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Costa Rican Arroz Arreglado Recipe (arroz a la jardinera)

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White rice is one of the staple foods of Costa Rican cuisine- we eat it with literally everything. But sometimes we need to fix it up- which means it’s time for arroz arreglado

(No really, just go to a Costa Rican home where they are going to serve you pasta- it comes with white rice. Carbohydrate overload!) We even eat rice for breakfast

There’s rice in gallo pinto, in a Costa Rican casado, we wrap rice into our Christmas tamales, eat it in black bean soup, with shredded beef, with olla carne vegetable beef stew… seriously. White rice is everything.

And with all that white rice, sometimes a person gets tired of it. That’s where arroz arreglado comes in. It’s basically rice with some spices and chopped veggies mixed in- and usually a little bit of achiote coloring. It’s also just a bit different- not the same old same old. 

And I LOVE it. It’s mostly served in Guanacaste, although you will find it in other parts of the country. 

I’m giving you the arroz arreglado recipe in Costa Rican style today- the way that I make it. Everyone does it a bit differently, but the bottom line is, this recipe is a great start.

Related post: Big List Of Delicious Recipes Served With White Rice

Costa Rican rice in a large stockpot with vegetables and spices

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Costa Rican Spanish Terms

Here are a few key Costa Rican Spanish terms you need to know before we start:

Arroz arreglado- literally “fixed up rice” It just means it isn’t plain white rice with salt like we usually eat.

Arroz a la jardinera– The gardener’s rice. I think this name comes from the fact that there are veggies chopped up in the rice. It’s the same thing as arroz arreglado, just a different name

Achiote– achiote is a red coloring used in many dishes to give a pop of color. It’s used throughout Latin America. It doesn’t really have any flavor, but it does have color and a bit of fat depending on where you buy it. 

Caldo de pollo– Chicken broth! Many Costa Ricans just use chicken bullion from the company Maggi, but I almost always use homemade broth because I think it’s so delicious.

Large pot of arroz arreglado in Costa Rica.

What Type Of Rice Should I Use?

Costa Ricans always use long grain rice. However- almost all of their rice is grown in-country, and it has a distinctly different flavor and texture from the long-grain rice found in the United States. 

For that reason, I use Jasmine Rice. I prefer the texture and think it tastes better in the United States.

What To Serve With Arroz Arreglado

Here are a few dishes we serve with arroz arreglado:

Plate of beefin red sauce with white rice in Costa Rica

If you want to watch us make mouthwatering traditional Costa Rican tamales- well here’s our video:

Join me over at my favorite place- Instagram.

Cooking Tools For Arroz Arreglado

Rice cooker- I use a 4 cup rice cooker almost always because I prefer to eat all the rice we make at once instead of reheating. There’s a $12 one with a removable glass lid that I buy at Walmart. I won’t even link to Amazon here because I don’t like any of their 4 cup offerings.

Instant Pot– When I need more than 4 cups of rice at a time (like when I’m making arroz con pollo) I use my Instant Pot. 

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Yield: 4 cups cooked rice

Costa Rican Arroz Arreglado Recipe (arroz a la jardinera)

Large pot of arroz arreglado in Costa Rica.

This Costa Rican arroz arreglado recipe (arroz a la jardinera,) is a fun twist on traditional Costa Rican white rice, and is used in Costa Rican tamales.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes


  • You'll need a rice cooker or Instant Pot for this recipe
  • 4 cups white rice (long grain or Jasmine)
  • 4 cups water or chicken broth
  • 3 TB vegetable oil (or other oil of your choosing)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons achiote (found at most Hispanic grocery stores, or you can buy Costa Rican Dos Patitos Achiote on Amazon, link below)


  1. In the bottom of your rice cooker, pour the vegetable oil and move it around so that it coats the bottom of the inner pot. 
  2. Press the cook button so that the pot begins to heat up.
  3. Add vegetables and achiote and lightly stir fry- for about 5 minutes, mixing gently every 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add rice and water, and stir everything together.
  5. Put the lid on the pot and cook until done.
  6. Lightly stir the rice to evenly distribute the achiote.
  7. Serve!

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About the Author

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Hi- I’m Christa! I fell in love with Latin America in my 20s, and I’m still head over heels! Here at Pura Vida Moms I celebrate what it means to be bicultural- Costa Rican recipes, bilingual parenting and family travel.

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Christa profile image

Hi- I’m Christa, and I’m on a mission to help the world fall in love with Costa Rica through food, travel and language. I’m a mom of two Latinas, bicultural, bilingual (English/Spanish), and 100% in love with celebrating parenthood in all its forms, (even the sucky parts). I’m so happy you found the site- WELCOME! Find out more about me here

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