The 4 most popular Christmas dishes in Costa Rica

by | December 23, 2019

Costa Rican traditions for Christmas are many, from the Christmas crib, to the Holidays celebrations. But if we talk about food, there are 4 characteristic dishes that announce the arrival of this season.


Tamales - Costa Rica traditional food

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There are more than 5000 types of tamales in Latin America, and they’re different in every country. Although you can taste them throughout the year, in Costa Rica tamales are an exclusive tradition of these dates.

The “tamaleada” is the preparation of tamales with the family recipe, and is usually done at the end of November or beginning of December. In this process all family members participate. Generally, the eldest lady of the family is the one who runs the “tamaleada”. The process demands a lot of work and requires more than one day to have everything ready. Clean the plantain leaves, make the dough, cook the meat, prepare the ingredients for the stuffing and assign those who participate in the assembly, wrapping and cooking of the tamales.

If you’ve never prepared tamales, here we share an easy recipe with you.

Tamales - Costa Rica traditional food

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Baked Pork Leg 

Although the turkey is gaining some ground, the traditional baked pork leg is the favorite by Costa Rican families for Christmas and New Year’s dinner.

The pork leg takes several hours of baking in the oven to make it juicy and is served with rice, mashed potatoes, green and potato salads.

If you want to give it a try, here’s a simple recipe.


Eggnog - Costa Rica traditional food

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This delicious punch is prepared with milk, egg and aromatic spices like cinnamon and cloves and is served very cold. It usually has a little rum to round up the flavor.

There are many drinks based on milk, egg and some liquor, in the world. It was brought by the colonizers around the world, in our case the Spaniards. This type of punch is popular not only in Costa Rica but also in Mexico and the entire Central American region.

Here’s a traditional recipe for you.

Christmas cake

Christmas cake - Costa Rica traditional food

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Christmas cake is one of the most popular desserts prepared exclusively for the season. Although it’s not completely Costa Rican, we have made our own variants and combined the traditions of Spain, England, France, Italy and Jamaica. The last one arrived in the province of Limon as a plum pudding. It is said that the spices used in this cake symbolize the the Three Wise Men: and, the candied fruits and nuts, the good works; according to researcher Marjorie Ross.

Here’s a cake recipe. Although it’s in Spanish, is short and simple so Google Translate should do the trick.

There are some other seasonal products that used to be found only for December festivities, but now be found throughout the year, such as rice pudding or grapes and apples, in addition to other traditions and trends, such as Christmas cookies.

Have you tried these four we mentioned? What traditions do you bring to the table this season?