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Costa Rican Christmas Food

Costa Rican Christmas Food

The traditional Costa Rican Christmas food is tamales, baked pork legs and tons of eggnog during December.  Each of this holiday treats has a profound meaning in the hearts of every Costa Rican.

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For most traditional Costa Ricans there is nothing better than eating a pork tamal and drinking a cup of coffee or agua dulce during December at any time of the day. It brings up good childhood memories for everyone.

Tamales are made in large quantities during Christmas season for family every day eating, special occasions or to exchange between families and friends.  They are boiled and then refrigerated or frozen to be eaten during December.

Tamales are made of a corn based dough filled with boneless pork shoulder or chicken breast, carrots sticks, potatoes, onions, red belt peppers, green peas and green olives wrapped in a banana leaf and tight with a string.  Then, boiled for 2 hours.  Their texture is soft and firm.

Making tamales is a tradition that bounds the family together for almost a day.  Each family member is assigned a task to prepare and cook tamales.  Traditional Costa Rican families start by going to their backyard to chose and cut banana leaves, creating a small fire to smoke them.  The following morning, they mill the corn at home or commercial mill, make the dough, cook the meat, assemble all ingredients and wrap them in the banana leaves, and finally put them on a big pot and boil for two hours.  Modern families buy the banana leaves already smoked and dough already made at a supermarket or farmer’s market.  Nowadays, a lot of people order t amales from people who are well known for their savory tamales.

Baked Pork Legs

Costa Rica Traditional Christmas Eve dinner is steeped in folk tradition with baked pork legs served with salad, white rice and/or smashed potatoes.


Eggnog is an egg, milk and rum based beverage that is popular in Costa Rica during December. It is typically made with milk, cream, sugar, eggs yolks. It is infused with a lot of rum and spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut, and/or vanilla essence.

Eggnog is served as an aperitif during December or served at Christmas meals or Rosaries.

Note: Home made eggnog is usually stirred in low heat for about 12 minutes. Just in case you are concerned about eating raw eggs.

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