Costa Rican Kitchen Guide

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A comprehensive list of kitchen tools, appliances pantry essentials and fresh ingredients you need to create a traditional Costa Rican kitchen at home.

If you love cooking Costa Rican cuisine, you need to have your kitchen outfitted with the right tools to make cooking easier.

Many Costa Rican recipes use farm-to-table ingredients and are cooked from scratch. This means that some dishes can be pretty labor-intensive if you don’t have the right tools to make your life easier.

In this post, I’ll list out by section the most important tools and ingredients you’ll need to create the perfect Costa Rican kitchen at home.

Keep in mind that most Costa Rican kitchens are very simple- there tends not to be a ton of storage in most homes, and most chefs don’t keep around fancy or unnecessary tools. In addition, most homes do not have hot water or a dishwasher, so every tool used needs to be washed by hand. This is a pretty good impetus not to have a lot of tools used for every recipe.

Finally, most Costa Ricans have daily access to either a supermarket, mini-super or pulperia. This means that many people will shop for fresh ingredients each day, rather than a weekly trip to the grocery store.

Here is a comprehensive list of Costa Rican kitchen tools and ingredients.

costa rican kitchen in rural costa rica

Cooking Appliances

These appliances will be used to make the majority of your main dishes. You use the pressure cooker to make traditional black beans. Obviously, the rice cooker makes the white rice or arroz arreglado. The blender is so important for making homemade juices.

Kitchen Tools

Whether making your sofrito, cutting vegetables for a picadillo, straining fruit for homemade juices and smoothies or making homemade tortillas and empanadas, these tools are the most popular in the Costa Rican kitchen.

The links below are the most typical brands and styles of tools you would find in Costa Rica. These tools can be used a lot of ways- for example, you can use a box grater as a citrus zester. You could use a tortilla press as an empanada press. Just get creative so you have fewer tools for more uses!

Pantry Essentials

These nonperishables live in every Costa Rican kitchen I have ever seen. Quick tip- to convert ketchup to taste like it does in Costa Rica, add 1 teaspoon each salt and water to 3 tablespoons ketchup.

  • Salsa Lizano
  • Vegetable oil
  • Leche Pinito (or other powdered milk)
  • Coffee
  • Achiote Paste
  • Soy Sauce
  • Sea Salt
  • Ketchup
  • Dry white rice
  • Dry black or red beans
  • Sazon completo
  • Maseca (or other instan corn masa mix) – for making tortillas and empanadas from scratch
  • Margerine (or butter, but margarine is more common in Costa Rica)

Fresh Ingredients

There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables available throughout Costa Rica. It’s easy to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis.

If you aren’t going to the supermarket each day, the hardest fresh ingredient to keep is cilantro. Try storing it in a clear plastic bag in the refrigerator with a slightly damp paper towel to extend its life.

Related post: Guide To Costa Rican Fruit

  • Garlic
  • Cilantro
  • Red bell pepper
  • White or yello onion
  • Lime
  • Tomato
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Christa Jimenez

Welcome! I’m Christa, a Spanish teacher married to a handsome Costa Rican and mother of two bilingual daughters. We’ve spent over 25 years living in and traveling to Costa Rica with our daughters, and this website is my love letter to all things Costa Rica- and to bilingual parenting too. You can read my full story here. Thanks for stopping by!

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