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Lizano Sauce from Costa Rica

Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican condiment popular amongst the locals, find a bottle in every restaurant.  This is not your ordinary salsa.  It’s peppery, slightly sweet, acidic and is layered with savory flavor.  I have eaten it with eggs, tacos and steak.  It’s unique qualities are difficult to describe, you’re just going to have to make some for yourselves.

Salsa Lizano in a bowl.

How I Found Salsa Lizano


On my quest to discover new condiments I came across Lizano Sauce from Costa Rica.  It sounded intriguing, especially since it can be found on most restaurant tables in that country so of course, I had to make some!

A bowl of dried chilis soaking in water.

Soaking dried chiles in water helps with the seeding and blending.

Definitely different, slightly sweet but very savory with the help of pepper and cumin.  It can be used while cooking and as a table condiment.  It’s popular with eggs, rice, beans, fish, cheese, curries, and as a marinade for meat.

A Costa Rican condiment popular amongst the locals, find a bottle in every restaurant.
A Costa Rican condiment popular amongst the locals, find a bottle in every restaurant.
Salsa Lizano in a food processor.

Toss in food processor or blender and voila!  A surprising Costa Rican treat ready for everyday eating.  Keep in fridge up to two weeks or freeze some for future use.

Enjoy these other sauces too!

  1. Apricot Chutney – a sweet, Indian condiment that is great on meat or with beans.
  2. Creamy Jalapeno and Avocado Salsa – a creamy salsa inspired by the salsas at Chuy’s in Austin.
  3. Ghana’s Shito Sauce – a peppery and robust pepper and onion sauce with lots of ginger and spices.
  4. A North African classic sauce called Harissa – Enjoyed by Tunisians and algerians, this easy sauce I made with jarred, roasted peppers, spices and olive oil.
  5. Chimichurri Rojo – A classic salsa/marinade from Argentina and Uruguay.
  6. Apricot Salsa – One of my personal favorite ways to use up all of the apricots that are happening at my house.  A sweet and peppery salsa that is great on chicken and fish.
  7. Roasted Jalapeno Salsa – This salsa has only 4 ingredients and is absolutely incredible!  This is my version of Taco Deli’s Crack Sauce.  Seriously folks, you have to try this.
  8. Pebre Sauce – A cute little salsa/condiment/marinade that has an interesting history behind it from Chile with Catalan origins.
  9. Salsa Verde – A fresh classic from Mexico.

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A Costa Rican condiment popular amongst the locals, find a bottle in every restaurant.

Lizano Sauce from Costa Rica

Yield: 2 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A Costa Rican condiment.

Ingredients

  • 2 dried Guajillo chiles
  • 1.5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1/2 carrot chopped
  • 2 Tbs white sugar
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 Tbs ground cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs molasses

Instructions

  1. Soak chiles in water for 30 minutes then remove stem and seeds.
  2. Place all ingredients into food processor or blender and blend well, sauce will be liquid with diced chunks.
  3. Enjoy with eggs, rice, beans, fish, cheese, curries, and as a marinade for meat.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 12 Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 23Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 475mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 0gSugar: 4gProtein: 0g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Jonathan

Friday 9th of September 2022

I made this to incorporate into a gallo pinto recipe and it's fantastic. The recipe tasted authentic and true to what I ate during time in Costa Rica. For my taste (especially to use this as a condiment) I wanted things just a little thicker so pared back from 1.5 cups to 1 cup veggie broth and still thought it turned out great.

Tina

Tuesday 13th of September 2022

I am so glad you liked this! Thanks for the feedback, I want to make the Gallo pinto and add this. Thank you for motivating me. Bon Provecho!

M. Ireland

Sunday 22nd of May 2022

Just whipped this together to give it a whirl. I started off with this exact recipe, with the caveat that I included about 1/2 cup of the water I soaked the Guajillo peppers in (I started off with hot water), and I only had Blackstrap molasses. Upon completion, it came off as maybe a little mild, so I added an extra tbsp of lemon juice, and threw in about half a teaspoon (a few grams) of dried Hinkelhatz pepper powder which is roughly in the same ballpark as Cayenne pepper in terms of capsaicin-- but a little fruitier --which did the trick. I think if the vegetable components had started out fermented in brine (so naturally pickled), it would put this recipe over the top into gourmet.

Recommendation to the author: Instead of referencing "half an onion," etc type of measurements, it would be easier to replicate more precisely if the measurements were in weights (most of the world uses grams) for those components. Half a carrot is a little odd, too, especially considering the extremely wide array of carrot sizes out there. In the end, the sauce I have now in my fridge will definitely get used :D ... I just don't know how closely it resembles the original thing.

For our first dish to use Salsa Lizano, we prepared some Gallo Pinto (including the a generous dollop of this sauce), mixed in some stewed tomatoes (because yum), and stuffed the works into some large colourful bell peppers. Nothin' like a little fusion cuisine!

Jamie

Wednesday 12th of January 2022

I just made this last night. I was a little worried about the amount of sugar so I reduced it by about 1/8. I also used black strap molasses which is more bitter than regular molasses. Even with the reduced sugar and more bitterness from the black strap molasses it was a bit too sweet for me. I know everyone has a different palate but I just wanted to throw this out there for people to consider. Even though I was just in Costa Rica I didn't try lizano sauce by itself but now that I'm back home I wanted to try to make gallo pinto and the recipe calls for it. I think it will be really good mixed with the rice and beans and add a bit more flavor and character to the dish. Out of the bottle this sauce may indeed be really sweet but if I make this again in the future and I'm planning to use it as a condiment or topping, rather than an ingredient, I think I will reduce the sugar even more.

Lisa

Friday 10th of December 2021

It looks like I found your for the same reason as the others, a Gallo Pinto recipe that calls for this sauce. I just have to say, this sauce is AMAZING! I love, love, love your recipe. I will definitely be making it again and again. So happy I found your site!

Tina

Saturday 11th of December 2021

Thanks Lisa for the feedback, glad you loved it!

Debbie

Wednesday 10th of February 2021

Loved this recipe! I used this in another recipe called Gallo Pinto which called for salsa lizano. I didn’t want to buy a whole bottle as I hadn’t made it before so bought the chillies (very inexpensive) and had everything else on hand. The Gallo Pinto turned out great, thanks!

Kim

Friday 2nd of April 2021

I wonder if we used the same gallo pinto recipe? Hahaha, it's what brought me here as well, all the comments saying you can't eat gallo pinto without salsa lizano. This sauce is so good, and so easy!

Tina

Thursday 11th of February 2021

Debbie that's great! I haven't heard of Gallo pinto before, it looks so interesting. Thank YOU for this feedback, I have Gallo Pinto in my cross-hairs right now. I've been in New Mexico since the beginning of January and trying to soak up the culinary culture and enjoying it. I want to do a deep dive on this Chile culinary culture. Thank you, YOU inspire ME!

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