If you’ve got a sweet tooth, the traditional desserts in Costa Rica are sure to satisfy your cravings. Using ingredients such as condensed milk, coconut and pineapple jam, Costa Ricans really know how to whip up a crowd-pleasing sweet treat. Here are some of the country’s best desserts.
Custard tarts are popular across Latin America, and one of Costa Rica’s most famous flan flavors is coconut. This velvety, tropical dessert is a must-try while in Costa Rica. Coconut is a common and locally grown ingredient that’s used in a lot of desserts, including cookies, cakes and pies.
Tres leches is another Latin American favorite and one that Costa Ricans are well-known for. Tres leches, meaning ‘three milks’, is a cake made with full-fat milk, condensed milk and evaporated milk, which combine to create a desser that’s fluffy, sweet and melts in your mouth. This national favorite is usually topped with a thin layer of whipped cream.
‘Arroz con leche’
Arroz con leche is rice pudding. While rice is often considered a primarily savory ingredient, it takes on a dreamy new quality when baked with milk, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon and raisins. Arroz con leche is a dessert that will likely remind you of the holidays upon your return.
Granizados, also called copos, are commonly sold on and alongside the beach. This is Costa Rica’s version of the snow cone, but taken to the next level. A granizado is shaved ice topped with a flavored syrup and condensed milk. A churchill is the deluxe version of this dessert and includes a scoop of ice cream and pieces of fresh fruit. Traditionally, this coastal favorite is sold from a mobile cart that is specially designed for making and selling granizados.
‘Atol de naranja’
Atol de naranja is an orange pudding. This zesty treat is traditionally made with freshly squeezed orange juice, cornstarch, brown sugar, butter and freshly grated orange peel, and garnished with mint and cinnamon sticks. Atoles are also made in a variety of other fruit flavors.
Just as savory empanadas stuffed with cheese, chicken, vegetables and other hearty ingredients are readily available in Costa Rica, so are sweet empanadas. Dessert empanadas are either fried or baked, and stuffed with different types of fruit jam. Pineapple and guava are two common fillings. You can find both sweet and savory empanadas at nearly any bakery. Street vendors also commonly sell them along the roadways and in and around small towns.
While this is not a home-made dessert, it is one that you absolutely must treat yourself to while you are in Costa Rica. A trits is made of two sugar cookies stuffed with ice cream and drizzled inside with chocolate. It’s simple, but truly satisfying. You can find these at any grocery store; they are usually in a cooler along with other packaged ice-cream cones and popsicles, and are sold in a circular container with a bright yellow plastic top. Don’t miss out on these.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.