Living Pura Vida is so sweet, especially with rich and delicious Costa Rican desserts! Discover the sugary side of life in this Central American paradise where delicious desserts can be found everywhere!
What Is Special About Costa Rican Desserts
The amazing biodiversity in Costa Rica helps make dessert so special. They use a lot of shared techniques common among other South and Central American cuisines, but with a great local flair. Desserts in Costa Rica feature rich and creamy elements in perfect balance with delightful local fruits. They are a big part of Costa Rican cuisine.
Cakes and custard-style treats are common here, as well as fruit. Desserts can be found all over Costa Rica. From street vendors to restaurants to homes there are delectable treats being served across this country.
Most Famous Costa Rican Desserts
Tres Leches (Three Milk Cake)
This dreamy dessert is beloved across all of Central America, but no one makes it quite as special as Costa Rica. This creamy dessert is so well-liked in Costa Rica that many Ticos consider it the national dessert.
You will find beautiful tres leches made in homes, restaurants, and bakeries across Costa Rica. This irresistible dessert starts with a light and sweet sponge cake.
The name tres leches refers to the three kinds of milk that are used to soak the sponge cake. This cake used evaporated milk, condensed milk, and whole milk to thoroughly soak the cake. It is then frosted and decorated often with fruit or piping. If you have not yet tried this Costa Rican dessert you are missing out on so much dreamy flavor!
Traditional Costa Rican Desserts
Dulce de Leche (Thick Caramel Sauce)
Dulce de leche is one ingredient that is common in many Costa Rican desserts. It is used as a spread, icing, filling, topping, and more.
This lusciously thick dairy sauce is made from caramelized milk. It is a thick, creamy caramel sauce that locals love to eat with everything sweet. Enjoy this decadent treat on top of some local ice cream for a bite of authentic Costa Rican flavor.
Bolitas de Coco (Coconut Cookies)
Coconut is a dessert flavor all Ticos love to eat. Coconut is just about everything here, but one treat stands out from the rest, bolitas de coco.
These awesome Costa Rican desserts are cookie-like treats made with coconut, condensed milk, and chocolate. The sweet ingredients come together in balls of sweet and nutty goodness. This dessert in Costa Rica is most common to find around the Christmas holiday.
Costa Rica’s amazing tropical climate means that many amazing plants and animals can thrive here. Arguably the most special of these local delights are the many local fruits in Costa Rica. There are so many bright and flavorful fruits that can only be found in this region, so locals love to enjoy simple fruit bowls for desserts in Costa Rica.
Cas and guava are both fruits that grow only in Costa Rica. Dragon fruit and papaya grow throughout Central America and they have never tasted better than when they are eaten fresh in Costa Rica.
Even if you are just looking for something simple, there are so many interesting local fruit flavors to discover in Costa Rica!
Churchill (Sweet Frozen Drink)
This Costa Rican dessert hails from the beautiful city of Puntarenas. It is a sweet frozen concoction that every Tico enjoys on a hot day. A Churchill is a snow cone that is flavored with cola syrup and condensed milk. This may sound like an odd combination but on a hot summer day in Costa Rica, this is the perfect dessert to cool you down!
Melcochas (Sour Cream Candy)
These traditional Costa Rican desserts are wonderfully sweet confections that can’t be compared to any other candy! Melcochas is a candy made from sugar cane and sour cream. The two come together to form a very hard candy with a flavor that is almost caramel. This candy can be easily found in shops in Costa Rica.
Suspiros (Meringue Kisses)
These beautiful Costa Rican sweets are common to see in bakeries, especially around Christmas time. Suspiros are simple meringue cookies enjoyed throughout Costa Rica. They come in a wide array of colors and are often given light hints of flavor like vanilla or orange.
One of the most popular flavorings for these sweet cookies in Costa Rica is lime juice. This balances with the sweet meringue to make an almost key lime pie-like flavor that will keep you coming back.
Cajeta (Goat Milk Caramel)
This Costa Rican dessert favorite is a versatile wonder. It is very similar to dulce de leche in flavor and application. Cajeta can be used to top virtually everything, and locals here have certainly tried it!
Cajeta is a thick, caramel sauce made from goat’s milk. It is thick and smooth and tastes a lot like caramel sauce but with a little more tanginess. This confection is great for spreading on cakes or as an ice cream topping.
Pan de Maiz (Sweet Cornbread)
Locals in Costa Rica eat maize at every meal. It is made into cakes, bread, and puddings, but one maize-baked good stands above the rest. Cornbread is the ultimate baked treat in Costa Rica.
Locals craft this bread using corn flour and condensed milk to make a cornbread unlike any you’ve ever tasted. This baked delight has a creamy flavor and irresistibly dense texture. Pan de maiz can be enjoyed with butter, honey, or jam for the ultimate Costa Rican dessert!
Churros (Fried Tube-Shaped Pastry)
While churros may not have originated in Costa Rica they have certainly become an unmissable local favorite. Churros are an amazing fried dessert and a very common street food in Costa Rica.
