Retirees can learn how to prepare Costa Rican cuisine

Many retirees become enamored with Costa Rican food and want to learn how to prepare it. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to find a cooking class here by checking on the Internet or in the local newspapers and yellow pages.

If you don’t have time to take a formal cooking class, a few Costa Rican recipes can be found on line at sites like: or to name.

In addition, there is a wide choice of cookbooks with the most popular Costa Rican recipes in both Spanish and English.

  • Traditional Costa Rica Cookbook: Quick and Easy Recipes,” by Astrubal Leiva avaialable through
  • The Best Recipes of Costa Rica,” published by Jadine Press
  • Cocina Tradicional,” also published by Jadine Press
  • Rice and Beans Comidas Afro-Limonenses,” published by Sandy
  • Comidas Ticas,” by Carmen de Musmani
  • Gallo Pinto, Recetas Tradicionales,” by Andrea Corrales
  • Costa Rica’s Best Dishes,” by Dorotea

Here are some typical Costa Rican foods:

  • Casado consists of rice and beans served side by side instead of mixed. There will usually be some type of meat (carne asada, fish, pork chop, or chicken) and a salad to round out the dish. There may also be some extras like plantains (patacones or maduro), a slice of white cheese, and/or corn tortillas.
  • Ceviche is a popular and consists of fresh raw fish (tilapia or corvina – white sea bass) marinated in lime juice with finely chopped cilantro and spices. Please see the recipe below.
  • Chorreadas are corn pancakes served with natilla (sour cream).
  • Gallo Pinto is usually eaten for breakfast and consists of rice mixed with black beans, served with natilla (sour cream), eggs (scrambled) and fried plantain.
  • Olla de carne which is a soup with chunks of beef, potatoes, carrots, chayote, plantains and yucca.
  • Tamales Every good Tico eats tamales for Christmas (Navidad). A tamal is a seasoned corn meal which is covered in boiled plantains leaves. In the inside it has rice, beans, vegetables and meat.

Here are three typical Costa Rica recipes to get you started:

Gallo Pinto

(Rice and Beans)
The Traditional Costa Rican Dish

Gallo Pinto is eaten nationwide. Most people eat it for breakfast. Others for lunch or dinner. Makes 3 to 4 servings

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

2 cups of cooked long grain rice
1 cup of red or black small cooked beans (“frijol criollo”)
1/2 cup of finely diced white onions
3 teaspoons of vegetable oil
2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro (“Culantro de Castilla”)
Salt to taste
Lizano Sauce (“Salsa Lizano” is a mild sauce used on every day
cooking in Costa Rica)

Place vegetable oil on a frying pan and heat for approximately 1
minute. Sauté onions until caramelized. Add entire pot of cooked
beans and its gravy into the sautéed onions. Stir over low-medium
heat for a minute. Combine cooked rice to sautéed bean mix well and
simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt to taste. Add cilantro.
Cook on high heat and quick. Serve immediately and add the Lizano
Sauce to taste.

Ceviche de Corvina

(Marinated White Seabass)

1 lb. seabass, cut in small pieces
3 tablespoons onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
2 cups lemon juice
Salt, pepper and Tabasco Sauce
1/2 teaspoon Worcester Sauce

Combine all ingredients in a glass bowl. Let it stand for at least four hours in the refrigerator.
Serve chilled in small bowls topped with catsup and soda crackers
on the side. Serves 8.


(three milk cake)

Cake Base
5 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups of flour

Preheat oven at 350 F. Sift baking powder. Set aside. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat well. Add flour to the butter mixture 2 tablespoons at a time, until well blended. Pour into greased rectangular Pyrex dish and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Let cool. Pierce with a fork and cover. For the filling combine 2 cups of milk, 1 can of condensed milk and one can of evaporated milk. Pour this mixture over the cool cake. To make the topping, mix 1 1/2 cups of half and half, 1 teaspoon vanilla and a cup of sugar. Whip together until thick. Spread over the top of the cake. Keep refrigerated. Serves 12.

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