WF2 Recipe: Lizard Sauce

Once upon a time, we took a spur-of-the-moment trip to Costa Rica, thinking it would be a big adventure.

For a variety of reasons, it was not a dream vacation. (It wasn’t all bad: there are some fun stories here, here, and here.)

There were two major bright spots: I loved the lizards that ran rampant over the landscape, and at every meal, a bottle of Salsa Lizano was on the table. Kind of like Costa Rican ketchup, it’s poured on everything from eggs to tacos to burgers to plantains. Made from vegetables, it’s lightly sweet with a hint of cumin and smokiness from guajillo peppers. Unfortunately, the commercial version of Salsa Lizano, while totally delicious, contains some suspect ingredients. I did some internet research, then came up with this paleo-friendly version. Don’t be put off by the guajillos in the recipe; they’re easy to work with and can be found in most grocery stores or online.

You can use this sauce as a dipper for raw vegetables and cooked protein – it really adds a kick to grilled chicken! Fire up your morning by spooning onto fried eggs. And you definitely want to drizzle some on Pan- Fried Plantains or Plantain Nachos. You can also use it as a simmer sauce for chicken, pork, fish, or shrimp. Simply sauté the protein, then add Lizard Sauce, cover, and simmer until cooked through.


Lizard Sauce from Well Fed 2

Makes 2 cups | Prep 10 minutes | Cook 30 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 4 dried guajillo peppers

  • 2 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and diced (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1/2 rib celery, diced (about 1/4 cup)

  • 1/4 red bell pepper, diced (about 1/4 cup)

  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar


Cut the guajillo peppers in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add the peppers and toast until starting to brown, about 1 minute per side. Add the water, bring to a boil, and simmer 5 minutes. Put the peppers in a blender or food processor with 1 cup of the water from the pan.


Dry the pan and reheat over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Place the coconut oil in the pan and when it’s melted, add the onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté until soft and beginning to turn golden, 5-7 minutes. Add the cumin, salt, and cayenne, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Turn off heat, add lemon juice and vinegar; stir to combine.


Remove the vegetables from the pan and carefully add them to the blender. Purée until smooth. (If you have an immersion blender, you can use that instead.)


Allow the flavors to meld about 10 minutes before using, then eat at room temperature or chilled on EVERYTHING! Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

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