I recently got back to the States after a trip to Costa Rica. This amazing trip was full of unforgettable experiences, but one of my favorite parts of the trip was the amazing food I experienced on this adventure!
Costa Rican cuisine is similar to Mexican or other Latin cuisines with its flare.
The best way to describe Costa Rican Food is a dialect of Caribbean food. The fresh ingredients from the local farmers made each dish an unforgettable meal.
Check out some of my favorite dishes in the recipes of Costa Rican food below!
Arroz con Leche
Arroz con Leche is a favorite dish in Latin America. It is translated to rice with milk in English, which constitutes its main two ingredients.
It is a type of rice pudding full of creamy, sweet goodness. Spices like cloves and cinnamon make this a favorite dish for breakfast or dessert.
Arroz con Pollo
Arroz con Pollo is translated to rice and chicken. This dish is what it sounds like but is more delicious than the name suggests!
Traditional Costa Rican vegetables like red onion, celery, sweet peppers, garlic cloves, and carrots bring this dish to the next level.
Achiote paste is the secret ingredient that brings an earthy flavor to this dish. This paste is made from annatto seeds and peppers and is popular in Mexican food and Central American cuisines.
Casado is a Costa Rican dish that consists of a plateful of bright colors and delicious flavors.
The word Casado means marriage, insinuating that men who eat this dish are married to a wife who cares about them.
This dish packs the flavors into white rice, summer squash, black beans, and fried eggs for a well-rounded meal. Achiote paste and special spice blends give this recipe an authentic Costa Rican flare.
Ceviche is a popular Latin American dish served as an appetizer that consists of raw white fish and fresh vegetables.
This Costa Rican ceviche boasts fresh ingredients like red onions, red bell peppers, ginger root, cilantro, and lime juice to pair perfectly with raw white fish like cod, corvina, or sea bass.
A touch of salt brings out the subtle flavors of these local ingredients.
Chifrijo are Costa Rican taco bowls. These simple and healthy taco bowls are a great way to get all of the major food groups in for dinner.
Slab bacon constitutes the protein of these taco bowls and brings a punch of salty flavor. Fresh onions and bell peppers bring bright flavors to the rice and kidney beans spiced with cumin, salt, and pepper.
Other optional toppings include avocados, salsa, lime wedges, or fresh cilantro.
Empanadas are delicious Latin American fried hand pies.
Empanadas are adaptable food items that are filled with your favorite fillings. Make sweet or savory empanadas!
Authentic Costa Rican empanadas are made with masa harina and filled with white cheese, then deep fried for a gooey and crisp appetizer.
Gallo Pinto is traditionally served for breakfast alongside eggs for a complete meal.
This hearty dish brings authentic Costa Rican flavors to your home with bell peppers, yellow onions, garlic, black beans, rice, Salsa Lizano, and fresh cilantro.
This dish is the perfect hearty meal to start your morning.
Olla de Carne
Olla de Carne is a hearty Costa Rican beef stew that will please the pickiest eaters!
Poached beef chunks are slow-cooked until the meat falls off the bone. The meat is simmered with vegetables to meld the flavors together in a rich broth.
This is a must-have in Costa Rican comfort foods!
If you know anything about Costa Rican cuisine, you know that Patacones are a delicacy!
Patacones are fried green plantains, also called Tostones. This crispy, golden disc is a delicious snack.
The unripe plantains are cut crosswise and double fried for the perfect side dish for fish dishes or as an appetizer served with dipping sauces.
When I first saw a bowl of Sopa Negra, I was not expecting too much. As soon as I took a bite, my mouth was full of flavors that I never knew existed!
This black bean soup is full of flavor and spiced with ground ginger, cumin, and garlic.
Vegetables give the beans some substance, while hard-boiled eggs, radish slices, avocado slices, and diced red bell peppers garnish this hearty soup.
Tamal de Maicena
Tamal de Maicena is a Costa Rican corn cake, perfect to end any meal.
This sweet cake is full of creamy flavors with hints of vanilla and butter.
This dense cake uses traditional Costa Rican ingredients like corn and eggs to create a delicious, sweet ending to the night.
Tres Leches is a sweet milk cake that boasts three kinds of milk - heavy cream, evaporated milk, and sweetened condensed milk.
A light sponge cake is doused in a mixture of milk for a dense, moist cake.
Whipped topping and fresh berries top this rich cake for a light ending to a delicious cake. Tres Leches cake is a favorite among many Latin countries, from Brazilian cuisine to Mexico and beyond.
Vigoron is a simple Costa Rica dish that is perfect for a quick lunch.
Vigoron consists of chicharrones, chimichurri, cabbage salad, boiled cassava, and boiled green plantains.
The chicharrones add the crunch and salt needed in this mushy dish. The dish is served in a banana leaf with a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
Picadillo is an authentic Costa Rican dish consisting of finely-chopped vegetables and meat seasoned in a hash and served with tortillas.
The vegetables used in picadillo change depending on what region of Costa Rica you live in.
This recipe uses potatoes, onions, and red peppers mixed with ground beef and bacon strips.
Torta Chilena is a cake made from six to eight layers of pie pastry layered with dulce de leche.
This indulgent cake takes time to prepare but it is worth the end product! The flakey pie pastry makes a delicate dessert when combined with the rich, caramel-like dulce de leche.
