Costa Rica Recipes

Corn Tortillas

Unlike flour tortillas, corn Tortillas do not contain any added oil. They can be made with corn flour, but the traditional recipe uses something called masa harina or masa flour. Masa harina is made from corn soaked in lime and then dried and ground into a powder.


  • 2 cups masa harina or corn flour
  • 1 ¼ cups hot water


Mix masa and water by hand until all of the tortilla mix is moistened and dough forms. Add more water if necessary.

Make about 12 one-inch balls. Flatten and roll each ball into a tortilla. Cook on a very hot cast iron skillet. No oil is necessary. Flip when the edge starts to stiffen and the top looks dry. Use a spatula to lift the edge and check for doneness before flipping completely. Keep the cooked tortillas warm by covering with a damp towel while you continue to cook.

Some tortilla cooking hints:

1. Practice making tortillas before you make them for guests. It's not difficult, but it does take a few times before you get the "feel" for the dough.

2. Only flip once. For some reason, they do not taste good at all if flipped several times during cooking.

3. Don't worry about a few burnt spots, they actually add flavor.

4. I have never had good results cooking tortillas on something other than cast iron.

5. If the only tortillas you are familiar with come from taco bell, you may not be aware that not all tortillas are paper-thin. You may roll your tortilla to about 1/8 inch thickness. Any thicker than that and the outside burns before the inside cooks.

6. Don't have a rolling pin? Use a wine bottle.

7. When rolling out your tortilla, some people find it easier/neater to put the dough ball in between two sheets of wax paper. Another alternative is to put it in a small plastic bag and then flatten it out.

8. Old stale tortillas go great in soup or fried.

Tortilla soup


  • 4 or more tortillas
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 10 oz (1 can) of chopped tomatoes and green chiles
  • 4 oz (1 small can) chopped green chiles
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp limejuice.


Heat oil in a large pan. Sauté the onion until translucent. Add chiles, broth, chicken, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in lime juice and optionally salt and pepper. Pour into soup bowls and add tortilla cut in slices.

It is best to use tortillas that were rolled slightly thick for this recipe. If you use thin tortillas, fry them in a small amount of oil before adding to the soup.

Frijoles negros (black beans)

  • 1 lb. dried black beans
  • 3 qts water
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, finely chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 6 sweet chili pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. whole dried oregano, crushed
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 c. chopped onions

Pick over beans, discarding any shriveled, broken beans and foreign particles. Wash well and soak overnight in sufficient water to cover plus an additional 2 inches.

The next day, drain beans; rinse in fresh running water and drain again. Discard any beans that float to top.

Place in large pot of water. Bring to a rolling boil, then reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer about 45 minutes.

Add the garlic, onions, and chili peppers. Add this mixture to the pot with the salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, sugar, bouillon, and bay leaves.

Cover and simmer 1 hour on medium heat. Uncover and cook until sauce thickens as desired, add more water if required.

Sprinkle with chopped onions and serve.

Notes: 1 cup of dried black beans yields approximately 2 1/2 cups cooked beans. If you're in a hurry, beans may be cooked in a pressure cooker for 20 minutes at 10 lbs. pressure.

Nutritional Information: Black beans are high in folate (256mcg), iron (3. 61mg), magnesium (120mg), phosphorus (241mg), and are also a good source of zinc (1.92mg), thiamine (.42mg), and niacin (2mg) - approximation based on 1-cup portion size.


Picadillos are meat and vegetable combinations where one or more vegetables are diced, mixed with beef and season with spices.

Common vegetables used in picadillos are potatoes, green beans, squash, ayote, chayote and arracache. Often, picadillos are eaten in the form of gallos with tortillas.

Serves 6

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 sm. onion, chopped
  • 1 sm. green pepper, chopped
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. cooked ground beef or1/2 lb. cooked ground pork

Heat oil and sauté onion, green pepper and garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes. Add salt and pepper. Add ground beef or pork. Cook for 5-8 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and dice the vegetable like potatoes, chayote, green beans and carrots. Cook over medium heat until liquid evaporates and meat is well cooked.

Roast pork

  • 3 lbs. pork, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Sm. onion, chopped
  • 6-8 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp. paprika
  • Salt and pepper


  • 1 lg. onion, sliced thin
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 tbsp. butter
  • 1 lemon, squeezed

Remove excess fat from pork and cut into small chunks. Sauté pork chunks in oven proof casserole in olive oil with bay leaves, juice of 1/2 lemon, oregano, thyme, garlic, paprika and salt and pepper until lightly browned.

Cook covered, stirring occasionally, in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 10-15 minutes.

Sauté topping onion in butter. Add garlic when onions are just about done. Cook 3 more minutes. Add lemon juice and pork and mix well.

Arroz con pollo

  • 1 (3 to 4-pound) chicken, cut in 8 serving pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, quartered, plus 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups chicken broth, homemade or canned low-sodium broth
  • 1 cup light beer, such as lager
  • 3 tablespoons Sofrito recipe follows
  • 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 3 cups white rice
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced
  • 8 ounces green beans, trimmed and quartered
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, ribbed and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, cored, seeded, ribbed and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup pimento stuffed olives

Place the chicken, quartered onions, 1 cup of chicken broth, beer, Sofrito, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 of the cilantro, and garlic in a large pot or skillet over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside to cool; once cool shred and set aside. Strain the broth into a bowl through a fine-mesh sieve discarding the onion pieces.

