Picadillo de Arracache

Imagine this: you’re nestled in a charming Costa Rican lodge, overlooking the majestic Arenal Volcano, as the aroma of simmering spices fills the air. You take a bite of a vibrant Picadillo de Arracache – a hearty dish featuring ground beef and the unique sweetness of arracache – and instantly fall in love. This isn’t just a meal; it’s a cultural immersion, a taste of authentic Costa Rican flavors waiting to be recreated in your own kitchen.

photo of Gallo of Picadillo de Arracache
Gallo of picadillo de arracache is a very traditional Costa Rican dish.

During my recent trip to Arenal, I had the pleasure of experiencing this dish firsthand at Hotel Mountain Paradise during their annual Anexion Nicoya celebration. The resort sits at the bottom of the Arenal Volcano, which you can often see puffing smoke from the open-air dining room (when the clouds aren’t shrouding it). Surrounded by warm hospitality and vibrant traditions, I savored every bite, knowing I had to learn how to make it myself. So, with guidance from the hotel’s talented chefs and a dash of my own culinary creativity, I’m here to share the magic of Picadillo de Arracache with you!

Gallo of Picadillo de Arracache is served on warm corn tortillas.
Gallo of Picadillo de Arracache is served on warm corn tortillas.

This recipe isn’t just about replicating a dish; it’s about connecting with Costa Rican culture and cuisine. The blend of ground beef, savory vegetables, and the unique sweetness of arracache creates a flavor profile that’s both familiar and exciting. The flavor has been described as “a delicate blend of celery, cabbage, and roasted chestnuts.” It’s also incredibly versatile! You can serve it as a main course with rice and beans, as a filling for tacos or burritos, or even as a delicious appetizer.

A Legacy of Flavors: The Story of Picadillo de Arracache

Picadillo is a staple dish across Central America and the Caribbean. Each region has its own unique take, with variations featuring different meats, vegetables, and spices. Costa Rica’s Picadillo de Arracache stands out with its use of arracache, a root vegetable with a naturally sweet and nutty flavor. This dish has its roots in traditional peasant cuisine, where resourceful cooks used readily available ingredients to create flavorful and filling meals. Today, it’s a beloved comfort food enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.

Gallo of Picadillo de Arracache 5
I enjoyed this delicious traditional meal during Anexion Nicoya at Hotel Mountain Paradise in Costa Rica.

The Secret Ingredients: Your Gateway to Tropical Flavor

The beauty of Picadillo de Arracache lies in its simplicity and versatility. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Ground Beef: Lean ground beef forms the base of the dish.
  • Arracache: The star ingredient! Choose firm, unpeeled arracache for the best flavor and texture.
  • Vegetables: Onions, bell peppers, garlic, and cilantro add aroma and texture.
  • Tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes or fresh chopped tomatoes provide acidity and sweetness.
  • Spices: Cumin, oregano, and paprika add warmth and earthy flavors.
  • Worcestershire Sauce: Adds a touch of savory depth.
  • Optional: Chopped fresh herbs like parsley or green onions for a finishing touch.
What a wonderful celebration of Anexion Nicoya!

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photo of Gallo of Picadillo de Arracache

Gallo of Picadillo de Arracache

Recipe by Jason Hill – CookingSessions.com
Have you ever tried gallo of picadillo de arracache? This is a typical Costa Rican dish made from a root vegetable called arracacha, whose flavor has been described as “a delicate blend of celery, cabbage, and roasted chestnuts.” This wonderful traditional meal was served during our stay at Hotel Mountain Paradise in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Gallo of picadillo de arracache — made with a steamed mixture of ground beef, onions, arracache root, and spices — is delicious served on warm corn tortillas.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Costa Rican
Servings 4


  • 2 pounds arracacha peeled and chopped
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 4-5 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 cups onion finely chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro leaves chopped
  • 5 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook for a few minutes.
  • Next, stir in the cilantro and tomato paste.
  • Add the ground beef and chopped arracacha. Add 2 cups of water, cover, and steam for 2-3 minutes.
  • Uncover the pan. Simmer until the arracacha is soft. Add cumin, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, so the beef and vegetables are well combined.
  • Serve on top of fresh, warm corn tortillas, along with hot sauce.
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Keyword corn tortillas, costa rica, ground beef
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AboutJason Hill

Hi, I’m Jason Hill, host of YouTube’s “Chef Tips” series. I graduated from culinary school in 1998, and gained my experience working the lines in Southern California. I launched my cooking videos in 2007. I love sharing quick and easy recipes that get people back in the kitchen.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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