Authentic Costa Rican Shrimp and Rice Recipe – Arroz con Camarones

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Arroz con camarones is a quintessential Costa Rican dish. Combining freshly cooked white rice, delicious jumbo shrimp, and a host of veggies, it’s delightful. Here’s the traditional Costa Rican recipe you crave.

arroz con camarones

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About Costa Rican Arroz con Camarones

When you visit Costa Rica, you’ll see arroz con camarones on almost every menu as shrimp and rice is one of the most beloved Costa Rican dishes. With all the amazing seafood in the waters on the shores of Costa Rica, there is almost nowhere in the country where you won’t find amazing shrimp.

Arroz con camarones is the name of the dish in Spanish, and it’s a common food for parties. It’s also a popular dish to order on the coast – when ticos go to the beach they often order this meal. It’s a relatively easy shrimp dish to create, and definitely full of flavor.

I love this recipe because of the secret ingredient- Salsa Lizano! Salsa Lizano gives the recipe a distinctly Costa Rican flair.

A note about ordering arroz con camarones in restaurants in Costa Rica. You will often find on the menu “arroz con camarones” and “camarones con arroz.” The idea is that the camarones con arroz has more shrimp than rice since shrimp is listed first. However, in all my years in Costa Rica, I have ordered both from the same restaurants just to see the difference and the only difference I can ever find is the price. So order the cheaper one!

READ ALSO: 30+ Foods To Try In Costa Rica

Red and white platter containing shrimp, rice, fries, and a parsley garnish.

Costa Rican Arroz Con Camarones Recipe

Yield- 6-8 servings

(Printable recipe below)

Ingredients:

  • Long-grain white rice
  • Seafood stock
  • Achiote paste (optional)
  • Salt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Shrimp, thawed and peeled (traditional recipe uses tail-on)
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped with stems
  • Celery, finely chopped
  • Green onion, finely chopped
  • Red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
  • Celery chopped finely (optional)
  • White or yellow onion finely chopped
  • Garlic cloves, pressed, divided into two equal parts
  • Salsa Lizano

Instructions:

In a rice cooker, cook the rice in the seafood stock. I use equal parts rice and stock. Add a bit of salt- maybe 1/2 teaspoon. I use the rice cooking method from my Costa Rican Rice Recipe.

While rice is cooking, chop up bell peppers, cilantro, celery, green onion, half the garlic and onion. In traditional Costa Rican style, these veggies should be very very finely chopped.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering (you could use a large pot). Add the onions and garlic- cook, until the onion is transparent. Add the chopped bell peppers and cilantro and reduce heat to medium. Cook for about 15 minutes.

In a smaller skillet heat the butter and the other half of the garlic. Add the shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. You will be heating these garlic shrimp again in the rice, so make sure they are just barely done or they’ll get rubbery later. Which is gross.

When the rice is done cooking, add the achiote and stir until the rice is evenly colored. Add the rice to the skillet with the veggies and add the Salsa Lizano. Stir until mixed.

Finally, add the shrimp and mix everything together. Heat through, and serve with potato chips or French fries and a green salad.

Note: Almost every recipe calls to season with salt and pepper- black pepper is not a traditional Costa Rican ingredient, so I do not add it.

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sail on shrimp with rice and spices

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Substitutions

You can substitute baby shrimp for the shrimp in this recipe and just use more of them. You can also omit the achiote and use soy sauce for a more natural color.

If you don’t have seafood stock, I often make this with chicken stock and it tastes just as good. (I have a really great homemade chicken stock recipe!) Don’t try to make the rice with straight water, as it just doesn’t taste as good- it’s a little bland.

RELATED POST: Costa Rican Gallo Pinto Recipe

shrimp and rice with green salad

Variations

There are a few variations on this recipe to keep it traditional. The first is to make the rice and then sautee jumbo shrimp separately, tails on. The jumbo shrimp are then laid on top of the stir-fried rice before serving. Sometimes we call this dish camarones con arroz.

However- a word on camarones con arroz– if you are going to order that dish on a menu and they are also serving arroz con camarones, go with the cheaper option. I’ve found the dishes are almost always identical except for the price.

Some people make arroz con camarones con pollo– which is basically a combination of shrimp and rice and chicken and rice into one dish. You could just use half the shrimp in this recipe and substitute it for half a cup of shredded chicken.

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rice with shrimp, french fries and parsley garnish

Serving Suggestions

This recipe is most commonly served with either potato chips or french fries. Additionally, a traditional Costa Rican green salad with fresh lime juice as the dressing is usually an accompaniment.

At Costa Rican parties, people will serve this with either fresh juice (starfruit, blackberry, watermelon, mango, etc) or with ice-cold Coca-Cola or Imperial beer.

SEE ALSO: 14+ Costa Rican Cocktails To Drink Right Now

Other popular Costa Rican recipes:

rice, shrimp and fried potatoes

Arroz con Camarones FAQ

Can I freeze Costa Rican shrimp and rice?

If you want to freeze arroz con camarones do so in a plastic bag. Reheat int he microwave.

Can I make arroz con camparones ahead of time?

Any true costarricense would say absolutely not. However, I think you could at least make the rice ahead. Reheating shrimp can be difficult, so I’d probably cook them right before serving.

Is arroz con camarones healthy?

Relatively? It depends on how your body processes carbohydrates. Ther meal is mostly carbs with a few veggies, so if you are on a stricter diet, I’d do a small portion of the shrimp fried rice and a super huge salad.

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Printable Recipe

Yield: 6 servings

Costa Rican Shrimp and Rice Recipe - Arroz con camarones

arroz con camarones

Bring beach vibes to your home with this traditional Costa Rican recipe for shrimp and rice that combines white rice, jumbo shrimp, cilantro, onion and Salsa Lizano for the perfect Costa Rican main dish.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Additional Time 5 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 C long-grain white rice
  • 32 oz seafood stock
  • 3 TB achiote
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 TB vegetable oil
  • 2 TB butter
  • 1 lb shrimp, thawed and peeled
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped with stems
  • 1/2 medium red pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery chopped finely (optional)
  • 1 small white or yellow onion finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed, divided into two equal parts
  • 3 TB Salsa Lizan

Instructions

  1. In a rice cooker, cook the rice in the seafood stock. I use equal parts rice and stock. Add a bit of salt- maybe 1/2 teaspoon. I use the rice cooking method from my Costa Rican White Rice Recipe.
  2. While rice is cooking, chop up bell peppers, cilantro, half the garlic and onion. In traditional Costa Rican style, these veggies should be very very finely chopped.
  3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium until shimmering (you could use a large pot). Add the onions and garlic- cook until the onion is transparent. Add the chopped bell peppers and cilantro and reduce heat to medium. Cook about 15 minutes 
  4. In a smaller skillet heat the butter and the other half of the garlic. Add the shrimp and cook until they just turn pink. You will be heating these garlic shrimp again in the rice, so make sure they are just barely done or they'll get rubbery later. Which is gross.
  5. When the rice is done cooking, add the achiote and stir until the rice is evenly colored. Add the rice to the skillet with the veggies and add the Lizano. Stir until mixed.
  6. Finally, add the shrimp and mix everything together. Heat through, and serve with potato chips or French fries and a green salad. 

Notes

Note: almost every recipe calls to season with salt and pepper- black pepper is not a traditional Costa Rican ingredient, so I do not add it.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 404Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 220mgSodium: 1556mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 41g

Please double-check this information with your favorite nutrition calculator.

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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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6 Comments

  1. This recipe brought back memories when I visited Costa Rica years ago. It was very delicious that I had 4 servings. Thank you for sharing.