liz says:

    Something to think about: Animal food consumption has been decreasing steadily over the last 40 years, but obesity and diabetes has been steadily increasing. Meat has been in our diets forever and contains nutrients that are necessary–nutrients that most people are deficient in these days (like vitamin D and B12). On the other hand, polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oils) and refined carbohydrates (sugar, wheat) make up a much larger part of the diet these days and are easily tied to metabolic issues.

    I followed a vegan diet for years–I’m not trolling, just adding another point of view! You know I’m a big CTS fan :)

    • Christine Pittman says:

      Interesting point! I’m not trying to cut out meat entirely though. Just trying to decrease how much of it we eat AND decrease it’s central role in the meal. Ideally, I’d like to think of meat as a seasoning that we use to make our vegetables and grains taste even better. Also, I *really* want to start trying to have more whole grains in our diet. We eat potatoes, white rice (like in the Gallo Pinto above, even), bread that while it claims to be whole wheat often contains a lot of white flour, and white pasta. And I don’t think we eat enough fruits and vegetables either. We get a nice-sized portion at dinner but quite often the rest of the day is lacking. So it’s a bigger change than just cutting out meat. It’s cutting down meat, increasing fruits and vegetables, reducing (or eliminating) the white stuff and increasing the whole grains. I guess it’s sort of on the way to Paleo but I’m not yet giving up the grains or the dairy…hmm…or the beans. Is that right?

      • Liz says:

        It’s all about eating real food, right? I don’t eat meat every day, and it definitely doesn’t make up most of my diet. Some days, my protein is eggs–ever since your post on fried eggs over asparagus, that has been one of my favorites (sometimes over carrots, too)! I’ll have that or homemade chicken stock with vegetables and butter. When I do have beef, it’s always grass-fed, which doesn’t contribute to the environmental disaster that factory-farmed cows do (along with the antibiotic-resistance problem). *sigh* Eating is so complicated these days! lol

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

Fill your busy life with great food!

Sign up to get my quick recipes and useful tips by email and receive my air fryer ecookbook as a free thank you gift.