Living in Miami, I have tried some of the best Hispanic food in the world. One of my favorites is Gallo Pinto (rice & black beans) – pronounced gah-yoh peen-to. There are so many ways to cook this amazing dish and so many cultural differences on the details. I’ll show you how I cook this dish at home. We usually serve it for Meatless Mondays with fried yucca and the Garlic, Cilantro Yogurt dip.
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What is Gallo Pinto?
Gallo Pinto (pronounced gah-yoh peen-to ) is a Central-American dish made mostly with rice and black beans. I have friends who insists its origins are in Nicaragua and others that say Costa Rica. Gallo Pinto in Spanish means ‘spotted rooster’ and supposedly the dish got this name because of it’s spotted appearance.
Different methods of cooking dish dish involve sometimes cooking the beans twice and letting the beans cool in between. Or adding coconut milk etc. Some countries even serve this dish for breakfast with eggs and other side dishes.
How to Serve Rice & Black Beans?
This is a very versatile side dish, you can use it as a main dish too. It’s filling has lots of fiber and protein. The rice and beans alone is a vegan dish.
If you’re not vegan you can serve it with a side of favorite meat, chicken etc. If you’re not eating meat/chicken you can serve it with a salad, pico de gallo or plantains or yucca on the side. We love it with either yucca or tostones. The dip I’m using for the yucca is yogurt based so if you use the combination I used , the whole meal would be vegetarian.
Rice & Black Beans – Easy Recipe Notes & Tips
I have lived in Miami for 20 years now. While Miami it is known for the famous Miami Beach and eclectic Wynwood, some of the best food is found in local neighborhoods where you rarely see any tourists. Most of the Latin themed restaurants serve some version of Rice & Black Beans, sometimes with Red beans too.
See below a picture from how we served this dish at another dinner.
While I have learned a lot of the cultural nuances that go behind cooking Gallo Pinto, I decided to simplify the recipe a bit. See below my notes and process pictures followed by printable recipe card with step by step instructions.
See below my tips and some in between pictures. I usually use dry beans to make this dish, but I’ll give you some tips on how you can use canned beans too.
- Let the beans soak overnight in water.
- Drain water and put beans in a pot. Add fresh water to cover them by an inch or two. Add 2 garlic cloves and set heat to high until water boils, then lower heat to medium. Cover pot and let beans cook for about 1hr to 1 hr and 15 minutes.
- Once beans are cooked saute onions and more garlic in olive oil.
- Add chopped green pepper to pot and saute it as well.
- Once peppers are also sauteed, then add rice and start mixing slowly until all grains of rice look shiny.
- Once rice grains are all shiny, then add cooked beans. Or you can use canned beans at this point instead of the cooked dry beans. If using canned beans, drain and rinse them well before you add them to pot.
- When using cooked black beans like I did, then at this point you use a ladle to get the water where the beans cooked in. Fill a measuring cup and add to pot with veggies, rice and beans. If you added 4 cups of rice, you can add up to 8 cups of water. I personally have about 4-5 cups of beans water then I supplement the remaining 3 cups with regular water or broth if desired.
Rice & Black Beans – Easy Gallo Pinto
- 14 oz dry black beans
- 4 cups rice
- 1 white onion
- 5 garlic cloves
- 1 green bell pepper
- 3 tbsps olive oil extra virgin
- salt/pepper to taste
- 3 tbsps chopped fresh cilantro
- Soak beans overnight. Next day, drain the liquid and rinse.
- Place beans in a pot, cover with water (about 1 inch over the beans) and set to boil. Add 1 garlic cloves to pot. Once water boils, then lower heat to medium and cover the pot. Let cook for about 1 hr to 1 hr 15 minutes or until the beans are soft. Water where beans cooked should be a dark color.
- In another pot, add olive oil and turn heat to medium-high. Saute the onions and remaining garlic until onions become translucent.
- Add chopped bell pepper and continue sauteing.
- Add rice and mix slowly so the all the rice grains saute with the veggies. Keep mixing so rice doesn't burn. You want to saute until all the rice grains look shiny because they're coated with oil.
- Add 4 ladles full of cooked beans from the first pot to the one with the rice.
- Then pour the water where beans cooked into measuring cups. Add about 4-5 cups of the dark liquid into the pot with rice and beans. You need 8 cups of liquid in total. So add the remaining cups filled with regular water or broth, you choice. It's important to calculate the 8 cups of liquid, part from the beans and part regular water but total should add to 8 cups (if using 4 cups of rice).
- Add salt pepper to taste and any other seasonings you like at this point. Mix well and let it cook in medium until all visible water evaporates. Then lower heat to low for few more minutes and cover the pot.
- Serve garnished with chopped fresh cilantro and lime wedges and with other sides of your choice.
- I’m not including soaking beans overnight in the cooking times as that is not active cooking.
- If using canned beans you can have this dish ready in just half an hour. However, I strongly prefer the dried beans.
- I estimated about 250 calories per serving using MyFitnessPal. This estimation is only for the rice and black beans, but not the side dishes.
- You can use coconut oil instead of olive oil.
- If you like your meals well condimented you can add more spices to this dish like cumin or herbs.
If you would like to save this recipe for later, please pin the below image to Pinterest. Feel free to contact me with questions or if you made the recipe:).
Other Rice and Beans Recipes:
If you like rice and beans, either separately or together, I have more recipes you might be interested in.
- Rice – here you’ll see all my rice recipes
- Navy Beans Soup
- Red Beans Soup – love serving this beans soup with my jasmine rice recipe
- Lima Beans Salad