Traditional Nicaraguan Gallopinto Recipe – Versatile Rice and Beans Dish

Authentic Nicaraguan Gallopinto Recipe: How to Make Traditional Rice and Beans Dish

Discover the heart of Nicaraguan cuisine with this mouthwatering gallopinto recipe. This iconic dish, meaning ‘painted rooster,’ is a staple at every meal in Nicaragua, combining the perfect balance of rice and beans.

Gallopinto is more than just a side dish; it’s a cultural touchstone that reflects the warmth and hospitality of Nicaraguan homes. Each family has its own special twist, but the essence remains the same – a delicious blend of fluffy rice and tender beans that will transport your taste buds straight to Central America.

This recipe draws from time-honored traditions, including the meticulous bean-picking process and the aromatic addition of seven garlic cloves – a touch of culinary magic passed down through generations. Whether you prefer your gallopinto soft and comforting or crispy with a delightful crunch, this versatile dish adapts to your palate.

A Culinary Journey Through Time

Our gallopinto recipe has evolved since its original publication in May 2012. We’ve adjusted the bean quantities to minimize leftovers while maintaining the authentic flavor profile. This updated version uses a half-pound of dried beans, yielding about 3 cups of cooked beans – just the right amount for a perfect gallopinto.

Gallopinto: Nicaragua’s Beloved Rice and Beans


For the Rice:

  • 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup; 200g), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups (10 ounces; 300g) long-grain white rice
  • 3 cups (710ml) water or homemade or store-bought chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (5g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (3 ounces; 85g), cored and seeded

For the Beans:

  • 1/2 pound (225g) dried small red or black beans (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon (3g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or the same weight
  • 4 medium garlic cloves (20g), peeled


  1. Prepare the Rice: Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté two-thirds of the onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice, stirring until shiny and oil-coated, 2-3 minutes. Pour in water or stock and salt. Bring to a boil, place bell pepper on top, then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Remove bell pepper, fluff rice, cool, and refrigerate for 24 hours.
  2. Cook the Beans: Inspect and rinse beans. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes. Boil for 30 minutes, then let rest covered for 1 hour. Boil again, add salt and garlic, and simmer until tender, 30-60 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 cups for the gallopinto.
  3. Create the Gallopinto: In a large saucepan, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Sauté remaining onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice and beans, stirring to coat. Cook for 10 minutes, allowing flavors to meld and achieve desired crispness.
  4. Serve and Enjoy: Plate your gallopinto immediately, accompanied by scrambled or fried eggs, corn tortillas, and queso fresco. For a softer texture, cover and cook over low heat for an extra 10 minutes.

Recipe Notes

Look for Goya’s ‘Central American Beans’ for an authentic touch. Small black beans make a great substitute if you can’t find the red variety.

Customize your gallopinto’s texture to your liking – from soft and comforting to delightfully crispy.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
194 Calories
7g Fat
26g Carbs
7g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 8
Amount per serving
Calories 194
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 394mg 17%
Total Carbohydrate 26g 9%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 7g
Vitamin C 12mg 58%
Calcium 46mg 4%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 477mg 10%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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