Costa Rican-Style Shredded Beef with Red Sauce (Carne en Salsa)

There is really nothing that I love more than a great carne en salsa from Costa Rica- especially served with Costa Rican white rice. I spent many years living in San Ramon, and they celebrate Saint Raymond Day in the two weeks leading up to his feast day on August 31. The celebration is also a church fundraiser and there are food vendors downtown competing for the best typical dish – which means I eat a LOT of meat in red sauce. (I’m salivating just thinking about it!)

This is Saint Raymond, the patron saint of San Ramòn, as he parades through town on august 31, his feast day.

This is Saint Raymond, the patron saint of San Ramón, as he parades through town on August 31, his feast day.

Since it isn’t exactly practical for me to fly to Costa Rica for this dish, I finally got a tutorial from my husband’s uncle on how to make an authentic carne en salsa just like you can find in Costa Rica. Here I share it with you!

Doesn't this look amazing?!

Doesn’t this look amazing?!

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


  • 2 lbs flank steak
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 carrots, chopped into sticks
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomato or the equivalent of fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 white onion, quartered
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 4 TB ketchup
  • 3 TB soy sauce
  • 3 TB Salsa Lizano (optional)
  • 1 TB sugar
  • salt to taste

*Note about Salsa Lizano: Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican national product that gives Costa Rican food its unique flavor. You can buy it through my affiliate link here. There isn’t a comparable flavor, but some people, in a pinch, use Worcestershire sauce as a substitute, but I don’t think it is nearly as good.

Preparation: Prepare and shred the meat according to the recipe here. This shredded beef recipe can also be applied to both traditional olla carne and shredded beef empanadas. 

Place all ingredients (except the shredded meat!) in the blender and liquefy. If you are not getting a smooth enough consistency, add a bit more broth. Heat the sauce in a large saucepan on medium until simmering. Stir in the shredded beef and bring to a low boil. I then taste the meat with sauce to see how it is, and add salt or sugar accordingly. This is served with white rice, black beans, and salad for a traditional Costa Rican casado.

¡Buen provecho!

beef with red sauce costa rican recipe carne en salsa


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  • Reply
    July 19, 2016 at 4:06 pm

    Nice! I have this a lot around here, but I’ve never made it, mainly just because of an aversion to buying meat. But I’ll try this. I’m assuming it’s basically the same as the carne in salsa that has the beef in cubes, right?

    • Reply
      July 27, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      Why make it when you can get a huge plate of it for about $4? Yes, it’s similar to the cubes or the slabs of meat, but I definitely can’t get that cut of meat here. You’ll be back for Dia de San Ramon, and eating at the ranchos is the best carne en salsa ever. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

      • Reply
        July 29, 2016 at 12:02 pm


        I think that there is also the carne en salsa that’s more common around breakfast time, and that tends to have cubed meat, at least from what I’ve had. The two seem pretty similar, but this shredded beef does look more like the lunch/dinner versions.

        And good point about the price, but there’s nowhere where I live that sells that, and I’d have to drive to town to get it, probably. I actually do cook about 95% of the food we eat, since we rarely eat out in Costa Rica. But that’s fine, and it’s always good to have recipe options!

        • Reply
          July 29, 2016 at 2:11 pm

          I know you cook a lot, which is totally awesome. I eat out in Costa Rica a lot more than here in the States, since I don’t really like to cook on vacation. I’ll have to pay more attention to the breakfast vs. lunch carne en salsa next time. There’s a soda at the cruce de Naranjo that sells a casado with carne and salsa that is incredible… it’s on the south east side of the road and it’s got a cool view into the forest right there. Anyway, you know me and eating in Costa Rica…

  • Reply
    August 12, 2016 at 4:18 am

    It looks so tasty, what an amazing dish.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2016 at 8:07 pm


    I made your recipe. My husband who is from Plantares Oratorio, CR. He loved it. His family Oratorio is located in San Jose. Mostly farms. All of his family is still there. I am American and I am always looking for CR recipes so my husband can have a little taste of home. He has not been home in almost 20 years. We hope 2017 will be his year.

    Thank you for the delicious recipe.


    • Reply
      September 21, 2016 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Marie!
      Thank you so much for visiting the site! I am always putting up new recipes, so please come back and visit any time! I hope that 2017 is also his year… it’s hard to be away from Costa Rica for that long!

  • Reply
    September 1, 2020 at 5:28 am

    Hi! Thank you so much for posting all these recipes. I’m Tica but I live in the states with my husband and daughter. Thankfully because of your site I can make them delicious food from my home country.

    • Reply
      September 1, 2020 at 10:41 am

      Lola this makes my day! I am so happy these recipes are helpful- sometimes we just need to know how to adapt the foods to the ingredients we can find in the United States. If you ever have any recipe requests- please let me know!
      Pura vida! ~Christa