Costa Rican Portabello Burger with Cilantro-Lime Aioli

Have you ever bought an unusual condiment for a recipe, only to find it slowly growing old in your fridge? This was definitely the case with my bottle of Costa Rican Salsa Lizano, which I bought to make Gallo Pinto. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good rice and beans, but I also crave variety and I knew this delicious condiment has the potential to be more than a one-hit wonder.

The Ticos (Costa Ricans) also know this sauce is too good to waste, so they use it in other dishes like marinated meats and hash. That was the inspiration for my flavor-packed vegan portabello mushroom burger, marinated in a blend of Lizano, oregano, cumin, garlic, and ground achiote, topped with a creamy cilantro-line aioli that could be eaten by the spoonful (adapted from this recipe from by Layla Pujol). This recipe has an excellent effort-to-taste ratio: marinate, grill up your mushroom caps, make your aioli, and you’re good to go.

In case you’re wondering, achiote (also known as annato) is a deep red spice that comes from the seeds of a the achiote shrub, native to tropical regions in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Though only slightly earthy in taste, it’s common in Latin American cuisine for adding color to food and is prominent in popular spice blends. Many grocery stores carry it, but check a Latin market if you have trouble finding it. You can also substitute ground turmeric and sweet paprika in a pinch!

This is a no-stress recipe. Start by marinating mushrooms by combining your Lizano marinade in a bowl. You can marinade for 30 minutes or for up to 8 hours.

Make the aioli by throwing everything in a blender. No need to chop anything! Cilantro can go in stems and all.

Sauté the red peppers until soft and slightly charred on the outside. When ready to eat, grill the mushrooms. I love my Le Creuset stovetop grill pan!

Assemble your burger. Gourmet taste with minimal effort! Pro tip: Save the marinade and you can get another pair of burgers out of it.

Costa Rican Portabello Burger with Cilantro-Lime Aioli

Yields 2 mushroom burgers. 45 minutes.


Salsa Lizano Marinade

  • 2 tablespoons Salsa Lizano (sub: vegan Worcestershire sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground achiote (sub: 1/2 teaspoon turmeric + 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Cilanto-Lime Aioli

  • 1 cup vegan mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Costa Rican Portabello Burger

  • 2 portabello mushroom caps
  • Cilantro-Lime aioli, to taste
  • Hamburger buns
  • One red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Optional toppings: lettuce, avocado, caramelized onions, tomatoes


  • Frying pan
  • Grill or stovetop grill pan (optional, but recommended)


  1. Prepare mushroom caps. Gently twist off stems. Scrape the gills gently with a spoon until clean and rinse cap with water.
  2. Whisk together Salsa Lizano, olive oil, lime, garlic, achiote, oregano, cumin and salt in a medium bowl. Add mushroom caps, covering with the marinade as best possible. Marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, alternating mushrooms at the 15 minute mark. You can marinate for longer, even overnight, as desired.
  3. Make the cilantro-lime aioli by adding mayonnaise, oil, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, cumin, and salt to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  4. Sauté the red pepper. Heat olive oil in frying pan and add red pepper slices, cooking until soft and slightly charred on the outside (15-20 minutes).
  5. Grill marinated mushroom caps for 4 minutes on each side. Serve on hamburger bun topped with aioli and sautéed red peppers. Add optional toppings as needed.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Jean-Marie Estabrook says:

    Marissa I can’t wait to try this. Do you need more Lizano? I can arrange it.


    1. Haha thanks! I’m good on Lizano for the moment- got a big bottle online. I hope you are able to try it, you should easily find all the ingredients in Costa Rica.


  2. Charlie S says:

    Looks scrumptious! Hope you enjoyed the “burger”! Enjoyed reading the background too! Nice work!


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