Costa Rica Traditional Food Recipes


Many of us know about the lush jungles, splendid biodiversity and pristine beaches that can be found in this small Central American country; but what exactly do locals eat in this coveted paradise?

Here a few rather simple recipes that can satisfy your craving for traditional tropical food.


Casado is a traditional Costa Rican dish that is eaten mostly for lunch and includes either chicken, meat or fish; white rice, beans, ready-to-eat ripe plantain and salad.

It can take you around forty minutes to prepare and a total of an hour to cook. Remember to serve it with a great Costa Rican coffee, a glass of fresh natural fruit juice, or a cold beer.

Here’s a guide on how to make this thoroughly tropical Costa Rican plate.


  • 4 pieces of meat
  • Salt and pepper
  • Two garlic cloves, crushed
  • Vegetable oil
  • ½ cup meat broth
  • 2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced
  • Small iceberg lettuce
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1 carrot, grinded
  • 3 cups of white rice
  • 3 cups of black beans
  • 4 fried or boiled eggs
  • 1 cup of fresh white cheese, sliced
  • Vinaigrette for the salad
  • Corn tortillas
  • Plantain leafs (optional)

Season meat with salt, pepper and garlic. Place in a pan with vegetable oil at medium heat and cook to taste. Put the meat stock into the same pan and bring into a boil and then let simmer.

In a separate pan, fry the plantain slices until they reach a light brown color.

Meanwhile put the rice and beans to boil (remember to leave beans soaking for at least 8 hours or else use canned beans).

Mix the lettuce with the ground carrot, tomatoes, salt, pepper and vinaigrette and prepare the eggs.

Cover four big plates with the plantain leaves, and place all meat, sauce, rice, beans, plantain, salad, a few slices of fresh cheese, along with tortillas on the plate.

Gallo Pinto

If you are hungry for Costa Rican food, but do not have enough patience or time to cook a tasty Casado at the moment, try making a simple Gallo Pinto, which will take you around 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook.

This dish is commonly eaten for breakfast, but it also makes a nice filling lunch, if that’s what you’re looking for.

This plate is a combination of rice and beans spiced up with the secret ingredient of Worcestershire sauce, plus a little bit of cream. It can be accompanied by corn tortillas, fresh white cheese, fried sweet plantains or fruits, in addition to a cup of coffee or natural juice.

Here is a guide on how to pull out a marvelous Gallo Pinto:

  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • ¼ onion, chopped
  • 2 cups (350 ml) of rice
  • ½ green or red peppers, diced
  • 3 cups of black or read beans
  • 2 spoons of coriander, chopped
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt
  • Cream (optional)

Heat oil in a large pan and put the onion and peppers to fry at a medium-high heat until tender.

Place the beans’ broth in a bowl and add the beans only to fry with the onion and peppers for 5 minutes. If they seem to be drying out too much, lower the heat a little and put some of the bean broth in (around 1 cup).

Add the rice and continue frying for 3 minutes, adding bits of bean broth so that it does not dry out, plus more than a few drops of Worcestershire sauce.

Once done, decorate with the chopped coriander leaves and serve with cream on the top.


This sweet Costa Rican plate is like a Central American pancake version that is usually eaten for breakfast or as a snack. Being just a mix of corn with a few other ingredients, it makes it an easy and different recipe to experiment with in your kitchen.

It is usually served next to a hot cup of local coffee or hot chocolate.

Here are the instructions for this delightful traditional plate:

  • 2 cups of fresh maize
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 butter spoons
  • ½ cup of milk
  • ½ cup of vanilla (optional)
  • Vegetable oil or butter

Mix all ingredients using a blender.

Fry the mix in a medium or large pan, pouring round circles.

Serve with cream cheese or cream as a topping


This stuffed pastry is very popular not only in Costa Rican territory but in Central America and quite a few parts of South America. It is usually stuffed with cheese, potatoes with vegetables, pork or mashed beans, and is easy to make, with around 20 minutes to prepare and 40 minutes of total cooking time or less, depending on how many you wish to make.

Don’t forget to accompany your empanadas with a cold refreshment such as the well-known local Chan beverage or any other natural drink.

Here are the steps to come up with you own homemade empanada:

  • 1 cup of corn flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • Cheese, potato and vegetable mix, mashed beans or pork

Mix the flour, water and salt in a bowl.

Separate the mix in small, round balls and then press them with the bottom of a plate (remember to cover it with baking or wax paper to avoid it from sticking) forming round circles.

Fill in the mixture with the stuffing of your choice; fold them appropriately (making sure to close them completely).

Fry until light brown.


Other typical dishes from this luscious Central American country that you may want to try out are Olla de Carne, an elaborated soup including meat and varied local vegetables; Rondón which is a very Caribbean seafood and vegetables; the famous tamales (although this one proves to be a very complex elaborated plate to cook); and the Picadillo de Papa, a wonderful mix of potatoes, achiote, vegetables and, at times, chicken, beef or chorizo.

With this all said: Buen provecho!

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  1. I would be interested in trying your recipes here on this page, however, the amount of rice is missing from the Gallo PInto recipe. Also what are butter spoons?

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