A taste of Costa Rica: homemade Lizano salsa

When we visited Costa Rica earlier this month, I didn’t experience the region’s favorite salsa, Lizano, until the second-to-last day there. After a sea kayaking excursion, we were treated to a wonderful lunch of casado as part of the package, and a mysterious brown sauce was on the table next to regular red salsa. I tried a dab of it on my rice and beans, and it was so delicious I basically drained the little bottle by half. The guide explained that it was Lizano, and I immediately started thinking about how I could enjoy this sauce at home.

I could have bought some before leaving the airport, but my luggage was stuffed to the brim (I do one carry on and one personal item only) and I didn’t want to risk a broken glass mess in my stuff. Plus, they were checking for liquids on the jetway so I probably would have had to leave it anyway.

I could have ordered it online, but was more interested in making it myself. This is preferable to me because then I know exactly what’s inside (no preservatives or question marks). And living in the Southwest, finding the right peppers poses no problem.


Lizano-Style Costa Rican Salsa

Process notes

  • added 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/4 tsp ground mustard, and 1/4 tsp turmeric


While I don’t think this tasted the same as Lizano, it’s very good and we’ve been enjoying it on gallo pinto with eggs and tortillas. It’s a good reminder of a fun trip. This sauce has a nice smokey flavor from the dried guajillo chiles, but is sweeter than we’d like.

If I make it again, I’d reduce the sugar, use a smaller amount of dried chiles, and play with the turmeric and mustard amounts.