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Costa Rican Dessert Recipes

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Dessert is as popular in Costa Rica as it is in the rest of the world, and this list of the best Costa Rican dessert recipes covers all the bases from baked goods to frozen treats. 

About Dessert in Costa Rica

Dessert- it’s the best part of any meal, right? Costa Rica is no exception, as the variety of locally grown fresh fruits and the abundance of sugar cane mean sweet treats are abundant. 

From homemade candies to baked goods to stovetop dessert recipes, there is no shortage of amazing dessert recipes from the land of pura vida.

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Related post: Guide To Costa Rican Fruit

A few details about desserts in Costa Rica:

You should not expect to be served dessert after every meal- rather desserts are reserved for special occasions such as birthday parties, weddings and special dinners. It is not common for dessert to be on every menu- especially at Costa Rican sodas. 

Most Costa Rican homes do not have ovens- traditional homes employ a gas stovetop for cooking. There are bakeries (panaderías) in almost every neighborhood, and most grocery stores and pulperias also have baked goods for sale at a reasonable price.

To that end, you will find that food we think of as dessert foods here in the United States are often consumed during the afternoon coffee hour. Coffee is accompanied by everything from cake ro custard tarts to sweet bread and sweet empanadas. 

It is also common to consume frozen desserts on the street or at the beach. You can find popsicles, scoops of ice cream, snow cones and more for sale on many street corners throughout the country.

 When visiting Costa Rica, you will find many options for desserts, but you will also find that many Costa Ricans don’t really make desserts at home. 

Related post: 30 Foods You Must Try In Costa Rica

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List of Costa Rican Dessert Recipes

Cross section of Costa Rican moist cake topped with strawberries and mint.

Costa Rican Tres Leches

Much like dulce de leche, cajeta is a Latin American caramel sauce traditionally prepared with goat’s milk. Here’s how you can make this traditional delight at home!

bowl of costa rican arroz con leche and pastel scarf.

Costa Rican Arroz con leche (rice pudding

Tres leches cake is a favorite Costa Rican recipe- and the most delicious dessert. It’s a sponge cake baked from scratch with sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla. Add three types of milk- evaporated milk, heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk and top with whipped topping for an incredibly rich flavor.  

Torta Chilena

tamal ed masa and side of coffee on white and blue plates.

Tamal de masa

This gluten-free Costa Rican tamal de masa dessert is slightly sweet with a unique texture. Traditionally served during Holy Week and at Christmas, it’s the perfect complement to a steaming hot cup of coffee or agua dulce!

Bowl of Costa Rican candies.

Melchochas de Natilla 

Melcochas de natilla is the Spanish name for a traditional Costa Rican candy made from sour cream and sugar. How to make the two-ingredient homemade candy recipe unique to Costa Rica. The festival of melcochas de Maria is celebrated in San Ramon Costa Rica on December 7th each year.

Bowl of small white meringue cookies.

Suspiros (Costa Rican merengue)

Costa Rican suspiros are meringue cookies made from just three ingredients- egg whites, granulated sugar and just a touch of lime juice. The perfect cross between a cookie recipe and a candy recipe- and so easy!

close up of costa rican egg nog.

Costa Rican Rompope

Egg nog seems to be a universally loved drink at Christmas time, and the Costa Rican version is as delicious as any other.

copo two servings in costa rica.

Costa Rican Snow Cone (Copo)

Sugary and refreshing, copos are the Costa Rican snow cone and the perfect way to refresh on a hot day. Also known as piraguas, granizados and raspados, no matter what you call them they’re delicious!

Empanadas de chiverre

These Costa Rican empanadas de chiverre are the perfect mix of sweet and savory. Made from scratch and baked to golden perfection, these traditional Costa Rican Easter treats are delicious and fun to make with friends. 

Close up of three freshly baked empanadas beside a jar of cajeta.

Empanadas de Cajeta

These crisp and buttery Costa Rican cajeta empanadas are filled with a delicious caramel-like spread made with goat’s milk. Perfect for dunking in coffee or satisfying a sweet tooth!

Filling and coconut empanadas.

Coconut Empanadas

These Costa Rican coconut empanadas combine sweet coconut bathed in evaporated milk and baked inside a floury pastry dough for the perfect decadent dessert.

Fingers holding a dulce de leche empanada morsel.

Dulce de leche Empanadas

These baked dulce de leche empanadas are made with a flour dough and filled with sweet caramel sauce before baked in the oven. A traditional Costa Rican dessert recipe and the perfect food to pair with coffee.

Jar of dulce de leche with two cinnamon sticks in front of it.

Homemade dulce de leche

Costa Rican dulce de leche is luscious, sweet, and super easy to make at home! With ONE ingredient. Thee ways to make dulce de leche.  

Generous spoonful of cajeta.

Homemade cajeta

Much like dulce de leche, cajeta is a Latin American caramel sauce traditionally prepared with goat’s milk. Here’s how you can make this traditional delight at home!

Series of pineapple popsicles arranged on a plate beside rings of fresh pineapple fruit.

Pineapple Popsicles

Packed with Vitamin C and antioxidants, pineapple popsicles (or paletas de pina as they are known in Costa Rica) are a guilt-free summer treat that both parents and kids love! 

Multiple mango popsicles pictured beside a sliced mango and a whole mango.

Mango popsicle

These fresh mango popsicles are easy to make at home with just three ingredients. Packed with fiber, Vitamin C and delicious, these will be a new favorite!

Blackberry oatmeal ice pops ringed around a bowl of blackberries.

Creamy Blackberry popsicle

Ditch the ice cream maker and make your own creamy blackberry popsicle from scratch. Healthy, a full serving of fruit and a portable version of helados caseros!

Bowl full of miel de coco on a yellow cloth.

Coconut Pudding (miel de Coco)

Costa Rican miel de coco is a milk-based thick syrupy dessert made from coconut flakes and sweetened condensed milk, then boiled until thick and sweet.

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About the Author

Christa profile image

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, language and travel. I’m a Latina mom, 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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