Costa Rican Salsa (Lizano)

This is a bottled salsa that can be found on every table in Costa Rica. It reminds me of a sweet and sour hot sauce. This is a homemade “copycat” recipe minus all the preservatives and artificial ingredients you’d likely find in bottled versions.

Costa Rican Salsa (Lizano)

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 to 2 dried chiles, such as guajillo
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 4-inch piece thick carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon s granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons molasses
  • 2 teaspoons powdered vegetable broth base, optional


Remove the stems from  the chiles. Cut in half lengthwise and remove the seeds and fibers connecting them to the chiles.

In a cast iron or stainless steel skillet, over medium heat, toast the chiles, about 2 minutes per side. Add the water, lower the heat and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove the chile from the pan and place in a blender. Measure out 1 cup of the chile-infused water and put this in the blender as well.

Add the onion, carrot, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, salt, molasses, and bouillon, if using, to the blender. Blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning.

Sauce will keep in the refrigerator to up to two weeks.


2 thoughts on “Costa Rican Salsa (Lizano)

  1. Great sauce! Very different from other hot sauces and also different from Worcestershire sauce – a bit like a mix of both. We liked this very much! Thanks for sharing. Made this for CQ 2017 Central America for the Happy Campers


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