Pour the broth into a measuring cup and add water to make 4 cups of liquid. Return it to the pot or skillet and add the rice, peas, carrots, green beans, ketchup, and salt. Stir well and bring to a boil. Let the liquid evaporate to just below the level of the rice, about 10 minutes, and then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and fully cooked, 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and the remaining sliced onions and cook until they're tender, 8 minutes. Shred the cooked chicken meat discarding the skin and bones, and add the chicken to the vegetables. Cook until it is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and add the chicken and vegetables to the rice mixture. Stir in the olives, sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and serve.


  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder or flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chop parsley
  • 1 tablespoon achiote paste *
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a small glass jar with an airtight lid and shake to blend. Store in a cool, dry place for up to 2 weeks.

Note: This recipe for sofrito is a staple seasoning for many of my Latin recipes. *Achiote is also known as Annatto seeds

Yield: about 1/2 cup

Papaya and Mango Batidos

  • 1 cup diced papaya (about 1 small papaya), plus some sliced, for garnish
  • 1 cup diced mango (about 1 mango), plus some sliced, for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup crushed ice

Combine the papaya, mango, milk, and ice in a blender process just until smooth. Pour into glasses and garnish with mango and papaya slices.


Vegetable or olive oil, for frying

  • 1 cup water
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Chocolate Dunking Sauce, recipe follows

Prepare to fry the churros by heating 1 to 1 1/2 inches oil in a deep pan to 360 degrees F. To make churro dough, heat water, butter and salt to rolling boil in 3-quart saucepan; stir in flour. Stir vigorously over low heat until mixture forms a ball, about 1 minute; remove from the heat. Beat eggs all at once; continue beating until smooth and then add to saucepan while stirring mixture. Spoon mixture into a piping tube with large star tip. Squeeze 4-inch strips of dough into hot oil. Fry 3 or 4 strips at a time until golden brown, turning once, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Mix the sugar and cinnamon. Roll churros in the cinnamon sugar. Serve with Chocolate Dunking Sauce.

Chocolate Dunking Sauce:

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup milk, plus 1 cup
  • 1 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 4 tablespoons sugar

Place the chocolate and half of the milk in a pan and heat on low. When the chocolate has melted, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk and whisk into the chocolate with the sugar. Cook on low heat, whisking constantly, until the chocolate is thickened, about 5 minutes. Add extra cornstarch if it does not start to thicken after 5 minutes. Remove and whisk smooth. Pour and serve in cups for dipping churros.


  • 2 cups white hominy
  • 2 cups blue hominy
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 ounces baking soda
  • 4 dried chiles (such as pasilla, ancho, or guajillo)* or any combination of chiles, as long as there is a little variation for increased complexity)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups diced onions
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more for seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 pound tomatillos, peeled and quartered
  • 1 gallon vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 bunch chopped fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Crumbled queso fresco, for garnish optional
  • Toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish, optional

Soak the different colors of hominy in separate bowls of water overnight.

In a small, dry skillet over high heat, roast the cumin and coriander seeds until they toast, about 2 minutes. When cool, grind in a food mill, mortar and pestle or clean coffee grinder.

Strain the hominy and put each color variety in its own pot, generously covering with water. Add 1-ounce of the baking soda to each pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 2 hours. Add more water as needed. Check hominy for tenderness; it does not have to be completely cooked as it will be cooked further in the stew. Strain and rinse the hominy.

While the hominy is cooking, soak the dried chiles in hot water. When softened, remove the seeds and stems, then dice.

In a separate stockpot, heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic with the salt, black pepper, oregano, cumin and coriander until the onions are translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, tomatillos, chiles, vegetable stock and cooked hominy. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer for about 1 1/2 hours. The posole is done when the hominy is cooked through. Add the lime juice, cilantro, and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Posole is also delicious for breakfast, served over cornbread with a poached egg on top.

You may use a combination of different kinds/colors of hominy and cook them together in 1 pot. However, the different colors will cook in slightly different times resulting in different consistencies. The blue or red hominy will break down more during cooking than the yellow or white kind. Posole, like many stews, improves with age, so cook ahead of time and reheat. It also freezes well.

Native corns are available online and at most Latino markets.

This recipe was provided by professional chefs and has been scaled down from a bulk recipe provided by a restaurant. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe, in the proportions indicated, and therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

Ensalada rusa

  • 3 large potato, peeled, small dice and boiled in salted water until tender
  • 1 large beat peeled, small dice and boiled in salted water until tender
  • 1 large beet, roasted on salt, peeled, small dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled, small dice (blanched
  • 1 cup peas, blanched if fresh, if not, canned is fine
  • Spicy Mayonnaise Dressing, recipe follows

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Gently fold in the Spicy Mayonnaise Dressing.

Hot Mayonnaise Dressing:

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Homemade Mayonnaise:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 shot hot pepper sauce
  • 1 shot Worcestershire
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

In a food processor, combine all ingredients; slowly add blended oil while on high until becomes a mayonnaise.

Arroz con leche

  • 5 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup white rice
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
  • 1/4 cup vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup golden seedless raisins pre-soaked in warm water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Ground cinnamon

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, add milk, rice and salt. Cook the rice at a low simmer until the rice is tender, do not boil. Once you achieve "simmer," the rice should take around 20 to 30 minutes to be ready, depending on your cooker. Taste the rice to make sure it is tender. Remember to keep stirring so the rice doesn't stick to the bottom. Once the mixture has cooked, remove from heat and add sugar, vanilla, raisins and egg yolks. Keep stirring to incorporate all of the flavors, then let it sit for about 10 minutes. The sugar and vanilla will infuse very quickly, giving a flowery aroma. Add the heavy cream and butter, mixing them well together in the saucepan. Spoon into ramekins or individual serving bowls. Rice pudding can be served warm, room temperature or chilled. This particular recipe benefits from setting overnight in the refrigerator. Sprinkle with cinnamon, if desired.