Arepas are authentic Costa Rican pancakes, but you'll find them elsewhere like in Colombian cuisine and Venezuelan food, where they can be sweet or savory.
Breakfast is my favorite meal, so you know I was ecstatic when these delicious, delicate pancakes were served to us early one morning for breakfast.
Flour, milk, sugar, vanilla, and eggs are combined and fried in butter for a delicious flat pancake.
Arepas are often served with dulce de leche or sweetened condensed milk as a topping.
Arroz con Camarones
Arroz con Camarones is a Costa Rican dish made with rice and shrimp.
White rice is cooked in seafood stock and seasoned with achiote sauce to bring extra flavor to the shrimp.
Cilantro, celery, green onions, red peppers, garlic cloves, and Salsa Lizano bring all of the classic Costa Rican flavors to this dish.
Chimichurri is a staple dish in Costa Rican cuisine. Chimichurri goes with almost every meal served in Costa Rica to bring a pop of fresh flavors to rich meals.
Chimichurri is a fresh tomato salad, a salsa-like dish made from ripe red tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and white onions.
Fresh lime juice and salt bring the simplicity of this dish to the next level.
Sopa Azteca is a light tortilla soup that is great for any busy day.
This tomato-based soup is accompanied by white onion, garlic, olive oil, salt, chipotle pepper, and shredded chicken.
The chicken is boiled in salt, garlic powder, cumin, bay leaves, and celery salt to provide the chicken broth and a punch of flavor.
Chorreadas is a traditional Costa Rican dish commonly found in the countryside or at fairs across the country.
Chorreadas are corn pancakes served for breakfast or an afternoon snack served with agua dulce or coffee.
They are traditionally served with a dollop of sour cream on top, but are also eaten plain or with any other of your favorite toppings!
Barbudos are a quick and easy way to get protein and vegetables in your diet in the morning.
These scrambled egg and green bean pancakes are so quick to make that I make them most mornings before I go to work.
All you need are fresh green beans, eggs, salt, and cooking oil.
If you need an authentic Costa Rican dessert, look no further! Capirotada is a rich, chocolate bread pudding that is sure to please everyone in the house.
I love this bread pudding as a dessert or for a sweet breakfast. The rich chocolate bread pudding is made with egg bread and topped with shaved almonds.
Platanos Maduros are fried ripe plantains. Plantains are versatile items that are great fried green or ripe!
Because the plantains are ripe and the sugar has had more time to make inside the plantain, platanos maduros are much sweeter than patacones.
They taste nothing like patacones and are served as dessert.
Some Costa Rican dishes are as simple as throwing some ingredients into one pot and stirring it. Enyucados are not one of those dishes.
Enyucados are meat-stuffed yuca balls fried to a crisp and served as an appetizer.
Mashed yuca, a root vegetable, is combined with spices, breadcrumbs, and eggs and is stuffed with spiced ground beef to make these delicious crispy balls.
If you love steak you will love Bistec Encebollado.
Bistec Encebollado is the Costa Rican version of steak and onions.
The steak is served on top of a bed of rice to soak up all of the delicious juices the steak is smothered in.
Chicharron is a fried pork belly that adds crunch and salt to any dish it is added to.
The pork belly is seasoned with pressed garlic cloves, salt, and fresh lime and deep-fried for a delicious addition to any meal or on its own as a snack or appetizer.
Rusa is potato in Spanish. Ensaladilla rusa is a Costa Rican potato salad.
This potato salad is served cold with carrots, boiled eggs, peas, and tuna in a mayonnaise dressing.
This dish is a great way to add something cold and refreshing to the heavy and rich Costa Rican meals served daily.
You might be surprised to see Chop Suey on a Costa Rican recipe list. Chop Suey is an American-Chinese dish that consists of meat and eggs cooked quickly with vegetables in a thick sauce.
This Costa Rican version uses authentic Costa Rican ingredients like carrots, chayote squash, broccoli florets, and Salsa Lizano with chicken breast and chop suey noodles for a spin on a classic dish.
Salchipapas is a potato and sausage-based dish that I love to have for breakfast.
Fried sausage and potatoes are served with curtido, a fresh salad made from red onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and fresh limes.
Salsa Rosada made with tomatoes, redo adobo chili, eggs, diced white onion, and milk finish the dish.
Melcolchas de Natilla
Melcochas de Natilla is a Costa Rican candy made from sour cream and sugar.
This traditional candy was my favorite part of my trip to Costa Rica! This two-ingredient candy recipe is unique to Costa Rica and is pulled like taffy.
Which Recipe Will You Try First?
You can’t go wrong with these delicious Costa Rican recipes and food ideas. Tell us which is your favorite, or tell us what Costa Rican food we forgot!
30 Popular Costa Rican Foods
Whether you’re visiting Costa Rica or you want to make delicious Costa Rican food at home, check out these popular dishes and recipes to make yourself.
- Arroz con Leche
- Arroz con Pollo
- Gallo Pinto
- Olla de Carne
- Sopa Negra
- Tamal de Maicena
- Tres Leches
- Torta Chilena
- Arroz con Camarones
- Sopa Azteca
- Platanos Maduros
- Bistec Encebollado
- Ensaladilla Rusa
- Chop Suey
- Melcolchas de Natilla
1. Choose your favorite recipe.
2. Gather the necessary ingredients.
3. Prep and cook your recipe.
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