They are made by piping a sweet pastry dough into a deep fryer. This creates the signature tube shape and ridges that make churros so recognizable. The fried treats are tossed in cinnamon sugar for a decadent finish. Their sweet and spiced flavor is known to all the locals and they are a local favorite street food.
These Costa Rican desserts are perfect on their own, but churros are commonly paired with fruit and ice cream as well.
Costa Rican Desserts: Puddings And Custards
Arroz Con Leche (Rice Pudding)
Rice pudding is almost universally loved. Every culture in the world has tried its hand at making this sweet treat, but few have mastered it like the cooks in Costa Rica. This is the ultimate in comfort desserts. The creamy Costa Rican dessert is often seasoned with warm spices and paired with honey or local fruit to make the perfect sweet bite!
Flan de Coco (Coconut Flan)
Flan is an amazingly rich custard-style dessert that is popular throughout South and Central America. It is remade in homes and restaurants all over, but local chefs in Costa Rica have made this dessert truly their own.
Flan de coco fuses the rich, creamy, and decadent flavors of a traditional flan with the tropical flavor of coconuts. It is a nutty and sweet treat that tastes like a bite of the good life!
Atol de Naranja (Orange Pudding)
This fresh local treat is a bright celebration of citrus flavor. Atol de naranja is a simple pudding made from orange juice and masa. It is often seasoned with warm spices like cinnamon and cloves.
Ticos love this delicious dessert for its refreshing flavor and they enjoy eating it as a light snack or after-dinner indulgence. These orangy puddings are the perfect Costa Rican desserts for anyone who prefers their sweets on the lighter side.
Budin (Bread Pudding)
Bread pudding is common across all of South and Central America. It is a comforting dessert that gives warm nostalgic vibes. It’s a comforting treat made from bread, cream, sugar, and spices that are baked into a luscious pudding.
This treat is similar in flavor to french toast, but with a soft and more custardy texture. Budin in Costa Rica is enjoyed on holidays or as a rich dessert indulgence. It can also be a great breakfast food in Costa Rica.
Torta Chilena (Chilean-Inspired Tart)
This gorgeous Costa Rica dessert bears a resemblance to the French classic mille-feuille. It is inspired by a classic Chilean dessert, hence the name. However, local pastry chefs in Costa Rica have elevated this dessert to new heights. Get a hot cup of coffee ready to pair with this sumptuous sweet!
Torta Chilena uses layers to build luxurious dessert flavors. Layers of creamy dulce de leche are sandwiched between a butter pastry dough to create a tart at least 7 levels thick. The sweet and smooth dulce de leche meshes wonderfully with the pastry to create a bite of pure bliss.
Mazamorra (Maize Pudding)
There are many interpretations of Mazamorra in the world but Costa Rica’s is truly the best. Mazamorra is a soup or pudding-like dish that features maize. The maize is cooked with sweet additions to make a sweet and chewy light dessert.
The maize is cooked with milk and vanilla and thickened. It is typically served warm with delicious berries, honey, or coconut as a topping. This treat is more than just a Costa Rica dessert, it can also be enjoyed as a comforting breakfast.
Miel De Coco (Milk and Coconut Pudding)
This beautiful pudding is the perfect comfort treat. Miel de coco is a pudding-like sweet that is made from evaporated milk and coconut. The simple ingredients are boiled into a thick pudding with all the delightful chew and flavor of coconut and caramelized milk.
This dessert is surprisingly refreshing in the tropical climate of Costa Rica and it pairs very well with plenty of local fruits.
Costa Rican Desserts: Cakes
Queque Navideño (Christmas Cake)
No holiday celebration in Costa Rica is complete without this cake. Queque Navideño are the traditional Costa Rican desserts of holiday fruitcakes. This is no ordinary holiday fruitcake, though. In Costa Rica, this holiday cake actually tastes super good!
Queque Navideño is a dense cake that commonly includes some dried fruit and citrus elements. After baking, the cake is soaked generously with rum to make it extra festive! Queque Navideño is commonly served on Christmas day as part of the holiday feast.
Tamal Asado (Sour Cream Cake)
These wonderfully dense cakes are a favorite among Costa Rican desserts for the locals. It fused many local flavors into one spectacular dessert.
Tamal Asado is a cake that uses cornflour, coconut, and cheese to make a uniquely flavored sweet treat. This tangy and nutty cake is great when topped with honey or local fruits and is often served with the well-known Costa Rican coffee.
Queque Seco (Easter Cake)
One of the common facts about Costa Rica is that Christianity is the predominant religion in the country. Therefore, the celebration of Easter is a very big deal. Ticos love to get together with family and have large feasts to celebrate.
No Easter celebration can commence in Costa Rica without Queque Seco. This treat is a ring-style cake with a satisfying dense and moist texture. These Costa Rican desserts are flavored with orange juice to give this celebratory cake a bright springtime flavor.
Discovering Traditional Costa Rican Desserts
Dive into the sweeter side of Pura Vida with amazing Costa Rican desserts. From creamy to fruit to sugary there are so many exciting flavors to find here. Give in to your sweet tooth and take a sweet adventure into Costa Rican desserts.